Whenever someone asks, “What’s a healthy recipe that’s easy and I can snack on?” I have a stock reply.

Hummus. (See just the recipe here).

It’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s delicious and it can go with vegetables, bread, with other sauces, or be served as a spread.

So, what is hummus and why should you make it at home?

Hummus is a mix of cooked and crushed chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, with tahini, also known as sesame seed paste.

There are some other ingredients: lemon juice and salt, as well as a host of optional ingredients including garlic, peppers, artichoke hearts and other seasonings.

Mainly though, it’s just cooked chickpeas and tahini, blended together.

Things can get a little bit more complicated if you’re willing to take the extra step (frugal and healthy) of cooking the chickpeas yourself.

Even then, hummus is a super simple recipe.

It’s also cheap.

Adding the chickpeas to the blender.

Normally, stores sell 8-16 ounces of hummus for $3 to $8.

You need eight ounces of tahini for this recipe which sells for $3. The pound of dried chickpeas is another dollar.

It makes a full 72-ounce blenderfull, which is a decent return on investment.

(more…)

So, what’s for dinner?

That’s always a problem, right? Pasta, or . . . What else is in the kitchen? Refrigerator? And the time factor? Do I need to go to the store?

In my house, there are a few things always on hand: vegetables, maybe some meat (leftover, marinated or unprepared), always uncooked rice (and often times, leftover sushi/vinegared rice, plain recipe).

For me, the easiest meal is often times the humble rice bowl. I cook up some rice in my rice cooker, I turn it into sushi/vinegared rice (blog post). Then, do I want to make sushi? Or a rice bowl? Or maybe onigiri? Or maybe, a few sushi rolls now and rice bowls for lunch tomorrow, and some onigiri (rice balls) for later? The options are endless.

Peppers, grilled chicken, cucumbers and seaweed, at the very bottom, sit on top of rice in this rice bowl.

So, what is the rice bowl?

Well, it’s simple. You make some vinegared/sushi rice, put it in a bowl, cut up some veggies into bite-sized pieces, maybe cook up some meat and cut it up too, then throw it all on the rice.

Which veggies? Well, cucumbers are always nice, as are avocadoes. If you thinly slice, then deseed lemons, they are delicious. Being in New Mexico, I always add green chile peppers (unroasted) as well as jalepenos. Nori (seaweed) adds much needed taste. Green onions are also a good addition.

What else do you have? Throw it in there! Leftover steak? Cut it up, throw it in. Same goes for chicken, pork, or other meats.

Add some soy sauce, maybe some spicy/Sriracha mayonnaise, maybe some eel sauce, (Link to Amazon; once I make my own, I will post the recipe and update the link. Your local Asian store should have it for cheap.)

Bam! You’ve got a simple, relatively healthy dinner. Veggies, a little meat. Sure, the rice isn’t particularly healthy, but it’s frugal. Very, very frugal.

Avocados! Taste delicious in rice bowls, as do lemons. Seaweed is also a must.

(I buy sushi rice, Kokuho Rose variety, in 40 pound bags to be as frugal as possible. I store them in five-gallon buckets with lids, a carry over from my days as a homebrewer.)

There you go. Rice bowls. Simple. Delicious. Easy.

Seaweed (nori) is the first thing to go on top of the rice.

See all the photos on Flickr, in high quality.

Realized you don’t know how to make sushi rice? Here’s the recipe.

Want just the rice bowls recipe? Right here.

Simple rice bowls

Makes: as many as you have rice for

Ingredients

Sushi/vinegared rice
1/2 to 1/4 cucumber
1-3 green peppers
1 jalapeno (if you like it spicy)
1 piece of cooked meat (heated up if desired)
1/2 sheet of nori (seaweed sheets)
1 avocado
1 lemon, thinly sliced
All other vegetables, cooked or raw, as you see fit
Other ingredients as you see fit, or have seen in a sushi roll
Condiments such as eel sauce, Sriracha mayonnaise and eel sauce or cream cheese

Directions

1. Cut up the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Cut the lemon slices into quarters.
2. Put enough rice into the bottom of a bowl.
3. Tear up the nori and place on top of the rice.
4. Put the cut up vegetables and meat, if using, on top of the nori, which is on top of the rice.
5. Heat up in the microwave for 30 second to 1 minute if working with leftovers or desire it hotter
6. Add condiments over the top and enjoy.

This article was originally posted on June 10, 2013 on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

Bryce has wanted an IPA for a long time and we have tried on multiple occasions. On these other occasions we have failed and created pale ales that were not of the India stature. This last time we tried, though, we knocked it out of the park. Well, not really. It’s really bitter though.

Leo and I went to the brew store at some point before April 6 (when we brewed it) and he picked out the ingredients, including many hops. We had an uneventful brew day — nothing in particular went wrong. We had even more hops lined up, sitting in a container in my refrigerator, but did not use them this time around. I’m not sure exactly what the hops are anymore: they were the hop pellets of brews past that kept on spilling out, the tops of their baggies cut away along with their identities.

I’ve no doubt they’ll begin to haunt me and my dreams.

We used the London ESB ale yeast, which seemed to be very tolerant.

One can see where the foam was at the top of the mug before settling down into a manageable head.

We let it sit, with much hop sediment, for over a month (closer to two months) before we kegged it. We first secondaried it and then finally kegged it. The beer is still cloudy, unlike the ciders which always seem to clear irregardless.

As it has aged in the keg, it has begun to foam more and more than it did when it was first put in, becoming harder to pour and the head is retained for one to five minutes before settling down.

On its head, there is a large amount of bitterness and underneath is a strong pale ale pedigree. The aroma is there, although it could be more, as could the hops taste itself. But, it is damn bitter. If you like bitter.

One of the problems I have found as a homebrewer is once one (Bryce) walked down the path of IPAs, his pallet seemed to be perpetually cleansed of the ability to taste any beer that was not heavily hopped. Alas, alas.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. Caramel 60 L
1 lb Honey malt
6.6 lb light LME (liquid malt extract)
3 oz Northern Brewer
2 oz Nugget
2 oz Cascade
1 oz Czech Spaz

HOP SCHEDULE

60 minutes
3 oz Northern Brewer
2 oz Nugget

30 minutes
2 oz Cascade
2 oz Czech Spaz

 

I love fish, which seems to be a shame considering I was born and raised in the inland desert. While smoked salmon was a treat growing up, it has always been an unaffordable luxury in my adult life. Fortunately, there are many alternatives, including one of my favorite fish: the sardine.

Two of the three sardines in a can sit on English muffin halves, straight from the can.

Two of the three sardines in a can sit on English muffin halves, straight from the can.

Lightly smoked canned sardines may not have the exact taste, or consistency, that smoked salmon does. They certainly do not have the nice presentation it does. However, they are cheap (around a dollar a can for three sardines) and make for sustainable and delicious cheap eats.

 In this case, I have been using English muffins as the base, although bagels or bread would certainly work as well. That and some cream cheese. Two adjuncts, capers and red chopped red onions, as seen in cream cheese and lox preparations, make good companions. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I like it plain.

That’s all there is to it. Kippered herring is also a good choice, as are other smoked canned fish.

Three sardines come in a can but usually one sardine is sufficient to cover an English muffin so I save the third for the next day.

The sardines' supple flesh has been spread over the muffins.

The sardines’ supple flesh have been spread over the muffins.

This article was originally posted on March 29, 2013 on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

Leo, Bryce and I are products of the late 80s and early 90s. When we were born has informed both our choices in diction and our nomenclature decisions, aka, references. The banality of evil is certainly, to a degree and extent, borne out of the History Channel of our childhood’s and its devotion to World War II. Certainly, the time I spent in Germany and my obsession with the German language and culture has influenced both our brewing and our terms, too.

Leo has said the three of us make up, through our various quirks and proclivities, interests and designs, gesticulations and interests, a single 1950s wife.

What this has to do with beer should certainly be explained: Leo wanted to make a domestic (American) golden ale. Not even a pale ale with its higher alcohol content, but rather, a domestic American beer. He made up the recipe extemporaneously at our local homebrew store. The beer was supposed to be a domestic. Together, we three brewing brothers, make up . . . domesticity itself. I’ve been told countless times I’d make a very good wife to some man some day, because of my love of cooking, of hosting, child-rearing, etc. Not to say I disagree. I don’t doubt I’d make a great housewife. I even love a good soap opera, albeit, in German, the language of true Liebe.

When it came to brewing Voltron, the three of us combined into . . .

We wrote the ingredients down and the process was the same as always, except we did not write the yeast down. We’ve assumed, through elimination and cross reference with the one-gallon cider batches fermenting in my closet, that the yeast was the Burton Ale Yeast from White Labs but we’re not sure. Maybe it’s the London Ale Yeast.

Regardless of which yeast it is, the beer itself (a truly beautiful amber color) has been infected. It’s not a bad infection, it’s a pleasant, sour infection but an infection none-the-less.

The beer is carbonated and kegged and has been quite a hit so far, although, it seems everything in the keg that doesn’t taste terrible is a hit.

The plan is to culture whatever we managed to create and both remake that recipe and also make something new. It’s a good infection, one we can harness into a whole new yeast strain and possibly bacteria strain through washing and culturing. Next up for that combination, we’re thinking, is something with fruit.
This is for a five-gallon batch.

Ingredients:
1 lb caramel 60L
1/2 lb Caramunich
1/2 lb flaked barely

6.6 lbs light liquid malt extract

Hops:
1 oz Fuggles
1 oz Cascade

There you have it. The Voltron. (We’re not sure what the hops schedule is so . . . Make it up.)

The Voltron in low light

The Voltron in low light.

 

This article was originally posted on March 25, 2013 on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

One of our local homebrew stores was having a sale on yeasts a month, or maybe longer, ago. The yeasts were about to go out of date so they were marked down and low and behold, they were not many common yeasts. In fact, they were all White Labs vials, four of them to be exact. So, I figured if we didn’t use them immediately for beers, we could also use them in a ciders before they went and and see what happened and then wash the yeast, and reuse it when we’re ready to make X, Y or Z with them.

Our recipe is as follows:

  • 4-ish gallons of Great Value Apple Juice
  • 730 grams of corn sugar (2 lbs per 5 gallons, our normal Apfelwein ratio)
  • Yeast!

The yeasts are:

  • White Labs Berliner Weisse, WLP630
  • White Labs Saison II, WLP566
  • White Labs Belgian Wit, WLP400
  • White Labs English Cider Yeast, WLP775
  • White Labs Belgian Style Yeast Blend, WLP575

I also had a White Labs English Cider Yeast that had been sitting in my refrigerator for even longer but was still well within date.

As for the making itself: I boil the corn sugar with a enough water for 5 minutes, stirring until its dissolved, then chuck it into the cider. Sanitation, sanitation, sanitation.

I took industrial bleach and soaked all of the buckets, which had been sitting our for quite some time, and then soaked an additional bucket, which had somehow had its insides covered in algae  Industrial bleach kills all. We washed them out a bunch of times, put iodophor water in and off to the races we went. First, though, we had to drill holes for bucket lids and sanitize them, as well as sanitize the lids.

So, I picked up 20 gallons and cider with the intention of using the gallons for the soon-not-so-great yeasts. Fortunately, we still had four 4-gallon buckets laying around as well as a 5-gallon. We hatched the plan, for five 4-gallon batches of cider, thus consuming the 20 gallons purchased and consuming the five vials of yeast hanging out in the refrigerator. Our calculations were a bit off: We forgot that, in addition to the sugar’s boiled water, a 4-gallon bucket can’t really take four gallons without spilling out the top. Nevertheless, we soldiered one, made our cider sheets, labeled the tops of the buckets (important, because we hadn’t been doing that as often, leading to a case of unknown-yeast cider in the keg, also remedied by the cider sheets) and put them in the spare room.

Our theory is: if they taste great, we keg them. If one doesn’t taste great, this is a super opportunity to try to start mixing ciders and seeing if we can create something tastier, especially because five different ones have all been started at the same time.

I can happily report they’re all fermenting and pressurized.

We’re calling them

“AW #?”
At this point, we really don’t know what batch we’re on and they’re their own, seperate thing, although they are using the Apfelwein (AW) sugar ratio.

Check back in a month!

20 gallons of cider in four 4-gallon buckets and one 5-gallon bucket.

All of the empty juice bottles.

This article was originally posted on Oct. 18, 2011 on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

We had blackberries, frozen, on hand. Apparently, much like the Python’s elderberries, they do not go well.

Unlike our raspberry concoctions, the blackberry cider didn’t taste very good. It was always good enough to be drunk, but no more. We argued over who had to drink it.

The label’s nice though.

Just, we don’t make it again, unless we’re proven otherwise.

Maybe ageing will make it better. A bottle or two is sitting in our ageing cabinet.

 

Tags:
Apfelwein (AW) Batch #1

The frozen blackberries were boiled for 15 minutes with a tablespoon of brown sugar.

 

The cider label

This article was originally posted on Oct. 3, 2011, on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

Not to say that we’re totally screwed, but, we may very well be.

You see, it was a long night of brewing, marked by blunders.

It started with a good dinner — vegetarian red curry. It was good.

The Belgian Red — not sure if it will ferment.

We started brewing by boiling 3.5 gallons (we thought it was only 3.) We boiled it all in the huge pot, which turned out to be a good idea.

We put the 3.5 to boil, walked down to the convenience store to buy a package of ice, came back and the water still wasn’t boiling. We waited, it boiled, we added the Amber Malt Extract and Crushed Special B Roast and half the Styrian Goldings Hops.

(Recipe at bottom of the post) 

We boiled it all for an hour, took it off the heat and put it into the fermenting bucket.

And then I realized, the recipe called for adding the other half of the hops at the last ten minutes of the boil.

Woops.

So, I put the other hops in 1 gallon of water and boiled it for ten minutes. The recipe, however, called for the 1 oz of hops to be steeped in the off-heat wort.

Once it was boiling, we put all the ice we had in the house into the wort, which didn’t cool it down much.

And then we added the extra boiling 1 gallon of hops-water.

And were way over five gallons.

So, we took it down stairs to the garage (to get out of the kitchen, so my roomie who lives below could sleep) and put the lid on.

Around midnight, as I was falling asleep, I realized I hadn’t pitched the yeast yet.

I got dressed, tested the temp and found it to be somewhere really hot. Estimated around 90 degrees.

I pitched the yeast and went to bed. “Screw it,” I said to myself.

And so, now, the next day, no bubbles are coming from the brew and the brew store is closed on Mondays.

Damn and blast.

Alas, we have no ready home-brew. We cannot relax and have a home brew. Which is sad.

Next time, we relax.

 

Recipe:

Belgian Red

Ingredients:
6 lbs.           Amber Malt Extract
1/2 lb.        Crushed Special B Roast
2 oz.            Styrian Goldings Hops
Priming:  
3/4 cup      Corn Sugar

Directions:

Bring water to boil. Add Malt Extract, 1 oz. Hops and Crushed Special B Roast.

Boil for an hour.

Turn off heat, steep the other 1 oz. Hops in wort for ten minutes.

Bring water up to five gallons.

Bring wort temperature down to yeast’s directions. Pitch yeast.

Ferment for one week, about until fermentation is complete.

Bottle, cap, let sit for two weeks.

Drink.

UPDATE, April 6, 2013: The original premise was correct. The beer has, so far, continued to be terrible. A 12-pack is still ageing, but the ageing only seems to mellow it, not make it taste less horrible.

This article was originally posted on Sept. 30, 2011 on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

After having successfully brewed our first beer, a “basic dark” and both wanting to move on to a greater challenge and something with a more complex flavor, we decided to brew a stout.

And brew a stout we did!

“If we’re bottling when the sun’s setting, meaning its beaming directly at the beer, isn’t that bad?” Bryce asked.

“Yes it is,” I replied.

And so, we used what we had to protect our bottling from harmful sunlight.

From the front:

The stout protected by pizza boxes

From the front

 

 

 

 

 

 

From behind:

The stout, protected by pizza boxes.

Yes, we did protect the beer with pizza boxes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We weren’t, apparently, all there:

After I had filled the first bottle, I realized that we hadn’t yet put the priming sugar in the beer. So, we put the sugar in, stirred it up and filled the rest of the bottles and drank the first, flat bottle of stout.

And, it was good! And tasty! And so now, we wait. We wait to crack open the first brew.

Crossing our fingers.

Hurrah.

Here’s the recipe, from our local home brew store:

Ingredients:

6 lbs.      Amber Malt Extract
1 lb.        Roasted Barley
1 lb.        Amber Dry Malt Extract (DME)
1 lb.        Flaked Barley
2 oz.       Goldings, Willamette or Fuggles Hops (We used Fuggles.)

Directions:

Bring water to a boil, add malt extract, roasted barley, DME, flaked barley and hops. Stir until extract is completely dissolved. Boil for 1 hour.

Strain wort into fermenter. Bring water up to 5 gallons.

Aerate and pitch yeast.

Let beer ferment, between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit,  for two weeks/when fermentation is complete.

Bottle, cap, let sit for two weeks. Enjoy.

As soon as we open, I’ll write about it. Until then, we’re still trying to figure out a name and a bottle design.

This stout:

Tag: http://brew.wheelerc.org/tag/stout-1/