Archives for posts with tag: beer

It is currently pouring outside my house. We’ve got severe thunderstorms forecast all day. And I’m supposed to go do laundry this afternoon… we’ll see what the weather has to say about that…I just saw a flash of lighting and heard a crash of thunder within 2 seconds of each other, so I’m staying inside for a bit.

Jarak and I have a deep commitment to local/sustainable food and businesses. We try to shop locally whenever possible, and to avoid big chain and box stores for most of our groceries. We’re part of a CSA from The Alleged Farm. If you ever hear me talk about “Grumpy Farmer” that’s who I’m referring to. He sends out grumpy and sometimes political missives about what’s happening on the farm, and is often quite funny. We also go to the Schenectady Greenmarket every week, which is open year-round, and get our milk, eggs, most of our meat,  and some veggies there when our CSA ends and before it begins in the spring.

Smith/Cyd Pottery made our goblets for the reception. We decided that we wanted something extra-fancy to drink out of, and since “His and her’s”  Champagne flutes are so not our style. (We aren’t even having champagne.) We decided to ask a local potter to make them for us. They’re entirely custom and they’re beautiful! My camera is currently dead, or I’d take photos.

I got an email just now from Buhrmaster Farm stating that, after talking to some other farmers and seeing what they’d have available, they will be able to provide flowers for the wedding! There was some question as to whether they’d be able to have cut flowers in time for June 22, but they will! Yay! This is the great thing about local: if you want something, ask, and they will really work hard to get you what you need. My aunt agreed to help with the flowers, and we’ll sit down the night before and make my wreath, the bouquets and the boutonnieres for the boys. Yay!

The honey for our mead, which we are using instead of champagne for toasts came from Lloyd Spear, Beekeeper, who’s based in Schenectady. We are friends with one of his workers and often go visit her at the Greenmarket on Sundays.

We’ve brewed (almost) all of the beer for the wedding, using mostly local grains from NY and Mass. Almost all of the grain came from ValleyMalt in Hadley MA. They are super amazing. Jarak’s uncle is providing another case. Our wines will come from LaBelle Winery in Amherst, NH, where I was born, and Altamont Winery  in Altamont, NY, which is about 30 min from here.

We are borrowing a bunch of beautiful, mismatched yardsale plates from a family friend, and then supplementing them with other plates found at estate and yard sales. We’re borrowing silverware used in my friend’s wedding, and linens used either by them, or by their friends for their wedding. Lots of borrowed/reused things. The only thing that is being bought new is the glassware, which will be sold after Logan and Mariana’s wedding in September. Pooling resources is a wonderful thing!

All of our food is being supplied by friends and family, which saved us thousands of dollars in catering fees, and means that every dish will have a connection to us in some way, being that it was made by people we love.

I’m so completely excited about this!

It’s 60 degrees and raining out, which makes it a very gray day. And I’m sleepy. I’m on my second cup of coffee, when I try to limit myself to one giant mug in the morning. I wasn’t up super-late last night compared to most Saturday nights. We were in bed by one. Usually we’re up until 2 or 3.

Yesterday we spent the day outside. We started the morning with brunch at our friend C’s housewarming party. C bought her first house in March, and has spent the past couple of months settling in and trying to get her upstairs apartment rented. She asked my opinion about green things in the garden. I identified a whole lot of volunteer bib lettuce, jill-over-the-ground, peppermint, spearmint, and mustardy weed things. She’s got peach and fig trees that appear to be producing already. Apparently the house was owned by an old Italian couple, and they were pretty prolific gardeners. She’s offered me space in her garden, because she probably won’t use it. It’ll have to wait until next year, because this spring and early summer are just a little bit bonkers.

After that, we went to Niskaday, a town festival with crafts, local businesses and the requisite terrible for you food. Jarak and I quickly got bored, because this is the sort of thing that’s great if you have kids, or have money. We currently have neither.

So we went over to Logan and Mariana’s house to do a copious amount of yard work in preparation for having our wedding after party there. Destroying small tree stumps so that the trees don’t come back next to the house, moving giant hosta clusters, spreading dirt, terracing the hill to build more retaining walls, picking lots of grass and roots out of garden soil, raking grass clippings etc, etc, etc. Many hands made light work, there were 7 of us helping at one point. We were powered by grilled yumminess and beer. We must have worked about 6 hours on and off. We quit around 8 as the light was starting to fade. I managed to not get any more than a tiny bit of sunburn on my shoulders and across my cheeks. SPF 30 for the win!

We hung out and drank, made s’mores, and watched the Niskaday fireworks. Jarak and I headed home around 12am, and crashed after we washed the dirt and smoke off of us. And now I’m just tired…

Last weekend I went out to my mom’s house in NH to do wedding prep stuff. I finally found a pair of shoes!

Product Image

They basically look like this. And they were really cheap, which I really like. We also took in my dress, pulled off the peachy-pink waistband, and rescued dozens of sequins and beads that kept falling off the dress.

We went and tasted wine from a winery in the town where I was born. I did the math on a case of wine, and almost fell over from sticker shock. I called Jarak and said “hey, can we get away with a case total, instead of 2 cases?” We decided that we could, and I came home with 3 dry Rieslings, and 3 semi-sweet Rieslings. We’ll get the reds from a place near us.

Weddings are seriously expensive, even when you’re doing things really cheaply and doing them all yourself.

Jarak and I finished bottling wedding beer, racked the wedding mead again to help it clear, and got our marriage license on Friday. Now it’s even closer to being official! And there’s a judge who will do the civil ceremony for free at city hall. It’s amazing how easy it is to get a wedding cert, all we needed was our birth certificates and photo ID. It was less complicated than getting our Enhanced Driver’s licenses. Odd.

In a little over a month, I will be married. This is so cool.

There was a request for my bread recipe, and here it is. This is an adaptation of the bread that I grew up eating, which is my father’s adaptation of my grandfather’s recipe. It’s seriously noms. I form it into sandwich loaves, but you can also bake it on a sheet as a boule. You can also add whatever else you want. We’ve added eggs and flax, which slightly changed the consistency, but was still good. You need to set aside about 4 hours for this, but only about 30 minutes are actually doing work. The rest is waiting for the bread to rise/bake. I usually watch Dr. Who or get all my ironing done while I’m waiting for it to rise.

The basic recipe for 2 loaves:

2C spent grain buzzed in a blender or food processor to chop the husks finely

2C whole wheat flour

2C very warm water

1T dry bread yeast.

2T oil (I use safflower, or cooled melted butter)

3T sweetener (honey, maple syrup, or sugar)

1T salt

Enough White flour to form a solid dough, about 2.5 cups

Spent grain sitting in the bowl

Mix the first 4 ingredients together. It should look like soupy oatmeal. Add more water or flour until you get to the right consistency.

Beginning of the sponge. Soupy oatmeal consistency.

Cover and let it sit in a warm place for an hour. If your house is above  70*F on the counter is fine. In the winter, I turn on my oven light and put the bread in the oven, or turn the oven on low when I’m mixing and then turn it off and let it rise in a pre-warmed oven. The sponge should about double in size.

First rise is done. Sponge is about 2 times bigger than it started.

Now add the sweetener, oil and salt. I add a handful of flour to the top before I pour the salt on, because I don’t want the salt hitting the yeast first and killing it.

Sponge with a little white flour, salt, honey and oil added.

Then mix in the white flour. Stir until you can’t stir it easily anymore with the spoon, and then knead it in the bowl to get it to start to form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead it, adding flour a little at a time until it’s not sticky. Keep kneading it until its springy.

Mixing the white flour into the sponge.

Kneaded dough.

Return the dough to the bowl, cover and let rise again for an hour.  During this time you want to prepare your baking pans or sheet. Make sure they are very well greased or the loaves will stick.

Second rise, ready to be punched down.

After it’s risen, again about doubled in size, punch it down. Literally, stick your fist into the middle of the bowl and make it deflate. Then scoop the dough out onto the counter, divide in two and shape into loaves. I roll mine out into oblong sheets and then roll it up jelly-roll style into loaves. Place your shaped loaves into greased baking pans and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350* while the bread is rising one last time.

Formed loaves waiting to rise.

Bake at 350* for 40-45min. If you used an extra-flour-y spent grain, like rye or oats, your bread will hold more water and will need to bake for longer. Your house will start to smell lovely after about 30 minutes.

Fresh loaves!

Let it cool on a wire rack with a clean dish-towel draped over it so it doesn’t dry out too much. You’ll want to cut into it right away, but wait at least 15 minutes for it to cool a bit and for the center to finish cooking. Also, it’ll be cool enough to eat by then.

Empty bread pans. Note the bit of stuck crust on the right. Grease your pans well!

I often keep one loaf out and put one in the freezer. There are no preservatives in this bread, and it’ll mold faster than commercial bread. In the summer I keep it in the fridge to avoid spoilage. Enjoy!

Jarak and I keep saying that our eventual kids are going to learn science not from school, but from us at home. We bake, we brew, he got diet cola and mentos for Christmas 2 years ago, I garden. You know… science! However, I’m horrid at physics, because I never had to take it. Unlike Mass and NY, NH doesn’t require physics to graduate high school.  A year each of bio, and chem and one other science,  and 3 years of math, but no physics. Go figure.

Grolsch style bottle. We have the second from right style.

We have been using Grolsch bottles for our saison and recycled 360 Vodka bottles  for our mead. Note, both have swing tops. Who’s the kid who tries to open each bottle by pulling up on the bottom wire? Me. Jarak turned one around and pushed the hinges with his thumbs. I go: ” why did I never think of that?” And he says “I took physics.” and smirked as only he can. It was quite amusing.

360 Vodka bottle

So we made a sylvan stout this weekend that will be super-tasty. It’s modeled after the super-delicious Pretty Things beer  Babayaga. See? They’re nice enough to give us a basic recipe.  I want to call it “Chicken Legs” and see if anyone gets the joke.  And we made a hyssop-yarrow beer from the second runnings of the grain. Both are bubbling away nicely now that we kick-started the yeast by keeping upstairs for a while  where it was warm.

We saved the spent grain from this batch of beer to make bread with. There are a million spent-grain bread recipes out there, but I couldn’t find any that I really liked. Most of them are based off of Mark Bittman’s No Knead Bread recipe.  But I have neither the space or the dutch oven for it.  I considered using this one, but then thought “wait, I can make bread, why not just add spent grain to my existing half whole-wheat half white recipe.” So I did. I have the sponge rising right now.

No, I have no idea what the measurements are, because the only two things I measure in the first part of baking is the 2 1/4 cups of water and the 1 tablespoon of yeast. I add flour to make it look like soupy oatmeal and  then let it sit in a warm place for an hour.  The rest of it is fairly straightforward. After the first rise add 2T sweetener, 3T oil and 1T salt. dd flour until it’s not sticky, knead it until it fights back when hit, let rise again for an hour, pound down  and shape into loaves. Let it rise until doubled in size and then bake for 35min at 350*F. This is the same bread that I’ve been eating since I was eating solid food. In my house we call it “Daddy Bread” because my dad is an expert at it. I’m getting pretty good at it too at this point.

This is why we need a big kitchen. I bake, he brews (I help), I will eventually get into canning and other preserving methods. We need a kitchen we can acutually do stuff in.