Look!  A filthy stove!  Actually, this is my hops and amber malt extract that just got done boiling for an hour. 

I have enough wine and mead either bottled or ready to bottle, as well as wine kits, to make about 200 bottles of wine.  So, I decided that it was time to branch out and make something new.  One of the wine/mead books I have is Ken Schramm’s The Complete Meadmaker, and while browsing the book looking for other ideas, came upon a recipe that seemed like it would be an easy introduction to the making of a braggot.  So, off to the cooking store I went looking for supplies. 

At the store I decided that for my first attempt I would forego using whole grains and use a malt extract instead.  I chose to use an amber malt for this braggot (which I am having second thoughts about now), and am using  a clover honey from Costco.  I would really love to use another type of honey, but it is too expensive to get it shipped to Juneau and use it in the quantities I use yearly.  The Costco honey worked well with my blueberry mead, so it should work well here as also. Hopefully, anyway.


3.3 pounds Amber Malt Extract

2 ounces Cascade Hop Pellets

1o pounds Clover Honey

2 tsp. Yeast Nutrient

2 tsp. Yeast Energizer

5 grams Lalvin D-47 Yeast

Specific gravity was about 1.097, or an ABV of 13% or so.  I plan to carbonate it so only time will tell on this one. 

Some pics!  Strawberry-Rhubarb Wine in carboys; Yeast!; a really bad picture of the braggot in the primary:

Strawberry_Rhubarb_Wine_29Jul10_IMG_0243 Braggot_29Jul10_IMG_0239 Braggot_29Jul10_IMG_0240

I transferred my Strawberry-Rhubarb Wine to the secondary(s) yesterday.  There was so much crap, in the form of melted strawberry debris, in the primary that it was difficult to rack it pure, so I transferred the remaining liquid to a one gallon container to let both settle out.  I had the same issue with my blueberry wine and mead, where there were so many seeds that I ended up with a huge amounted of wasted wine.  I will re-rack in about 10 or so days when I see a good degree of settling.

The blueberry wine and mead were back-sweetened yesterday, and I must say that both are pretty good.  I have only been making wine for about a year and a half, so am not sure how home-made wine/mead ages for a long time when bottled.  But if it is anything like my kit wines that I have aged for 6 – 9 months, these two wines should be really great. I plan on bottling both on the 14th of August, which will be exactly one year from the date the yeast was pitched. 

In other wine news, I picked up an RJ Spagnols Grande Vieux Chateau du Roi kit today.  The description is:

The intense aroma of this BIG red features a complex mélange of ripe cherries, blackberries and bell peppers.

I will probably start the Roi next Monday. 

Cupcakes, and My Brain!

16Jul2010_IMG_0211I decided to make some cupcakes for my 33 wedding anniversary on Saturday, and settled on the recipe that you see in this image.  They were OK, just not as good as I thought they would be.  On the 1 – 10 scale, they were an 8, and only an 8 because the frosting saved them.  I usually make cupcakes, cakes, and other foods from scratch, but this one included a cake mix with additions.  You could tell it was a mix by both the taste and texture.  Of course, I was a bit spoiled after the cupcakes I made for my wife’s work earlier this week.  They were a solid 10++ out of 10, with a moist, dense, rich chocolate cake, and a beautiful chocolate frosting.  

I really need to work on taking pictures of food.  The majority of them are very poor quality (see above!).  Then again, since I went digital and got away from total manual settings, most of my pictures are not that great.  Something to work on in the future I suppose.

I was at the gym on Friday, doing my regular Friday routing, when I think I broke something in my brain!  Or, at least that is how it felt.  After my squats, I was doing my second set of high-rep, low weight straight leg dead lifts (180 pounds), when on rep 12, I felt a sudden very sharp and intense pain on the top right of my head.  I did rep 13, and needed to stop because of the pain.  I was not dizzy, and suffered no other effects or symptoms other than the pain.  I took a minute to recover, and tried to finish my set.  Didn’t happen!  I could not even lift the bar off the floor because of the pain.  I went home (and ate candy).

On Saturday, I went to the gym to finish the routine that I failed to do on Friday.  I did most of it, but quit because the pain returned.   The pain seemed to build the further along I got into a set, and then partially subside when I was done.  After 30 minutes of this, I had had enough, so I hit the sauna.  Weightlifters (exercise induced) headache? 

The whole experience has been unusual, especially since I feel great (though with a very slight head and ear ache) when I am not exercising.  I may go hiking in the mountains today to see what happens next.  Tomorrow I will again venture into the gym and see what happens.  If the pain returns, I will probably see a doctor, who will charge me hundreds of dollars, and tell me I am fine.  Or…….!

Forum and Gallery


I spent the majority of yesterday installing, configuring, and testing (playing with) Gallery 3 and Coppermine.  After all was done, I have decided to once again use Coppermine for an image gallery for this site.  While I enjoyed many of the features of Gallery 3, and was surprised at the ease of installation as compared to other Gallery releases, in the end Coppermine 1.5.6 was my choice.  Improvements over previous versions include mass image uploads, general configuration of categories and albums, as well as  the ease of changing administrative functions.  Gallery 3 is good, just not as good as Coppermine as a stand alone gallery, in my opinion.  I have loaded some low resolution photos in the gallery for testing.

The forum is also online and has several discussion forums available.  These will change over time, but it is a start. 

Now that everything is up and running, I just need to start writing, but am having a very difficult time doing so.  I have a huge number of ideas (and opinions), it is just difficult typing them out.  I had the same problem in my last class (in my PhD program) and barely made all the writings on time.  I will give it a go this weekend, setting a goal of posting 5 times per week in the blog, and daily in the forum in order to get discussion started.

Plans, Plans, and More Plans.


Summer vacation is half over and work begins again in 4 weeks.  A summer filled with hiking, biking, wine making, and other activities is coming to a close.  Actually, a summer filled with those planned activities has not, and probably will not, happen.  Of course my most personally important plan, hiking the Chilkoot Trail, seems to also be something that may not happen this summer.

I am not sure what happened this summer, whether it was the weather, the indecisiveness of our future plans in Juneau regarding moving or not, old age, cosmic rays, or something else, but it was very difficult for us to do anything not related to the garden or the gym.  Even getting the house ready to sell has not happened.  Of course, the garden is the best garden we have produced, but still…..

So, today I have promised myself that I will begin hiking with a new plan of hiking the Chilkoot Trail mid-August.  In order to make this happen, it will mean I need to start getting back into hiking shape starting tomorrow, because though I have been going to the gym regularly, there is a huge difference in gym fitness and hiking fitness.  Additionally, whether or not I do the Chilkoot will also depend on if I change jobs or not, so I am not holding my breath.

If I do manage to get to the Chilkoot this summer, I have decided to sacrifice weight for comfort.  Over the past two years I have attempted to find a light weight pack that I found comfortable carrying 26 – 30 pounds.  I have tried GoLite, Deuter, Granite Gear, and and REI pack.  So far, none of them compares to my favorite pack, the Osprey Crescent 85 (and the Arc’teryx Bora 95 for winter – it can carry my snowshoes strapped to the sides without issue!).  The Crescent 85 quite heavy at ~7 pounds, and is way too large for 30 pounds of gear, but it it sure comfortable when carrying any weight when compared to the other lightweight packs. 

Oh well, only time will tell what happens with the remainder of the summer and my plans for new plans.

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