Monday, April 29, 2013

Beer, beer and MORE beer!

I don't think it is possible to have too much beer on hand.  We just bottled 2 cases of a really good tasting black IPA made from a kit sold by The Beverage People, Santa Rosa, CA. 

Last night I made up the priming sugar syrup and let it cool, put it in the fridge overnight.  I also put 60 beer bottles in the dishwasher and ran it on the sanitize cycle. 

So this morning right after breakfast, we began by sterilizing a primary fermenter (plastic bucket with a spigot on it), some plastic hose and a bottle filler(must be a better name for it but I don't know what that would be).  Michael then decanted the beer from the carboy to the bucket.  Once in the bucket, he attached the hose and filler to the spigot.  I got ready with the bottle caps all nice and sanitized from last night and the bottle capper.  Michael filled, I capped and placed the filled bottles in six packs.  We ended up with exactly 48 bottles (3 of them pints) of beery goodness.  They are resting at room temperature for 10 days and then they will be ready to go into the fridge.  I hope to wait another week or so before actually breaking one open.

We did have 1 short bottle so we had about 4 oz. each of 'green' beer.  Beware this is potent stuff.  We are lightweight drinkers anyway but this brew packs a kick.  It tastes good, no skunkiness, no 'band-aid' after taste.  A great beer for our efforts which were, it seemed, minimal - 4 hours of brewing time and 1 hour bottling.  We'll have to do this again, sometime soon!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Eatwell Farm CSA Box Coming this week 5/1/2013

I can hardly wait for this week's box from Eatwell Farm.  Strawberries!  Yum.  And other goodies too -
California Late Green Garlic
Fresh Green Onions
Chandler and Albion Strawberries
Head of lettuce
Green Cabbage
Sugar Snap Peas
Green Chard
Red Beets
Florence Fennel
Eureka Lemons

Hmm, roasted whole chicken stuffed with lemons and rosemary - very yummy as a main course.  Braised fennel would make a great side dish for this meal.  The snap peas along with green garlic, chard and chicken for a stir fry served over rice.  I would shred the red beets and green cabbage for a tasty slaw along with some carrots.  Or maybe some carrots and onions in a tasty soup?  I'm not even concerned about what to do with the strawberries - breakfast smoothies come to mind.  Lettuce, carrots and snap peas for a tasty salad as well.  So many possibilities!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Ultimate in Reuse - Spent Grain Bread

A week ago we made a batch of Black IPA beer.  We saved the grain from the mash and divided it into 3/4 cup portions, frozen for future use in bread.  This past week I made one loaf with the grain and it was entirely edible and delicious.  Today I made a second loaf for us to use as toasting bread.  The recipe is from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book.  It's a tasty loaf with a rich brown color due to the grains.  Tasty too!
A crumb shot of the bread -
We have really been enjoying this bread toasted with peanut butter and orange marmalade for breakfast.  I will definitely make more of this bread in the future.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fresh Green Peas at the Market

We couldn't help ourselves this past week at the Farmer's Market.  There they were, fresh English peas in the pods. It was time for our all time favorite (and not cheap) fresh pea soup with butter dumplings.  This is not a soup for someone who cannot have butter.  There is tons of it in this soup, so we only make it once a year.  The recipe is from the Vegetarian Epicure.

Fresh Pea Soup with Butter Dumplings

For the soup -
4 cups fresh peas, shelled (about 4 lbs. of peas in their shells)
4 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. brown sugar

4 1/2 TBSP butter
4 1/2 TBSP flour
1/2 cup dry white wine

For the dumplings -
6 TBSP softened butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Make the dumplings first, by working the softened butter into a mix of flour, salt and nutmeg.  Work the eggs into the mixture and set aside.

For the soup, bring the water to a boil in a sauce pan.  Add the sugar and the peas.  Simmer for 10 minutes until the peas are tender.  Remove from heat and puree the peas and water together using an immersion blender or a regular blender.  Set the blended puree aside.  In another sauce pan, melt the butter, add the flour and mix over low heat stirring constantly for 3 minutes.  Gradually add the pea puree to the pot, mixing thoroughly after each addition in order to avoid lumps.  Once all the puree has been added to the pot, mix in the 1/2 cup white wine, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring the soup to a gentle boil and add the dumplings by dropping 1/2 teaspoonfuls of dough into the soup.  When the dumplings float to the top, cook 5 more minutes.   Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Time for Fava Beans--

Yay, it's spring and fava beans are back at the Farmer's Market here in California.  I LOVE fava beans.  Yes, they are some work, but oh, they are so rich tasting and delicious.  I've been making some fava bean puree based on Alice Waters' recipe in her cookbook 'The Green Kitchen'.  Here's my take on this recipe.  I've pared down the amount of fat (olive oil) and used water in it's place.

Fava Bean Puree

1 lb. Fava Beans in their shells
2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 stalk green spring garlic, sliced into rings
1 tsp. dried Italian seasonings

Remove the beans from their puffy green shells and place in a small sauce pan with water to cover them.  Bring to a boil, boil for about 1 minutes, then rinse the beans in cool water in a colander.  Allow the beans to cool.  Pop the green beans out of their pods. 

In a small saute/fry pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the green garlic and sautee for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the beans, season with salt and pepper.  Toss with the garlic and oil for a minute or so.  Lower the heat and add the water and Italian seasoning. Simmer for 5 minutes or until beans are softened.  Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool thoroughly.  Puree the mixture using a blender or a small food processor (I really like the small processor that comes with the Cuisinart stick blender and whisk for this job).  Process until smooth. Remove to a small container, refrigerate for future use or use immediately.  I like the puree spread on a slice of good bread or even in a sandwich as a replacement for mayonnaise.   Enjoy!

Friday, April 19, 2013

What's Brewing --

Today, we are brewing beer from a kit bought from The Beverage People in Santa Rosa, CA.  It's called Black IPA and it is very dark.  I'll also be taking the spent grain and making bread soon, using a recipe from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.   Here's the setup we had to chill the wort. The wort chiller is in the beer kettle on the stove, cold ice water flows from the bucket on the fridge into the wort chiller and then out a hose strung across the kitchen to the sink - pretty neat gravity feed setup!  In two weeks we'll bottle the brew wait a bit more and then enjoy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rye Bread Encore

I couldn't help myself.  I had enough rye starter for another batch of Eric's Favorite Rye Bread and I'd given away all the leftover bread from the potluck.  One loaf went to the guest of honor, Louise, who turned 90 that day.  The potluck was a celebration in her honor at our quilt room.  We feasted on sauerbraten, potato dumplings, cooked red cabbage, sauerkraut, chili mac and other wonderful stuff.  It was great. 

When I got home it didn't take me long to realize I needed to make more of the rye bread so Michael and I could have some with soups and as a base for some awesome pastrami sandwiches (Michael's favorite).  Soooo the loaves are baking now and the house smells wonderful.  Making my mouth water with the aromas of onions and caraway.  Yum.

Eatwell Farm Box Coming this Week to a Location Near You! 4/17/2013

Wow, time sure flies when you're having fun!  Another week has gone by and it is time once again to think and dream about all the goodies in this week's box of fruits and vegies from Eatwell Farm.  Here's the list -

Albion Strawberries
Mini Lettuce
Polar Bear Spinach
Yellow Onion Scallions
... Sugar snap peas
Late Washington Navel oranges
Lisbon lemons
California Late Green garlic
Red Ace beets
Spring cabbage or cauliflower
Tokyo Market turnips

Oh boy, oh boy - STRAWBERRIES - yum.  We wait in anxious anticipation all year for those first strawberries and here they are.  Soon there will be strawberry days at Eatwell Farm.  This is my all time favorite way to see the farm, next to the tomato sauce days, of course.  We can pick all we want and eat all we want in the fields - what a delight.  And then, to come home with all those great berries, ready for jams and fresh strawberry pie.  What could be better!

OK, so we've got lemons - time for Indian lemon pickles.  We've got cauliflower that begs to be make into aloo gobi.   Turnips and red beans Indian style, yum.  Beets, hmm, I still have some from last week's box so some borscht is begging to be made, use the carrots and scallians in that.  Spinach as a side dish for the Indian food along with some lamb chops braised in a spicy Indian masala.  Green garlic is great sauteed and mixed with some scrambled eggs.  Sugar snap peas in a spring salad of baby lettuce greens.  All good eats here.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sourdough Onion Caraway Rye Bread

Today, I got to try out a recipe for sourdough onion caraway rye bread known on the Freshloaf website ( as Eric's Fav Rye.  I didn't have dried onions in the house so I sauteed 2 medium onions in 2 TBSP olive oil until they were transparent and then cooled them in the fridge.  Two days ago I made a rye starter from 50g  of my whole wheat sourdough starter and 100g. dark rye flour(Bob's Red Mill) and 100g. water.  I then took 100g of this mixture last night and made the sponge per the recipe. Today everything came together in the final dough.  I added quite a bit of flour as I kneaded the bread for about 10 minutes, then I did 4 or 5 stretch and folds to aid in the gluten development.  After the dough rose for 1 hour at 80F, I divided and preshaped the loaves into boules.  After a 10 minute bench rest, I did the final shaping - one boule and one batard and then into floured bannetons they went.  After a 45 minute final rise, I first baked the batard and then the boule as they could not both fit on my oven baking tiles in one baking session.  Here are the finished loaves -

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Box from Eatwell Farm 4/3/2013

Can it be that another week has flown by?  Indeed it has and so tomorrow we will pick up another delicious box of fruit and vegetables from Eatwell Farm.  This week we will be treated to -

Baby turnips
Baby lettuce
Green garlic
... Yellow onions
Red kale
Green Cabbge

We just can't get enough of the arugula.  It's delicious in a salad.  I've also seen some recipes for it served with pasta - that would be something different.  Yummy baby turnips, along with lettuce and carrots make up a great salad.  Kale, onions, green garlic and cabbage go together with some lamb for a hearty soup.  Spinach as a side dish with some oven roasted chicken.  Lemons for a salad dressing along with some garlic and olive oil.  Navel oranges are good lunch box fruits.  The dill can add flavor to the salad dressing and remaining dill dried for storage.  All good stuff!

Bread Baking Day!

We ate all the whole wheat sandwich bread and were dangerously low on our favorite San Francisco sourdough so it's time to bake bread!

The sourdough we love takes 3 days from start to finish.  It's not all that labor intensive, but takes lots of time for the sourdough starter to work its magic.  The recipe is from and was submitted by dmsynder (thanks, Dave).  The bread has a distinctive sourdough tang of San Francisco and we love it with a bowl of soup or with melted cheese, a great all around loaf, making Tartine Bakery jealous (LOL).  For this bake I added another 100 g. of whole wheat flour substituting for 100 g. of the bread flour.  I also think I let the loaves retard too long in the fridge, they didn't rise as much in the oven as in previous bakes.  All in all, however, I'm pleased with the outcome.

Next on the agenda, 100% whole wheat sandwich bread from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.  We love this bread toasted in the morning and slathered with peanut butter and jam.  I tried making a different bread (an oatmeal loaf) a couple of weeks ago but nothing can compare to the taste of this whole wheat loaf with its wild yeast starter and whole wheat soaker. Very flavorful!   Some day though, I'm going to try the challah version of this loaf just for grins.

Just took the whole wheat bread out of the oven.  It was near disastrous when I realized I neglected to turn the oven down from 425F to 350F per the recipe.  Yikes, the bread spent about 25 minutes at this higher temperature.  I just baked it another 10 minutes at 350F tented it with some foil and then removed it from the loaf pan.  It looks none the worse for wear.