Projects + Danie = Happy Steph

I had the pleasure of spending this weekend with Danie (with a sort of conclusion that she is the best of many Danie/Danny’s in my life, room to love everyone however). Last night we went to Sante Adairius and drank delicious beer, also filled up our growlers (which I just realized that she left hers in our fridge… uh oh). The beer they had for growlers was my favorite, Anais. I probably had 1/2 of a beer too much, but it’s okay, it was delicious anyhow. Slightly too much beer followed by burritos is a nice combo however.

After coming home, watching a movie and painting our nails, it was good to be productive today. Danie spent the night and today we had lots of PROJECTS. Oh, we like projects here. First up was making pickles. I had 3 pickling cucumbers from the farmer’s market yesterday that needed using so I found some pint jars and made pickles. Danie did not get to participate in this however because she was still sleeping (too bad for her). Shortly following her awakening we had delicious waffles – I have no idea where we got this waffle maker, totally second hand, but it is such an amazing kitchen tool. Since we were all fueled up the real projects began.

First was making more yogurt. I usually put my yogurt in these 2 quart jars I have, but I left one at work and wanted to make more than just 1 quart of yogurt. It dawned on me that I didn’t need to use canning jars because I wasn’t actually canning these – so I used some old pickle jars we had. Awesome. It actually came out to about 2 quarts of yogurt anyway. Danie was thoroughly impressed with this (at least in my mind she was).

After that I decided that she needed to learn how to make beer. Since I opened up my ginger brew and it was so delicious, I needed to make an actual organic version of it to enter into the Organic Home brew Competition. So we went down to Seven Bridges and got enough stuff to make a mini batch of the ginger brew. In order to do this, we also needed to go get some organic ginger, which was the main problem from the other batch. Ok – organic ginger is expensive!!! It was $6.19 per pound! Brandon got the other ginger we had at this Korean market in Santa Clara for $0.99 per pound. Good thing I was just making a half batch. I needed 1.5 pounds of this stuff. Yikes. I also picked up some lemons and honey there too. We also stopped by Ace Hardware and got a package of pint jars and a package of quart jars. I figured, it can’t hurt to have them laying around.

When with Danie I make silly faces. This is just her normal face.

We got home and the first thing I needed to do was sanitize my 2 fermenters. In addition to brewing we transferred the peach saison to its 3rd fermentation so it can settle down and clear up. I was going to stick the ginger brew in my beautiful glass carboy. While the plastic fermenting bucket had its sanitizer in it, I started to fill up the glass one. And it slipped. And shattered. Into a million pieces. And broke my heart (and luckily nothing else, I escaped this one cut free). Fortunately there was no beer in it, so I cleaned it up, threw it away and mourned a little bit. I really loved that thing. It was given to us for free, which is amazing, and I don’t really want to pay for another one. I guess it is back to plastic fermenting buckets for now.

But the band played on and we continued to boil the water and sanitize all the equipment. I had to tweak the recipe ever so slightly due to the fact that 1.5 pounds of ginger, once peeled, does not equal 1.5 pounds of ginger. Didn’t think about that one. So I added a little less honey, a little more lemon, the same proportion of dry malt extract and on accident 1/2 ounce too much of hops. So I’m thinking it’s going to be different than the original, but hopefully just as tasty. It came out to about 1.5 gallons total (recipe at the end).

Such a tiny batch of beer, It never spilled over once!

Soon after that as we enjoyed our quesadillas for lunch, I wanted to see how the herb beer turned out. IT IS AMAZING. I’m pretty proud of myself. My last 2 beers have been fabulous. Vernal Equinox Part Deux is much less flowery, but more herbaceous than the last version making it drinkable immediately. I do have 1 bottle left of the original and I want to do a side-by-side comparison of the two. Sometime this week for sure.

I can assure you this one is organic!

Last project of the day was wrapping up the last of my plums into 3 quart jars and covering them in honey syrup and sticking in some cinnamon sticks and star anise. Super tasty. I’m so excited I can preserve things in quart jars if I use our brew pot. The other stock pot isn’t big enough for quarts, it’s barely big enough for pints. In process of doing this I realized that I really should put the cans away in a dark space since they aren’t supposed to be exposed to much light. I wanted them on that shelf because they were just so darn pretty so sadly I cleaned out that closet shelf again and put all my jars in it. Surprisingly they all fit. There have got to be easily over 50 jars in there. I’m ready for the apocalypse – I have beer and jam, that’s all that really is needed.

3 quarts of whole plums in honey syrup.

Need some jam? How about some pickles?

Also, on the recent canning note, I have started to venture into tomato canning. I have so far made 2 jars of tomato sauce and 6 jars of chopped tomatoes. All local, organic farmer’s market tomatoes. I’m hoping the price per pound will go down soon, cause these are kinda expensive canned tomatoes, however I will be eating delicious fresh-ish produce in the middle of winter. Hopefully I avoid botulism and don’t kill myself and my family. Let’s bank on that. I’ve also been making pickles too (as I did this morning). I figured every time I’m at the farmer’s market I will pick up enough for one or two jars and stock up for the winter. I’ve got about 8 jars so far. They sure are tasty pickles, that’s for sure.

Tomatoes cooking down and cucumbers being chopped up.

Garlic makes a great addition to any jar of pickled goods.

Last Wednesday’s products.

All in all, a productive yet exhausting day. There is one waffle left from breakfast this morning. I think I will eat it for dinner. With canned peaches in a chai syrup. Mmmm.

Half Batch of Organic Ginger Brew

3/4 pounds of shredded organic ginger (after peeling)

1 pound organic honey

1/2 pound organic unbleached cane sugar

1 organic Meyer lemon zested in strips, juiced and rinds chopped up

1 ounce of organic Belgian Fuggles hops

1 1/2 pounds of organic dry malt extract

Wyeast American Ale yeast

Bring about 2.5 gallons of water to a boil. At the boil remove it from the heat and add in the dry malt extract. Once it is dissolved put it back on the heat and bring it to a boil again. Once at the boil (start the 60 minute timer) add 1/2 ounce of hops. 30 minutes in add 3/4 of the ginger and all the lemon rinds in a grain bag,  3/4 of the honey, all the sugar and the lemon juice. At 40 minutes add about 1/4 teaspoon of Irish moss (optional – it just helps clarify the beer and keep all the junk at the bottom). At 50 minutes add the rest of the ginger (add into the grain bag), the lemon zest (either into the grain bag or in a separate spice bag) and the rest of the honey. At 58 minutes add the other 1/2 ounce of hops. At 60 minutes remove it from the heat and cool down (we have one of those cool copper wort coolers, so it only takes about 15 minutes, however cooling on its own will take at least an hour). When it is cooled to about 75 degrees aerate the wort (I do this by pouring it back and forth from the fermenter to the brew pot several times), transfer it to the fermenter of choice and add the yeast. Close it up, stick on your airlock and let it sit in a coolish (about 68-72 degrees, average room temperature) until it’s done fermenting. My last batch (full 4 gallons) needed 2 weeks, but it will depend. We will see how long only 1.5 gallons takes. Bottle when done!

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