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Archive for the ‘Brewing’ Category

Shards of Coffee

I just really love French Press coffee. Coffee in the morning, coffee in the afternoon, coffee most anytime is such a nice thing. But it’s not just the putting the coffee in the mouth that is so enjoyable, it’s the whole process. Grinding beans, boiling water, the sleek aesthetic appeal of the french press…I love all of the aspects and without including them, coffee is just not as enticing to me. Coffee tastes better and more like coffee this way, in my educated opinion. If my ritual consisted primarily of plugging in a machine, I would drink considerably less coffee.

The unfortunate aspect of this process that I hold so dear is how unbelievably fragile the glass caraffe proves itself, time and time again. As if I really need to keep testing it. My cathartic ritual shattered to a halt this morning; alas and alack! I suppose I’ll buy a new glass replacement. I mean, I have a plastic coffee press…but it’s for camping and it’s unsightly. I like the brewing of my coffee to be beautiful. I really do.

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Judah and Zach thoughtfully made a cake for my birthday last week. Zach claims that Judah did most of the assembling. It appears to have been a very fun time. Even in black and white. Blaster was pleased to be able to join in on the excitement as well!The end result was this:And this too:It was a wonderful cake! Zach is amazingly skilled at giving gifts as well as at making cakes. He gave me a lovely handmade pottery wine caraffe that he found here. It’s beautiful and ever so useful as I have been mostly pouring my wine straight from the carboy these days…

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Summer fun. I feel like there is always so much to do during summer…and time goes by so quickly (and summer only lasts for like, two months anyway) that before you know it, the snow is falling and unachieved summer plans are sabotaged. I’m just going to make a list of Necessary Summer Experiences for this year.

-Swimming in the Ocean (with or without Judah, as she seems a bit put off by the frigid water)

-Anderson Bluegrass Festival (everybody who is anybody will be there, I assure you)

-Fishing Fishing Fishing

-Camping upon Camping

-Fires on the Beach

-Spend alot of time in Fairbanks. Primarily at Chena Lakes with Fun Friends.

-Volleyball (but where and with whom?)

-Pick Berries

-Make Jam

-Make delicious berry or flower wine or mead

-Visit Bethel? (this may be wishful thinking)

-Harvest Lettuce Daily From the Garden

Well, thats my list for now. I’m sure it could use some additions.

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I was cleaning up the kitchen over the weekend and realized that there were quite a number of things (intentionally!) fermenting on the counter. Zach has been using sourdough for all of our bread baking, pancake making, etc. He has a white starter and a whole wheat starter. They are great. Anyway, they were both out ready to use, along side the yogurt that I make every couple of weeks or so. I love making our yogurt and am excited to try a custard style yogurt soon if I can find some good guidance in that direction. Presently I just heat milk, sometimes add dry milk powder (but more often do not), let milk cool a bit and add a tablespoon or so of yogurt from the last batch and then let it sit for several hours. It’s good. I like plain yogurt, partly because it does not have added sugar but also because it is versatile and can be used instead of sour cream or mayonnaise. Judah loves it as well, as you can see. photo(41)Also fermenting in our kitchen, is a new batch of mead that I spontaneously decided to mix up. I buy raw honey in bulk from the natural food store in Homer and it comes in a one gallon container. That is lot of honey…which is good, because we use alot of honey, but it was starting to crystallize, and while that is no problem really, it was a good excuse to make a (hopefully) delicious cinnamon mead. Mead is also so very easy to concoct. I heated some water and stirred about 1/3 of a gallon into it to melt, and then poured that into a one gallon cider jug with a couple of cinnamon sticks, a packet of champagne yeast and filled the jug to the top with water. There was also some sterilizing of the equipment, but that is very boring to write about. It’s also a little boring to have to wait like, a month before I can taste the mead and then probably two months before it is really ready for drinking. It’s a simple process, but is definitely an exercise in delayed gratification.

Disclaimer: I’m very nonchalant in my following of recipes. By nonchalant I mean, I don’t follow them at all. So, if one were to set about making mead or yogurt for the first time, they might want to obtain a few more details about the specifications involved. I feel like I have the hang of the process and no longer bother with reading temperatures and such. It works well for me, but it is not exactly good directions to give someone else.

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Looks something like this:

ouch!

ouch!

Which is how Judah looks after falling down the stairs at Two Sisters the other day. Poor baby. She was quite brave though; nursed for a minute or two and rallied right back up the stairs. photo(39)It was a rough couple of days for babies! Following the Stairs Incident, Judah managed to get her arm stuck in the watering can and somehow flip over the thing, landing on her face in the dirt. Alas. Also, she gave herself a bloody lip on a filing cabinet at Haven House the same day. She is looking pretty banged up, presently.

In a (possibly) less dangerous fashion, the original Red Headed Rampage looks a little something like this:

delightful

delightful

Dearest Lisa ingeniously had this amazing wine labeled as a commemorative bottle of our Fun Times in Bethel. The wine has long since been finished off, but I refilled it with the wine that just finished brewing.

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Our garden is moldy.

we grow mold along with the zucchini

we grow mold along with the zucchini

Zach went to the trouble of building mini greenhouses for our boxes, so that our precious plants would have some respite from the dreadful wind. Evidently they are doing their job…perhaps just a bit too well. Zach remedied the issue with the covers, but now we have moldy plants. I’m not so sure what to do about that. Someone suggested lime? We’ll give that a go, I suppose. The garden is doing well otherwise, which makes me thrilled!

In other news, Judah is discovering loads of new things. She found a pair of sunglasses at Haven House the other day and insisted on wearing them, so when Zach picked us up from work in the morning, he was greeted by this: photo(35)Also, while at the bank, a lady (who clearly has no concern for Judah’s teeth) gave a sucker to the baby. She was very impressed. photo(36)More than happy to share, as well!photo(37)She was definitely into the sucker and was quite unhappy when she had to give it up. It is waiting in the truck for the next time she has a giant meltdown about driving.

Vegetable Korma for dinner tonight…it’s simmering on the stove at this very moment. I think I am breaking out of the cooking rut. We had spinach lasagna last night. We’ll hopefully have some delicious white wine as well. The wine that has been steadily brewing has come to it’s completion, I believe and shall be bottled tonight!

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Restless

Due to volcanic ash drifting down all around us, Judah, Zach, Blaster, Amesa and I have been feeling rather trapped in this small, but generally cozy house of ours. The days of Staying Home are adding up, given the ash and inclement weather of varying nature. Zach is expressly concerned for Judah and her newish set of lungs. Rightly so, as I’m sure that sucking in ash from volcanoes is not exactly conducive to good respiratory health. Never leaving the house is not particularly helpful for maintaining my sanity however, so it seems to be a bit of a trade off. The pristine state of Judah’s lungs, for zero jaunts into the not-so-fresh air for the rest of us.

While we have been privileged to observe the volcano erupting, others have been proactive enough to capture excellent photographs and videos even, of Redoubt mid-eruption. One is able to view them here.

Pending further volcanic activity, we will continue to focus our efforts on indoor projects, such as brewing wine and mead. I’m pleased to say that both appear to be coming along nicely, if not transforming our mere living room into a brewery of sorts. Very small scale, but exciting, nonetheless!

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