Meat and Bread

Meet_28Aug10_IMG_0401Nothing like a picture of raw meat in a blog.  What this actually is is freshly ground chuck that I ground using an attachment for my Kitchen Aid.  I have had the grinding attachment for years, and used it once to make sausage, which was not that good.  A few months ago I thought it would be interesting to grind my own hamburger meat so I would know exactly what I was eating.  So, I purchased a chuck roast and ground it last Friday. 

All that I can say is that it was the best hamburger that I have ever eaten.  The taste was excellent and fresh, and the texture was very pleasant.  Not chewy, but not soft or mushy.  Just a nice consistency that even my wife, who is not really a meat person, commented on.  It is my intention to grind my own burger meat from now on.  I intent on trying different cuts of meat, and blend them when I can.  Thinking of maybe taking a New York steak or two and making some good burgers this weekend. 

As mentioned in an earlier post, I like to make my own bread, and I also now grind wheat for whole wheat bread flour.  My loafs are now entirely whole wheat flour, with a little barley flour, sesame, poppy, sun flower, and caraway seeds, as well as salt, honey, olive oil, and of course, yeast.  The bread is becoming so easy to make that I do not even measure, just add ingredients until it looks right. 

The loafs are heavy and dense, but also light in a way that makes them pleasant to eat.  Below is a strange picture of this weeks loaf, as well as the mini-loaf (which is a bit undercooked) that is always the first to go, and some rising dough.  The bumps in the baked loaf are all of the sunflower seeds. 

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In other news, the hot pepper wine is in the secondary and is clearing a bit.  It has the color that reminds me of pineapple juice, so it should clear to a sort of off yellow.  I tasted it last week and it was very hot, with a sweetness that must come from the peppers, because it fermented dry, so the sweetness is not from the sugars.  I think it is going to be good.

I plan on bottling both the Blueberry Wine and the Blueberry Mead this weekend.  They could bulk age for another 6-plus months, but I need the table space for other wines an beers.  I now am resorting to using the floor to hold aging and fermenting items. 

Beer, and a Flower

Flower_25Aug10_IMG_0366Went to the Jensen-Olson Arboretum last weekend to see what was still glooming.  Saw this flower and took its picture.  Saw that they were growing hops and have added hops to my list of new plants to grow for next year.  Apparently, they grow well in Juneau, they just may not produce cones as it may not be hot enough.  Or so I am told.

This weekend I had my first beer since 31 December, 1999 – News Year Eve waiting for the end of the world à la Y2K, which apparently did not happen.  Yet.  The beer was quite good (Deschutes Brewery – Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter).  So, I figured since I make my own wine, I can make my own beer, which I am now doing.

From my local cooking store, which also sells brewing gear, I picked-up a True Brew Bock kit, as pictured below.  Started it on Sunday night, and it was somewhat of an experience.  One thing I now know I need, and have an excuse to buy, is a propane burner type stove for garage and outside use.  I mentioned it to my wife, and she actually thought it was a good idea to get one, probably because she saw the mess that putting a large kettle on the stove makes.  Apparently, smoke from food and oils that may be in the burner trays turns to smoke and other vapors, and deposits on the stove top in an epoxy type formation.  Not fun to clean, though I did try.

The beer kit contained grain and extract, so it was easy to make as a first try.  Roasting one of the grains was necessary, and they smelled quite nice as they roasted.  Tasted good also.  I pitched the yeast prior to going to bed on Sunday, and this morning , as you can see in the last image, things are progressing well.

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Opened the fermenter when I came home tonight – smells like a good beer. No off odors, just good beer smells. 

If there are any errors in this post, it is the fault of my new glasses.  Picked them up last Tuesday or Wednesday and I still am getting used to them. 

Hot Pepper WIne

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Started a batch of Hot Pepper Wine yesterday.  Why Hot Pepper?  Well, it should be a good cooking (and sipping?) wine that can double as Christmas presents along with other wines and baked items.  My new Christmas plan is to not buy presents for most people, just give them food and wine, and what better than something spicy during the cold of winter. 

My present thoughts for Christmas gifts are:  Home made chili sauce, a good hot salsa I make for tacos and chips, a Merlot, Blueberry Wine and a Mead, date nut or banana bread, caramel corn, some type of cookie, and a few odds and ends.  A good combo I think! 

I took a few pictures of the peppers because they are quite colorful.  The last picture is out of focus and gives me a headache when I look at it, but it is just a nice red, so I included it.

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You have to admit, that red is nice!

The recipe:

6 pounds 1 ounce sugar

water to 3 gallons

35 Jalapeno Peppers (3 pounds 6.5 ounces)

4 Habenaro Peppers (40 grams)

4 Mexican Red Peppers (3.8 ounces)

2 Anaheim Peppers (5 pounds, 4 ounces)

2 Poblano Peppers (forgot to weigh them)

1 pound 10 ounces Organic Raisins

3 grams Fremaid-K

4.5 teaspoons Acid Blend

3 Campden Tabs

In 12 hours:

2 teaspoon Peptic Enzyme

In 12 hours (Edit:  Pitch yeast (1116) at 5 PM today):

Yeast – probably 1116 started with with 12 grams Go-Ferm

While this is a hot wine, or at least I hope it is hot, I added other peppers for flavor.  The Mexican Red Pepper had a wonderful smell that I hope translates well to the wine.  I did buy a beautiful red bell pepper, but I really do not like bell peppers, so I left it out.  The starting SG was 1.086. 

In other wine news, I racked my Merlot today.  It is only 10 days old and an accidental taste was very pleasant.  I left it in the primary a few days longer than I intended, but I am glad I did.  The oak is really beautiful in this one so far.

Granite Creek Hike, and Scones

West Glacier_3Aug10_IMG_0301Hiking this year has been sporadic, but the hikes that I have been on have been great. The picture on the left is of the Mendenhall Glacier taken from the West Glacier Trail.

Did a quick 11 mile trip up the Granite Creek Trail yesterday.  It was HOT.  The temperature had to be at least 80, and I definitely felt it.  My heart rate was somewhat higher than normal and my pace was slower.  Also, I was tired at the end.  But, it was beautiful with clear skies for once and very few other people on the trail.  The only negative was the bugs – lots of bugs.  The worst were the biting flies which are not affected by bug spray.  Every time we stopped we were swarmed by the flies, so we rarely stopped, and when we did it was not for a long time.

Some pictures of the hike:

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In order to provide us with fuel for the day, I made some Blueberry Scones for breakfast.  Scones_14Aug10_IMG_0308 They were great with just enough sweetness that was not overpowering.  Just wish I had some whipped cream with them!

The recipe for the scones is fairly basic, and start to finish took about 25 minutes.

2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 shortening

1/2 cup milk

1 slightly beaten egg

blueberries

Combine dry ingredients and cut in shortening.  Add egg to milk.  Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix until just combined (I mix with a fork).  Add a few handfuls of blueberries and kneed a few times until blueberries are integrated.

Form into a circle about 1/2 inch high.

Glaze:

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons sugar

Glaze by brushing the milk over the dough and then sprinkle the sugar over that.

Cut into 8 pie shaped wedges and transfer to baking sheet (I use a Silpat on mine)

Bake at 450 until done, or about 12 – 14 minutes.

Serve hot.

Note:  By eliminating the glaze and cutting the sugar to 1 tablespoon, this recipe makes a great biscuit for biscuits and gravy!

End!

Granite Creek – 31 Jul 10

 Granite_Creek_31Jul10_IMG_0247Went for a short hike yesterday, to Granite Creek. The hike was a total of 9.15 miles, with a total ascent of 1660 feet, and a total elevation of 1539 feet (where we stopped).   Because of berries, bears, porcupines, a duck, and a lot of Salmon Berries, the hike took us 4 hours 35 minutes. 

This is our second time on Granite Creek this year, the first being in the early spring, when there was still a lot of snow and ice on the trail.  Looking at my exercise log from last year shows that I was there 14 times by this time last year.  My hiking experiences this year have been very limited unfortunately.  However, I intend to make up for my lack of hiking by changing my gym program from a 5 day split routine to a three day full body routine.  That will give me time to hike after work rather than going to the gym.  This is going to be especially important in the winter.  Last winter we hiked only a couple of times because we were always at the gym.  This winter I intend to hike at least 3 times per week, and also include a few overnight backpacking trips.  Should work out.  Hopefully.

As for the hike.  It was a cloudy day with off and on drizzle from almost the start of the hike.  However, because of the humidity it was best that we did not wear out rain jackets, as we would have been wetter inside the jackets than out.  At least when we walked the water could evaporate.  Our plans were to take Granite Creek to Mt. Juneau, but because of the weather (and because we were hiking so slowly) we decided to turn back early.

On the way back, we saw a bear who was busy eating berries and paying absolutely no attention to us. 

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A few more pictures on a foggy, drizzly day:

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More pics in the image gallery!

Total hiking mileage for the week of 24 – 31 July 2010:  26.5.