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

Cider

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

Maggie

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 (www.tastc.com) 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.

Chill'n

Sleepy puppy