Archive for December, 2011

You Make Your Own Food? – New Years Eve means Homemade Chinese Food…almost

We usually do Chinese Food for New Years Eve, but this year we’ve added a twist. We’re doing Chinese Inspired Food. Stuffing things in wontons!

Have fun, but keep it safe!


Wontons with: meatballs, sauce, and cheese; shrimp rangoon; spinach, mushrooms, ricotta cheese


Wontons with: spinach, ricotta cheese; pepperoni, pizza sauce and cheese; pizza sauce and cheese


Buffalo chicken dip, aka soupy crack-not for me thanks, all Sarah's


Mix for eggrolls


Assembled eggrolls


Leftover cabbage will become sauerkraut


Chicken in scratch teriyaki sauce

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You Grow Your Own Food? – December stragglers

Yep, carrots in December-no hoop house.

You Make Your Own Beer? – 2011 Year in review

Had a fairly productive year brewing, I figured it was a good time for a year in review of what I brewed in 2011.

Oh My Darlin Clementine Wit, 5.5 gallons
6-row, oats, wheat, acidulated malt, Belgian Pale malt, Northern Brewer hops, Saaz hops, clementine peels, clementines, coriander, and chamomile flowers. Acid rest, decoction, step mash.
LOVED this beer, soooo much clementine flavor. Would like to do again.

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead, JAOM, 1 gallon
Honey, oranges, raisins, cinnamon, clove, bread yeast.
Recently sampled, still a bit hot/harsh, I’ll be giving it time but it is pretty tasty.

Vienna Centennial SMaSH, 5.25 gallons
Vienna malt, acidulated malt, Centennial hops. First wort hop.
Pretty decent beer, not earth shattering. I’d try a different hop with this malt though, perhaps in the spice vein instead.

Minute Man Red Lager, 5.5 gallons
Pale malt, vienna malt, white wheat, Carafa III, Munich, acidulated malt, Hallertauer Hersbrucker.
AWESOME beer, I need to make this one again but the time it ties up my fermentation chamber is tough to deal with.

SCHBA Warrior IPA, 5 gallons
Caramel malt, Special B, pale LME, Warrior hops, Centennial hops, Cascade hops, piloncillo sugar. Late malt addition to the boil.
Not very good. We made the first Warrior group brew that was awesome but have fallen short on the next two. Out of all the shares there was one good one by Mark Coogan which used Citra dry hopped. I think it covered the shortcomings of this beer as the others had this similar flavor. I am attributing it to the piloncillo sugar as I have heard others comment on the flavor of brown sugar in beer. My beer has that sugar’s smell to it. I’m also wondering if while we portioned off the wort could it have become stratified so some got more of the sugar than others? Will have to get this brew done again but get it like it was the first time which was COMMERCIAL GOOD!

AHS Anniversary Kolsch, 7.5 gallons
German pilsner, red wheat, acidulated malt, Perle hops, Vanguard hops. The recipe was a mess, I fixed it by changing around the hop schedule and increased the volume due to my higher efficiency.
AWESOME, love Kolsch beer. The only complaint I have is I had to use gelatin to clear and some of the bottles got gelatin boogers in them. Need to do cold crashes instead and perhaps add back dry yeast to bottle condition. This wasn’t Reisdorf, but close.

Dampfbier, 5.5 gallons
Belgian 2 row, Munich, Caramunich, Vanguard hops, Hallertauer Herbrucker hops. Wheat yeast at high temps on a barley beer.
Very interesting beer, big banana flavor but the barley background sets it apart from wheat beers. Decent summer refresher, I’ll probably do this again.

Roggenbier, 6 gallons
Rye, Munich, Pilsner, Caramunich, Carafa II, Tettnanger hops, Saaz hops. Overpitched Weihenstephaner yeast in an effort to cancel the banana esters.
Not bad, but not to good. It came out thick and syrupy with little head or carbonation. It may have to do with splitting the batch between two fermenters or just too much overpitch. I wouldn’t mind trying it again, but would start from scratch with a new recipe and plan.

AHS Anniversary IPA, 5.25 gallons
Crystal malt, Extra Pale LME, Magnum hops, Falconer’s Flight hops blend.
Meh. Not sure what went wrong with this one but it has an off flavor. It was at this point that I decided my autosiphon may be contaminated so I replaced it. There were shadowy blotches inside near the bottom where it is difficult to reach to clean. Beers after this came out ok, so I am going with that. The Falconer’s Flight hop blend did smell pretty good, I’d like to try it again.

Skeeter Pee, 6 gallons
Lemon concentrate and lots of sugar and nutrients.
WOW. Love this stuff. Takes a very long time to make, I plan on starting early spring for summer consumption and may try some of the flavorings some people add to it. Would like to try it carbonated.

Dandelion Wine, 1 gallon
Dandelions, sugar, raisins.
Still in tertiary aging.

Dandelion Mead, 1 gallon
Dandelions, honey, raisins.
Still in tertiary aging.

Blessed Bitter, 5.5 gallons
Pilsner malt, crystal malt, Vienna malt, Special B, acidulated malt, Goldings hops (homegrown), Goldings hops (commercial). Long mash when I went to church.
Pretty basic bitter leaning towards ESB. If I do again, I would add more IBUs but that was hard to judge with homegrown hops for Joe. The hops came out smooth, just not enough of them.

Boumpy’s Beer, IPA, 5.5 gallons
Maris Otter malt, Caramel malt, Munich II, Victory malt, White wheat, Columbus hops, Cascade hops.
COMMERCIAL GOOD BEER! Will make this one again, as good as those big buck West Coast IPAs. Too bad I bottled it in bombers, it is going quickly!

Biermuncher’s Centennial Blond, 11 gallons
Caramel malt, cara-pils, 2 row, Vienna malt, Centennial hops, Cascade hops.
Very good quaffer. Drink this instead of a macro yellow fizzy water. A decent gateway to craft beers and a great beer when you just want a refreshing beer with some flavor. A bit of hop bursting next time I think though.

Apfelwein, 5 gallons
Apple juice, sugar.
Always have some of this stuff on hand, nice dry and light wine. Still in secondary, may try to carbonate this batch.

Graff, 5 gallons
Apple juice, crystal malt, torrified wheat, amber DME, light DME, any low AA hops.
Always have some of this stuff on hand. Appley and beery. Refreshing and strong.

Angel Over My Shoulder Sassafras Spruce Porter, 5.5 gallons
2 row, caramel malt, torrified wheat, chocolate malt, Columbus hops, Northern Brewer hops, sassafras root bark, spruce tips.
Still in primary.

Total Brew Sessions: 18
Total gallons brewed: 92 gallons

Winning! On a roll lately

It was a very productive end of year for me on the contest winning front. I have won in November and December:

Burts Bees cuticle salve
Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook
Fandango® 2-Pack of Movie Tickets
NESCAFE® Dolce Gusto® Piccolo™ machine
Savasa Fitness Gloves
Braun Cruzer Face electric razor

You have to realize, I never win anything. Not. Too. Shabby.

Sick of Junk Products – Xia-Xia (toy) – Partially acceptable response

Santa brought Emilyann a Xia-Xia that she asked him for. It was broken before it even made it out of the package-I cry foul.

This is the email I sent:

Hello,

My 7 year old daughter asked every Santa Claus she ran into for a
Xia-Xia pet so imagine her surprise when she found one in her stocking
on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, the packaging was too tough and
the Xia-Xia pet too flimsy to last even coming out of the package. One
of the claws snapped right off leaving a little girl with a broken heart
and tears on Christmas morning. Your product should be a little more
robust, they are toys after all. And the packaging should not be Fort
Knox. I am very disappointed with your product, I haven’t been
successful with the super glue yet either but she still plays with the
one clawed Xia-Xia.

Scott Schluter

This is what I got back on the same day:

Dear Scott,

I am sorry that you are having trouble with your Xia Xia Pets. Our policy is to ask you to return to the store of purchase for an exchange when there is a problem with a product. We have a return allowance in place with our authorized retailers that allows them to make that exchange easily for our customers. If you are unable to do this, I will need to ask you to send the crabs to us and we will make a replacement for you.

Please wrap the crabs carefully to avoid damage, placing it in a padded envelope and mail it to us at:

Cepia LLC
121 Hunter Ave
Suite 103
St Louis, MO 63124
Attn: Lynn

Be sure to include your return address inside the envelope as well so we have a good address for mailing the replacements!

Kindly,

Lynn Kelly
Director of Consumer Relations
Cepia LLC

So they are willing to replace the unit if I can’t get Santa to exchange it. A bit hard to explain this to a 7 year old with Santa involved, no? We may send it off to Cepia for a return, but we’ll first check the cost to send it off because, frankly, the toy itself it 100% junk so only worth it for my little girl’s heart. We won’t purchase any Xia-Xias; they are crabs with little friends that sit inside shells that mount to their back. The crab moves on wheels until it bumps into a wall then reverses and turns and moves forward again…only in theory. Ours bumps into things and continues to spin wheels half the time, does back up, turn and move forward again the other half. Sometimes it won’t even get started moving. The legs are extremely fragile. Very poor design, they could be made sturdier and be made to actually do what they advertise they do.

Sick of Junk Products – Hormel Black Label Bacon – Positive Response

This is the first in a series of posts regarding substandard products we fell we have wasted our money on. There are far too many products out there that are just not worth the money spent and we are tired of wasting our money on them. When we purchase a product and the quality does not match the cost, we will complain to company and post the response. Important! We are not making up false complaints in an effort to get free stuff, we only complain when we feel we are justified when a product does not live up to the reputation it should. Please don’t take this idea and make up false claims to get free stuff yourself.

First Up: Hormel Black Label Bacon

We purchased two packages of Hormel Black Label Bacon to make appetizers for our church potluck. The recipe was basically flattened bread with a filling and wrapped up in bacon. The bacon was mostly fat with little meat. SNEAKY PACKAGING! The way they packaged the bacon, you could not tell it was so fatty until you opened it up. I wish we took pictures of the bacon but it had to be 5-10% meat, the rest fat. We’ve had Hormel plenty of times and it is usually ok so it was probably a batch thing. I will say I am very disappointed in bacon in general lately as most brands are mostly fat. In my opinion, bacon quality has gone downhill fast in recent years. Once we get a smoker built, we hope to be making our own to avoid lousy bacon. So I wrote to Hormel. It was a form on their website and I didn’t keep a copy of what I wrote but this is their response:

Mr Schluter,
Thank you for contacting us with your comments regarding your recent purchase of HORMEL® BLACK LABEL® Bacon.
We regret this product did not meet your expectations. By taking the time to contact us, you have allowed us the opportunity to investigate this situation. Your report has already been sent to our production and quality control personnel for their review.
Please look for a complimentary certificate to be sent via mail.
We value you as a consumer and hope you will continue to purchase our products with confidence.

Danielle
Consumer Response
Ref # 2133033

We later received a copy or $5.00 off any product. Good job Hormel, we hope our next purchase of Black Label Bacon is better.

You Make Your Own Beer? – Angel Over My Shoulder brew 2011: Sassafras Spruce Porter BIAB

The wort was nestled, all snug in its bed.

Nice looking mash

My BIAB rig

How I squeeze the wort from my grains. Twist the bag and press it into the colander with a pan lid.

Boil started

Spruce tips and sassafras roots in a hop sock

We pulled some of the spent grain to make granola, it tastes good with the chocolate malt.

Night brewing is beautiful

So many more colors than daytime

The Angel Over My Shoulder arrived as always in the form of my lone star in the sky.

Watching daddy do all this work makes the Gavinator sleepy

Boil done, great color!

Look, Marc brought some of his friends

Visions of spruce tips dance in the wort's head