Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Ginger Beer Experiment

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Grace and I have taken the time to make a new Ginger Beer plant – harking back to my own youth when we made ginger beer almost every week at home. The technique was introduced to me by my Grandmother who furnished me with a “kit” which I recall came in a stone bottle of some sort and consisted of ground ginger and some instructions. I can’t remember whether we obtained the yeast elsewhere although I do have a memory of smelly blocks of soft gooey stuff so we probably got that from the baker in Dene Street (sadly long gone, now).

The receipe we used this time was something of a guess at what was needed: the plant itself (and there are those who would disagree that this was a genuine real symbiotic ginger beer plant – they’re probably right) was stared using a teaspoon of dried yeast (the type we use in the bread machine), a teaspoonfull of ground ginger and a teaspoon of sugar all mixed with about a pint of like warm water and placed in a covered, but not sealed jar. Each day Grace added another teaspoon each of ground ginger and sugar. This went on for seven days until last night when I completed the first bottling.

Bottling consisted of: dissolving eight ounces of sugar in hot water, adding the jiuce of one lemon and making the quantity up to about 6 pints. The ginger beer plant itself was poured into this via a sieve and cloth strainer. It took a few minutes to get through the cloth as the solids quickly clogged things up. After that, the fluid was put into pint bottles and capped with crown caps (which I had for my conventional beer making).

The solids from the straining process were returned to the jar, a pint of fresh water added and the plant restarted ready for next week’s bottling.

The seven bottles of new ginger beer are now maturing in the shed in a large plastic bucket withe a cardboard cover. This is specifically to protect, to some extent, from the risk of explosion that the bottles pose as the small amounts of yeast still supended in the solution go to work on the new sugar and carbonate the beer (alchohol is a side product). I have vivid memories of bottles spraying all over the kitchen at home on one occasion.

Two weeks to wait – then I’ll test and report!

Bread Follow-up…

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

A loaf of bread made by Grace

Grace's bread

A few days ago I wrote about the not quite such good bread that I made using a five minute recipe – which ended up a bit salty. Well, Grace and I made a new batch and we adjusted the salt amount by about one third. We made a double quantity, and while it was rising the dough had to be separated into two containers, and even then it threatened to flow all over the kitchen!

This morning we cooked it all up, and made something like a plaited loaf (illustrated) as well a pierre gros and a couple of smaller, rather cute rolls.

The results this time were far better, and we’ve all just eaten a lovely breakfast of bread and jam.

Making Bread

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Last night I tried a recipe for making a batch of bread that will keep as dough in the fridge for days and can be cooked in small loaves to suit. As our bread machine went the way of all gadgets that get well used some while ago now, I thought it was about time our daily bread ration was again produced in-house.

Mixing the dough took less than 5 minutes – and it rose very impressively ready to be stored.

Up early this morning to take a blob, prepare the oven and cook it – and thirty minutes later a lovely looking boule was extracted from the oven. After cooling comes tasting!

Oh dear – rather too salty and so the rest of the dough mix has been abandoned, the recipe note adjusted and a mental note to get some more flour made. I’ll have to lug that half the length of Sutton High Street tomorrow.

It turned out that Grace ate the rest of the loaf, post my samples, and declared it very fine! I don’t think so, but if she enjoyed it then it’s a result.

Another episode with next results in a few days.

Beer and Stuff

Friday, January 29th, 2010
A garden shed with snow

Shed in the snow

I’m just drinking a very pleasant, if somewhat cool, glass of home made beer.  When we decided to do up the garden this year, one objective was to start brewing beer in the shed – something I’ve not dine for about fifteen years or so.  Once the shed was in place, out came the fermenting bucket and barrel, and the result is a pressure barrel (courtesy of some gaffer tape to keep the safety valve shut!!)  of beer for me to sip when I like.  Forty pints will last a while  – I seem only to manage a pint or so a week at most.

Nice day at work today – plenty accomplished, and although I had to refuse some business to tune a web site, I was able to make a few useful tweaks to the Apache configuration for performance.  Stats still suggesting Movable Type rendering 500,000 page impressions a day – that’s pretty good.

Finished my performance review at the office this morning as well.  Glad that’s out  of the way.

I also managed to get my BT200 voip phone to ring with a converted bell sound.  Not really very spectacular, but just rather neat to accomplish!

Curry – yum yum

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Well – after a hard day Serena and I decided a curry was in order.  As usual we had a take-away from our favourite, the Dorking Brasserie.  If you’re ever nearby and fancy a Curry, then please accept this as a strong recommendation.  You should enjoy yourself.