Sunday, August 23, 2009

Spent Grain Bread

We helped a neighbor make his first batch of beer some grain was used in the brewing process so we thought we would attempt to make a Spent Grain bread. The recipe is adapted from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book (if you like whole grain bread, this book is great!). It takes two days, but it is worth the wait. It uses 'spent grain’, which is the grains that are left over from brewing beer. In the home brewing process, these grains were steeped for about a half hour in boiling water. The taste, texture, and color of the bread will vary considerably with the type of grain used for the beer there will be a big difference between a stout and pale ale grains, our bread was made with pale ale grain. If you're not a home brewer try asking your friends or you could also ask a local microbrewery.

This recipe makes two medium or 4 small loaves, or about two dozen rolls.

Day 1:
About 20 minutes of work.
The soaker works to hydrate the grains in the whole wheat by mixing it with water and salt and let it sit overnight. This makes the grain softer but also enhances flavor and makes the bread a little sweeter (check Reinhart's book for the whole explanation).
• 454 g / 1 lb whole wheat flour
• 1 tsp (8 g) salt
• 1½ cups water
Mix all soaker ingredients until flour is fully hydrated, then cover and let sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

Reinhart uses the term 'Biga' for an overnight starter that uses a small amount of yeast and also soaks the whole wheat flour to increase flavor and acidity.
• 454 g / 1 lb whole wheat flour
• 5/8 tsp active dry yeast (1/2 tsp instant dry yeast)
• 1½ cups warm water
Make a well in the flour. Pour the water into the well and then sprinkle the yeast in the water. Mix the water, gradually drawing in all the flour until hydrated. Once you have a ball of dough, knead in the bowl using wet hands for about two minutes. You may need to wet your hands again, but be careful not to add too much water to the dough.
Let the dough rest for five minutes, and then knead again with wet hands for about one minute. This time, the dough will be easier to work with, although it will still be tacky. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Day 2:
About 2 hours de-chill, then 20 minutes mixing followed by 2-3 hours fermentation. Baking takes 45-60 minutes.
Now we make the bread. Remove the Biga from the refrigerator about two hours before starting to mix the final dough.

• Soaker
• Biga
• 225 g spent grain
• 113 g whole wheat flour
• 2¼ tsp (10 g) salt
• 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp active dry yeast (1½ Tbsp instant dry yeast)
• 85 g (4½ Tbsp) honey
• 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (optional)
• Extra whole wheat flour for adjustments
Chop the soaker and biga into 10-12 smaller pieces each - sprinkle some extra flour to keep them from sticking to each other. Hydrate the yeast in a little warm water (just enough to form a thick paste). Add to biga and soaker pieces along with the remaining ingredients except extra flour. Mix with a spoon or knead with wet hands for a few minutes to evenly distribute all ingredients. Take the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 3-4 minutes until dough is soft and tacky but not sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the counter for five minutes.

Knead the dough again for about a minute. The dough should feel soft, supple, and very tacky. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, covering it in oil on all sides. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes.

Form the dough into two loaves or smaller rolls. Cover loosely and let rise an additional 45 to 60 minutes.

IN A COVENTIONAL OVEN: Preheat oven to 425F. Add a steam pan to the oven and a hearth stone. When you put the bread into the oven, pour a cup of water into the steam pan and spray several times with a water mister inside the oven (not on the bread). The purpose is to create steam that will produce a crusty crumb on the bread. Lower the temperature to 350F and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the bread 180°and bake another 20-30 minutes until the bread is done (thump the bottom to hear if it sounds hollow).

IN A BRICK OVEN: Heat oven to about 500F have a cast iron fry pan heating in the oven. Take out coals and cast iron pan and brush off hearth surface. Put pan back in oven and pour heated water in pan to create steam. Place the loves of bread in oven. Spray inside of oven with a misting spray bottle Close oven check after one half hour you may need to let the loaves stay in for another 15 minuets or so (thump the bottom to hear if it sounds hollow).

Cool on a wire rack and enjoy! Leave a comment if you try it out and let us know how it went.


Spent Grain Bread

Homemade Soda

Today we made three batches of homemade diet soda. We started with Cream, then Raspberry and lastly Root Beer. It is a very simple process the one caveat is you must sterilize everything that comes in contact with the liquid and keep an eye in the temp of the liquid or you could lose the whole batch to mold or non-carbonation.

First, we sterilize the bottles with a solution of C-Brite, a powder mixed with water; you can find it at any homebrew store. We own two bottle washers one we put the C-Brite mix in and one we fill with plain water. First we rinse with the C-Brite and rinse with the water. We now need to sterilize the bottling bucket once again first the C-brite and a rinse with plain water to remove the residue from the C-Brite.

Now to make the soda mix. We mix one package of champagne yeast (purchased from the homebrew store) in one cup of 100F water, mix and let sit or bloom. Next in a sterilized bowl, we place 6 cups of Splenda and 2 cups of white sugar. The soda ends up sugar free because the yeast eats the real sugar and produces carbon dioxide gas, which is the natural carbonation in our soda. If we did not put the real sugar in the yeast would not have anything to feed off of and the soda would be flat. We then add 100F water and the soda base and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

The sugar, Splenda, soda base and water mix are now transferred to the bottling bucket and more water is added to reach the 4 gallon mark. The temp is tested again and should be in the 98 – 104F range. The bloomed yeast is now added and stirred vigorously.

The sterilized bottles are now filled with the soda mix and capped with sterilized caps. The soda should be kept at room temperature and will be fully carbonated in one to two weeks. If soda did not carbonate one or more of these things could have gone wrong – something was not sterilized and killed off the yeast, the bottles were not sealed correctly and the gas escaped, the mix was too hot or too cold and the yeast was killed off.

All supplies including the soda base can be found at your local homebrew store or on the internet!

Give it a try!


Homemade Soda

Thursday, August 20, 2009

From Vine to Dine!

There is nothing better than a tomato fresh from the garden! This year we planted nine tomato plants; eight we hung upside down in baskets and one we planted in the ground. What we did not plan on was the nine that grew from tomatoes that fell on the ground last year and germinated in to plants!

Tonight was to hot and sticky to cook and I have been waiting for the perfect moment to pick the first tomato and consume immediately. Tonight was the night. (Some tomatoes had been picked and snacked on but none had made it in to the house!)

I ventured outside in the hot and humid air to pick some yellow Lemon Drops, some Sweet Baby Girls and one huge Brandy Boy along with green beans, purple pod beans a cucumber and some basil. The Brandy Boy weighed in at 1 pound 9 ounces! As I was assembling dinner the Lemon Drops and Sweet Baby Girls disappeared – Phil and Mia ate them; I guess they were hungry!

I had picked up a French Baguette at the farmers market sliced it open gave it a sprinkle of Olive Oil, Balsamic vinegar, a nice slice of homemade mozzarella cheese and a better slice of that vine ripe Brandy Boy tomato, I added some coarse ground sea salt and a few leaves of garden fresh basil. The perfect dinner – from vine to dine with in minutes cannot get much fresher than that!


Garden Update 8.20.09

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Newport Storm Brewery Tour

Ah another brewery tour; after that last debacle at the Sam Adams Brewery where the do not actually brew beer we were hoping for a decent tour of our local and only micro brewery in the state Costal Extreme Brewing Company; brewers of Newport Storm beer. We were impressed!!

We happened to be lucky enough to be on the very last tour of their brewing facility in Middletown RI – they are moving the operation a bit up the road to Newport to a facility 2 ½ times the size of the current location.

The tour was scheduled to start at 6pm; when I had called earlier in the day Brent the President and founder of the brewery said you better be early because we only take 30 people! He was not kidding when we arrived at 5pm we were the 23rd and 24th people in line!

Upon entering the very tight quarters, it was clear why they could only take 30 people on the tour – it actually may have been too many!! The photos are not the best due to the fact some many people were in such a confined area. Brent was an incredible tour guide! He started the tour but giving us a 16 oz “taste” of Newport Storm Blueberry Ale – nice way to start the tour!!! He lead us through the process of brewing beer step by step, informed us not only as to the how by the why of the process. Wow a real education – not a hurry up we need to get to the tasting room tour…like Sam Adams!!

We ended to tour with another 16 oz “taste” of Newport Storm Amber Ale and an appreciation fro the art of brewing!

Can’t wait to tour the new facility!!!


Newport Storm Brewery

Sakonnet Vineyard Tour

This year we decided to take a staycation. We took daytrips to tourist sites in our own back yard. One of the sites we visited was the Sakonnet Vineyards according to their web site…

Sakonnet Vineyards, in Little Compton, Rhode Island was founded in 1975 on the well-researched premise that the microclimate and soil conditions found along the Southeastern New England coast closely resemble some of the great wine regions of the world, particularly, the maritime climates of northern France. At present, fifty acres are planted with many Vinifera varietals including Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc as well as Vidal Blanc one of the French-American hybrids. Wine production has climbed to over 30,000 cases annually with many wines receiving awards in domestic and international competitions.

Our tour began with a 20-minute video about the seasonal cycle at the vineyard we were then allowed in the crushing, pressing and fermenting room. It did not seem like a big operation – more on that later! Our guide told us all about the process that the vineyard goes through to go from grape to wine. The vineyard used two types of oak barrels French and American different types for different wines. The barrels are only used a maximum of five times and are sold to other vineyards or home brewers like us! I guess I know what to get Phil for Christmas!!

We then went into the bottling room. They only bottle 65 days a year and we were lucky enough to be there on one of those days. Most of the bottling operation takes place in a sealed room so the photos are I took are not the greatest!!

We then went into the ageing room, I could not get over how small the operation was then the guide gave us some insight as to why. The major varieties of Sakonnet Wines such as Eye of the Storm, Rhode Island White and Red are grown and pressed in California – so it is not a RI wine!!

Oh, those Marketing People are playing with our minds again!! Why is it a RI wine if it is grown in California??


Sakonnet Vineyard

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Mystery of Compost

The mystery of compost. We have two compost bins one for all the fruit and veggie scraps where red wiggler worms eat the scraps and turn them into compost. The other where we throw yard and garden waste and just let nature take its course and break it down without any help.

In June when we planted three fruit trees, to enrich the soil we went to the yard and garden waste compost pile and added the compost to the hole where the tree was to be planted. Well I guess some seeds from a butternut squash must have been in the mix because we now have a butternut squash plant at the base of our Bartlett pear tree!!

Here is to a fall harvest of butternut squash!


Monday, August 10, 2009

The Ants Go Marching Out Of My Yard!!

On June 1st of this year, we planted three fruit trees all was going well until a few weeks ago when we noticed the cherry tree was infested with big black ants. The ants were feasting on the cherry tree leaves!

We wanted to find a green way to rid ourselves of the ants so we turned to the internet and found several solutions. The one I thought held the most promise was garlic. It was simple, I had it in the house and I felt it just might work.

We just sliced up a few cloves of garlic and off I went to the back yard. I shook off all the ants from the tree sprinkled the garlic on the grass then for a bit of insurance I took one piece of garlic and rubbed it on the trunk to act as a barrier. Now the back yard smells like an Italian kitchen and the ants have vacated the tree!!

As you can see on this photo the new leaves have not been eaten, they emerged after the garlic was used.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

When Life Hands You Cucumbers

I must have planted too many cucumber plants! We can’t keep up eating them so what do you do when life hands you cucumbers…make pickles! I love crunchy refrigerator pickles the “clausen” type so this recipe fit’s the bill

Fermented Dill Pickles – Refrigerated “Clausen” Type

Pickling Cucumbers
12 Fresh Dill Flower heads, or
2 Tbsp Dried dill weed and
2 Tbsp. Dried dill seed
10 to 12 Cloves Garlic
6 to 8 Peppercorns
1/4 Cup Vinegar
1/2 Cup Salt
1 1/2 Quarts Water

Rinse but do not wash the cucumbers. In your container add garlic, peppercorns, and vinegar. Dissolve salt in water and add to container. Stir. Add your cucumbers and dill. Fill container the remaining way with water. Cover.

Fermentation sequence
1. Clear brine – no cloudiness for 1 to 3 days
2. Cloudy brine with gas formation, 2-3 days
3. Cloudy brine – no gas formation, 5 to 6 days

Pickles ready to eat after 10-11 days.
Refrigerate pickles if you do not want to process them.

To process the pickles
Fill clean, sterilized quart jars with pickles to within 1/2inch of the top. Wipe, seal, and process in a hot water bath at 170 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove and place on towel in a draft free area. Let jars stand for 12 hours. Label and date. Store in a dark, cool area.

Clausen style dill pickles

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New England Brown Bread

We were invited to a birthday party and when I asked the hostess what could we bring she suggested brick oven baked beans and New England Brown bread. We have made beans in the oven many times but the brown bread, now that was different.

For those of you who are not from New England; brown bread is steamed bread cooked in a tin can!! It is sweet, moist and goes great with baked beans.

1 cup of whole-wheat flour
1 cup of rye flour
1 cup of corn meal
1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
2 cups of buttermilk
¾ cup of dark molasses
1 cup of raisins

We sprayed two tomato tin cans with vegetable oil

Combined all dry ingredients, added the wet ingredients stirred then added the raisins and mixed again.

We poured the batter into the oiled cans. Covered with tin foil

In a large cast iron pot we placed to upside down ramekins and placed the tin cans on top. We then added the water to the half waypoint of the can. Covered the pot and put it in the brick oven for 2 ½ hours the oven temperature was about 300 F. You can cook this on top of your stove simmering for 2 hours.

New England Brown Bread