Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Zima Challenge

A co-worker and I decided to initiate what we call "The Zima Challenge" - an effort, using standard homebrewing techniques, to replicate the (in)famous alcopop Zima.

The rules I am holding myself to are as follows:

  1. Don't buy any new equipment
  2. Use ingredients available to an homebrewer
  3. For the love of Pete, don't make more than a gallon

Today, I brewed.

I assembled my ingredients:
1 Gallon of water

3 1/4 cups of sugar
Then came the most difficult step - I brought the water to a boil and added the sugar:

This took a great deal of concentration, and one beer.
 After letting the sugar boil for about half an hour, I cooled the solution to 80F:

This required another beer.  Being patient is hard.
 Then added the zest of one small lime:
Mmm, limey goodness.  Not Kate Winslet, unfortunately.
 Next came some dry ale yeast and a vigorous shaking to mix the yeast in and oxygenate the syrup (honesty prevents me from calling it wort):

It was already fermenting nicely a few hours later:

Further updates will be posted as we go along - I anticipate about a week in the first jug, then a second week to clarify, another 2-3 weeks for bottle conditioning and carbonation.

Something that didn't occur to me until the Mrs. asked me today is this:  Who is going to drink it?

That's a good question.  A very good question.  Anyone here in Austin that remembers what Zima tasted like want to be a guinea pig?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Adventures In Unhealthy Eating

The Mrs. is out of town with the Knitting Mafia this weekend, so it's me and the kids.  We (I) have decided to celebrate by eating Things That Are Exceptionally Bad For Us.

Dinner last night was hot dogs and oven fries, breakfast today was donuts.  Lunch will be at Muster Day, an open house at Camp Mabry, the National Guard base here in Austin.  Probably something grilled and/or on a stick.

Dinner tonight is chopped BBQ pork sandwiches.

Tomorrow night we're back to healthier eating choices.

Life is good.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Oh, Hey, I Have A Blog, Don't I?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my Best!Job!Evar! has made for a lot of big adjustments in life at Casa AC - especially with the decrease in time for elaborate meals and extensive food prep.  We've been eating a lot  more crock pot meals, and more quick-cooking dinners as well.  We're still avoiding the extensively processed food, which is good.

Last night was the annual Crawfish Boil in our neighborhood, which includes (natch!) lots of mudbugs, barbecued pork, brisket, homebrewed beer (not mine, but maybe next year) and a rich assortment of homemade sides.
This was my first helping.  First of many.

It's a good feel, to come together as a neighborhood like that.  A sense of community, the pleasure of sharing with my neighbors, the delicious food - they're all good for me.  This year, I bought some bread (I'd planned to bake it, but a stomach bug on my day off meant no food prep), as well as 3 bottles of my Riesling and some orange and mango-habanero mead (still not completely aged, but darn tasty nonetheless - and 15% ABV, so with a nice kick).  My Bock just got bottled, so it's still 3 weeks out from being ready to drink.  Next year, I'm going to be ready earlier, and I'll have more wine and beer ready to haul out, and probably some cheese as well.

Today is mostly recovery - I helped clean up and put away tables and chairs, and I've got some housecleaning to do, and then it's making Mozzarella, and starting a batch of Shiraz so I've got it ready for our trip to the beach in August to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

I'll be trying to get back in the swing of things here, aiming for a post a week.

So, how YOU doin'?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

So, Yeah, I Been Busy

My new job is all job-a-riffic, and I'm loving it, but I've been busier than the proverbial one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest, so cooking has, sadly, taken a back seat.

I'm digging up lots of crock-pot recipes, and on my days off, if there's time, I aim for the more elaborate cooking plans.  Tuesday, I made bread - 2 loaves of French bread and a big batch of what I'm calling Garlic Butter Bread Balls.

They're pretty much what they sound like - I took 2 loaves worth of French bread dough and after the second rising split the dough into 24 balls, then let them rise for about an hour.  Cooked them at 400F for 10 minutes, then slowly dropped them down to 300F until they were light and golden brown all over.

Once they'd cooled a little, I dipped each one in melted butter with crushed garlic in it, set them to dry a little and sprinkled some kosher salt on them

I will be making these again, I have decided.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Cheddar!

posted from Bloggeroid

Fear Not...

As most of you are aware, I start a new job today.  Almost 4 years after being laid off, I have a job that I think I'll really like at a homebrew supply store, a job with real career potential.

Here what I will do:

  • Keep blogging
  • Come up with more interesting/entertaining things to do with cooking
  • Tell some more stories
  • Maybe do a couple of contests/giveaways
What I won't do:
  • Write about work
Looking forward to the new gig, and the new possibilities it's opening for me.  Thank you to everyone for reading so far, and welcome to any new readers out there.

As a by-the-way, I racked my Reisling yesterday, and set a block of proto-cheddar out to dry preparatory to banding it in cheesecloth.  The Reisling gets bottled in 2 weeks, and the cheddar will need to age 3-6 months.  

Good times.

And, hey, good eating.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Freezer Jam!

No, not a concert featuring cryogenically frozen rock stars.

It's jam you make and store in your freezer, that's all.  I've been doing freezer jam for several months now - it's quick and easy, and costs less than boughten jam.  A quick Google* will give you dozens of recipes, but they all come down to about the same proportions.  Today, I used this one to make Strawberry jam, which gets consumed at an alarming rate at my house.

I started with some organic strawberries**, some sugar and some pectin.

Cut up the strawberries and mash them in a bowl***, then mix them in with the sugar:

Bring the water and pectin to a boil and add that to the strawberries and sugar:

Then you just put it in jars:

Let it sit for 24 hours, then stick 'em in the freezer.  Bing bang boom, you got some jam.  

* - Yes, I know we're not supposed to use "Google" as a verb, but I will anyway.  Deal with it, Google.
** - "Organic" as in, grown according to organic farming principles, because all food is organic.  I took chemistry, me.
*** - IT HAS BEEN 8 DAYS since there was an injury requiring medical treatment in my kitchen.  Shut uuuppppp!