Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Secondary fermentation

After about nine days of good fermentation, the bubbles slowed down to next to nil. I racked the cider into another gallon jug for secondary fermentation last night. I'll likely leave it there for two or three weeks and then bottle it. My hydrometer readings tell me it's sitting about 6%. Not bad. I tried a small amount and it tastes a bit like a dry apple wine might. Not sure if I'll bother with carbonating it. It seems perfectly drinkable flat.

I hope it's good to go by my camp trip next month. I may take a single bottle with me, but let the rest age for a couple of months.

cider secondary fermentation

Monday, December 19, 2011

Beef Guinness Stew

Beef Guinness Stew, it takes three hours to make, but it's well worth it.

I made Beef Guinness Stew again on Saturday. Not much more to post on it, other than it was freak'n awesome, as usual. Well worth the 3-3.5 hours it takes to prep and make. Hard to go wrong when cooking with beer. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011


On Saturday, with permission from The Mrs., I headed 15 minutes south to Ozark, Missouri to pick up my Christmas present a little early. It's a basic brew kit from The Home Brewery , our local brewing and wine making equipment purveyor. As I understand it, we're quite lucky to have such a place nearby.

Everything I picked up on Saturday. I still need a cook pot and wort chiller, but I have most of the things I need to get started with beer.

I am making cider for my first brewing attempt. Most Americans would call it "hard cider", but I think it's just "cider" to everyone else. Maybe, Apfelwein, in German.

Touring Mother's Brewery a while back really sealed the deal for me on home brewing. But beer will have to wait, I don't have a cook pot yet, or a wort chiller. I'll be picking those up in the coming months. Likely after Christmas, when all of the more important purchases for the family are said and done. Cider can be made with just a small number of things, so that's to be my first attempt at a fermented beverage of awesomeness.

To make cider, all you need is...

I picked up a one gallon bottle of apple juice at MaMa Jean's Natural Market on Saturday. You can make cider from apples you juice yourself, juice you pick up from a local orchard and even from store bought stuff. The main thing to look for in store bought, is that it have no preservatives or additives. They retard the growth of good organisms, like your yeast, as well as the bad guys that could have you sharing an uncomfortable embrace with your toilet. I bought this pasteurized stuff for simplicity, I didn't have to wait 24 hours to kill off a possible bad culture with campden tablets before adding my yeast.

IMPORTANT: No additives or preservatives!

After sterilizing everything in a solution made with Easy Clean, I opened up my bottle, took a hydrometer reading, poured in 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme and a third of the SAF Ale S-04 Yeast 11.5g packet (just guessing here, some recipes called for a pack of yeast, I'm assuming they meant a 5g pack, so I tried to hit that by eye). I then put in the stopper and airlock, poured in a little vodka in the airlock and capped it. Then set it on the kitchen counter, in a corner that doesn't get direct sunlight. Cleaned up my mess and grinned to myself, having started a new adventure.

Bubbles! About one blurp every eight seconds, this morning. About 11-12 hours after getting it started.

I watched the first bubble bloop before heading to bed. By the time I got up the next morning, maybe 10 hours after I was finished with the procedure, it was blooping once every eight seconds and had a slight froth on the surface. Pretty cool! In 5-7 days, I will likely move it over to secondary fermentation, maybe add some cinnamon (not sure on this yet) and then bottle when all fermentation seems to have quit. Hopefully, I'll have made something decent and drinkable, with luck, maybe even something good!

UPDATE: By the time I had made it home from work, it was burping out a bubble a second and has been since.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed around 7am, dashed around the house getting ready and hit the road by 7:20 to go meet the new family puppy in Houston, Missouri. The Animal Shelter of Texas County ( officially didn't open till 11am, but I had emailed back and forth with a gal working there for a couple of days and she had told me someone would be there cleaning by 8:30am and I could come when I wanted.

It was a grey day, but still a decent drive. I passed under several flocks of geese that likely numbered well over a hundred birds. As well as many a murder of crows and murmuration of starlings.

Saw many a flock, murder and murmuration this morning.

Heading through Seymour, Missouri, I passed three Amish buggies loaded down with cold and glum looking families in plain clothes. Mom and dad up front, a couple of older children directly behind them and the smallest riding in the back, facing rearward. Part of me often envies their simplistic lifestyle, but I don't quite envy their strictness in spirituality. I also raced a train through Seymour. It put up more of a fight.

Racing a train through Seymour, Missouri. Right after passing three Amish buggies.

I got to the shelter about ten after nine. I had to drive back and forth a bit, since my iPhone GPS shot me short of the place by about half a mile! (Son-of-a...!) Luckily I only had three directions to travel in to find it. On the third choice, there it was.

I pulled up, went in and a woman dressed for cleaning kennels greeted me in the front office. I had obviously interrupted her work for the morning, but she was very nice about it. She brought in a small border collie mix, named Honey. I liked her immediately. Even if she did pee submissively when she first met me. (The only time, thus far.) I signed all the necessary paperwork, got her records, picked up an inexpensive collar and gave the gal a $100. They were only asking $85, but I donated the change. We also plan to send them another donation after next pay period.

I put on her leash, walked outside with her, set her in the grass and renamed her Maggie for her new life with our family and to match her Scottish roots. Also, I couldn't quite see myself shouting Honey out the back door all the time, and it's a fresh start for her, a dog that at six months old, had already survived parvo and being peppered with shotgun buckshot.

This is Maggie, our new border collie mix. :)

This is Maggie, our new border collie mix. :)

She's doing great, my daughter loves her and they chase each other around the house, knocking each other over. We've had no accidents since we brought her home and only one property casualty in the the form of a knocked over end table lantern bulb. We got her a pen to stay in during the workday and she's sleeping in it until she sees our vet tomorrow afternoon. After she's fully checked out, she'll be free to climb in bed with us or the kiddo. I think maybe her other half is beagle. She's smallish and I don't believe she'll get any bigger than an adult female beagle might.


Sleepy puppy

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chuckanut 12 kayak progress

Just a few pics to illustrate where we are on our kayak builds. Brian came over Saturday morning and we hit up a lumberyard, then made some sawdust in my driveway. Cutting out our gunwales and the three planks I plan to laminate my outrigger's boom from. We'll be cutting out the rest of the stringer wood sometime soon.

The frames are cut.

cutting the actual kayak frames and stems

all the frames are cut

The gunwales are being pre-bent on my back porch, as of last night and this morning. I poured three good-size pots of boiling water over them and it's been drizzling rain or mist since about midnight, on and off. I'll probably bring them in the garage to dry, at lunch today.

pre-bending the gunwales

Monday, November 7, 2011

Caffeine Crawl, Springfield

Saturday, I had the privilege of participating in the Caffeine Crawl, Springfield, Missouri . A great event where we got to tour and sample six of Springfield's finer coffee shops, roasters and chocolate makers.

Copper Canyon Coffee Roasters

Copper Canyon Coffee Roasters

First up, Copper Canyon Coffee Roasters . I had only had their coffee once, prior to the event. They can be found regularly at the Saturday Farmer's Market (where I had a cup a couple of weekends ago), on the corner of Battlefield and Glenstone. Sean, I believe that was the owner's name, gave a great presentation on the science of coffee roasting and the little nuances that make a successful batch of beans.

Copper Canyon Coffee Roasters

Copper Canyon Coffee Roasters

Second, we headed over to Dancing Mule Coffee Company . Where the owner presented pour-over coffee brewing methods. I believe he showed six different ways to get into pour-over coffee.

Dancing Mule Coffee Company

Dancing Mule Coffee Company

Third stop, Hebrews Coffee , where we had another presentation on pour-over coffee and French press methods, brew timing and proper grind technique.

Hebrews Coffee

Hebrews Coffee

Next up, Askinosie Chocolate! A girl named Mallory talked about the company philosophy of single origin, bean to bar, direct trade chocolate making. They make an incredible product without exploiting their suppliers.

Askinosie Chocolate

Askinosie Chocolate

Fifth, The Hub Coffee & Bicycles . Great concept, combining coffee and bikes. The shop is split with coffee on one side and bicycles on the other, but many old models line the ceiling and walls as decor. I'm certain to frequent this place more often, for coffee and the recabling of my 1950's Hercules Churchill Deluxe British 3-speed. I got distracted by the bikes and can't remember much of the presentation. The coffee was good, though!

The Hub coffee and bike shop

The Hub coffee and bike shop

The Hub coffee and bike shop

Me, Evan and Josh at The Hub
Me, Evan and Josh at The Hub coffee and bike shop

And lastly, probably my favorite coffee shop in Springfield, The Coffee Ethic. Tom and Jim, the owners, are good people. They do great coffee and the decor is very cool. I've also had two art shows there. Tom gave a presentation on single origin coffee, complete with photos of his trip to meet a family run grower in El Salvador.

The Coffee Ethic

The Coffee Ethic

The Coffee Ethic

Headed back to the cars, very well caffeinated. What a great way to spend the day!!!
On the bus

Monday, October 24, 2011

C12 templates and such

Making the templates out of thin underlayment. We'll trace these on to our framing plywood, later.

I'm making templates for the skin-on-frame kayaks we are going to build this winter. They are sketched out onto the thin underlaymant and I'm cutting them out to trace onto our framing plywood later. Hopefully speeding up the process of building two kayaks at the same time. This way we only have to measure it all out but once. I've been sketching everything out after my daughter went to bed, pretty much every night for the past week or so. The cuts I have done here, I made on my lunch hour today.

Making the templates out of thin underlayment. We'll trace these on to our framing plywood, later.

Also, I ordered artificial sinew from Kudzu Craft on Friday, today is Monday and I got it in the mail just before my lunch hour. That's fast service!!!

What we'll be using to hold the kayaks together. No glue or screws, if possible. Just artificial sinew.

The pad eyes came from Bass Pro Shops. We took the kiddo up to see the fish and turtles on Sunday morning and I found these down by the pacu tank and canoe/kayak stuff. I need to pick up two more boxes for the second boat, though. They will be for the shock/bungee cord deck rigging.

Nylon pad eyes for the deck rigging.

Also, much thanks to Dave Gentry for the Chuckanut 12 plans.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Starting the Chuckanut 12 skin-on-frame kayak

Started lofting the frames for the skin-on-frame kayak project.

The beginning of the Dave Gentry Chuckanut 12 skin-on-frame kayak build. My friend Brian and I, see Meramec River post (and a handful of others), are going to build two of these, side-by-side, this winter.

I only have one frame template sketch started, but all should fit on a half sheet of ply, including stems. I haven't put the concave curve between the gunwale/chine/keel stations yet. This is about what I could get done in-between travel time to my house and back, on my lunch hour, today.

This should be a cool project. I've not built a skin-on-frame boat before, nor have I had anyone to talk to whilst puttering away in the garage.

Started lofting the frames for the skin-on-frame kayak project.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kayak fishing the Meramec River

Friday evening I picked up my buddy Brian D. about 7 pm and we headed a few hours northeast to meet another friend of ours, Ryan B., for some camping, kayaking and fishing on the Meramec River. We camped at Onondaga Cave State Park, which is fairly nice. Well, much nicer than our usual primitive camping that we do. We mostly avoid state parks and campgrounds for less crowded outdoor arrangements.

We got to the somewhat populous campground about 9:30-10 pm. After being momentarily detained outside the park gate by an obviously bored park official, speeding ticket waved (luckily), we met up with Ryan and started to relax fireside. Dinner consisted of hotdogs and Mother's "Three Blind Mice" Ale, followed by a dessert of pipe smoke.


Saturday morning, 9-9:30 am, we headed over to the outfitters to catch the shuttle to the put-in point. The kayaks we rented were really only good for bouncing off things. They were heavy, wonky-designed, bits of plastic with paddles that seemed a foot too short. They tracked weird and lost momentum easily. But, even a day on a crappy sit-on-top kayak, beats a day in an office, so we still had a blast. We floated 9.5 miles, from The Bluffs to Ozark Outdoors Campground. Roughly eight hours on the water.

Left to right, Brian, myself and Ryan.

Ryan, paddling

Brian, wandering through some downed trees. There were a lot from last year's rainy spring.

Brian scores the first fish of the day, a long-eared sun perch. We caught between 15-25 fish a piece, but only a handful were of keeping size.

Another perch that I caught.

Ryan and a small small mouth bass.



A small mouth bass that I caught.

Another small mouth.

What the river looks like underwater.

Brian and a Kentucky spotted bass.


Kentucky spotted bass.


Brian and a goggle-eye bass.

Another small mouth bass.


I actually caught a shad minnow on a spinning lure. Weird.




River bottom

Ryan gets frisky with his catch.



Someone's river camp shack.

Lots of caves line the river.


Caveman TV

Pipe and an ale by the fireside. One of my favorite things in life.

Gigging john boat on the river. Two up front with multi-pronged spear tipped poles and one at the helm. They had banks of lights just below the gigs to light up the river bottom.

The Subaru did great as a camp vehicle. I slept in the back both nights. Not the most comfortable sleeping, a taller person would have trouble, but it was really quiet. I only woke for an owl and sunrise.