Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Recipe: Blackberry Ale

I just ordered the ingredients to brew my first fruit beer. Since we have an abundance of blackberries in the garden, I decided to try a blackberry ale. It's relatively lightly hopped to allow the blackberry to come through. I brew extract beer, so that's what the recipe calls for. I hope this will be a nice fall beer.

Here's the plan so far (comments welcome - I won't brew this for at least another week):

Grain / Fermentables:
  • 1 lb Caramel 10L
  • 1/4 lb Victory malt
  • 6 lb Briess Gold Liquid Malt extract
  • 1 lb honey
  • 5 lb blackberries (fresh frozen, thawed, then crushed)
  • 1 oz Cascade @ 60 min
  • 1 oz Cascade @ 5 min
  • Wyeast Irish Ale 1084

Steep grains in 2-3 gal water for 30 minutes at 155F. Remove pot from burner. Add malt extract while stirring. Bring wort to a boil and add first oz of hops. With 5 minutes left of 60 minute boil, add the second oz of hops. Remove pot from boil and add crushed blackberries and honey. After 15 minutes, poor into sterilized fermentation bucket. Aerate wort. Add yeast, and ferment at 70F for 7-10 days. Rack to secondary for 2-3 weeks. I'm still considering dry hopping with some of the hops from the garden (will have to taste it to see if that makes sense).

According to Beer Calculus, this should give:
O.G. 1.052-1.061
F.G. 1.014-1.017
Color: 7ยบ SRM
Bitterness: 21.2 IBU
Alcohol: 5.6% ABV, 192 cal/12 oz

Monday, February 16, 2009

Homemade all-purpose cleaner

For the past 6 months or so, we've been making our own all-purpose cleaner. It's been wonderful not to have that chemical smell in the house, and it's a lot cheaper, too. Here's the recipe:
  • 1 qt (1 l) hot water
  • 1 qt (1 l) white vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp castile soap
  • 20 drops tea tree oil
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
Mix everything together in a big container with a lid (we use an old 1 gallon vinegar bottle), and shake. It may be a bit cloudy as the castille soap tends to clot up a bit, but it works very well. The tea tree oil and lavender oil are both natural disinfectants and good at fighting mold. The lavender also makes it smell nice in a natural way. You should be able to find castile soap, tea tree oil, and lavender oil in most health food stores (or online).

Pour some of the mixture into a spray bottle and use for all-purpose cleaning.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Carrot Rolls

These carrot rolls are a favorite with the kids and adults in our house: tasty and healthy! This recipe makes 32 rolls, but they freeze well, and then you're not baking quite as often.

From Green-Savvy

  • 9 dl (1 qt) milk
  • 60 g (2 oz) butter
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2.5 dl (1 cup) plain yogurt
  • 1.5 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 dl (1/3 cup) flaxseed meal
  • 1.5 dl (1/2 cup) 10-grain cereal (or other grain mix like King Arthur's Harvest Grain Blend). You can also substitute wheat bran.
  • 350 g (12 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp dry parsley flakes or 2 dl (3/4 cup) fresh
  • 1 Tbsp coarse salt
  • 400 g (14 oz) shredded carrots
  • 1.4 kg (3 lb) all-purpose flour
Melt butter in a large stock pot (I use a 4 gallon stock pot for the whole process, but you could also melt butter and heat milk in a smaller pot and then continue in a large mixing bowl). Add milk and heat until mixture reaches about 38C (100F), or until luke warm. Take the pot off the heat and stir in honey and yogurt. Dissolve yeast in the mixture. Add remaining ingredients, keeping back some of the all-purpose flour. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Transfer dough to a lare oiled bowl/pot, and allow to rise covered for 60 minutes until doubled in size and the dough doesn't spring back when poked with a finger.

Form into individual rolls. I try to make them 100-125g (~4 oz) each. I find that oiling the work surface when making the rolls is a lot easier than with a floured surface. Place on baking sheet and allow to rise covered for about 30 minutes. Brush tops with beaten eggs. Bake 15 minutes at 225C (437F) until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A map to help you eat local

I stumbled across this map, which shows by state and month, what ingredients are in season. Very spiffy graphics. When checking for Wisconsin, it does become apparent that it can be challenging to eat local around here. For November through May, the growing season is listed as dormant and you would have to go for stored items, such as apples and potatoes. This does put our challenges of hosting a local meal in March into perspective.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Recipe: Spent grain bread

Here's the recipe we use for our Spent Grain Bread. It is adapted from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads (if you like whole grain bread, this book is great!). It takes two days, but it is really simple stuff on both days. It uses 'spent grain' which is the grains that are left over from brewing beer. In the homebrewing process we use, these grains are steeped for about an hour in 68℃ / 155℉ water. Normally they would be discarded (we'd composted them before we started baking them). The taste, texture, and color of the bread will vary considerably with the type of grain used for the beer (big difference between a stout and pale ale grains). If you're not a homebrewer try asking your friends - I'm often surprised at how many people are homebrewers - youought to find someone who knows someone who brews. You could also ask a local microbrewery.

This recipe makes two loaves, or about two dozen rolls.

Day 1:
About 20 minutes of work.
The soaker works to hydrate the grains in the whole wheat by mixing it with water and salt and let it sit overnight. This makes the grain softer but also enhances flavor and makes the bread a little sweeter (check Reinhart's book for the whole explanation).
  • 454 g / 1 lb whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp (8 g) salt
  • 1½ cups water
Mix all soaker ingredients until flour is fully hydrated, then cover and let sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

Reinhart uses the term 'Biga' for an overnight starter that uses a small amount of yeast and also soaks the whole wheat flour to increase flavor and acidity.
  • 454 g / 1 lb whole wheat flour
  • 5/8 tsp active dry yeast (1/2 tsp instant dry yeast)
  • 1½ cups warm water
Make a well in the flour. Pour the water into the well and then sprinkle the yeast in the water. Mix the water, gradually drawing in all the flour until hydrated. Once you have a ball of dough, knead in the bowl using wet hands for about two minutes. You may need to wet your hands again, but be careful not to add too much water to the dough.
Let the dough rest for five minutes, then knead again with wet hands for about one minutes. This time, the dough will be easier to work with, although it will still be tacky. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Day 2:
About 2 hours de-chill, then 20 minutes mixing followed by 2-3 hours fermentation. Baking takes 45-60 minutes.
Now we make the bread. Remove the Biga from the refrigerator about two hours before starting to mix the final dough.

  • Soaker
  • Biga
  • 225 g spent grain
  • 113 g whole wheat flour
  • 2¼ tsp (10 g) salt
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp active dry yeast (1½ Tbsp instand dry yeast)
  • 85 g (4½ Tbsp) honey
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (optional)
  • Extra whole wheat flour for adjustments
Chop the soaker and biga into 10-12 smaller pieces each - sprinkle some extra flour to keep them from sticking to each other. Hydrate the yeast in a little warm water (just enough to form a thick paste). Add to biga and soaker pieces along with the remaining ingredients except extra flour. Mix with a spoon or knead with wet hands for a few minutes to evenly distribute all ingredients. Take the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 3-4 minutes until dough is soft and tacky but not sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the counter for five minutes.

Knead the dough again for about a minute. The dough should feel soft, supple, and very tacky. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, covering it in oil on all sides. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes.

Form the dough into two loaves or smaller rolls. Cover loosely and let rise an additional 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425℉/218℃. Add a steam pan to the oven and a hearth stone. When you put the bread into the oven, pour a cup of water into the steam pan and spray several times with a water mister inside the oven (not on the bread). The purpose is to create steam that will produce a crusty crumb on the bread. Lower the temperature to 350℉/ 177℃and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the bread 180°and bake another 20-30 minutes until the bread is done (thump the bottom to hear if it sounds hollow).

Cool on a wire rack and enjoy! Leave a comment if you try it out and let us know how it went.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth Hour and Local Dinner coming up

Earth Hour 2008 is tomorrow evening at 8:00pm (local time no matter where you are in the world). We just came across a Time article that takes on the criticism that turning off the lights for an hour doesn't really do much. The point is that it's a symbolic act, and symbolism matters hugely in politics, and climate change is first and foremost a political problem.

Here, we will host a dinner of mostly local food - it's really hard to get truly local food in March in Wisconsin - we'll substitute organic food for most of what we couldn't get locally. We'll have about 18 people at the house enjoying good food, wine, and company (hopefully!).

What are you doing for earth hour?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Big Baking Day!

We were pretty busy this weekend doing some baking - see most of the results in the picture. Clockwise from top left: Spent grain batards, spent grain rolls, farmhouse white, pumpernickel, and baguettes. The farmhouse white (with white whole wheat) is fast becoming our staple sandwich bread, and the pumpernickel is the staple Danish bread, that most Danes are unable to survive without for prolonged periods.

In addition, we also did the usual Friday night pizza with the homemade crusts, and Sunday Kim baked an additional three loaves of farmhouse white.

The trickiest part on Saturday was timing all the breads so that the oven would be available when things needed to go in. Of course, each bread requires a different temperature and time in the oven...

This table shows how we planned it out:
Prep time
(mix, knead, raise etc)
Baking time
Start time
Oven time
3 hours 30 min
1 hr 15 min @ 350F
11:30 am
3:00 pm
Farm house white
3 hours
35 min @ 375F
10:00 am
1:00 pm
Spent grain
2 hrs 15 min 20 min @ 425/350F
9:30 am
11:45 am
4 hours 30 min
20 min @ 475
9:30 am
2:00 pm

This worked out fine for the most part, except the baguettes didn't rise as expected and needed a bit more time, so they were ready at the same time as the pumpernickel loaves. We resolved the conflict by sticking the pumpernickel in the garage (close to freezing temps) until the baguettes were done in the oven.