Archive for the ‘mead’ Tag

03-27-2016 Journal – Easter?   Leave a comment

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‘Religious & Silly?’

Well with another  Easter finally here we should be that much closer to warmer temperatures. Having a bright sunny day just isn’t enough when the temperatures remain at or below freezing. That’s just another of Mother Nature’s teases but there’s only one way I like to be teased and this isn’t it.

It’s 10:30 am and I’ve yet to move from my bed.  The better-half and I have been playing a vicious game of "Words With  Friends" which I hate to admit I just lost by one effing point. Starting my day without kicking her butt may be a bad omen for the rest of my Easter Sunday. I know I’ll be hearing about this win all day.

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‘Religious & Badass??’

It’s another chilling and gray day that’ll keep me from getting anything done outside. I refuse to be cold and miserable while doing all of those boring little chores  that need to be completed.  When the sun finally decides to come out then so will I.  I was forbidden by my better-half from saying that “When the sun has risen . . then so will I”. She felt that would be rude to all of you religious folks out there.  I disagree somewhat because almost all of the religious people I know are permitted a sense-of-humor.  Hers has yet to be fully developed but “I pray” it will someday. 

We celebrated Easter yesterday along with the one year birthday of our grandson.  It was a fun party with lots of cake and presents but it also allowed us to have a quiet day today. We’re looking forward to a couple of steaks cooked on the grill tonight along with a bottle of blueberry Mead I’ve been saving for a special occasion. 

Easter for me has no religious connotation but I know it does for my better-half. As with most things having a good stiff drink always helps me feel a little more religious (she won’t think that’s too funny either).

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‘Religious & Intergalactic’

I’ll get this posted in the next few minutes and then spend the remainder of the day working on a pencil sketch that’s captured my interest this week. I hope all of you are enjoying your holiday with your families. Religious or not. 

SORRY I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING RELIGIOUS ABOUT AN EASTER BUNNY

JUST SAYING LOVEY!

10-23-2015 Journal – Portland in the Fall!   Leave a comment

The warm days are becoming a rarity already and in Maine when there’s sunshine and warmer temperatures you get the hell out of the house and enjoy them. Once the snow starts to fly around here you can be sure that for the next five months it’s multi-layer clothing, boots, parkas, hats, ear muffs, and gloves. 

My better-half and I decided to try a little spontaneity yesterday when we rolled out of bed and saw the sun shining and the temperatures in the high fifties.  As we cruised around looking for a decent cup of coffee I made the decision to spend the remainder of the day in the city of Portland.  Portland is a great place to walk around, kill some time, and people watch. Parking always seems to be an issue whether it’s tourists in the Summer or huge piles of plowed snow in the Winter. We rode up and down Commercial street looking for a parking spot and got lucky rather quickly.

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As we were entering the city and driving along the waterfront we saw in the distance three huge cruise ships that had stopped in Portland for a visit.  They’re a blessing for the local economy but always clog the city with tourists and street vendors.

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We worked our way down Commercial street to the Dry Dock restaurant. It’s become one of our favorite spots to relax, have a drink, and some good food. I normally go straight to the menu looking for sea food but not today.  I had a bowl of hearty chicken and rice soup that was to die for along with a smoked turkey and cheddar sandwich.  I’m a real bread lover and that sandwich was made with an incredibly fresh rye bread baked earlier in the day.

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We finished our meal and visited a few other businesses along the street so the better-half could deal with her shopping addiction.  We stopped at Mexicali Blues for some incense and a sari that the better-half plans on converting to some sort of window treatment for the kitchen.

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It was also required by my better-half that we make a stop at the beer drinkers Mecca, The Craft Beer Cellar.  More beer varieties that I could ever imagine but since I don’t drink beer I spent my time looking through the mead selections. I settled on a locally brewed honey mead that was a little pricey but worth it. It’ll be a nice addition for us to enjoy with our Christmas dinner. The better-half spent alm0ost 30 minutes talking beer with the proprietor and finally settled on some sort of double IPA that I never heard of.  

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Then it was a quick ride back to our house with enough sunshine left in the day for me and the cat to spend a comfy hour on the deck.  We’re getting very close to the time of the year when the sun will only shine occasionally so we have to enjoy it when we can.

07-07-205 Journal–Moving on to Summer!   Leave a comment

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‘Don’t look at this image, it might be against the law here in Maine.’

With the holiday weekend coming to an end summer has officially been declared here in Maine.  Even with that being said we still sat on the deck over the weekend in hoodies and sweatpants because it was a wee bit nippy. So it’s onward and upward to the many summer activities soon to come.

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‘Hot Bread & Butter Pickles’

We had a stay-at-home Fourth of July this year which we both found rather enjoyable. We relaxed on the deck until dark and then decided to be outlaws and lawbreakers.  For decades it was against the law in Maine to own or use fireworks. Two years ago the ban was lifted and fireworks stores sprung up overnight and everyone happily thought their future holidays could be celebrated with a little noise. Oh how wrong we were.

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‘Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Rhubarb, and Triple Berry Jams’

It’s impossible for politicians, local or otherwise,  to keep their collective noses out of everyone’s business for more than a heartbeat.  The town politicos then began to play their silly little games by passing local ordnance to ban the use of fireworks once again. It’s just like a bunch of political morons on a power trip to pass another law that can’t be enforced.

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‘Smoking Hot Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salsa’

As dark ascended on the neighborhood the law breaking began in earnest.  It sounded like the first night of D-Day at Omaha Beach in Normandy.  Every neighbor was trying to out do the others and being the weak minded idiots that we are, we joined right in. Sparklers, Zippers, Rockets, Roman Candles . . . you name it and we had it.  All of that noise and law breaking going on and not one police car was ever seen.  They were probably sitting at home in their driveway while their kids set off their own fireworks.  It was a lot of fun, no injuries or deaths reported, and the cleanup the next day was only about twenty minutes.

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‘Honey & Maple Mead’

The remainder of the weekend we were kept very busy.  B & B pickles were made and canned, an assortment of jams were made and canned, and I finished my first batch of salsa for 2015. It yielded thirteen and a half quarts of a salsa that’ll make your head sweat.

We are definitely on a roll for 2015.

07-03-2015 Journal – Wine and Jam Day!   Leave a comment

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‘While we were working the cat was meditating.’

My last posting concerned our short but successful foray with strawberry picking.  Even though we only managed to pick three quarts before the rains came, we still considered it a moderate success.  It also succeeded in motivating my better-half into a jam making frenzy yesterday.  It required another trip to the food store for additional strawberries, blue berries, and black berries with rhubarb harvested from our garden as well. As you can see in this photo the rhubarb plants are out of control and trying desperately to take over the garden. 

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She worked diligently for five hours and the results were impressive.  She made one batch each of strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, and blueberry jam. She also completed two additional batches of tripleberry which has become a favorite of everyone (blackberry-blueberry-strawberry) who has tasted it.

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Of course I did my best to taste them all as they were being made, bobbing and weaving to avoid those painful hand slaps. They were all over-the-top delicious and I can’t wait to add the strawberry/rhubarb jam to my breakfast menu.

While she was completing the jam I was in another area of the house preparing to bottle my first experimental batch of wine for 2015. My goal was to make a wine unique to Maine and one never made by anyone else.  I thoroughly searched the net but could find no references to this type of mead. It was made from raw maple syrup and fresh honey. 

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The final product was a clear and sweet mead with a faint bouquet of maple. It was a good first effort and with some fine tuning of the recipe I may make it again soon.  I bottled three and a half gallons into various size bottles and kept one for myself. I always volunteer to be first to sample anything containing alcohol before giving it to others. 

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After two glasses I felt that special glow I’m always looking for.  Testing with my vinometer indicates an alcohol content between 7-8%, more than I anticipated.  All in all a really successful experiment.

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The batch was corked and capped and will go into storage for a few months and then be tasted again.  Most wine improves with age and I look forward to an older version of this mead to enjoy through the winter months.

02-27-2015 Journal–Home Brewing Challenges!   Leave a comment

Today will be a short lesson on making wine.  As I’ve mentioned in past postings I’ve been attempting to make a batch of Honey/Maple Mead.  A few weeks ago I began the process and things were going quite well.  After the initial fermentation the color of the mead was a beautiful golden color and was clearing nicely as the yeast completed it’s alcohol production.   Maintaining a temperature of seventy degrees was the only challenge at first but things appeared to be going well.

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I siphoned the wine a second time two weeks ago and was feeling pretty good about things but I should know by now never to get overconfident.  After completing the siphoning and out of curiosity I decided to take a quick taste.  I was hoping for a smooth and mildly sweet mead.  Wrong, wrong, and wrong. It was extremely dry and tart with almost no aroma of either honey or maple. I’m afraid that the champagne yeast was a wrong choice for this type of wine. Champagne yeast is more resistant to alcohol giving the batch a tartness I wasn’t looking for. Normal yeast would’ve given me a much milder version that was a little sweeter and closer to my goal.

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What I’m really  trying to say is this batch is awful and I was sorely tempted to throw the entire experiment out. I then decided to attempt the impossible and fix the problem.  I needed to add just enough sugar to sweeten the mead to bring back the flavor that is being hidden by the harshness of the alcohol. After experimenting with different sugars I decided to stay with the theme of the mead and to sweeten it with Maple syrup.  I added one cup of diluted maple syrup to each gallon of mead which I hoped would give the mead a much sweeter flavor and a deeper color.  The maple flavor was wonderful and the aroma was amazing.

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I placed the jugs back into a warm room to determine if the yeast would reactivate.  So far it seems to be lightly fermenting which was expected.  I’ll let it sit for a few weeks to allow the yeast to die and for it to clear once again. Then a final taste test and I hope a successful bottling.

I’ll have my fingers crossed the entire time hoping against hope the problem has been resolved. I’ll let you know.

02-09-2015 Journal–Honey & Maple Mead!   1 comment

The cat and I are still in bed as I write this. My better-half is out in the snow storm on her way to work and I’m waiting by the telephone in case of any emergencies. The snow is relatively light but has been coming down steadily since last night and it’s anticipated to continue for the next twenty-four hours. The roads quite simply are a bitch.

To say I’m a little sick of the snow is a major understatement. I’ve decided that going out to clear the driveway will just have to wait until much later in the day. I’m thoroughly enjoying my coffee and cookies and I intend to stay warm and toasty for as long as possible.

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Having this cold weather keeps the house temperatures in the med to low sixties. That temperature issue gave me fits earlier in the week when I decided to make a new experimental batch of home made wine.  I’ve made Mead in years past which is basically nothing more than wine made from honey.  In keeping with my goals for 2015 I wanted to make something new and different.  After a lot of research I created a recipe that would make a Honey & Maple Syrup Mead. I had to make a few educated guesses with the ingredients but I pushed fearlessly forward.

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The basic ingredients consist of distilled water, Orange Blossom honey, Clover honey, and an all natural maple syrup made with the sap from local trees. My difficulty was going to be able to keep the primary fermenter warm enough to properly activate the yeast.  Our house is usually sixty three degrees but I need temps between 68-74 for the best results.

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I was forced to use a small heater that I purchased many years ago that was once a tropical fish tank heater. It’ been sitting in a box in the garage for a couple of decades. It’s a long glass tube that you insert into the fermenter and it’s thermostat maintains the level of heat you select.  After all these years the little devil worked perfectly.  I then added just a pinch of roasted fennel seeds and rosemary for a faint hint of licorice and pine which I hope will give the wine a little character. 

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Once the wine was siphoned from the fermenter into the glass jugs I moved them all upstairs to store them in the warmest area of the house.  The heat must be sufficiently high because they’re bubbling away as they should be. In a few months I’ll have something new and interesting to sample and it’ll  either be 25 bottles of tasty wine or something God awful.  We’ll just have to wait and see. Making wine teaches a person patience if nothing else.

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I’d like to keep writing but I’m wanting more coffee to help me find the motivation I need to get out of this warm bed and to go play in the snow.

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