Potato Chip Review – Funyuns Flaming Hot

As usual with the packaging, you see all those flames and think, “These might be pretty hot.” Well yes they brought the heat, but in an unexpected kind of way. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but somehow the folks at Frito-Lay figured out how to add heat to the Funyuns so that it tickling the back of your throat instead of your tongue. It is such a strange sensation, that I want to try these again. The ingredient list on the packaging doesn’t list what peppers are used for the heat. But whatever they are using, its gotten me interested.

Making Pita Bread

I’ve got a whole container full of hummus, and I’m out of pita bread and pita chips. So its time to try and make pita bread again. In the past, I’ve basically used a dough recipe that was just for “pita bread”, they of course turned out nothing like pita bread, but more like a pita puck. Continue reading

More broken stuff – inside and outside

Man, I don’t know what is going on, but stuff has been breaking all around me. And it seems to be happening out of nowhere. First it was big blue ceramic bowl, and then it was my kettle (and I didn’t even think that it was possible to break a stainless steel kettle.) And now just a couple of days ago the support grate inside my charcoal chimney starter disintegrated to nothing.

The chimney starter had to have been the funniest thing that broke out of the three. I went through my usual process to start a batch of charcoal, and when I came back 15 minutes later to check on the charcoals progress. The top of the charcoal had dropped ~2 inches, which I thought was kind of strange. So I just added some more charcoal to the top of the chimney.

It wasn’t until the coals were ready that I found out why they had dropped so much. When I picked up the starter all the coals fell out the bottom. I should have known that the end was near for the chimney starter when I had to replace one of the rivets on the handle a week ago. Well it least it is close to the end of summer, so I’ll be able to get another starter as an end of season clearance before they are all gone.

Mini harvest of the Garden – Mid-August 2009

I’m going to a dinner party on Friday, so I’m bring along some vegetables in include in the menu. This year, like every year I’ve got a ton of jalapeños & pickling cucumbers. Most of the tomatoes on the vine are still green, so it will probably be another couple of weeks before they are ripe. I did have one green pepper plant & both habanero plants die out of no where. So I was only able to harvest one habanero, maybe I’ll have better luck next year.

Picked up Aug/Sept 2009 Wine Club Shipment Monday from Domaine Carneros

Well surprise, surprise, I missed the UPS guys last Friday by about 20 minutes. Damn! I never seem to be able to catch that guy. I guess if I were on un-employment I wouldn’t have that problem. But if I were on un-employment I probably wouldn’t have a wine club subscription. So once again I had to hold my wine for pickup at the UPS Depot. As usual with the mixed club I got a bottle of sparkling and a bottle of red, but this time they are both new releases.

The sparkling this shipment is a 2003 Late Disgorged Brut Vintage Cuvee, which has had an extra 3 years of aging before being released. And the red is a 2007 The Famous Gate Pinot Noir.

In other wine news, this past week when having dinner at a relative’s house I had a couple of glasses of some 1985 Mondavi Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Rating: 95, Wine Spectator, 11/01/1989). At first it was a little bit musty in smell, but after some airtime in the decanter it started to open up and stretch its legs. It wasn’t big and bold like some younger Cabs, more of a mature but fading smoothness from start to finish that only comes with some age (or a lot of age!). This wine is basically at the tale end of its ideal drinking age (1995-2005), so it was probably a good thing that we imbibed when we did. Because the end is near.

Bottoms up!

Homebrew Session – Dry Stout

Who knew that a $7 thermometer could make such a huge difference? I basically added ~13% eff to this brew session, to come in at ~73%, much better then the 60% on the last batch of IPA.

For the dry stout I had an OG of 1.050 @ 76F with ~6 gallon of wort going in the primary fermenter. After I pitched the yeast it only took about 6 or 7 hours, before the airlock was bubbling like crazy. So enough rambling on my part, here is the recipe that JRR and I cobbled together two weeks ago:

6.5 lb – Pale Malt (2 row) UK
2 lb – Barley, Flaked
1.5 lb – Carafoam
1 lb – Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L
.5 lb – Carafa III
.5 lb – Barley, Roasted
.5 lb – Chocolate Malt (UK)

1 oz. – East Kent Goldings – Pellet – 60 min
1 oz. – East Kent Goldings – Pellet – 15 min
1.8 oz. – Centennial – Fresh Whole Hops – Dry Hopping

Wyeast Irish Ale – 1084

Other info: Mashed for about 90 minutes at 148-150F with 4.25 gallons of water; sparged with 5.5gal of 185F water; First running was 3.5gal and the second/final running was 3.75gal; 90 minute boil; 5 days in the primary, FG 1.012 @ 80F; at least 11-14 days in the secondary before kegging.

Lessons learned:
1) Having a good thermometer makes a huge difference in trying to get the best efficiency out of your grains.

2) I used the primary fermenter bucket to measure all the water. (Why didn’t I think of this sooner?) This is much easier then remembering how many measuring cups you added to the pot. Just fill to a gallon line, then use a measuring cup to adjust the volume up or down from there.

3) 1 gallon of 185F water will not bring a 150 mash up to 168F; at best it will raise the temperature to 160-162F. Next time I’m going to add a gallon of boiling water for the mash out.

4) If there is only thing I am always going to do in the future, it will be to make and use a yeast starter before pitching the yeast into the primary fermenter.

Super Fast Fish Fry

So after a 13 hour day at work on Monday, I didn’t get home until 9pm. So having basically worked 8 hours since my lunch break, I was in need of a very quick dinner. All the while utilizing the limited provisions in the refrigerator. Here were my options:

-Fresh brats in the fridge
-Polish style hot dogs in the fridge
-Three piece of defrosted tilapia in the fridge
-1lb of defrosted hamburger meat in the fridge

And the final selection……(drum roll please).… Continue reading

Potatoes Pancakes – My Way

For some reason last week, I was in the mood to have potato pancakes for dinner. I usually don’t like to make them, because I always seem to cut my hand while grating the potatoes on the box grater. So instead of making pancakes from all grated potatoes. I went with a combination of grated and shredded potatoes, with about three quarters of the potato grated, and the nub that is left shredded. Continue reading

Garden – End of July 2009

Here are a couple of quick shots of the garden in the backyard. The yellow squash, cucumbers & wax beans seem to be doing well. But the tomatoes and peppers seem to be more slow going this year. I guess this is a lesson learned for me, for having started the garden so late in the year. Better luck next year.