Thursday, December 22, 2011

Break of Day IPA

     I pulled my nice set of prismacolor pencils out of their hiding place, stuck a few pieces of paper in a book and put it all into my purse waiting for an opportunity to sit alone and finish Adam's batch of home brew.
     Every beer needs a label.
     I was hoping for the magical double nap that would allow me to finish the sketch I had started a few days ago.  I loaded the kids into the stroller and set off.  The double nap remained illusive.  After walking for a hour and detouring to the Children's Museum for a few more hours, I finally called Adam to come get the two of them and give me the chance to, well, do what I needed to do.
     I almost forgot that I like to draw.  
     After much deliberation and a few starts I decided to call the beer Break of Day IPA.  The morning star is still bright in the sky, but the dark of night is fading away and a track of hoof prints disappears between snow covered trees.

     Why? Because, while I spent a late night enveloped in the steamy aromas of grains and hops, Adam was sleeping in a mountain cabin, waking at the break of day to spend the weekend hunting, wading knee deep in the snow with a new rifle in hand.  
Here is the recipe I developed for this batch.  (I have, as of now, not sampled the beer. I managed to smash the mug I had set aside for myself while bottling into a million little pieces while I was cleaning up.) (((and, I don't really like IPAs, but hey, the beer isn't for me)))

Break of Day IPA

14 oz 20*L American Crystal Malt 
        steep in 1 gallon of water for 30 min @ 150*F
        drain and rinse with 1/2 gallon (so now you have 1.5 gallons total of malt "tea")
        add water to make 3.5 gallons and add 
6 lbs minus 1 1/4 cup Muntons extra-light DME (save the 1 1/4 cup for bottling the beer)
4 lbs Alexander's pale malt extract syrup
1 oz Magnum hops (alpha 15.0)
1 oz Amarillo hops (alpha 8.7)
        simmer 45 minutes and add
1 oz Magnum hops 
1 oz Amarillo hops
        simmer 15 minutes
        turn off heat and cool for 15 minutes
        transfer into primary carboy and add water to obtain the final volume of 5 gallons
        cool to less than 70*F and add 
WYEAST 1056 American Ale Yeast
        put on the fermentation lock and let it sit in a dark place for a week or until it seems the fermentation has slowed

        transfer to secondary carboy, dry hop with
2 oz Magnum Hops (alpha 20.0)
        let sit for secondary fermentation about a week

2 cups of water
1 1/4 cup of Muntuns extra-light DME 
       bring water with Muntuns extra-light DME mixed in to a boil, add to the beer, and bottle it.
       let the bottles carbonate for about 3 weeks.

My three weeks of letting the beer carbonate is almost over - two more days. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Mush

     Before we had children, we managed to fit both of our families into our Christmas routine: Christmas eve with his folks, Christmas morning with mine. The first Christmas we had Ivory, I refused to drive anywhere, and everyone came to us. The second Christmas we lived thousands of miles away from any family and for the very fist time we were on our own Christmas morning. We are about to celebrate our third Christmas away from our families and there are a few traditions that we have brought with us and some that we are cultivating on our own.
     Adam plays a Christmas eve morning game of phone tag with parents, siblings, aunts and cousins that I simply roll my eyes at, and I bake a giant wreath of cardamon bread that was a staple during my childhood holidays.

Every Christmas since Ivory was born, we have woken to the smell of cinnamon and apples and then have opened presents with steaming cup of coffee and a bowls of Christmas mush at our side.

The night before Christmas, usually around midnight, I pull out my Super Baby Food book, leaf through the pages until I find the Whole Grain Crockpot Breakfast Recipe.

Christmas Mush

1 cup barley
1 cup brown rice
½ cup raisins
2 peeled and chopped apples
6 cups water
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 jar of peaches

Put all ingredients except for the peaches in the crock pot. Cook them overnight on the low setting.
In the morning add a jar of peaches to the pot or spoon them over the individual bowls and top with cream (whipping is optional). I usually don't add sugar to mine, but Adam (who is a sugar addict) spoons on brown sugar and/or maple syrup.

As time passes, we are adding a few more traditions: handmade wrapping paper, 

Wrapping Paper 2010
Wrapping Paper 2011
our annual expedition into the forest to find and cut the perfect tree, 

and new this year – my grandmothers's Swedish Fruit Soup. 
    I have taken the liberty of including the recipe here as well, along with her notes. (Thank you Grandma, for sending it to me).

Fruit Soup, Mixed

The Best of Swedish Cooking & Baking,  1966, Marianne Gronwall van der Tuuk
Many Americans like this typical Swedish Fruit Soup, which in Sweden is served chilled, for dessert.  In America I have been served the same soup as salad with roasted pork which was also a nice combination.
Makes 4-5 servings.
                                                                                      XX                              XXX
2/3 cup dried apricots                                       1 1/3                            2
2/3 cup dried prunes                                         1 1/3                            2
6 cups water*
1 stick cinnamon                                               2                                  3
2 lemon slices                                                   4                                  6
2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca                4                                  6
1/4 cup sugar                                                    1/2                               3/4
2 tablespoons raisins                                         4                                  6
1 apple, peeled and sliced                                 2                                  3
Wash dried fruits and soak in cold water half an hour.
Add cinnamon stick, lemon slices, tapioca and sugar; simmer covered until almost tender (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Stir in raisins and apple slices and cook a few minutes longer.
Taste soup, if you wish a stronger flavor add more sugar or lemon juice, or add 2 tablespoons of fruit syrup or grape juice.
*I have always doubled, mainly tripled, the recipe. 
When I double, I add 4 cups of water to the dried fruit.  After the fruit cooks, I usually add about 1 cup of cold water.  After the addition of the raisins and apple slices, I cook perhaps 10 minutes and then add about 1 cup of cold water.  I continue to cook the soup, with lid on but stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 to 20 minutes longer.  Length of time probably depends on the firmness of the apples and one’s personal preference.  I cool the soup in the pot, no lid.  Stir it from time to time.
When tripling, extrapolate from above.
Use heavy-bottom pot.  I use stainless steel Dutch oven with heavy bottom. 

As the Christmases go by, I hope that our family traditions will reflect who we are and where we came from and even if our families are not close by they can be found in the smells and tastes that fill our home during the holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

P.S.  I would love to hear some of your holiday traditions, old and new!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pie Breakfast

Last year, we woke to a winter wonderland on Thanksgiving morning, bundled up and followed converging sled tracks to the site of what will hopefully become a longstanding neighborhood tradition: pie breakfast.  Slices of sweet and savory pies, mimosas and fresh espressos disappeared as quickly as the time and we all had to rush home to cook for dinner.

This year, we woke with equal excitement and trotted across the still bare ground to the second pie breakfast and our second thanksgiving far from home. Cradled in my arms was a pie baked on the inspiration of a faint child hood memory.

Shortly after we moved to the United States, my grandmother took me to the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I sat across from her scanning the menu for a compilation of words that I recognized, trying desperately not to let her know that most of what was written was almost illegible to me. There, I spotted something I knew:  Brie. And that was the dish I ordered.  What was set in front of me a short time later was a wedge of melted brie cheese covered in caramelized apple slices and .... french bread or crackers maybe?  The taste was new and exciting to me and just a bit, forbidden, as if I had discovered something that had previously been only allowed to be sampled by adults.
So the night before the pie breakfast, I pulled my usual crust and apple pie recipe from the shelf in the form of Betty Crocker's Cookbook (Bridal Edition), which I received a few years ago, as a wedding gift of course.

I rolled the dough and carefully arranged the slices of apples that had been tossed in spices, flour, and sugar to cover the entire bottom surface.  On the layer of apples, I made a circle of caramelized walnuts, placed the brie and covered it with a few more walnuts.

The rest of the apple slices were carefully arranged to hide all traces of the cheese.

I covered the pie, baked it, and pulled it out of the oven an hour later only to have to wait and wonder until morning.  Until then I had to be content sipping the hard cider we pressed and bottled a few weeks earlier.

At the pie breakfast, surrounded by chatting adults and boisterous children, I gingerly sampled my first bite. There it was: the sensation of having stumbled onto something almost secretive and even though I have gotten taller and by all definitions am considered to be an adult I still felt like child sneaking a bite of something undoubtedly grown-up and delicious. 

If next year we wake Thanksgiving morning and find ourselves far from family, I hope we can once again embark on our pilgrimage, pies in hand, to find neighbors and friends in a warm kitchen and my pie might just have a story inside. 

Up date on: 12.18.2010
I had a request for the apple filling mixture recipe, and I am sorry that it has taken so long for me to sit down and type it up.  I have finally escaped from the house for a few hours, leaving Adam in charge of the house and kids, to sip coffee with the Sunday crowd at City Brew with the goal of tying up a few loose ends.  So, here is the apple pie filling recipe:

(this taken from Betty Crocker's Cookbook Bridal Edition)

Apple Pie Filling

8 cups of thinly sliced peeled tart apples (about 8 medium sized apples)
1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash of salt (I leave this out if I am using salted butter)

I usually use Braeburn apples, locally grown if possible, or firm apples that I pick from the abundant trees in our neighborhood.  Cut up the apples and put in a large bowl.  Measure the other ingredients into the bowl and toss.  I just use my hands...  why not get a little messy?  Layer into the pie pastry as mentioned above.

Simply Recipes has great simple instructions on how to caramelize walnuts.  They are so good on salads, to snack on and combined with apples and brie, of course. I usually just use a clean dry stainless steel frying pan to roast nuts rather than my oven, but either way works.  Just be careful not to burn the nuts either while roasting or the caramelizing.  The whole process can go from perfect to burnt in the blink of en eye.  

If any of you actually try out this pie, I would love to hear feedback!

update on 01.05.2012
so, we made this pie for New Years Day breakfast... and instead of leaving the brie whole, we cut it into chunks and mixed it in:  THAT IS THE WAY TO GO!!!  The pie was AMAZING.