Friday, June 29, 2012

Raspberry Chocolate Milk Stout Update

Last night was my monthly homebrew club meeting--the night of judging for our raspberry beer competition.  I went in completely blind, as I hadn't even had a chance to sample my own beer before judging, so I had no idea which beer was mine.  Surprisingly, there were 10 beers (there's only like 15 of us in the club) and only three were darker beers. 

So how did I place?  Dead last!

And the best part is, it's because no one could taste the raspberry!  Of course, when we talked about how each entrant got the raspberry into their beer, I realized why.  I used 6 oz. of strained raspberry jam to bottle; the winner used 3 lbs of raspberry extract (canned syrup) and most everyone else used at least 2 lbs of fresh or frozen berries.

I think I'm going to make a syrup of my own to add to the beer when drinking to see if I like the taste of the raspberry in my beer.  That way, if I decide to make it again, I have a better idea of how much raspberry to add to get the flavor I want.

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's officially summer!

I know it's definitely summer when the raspberries start coming in.  And I've picked a quart off the bushes for two nights running!

Be Jealous.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Whoa is me (garden)...

I came across this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer Friday, and it made me remember the sorry state of my poor poor garden...


 So, I finally weeded it this weekend as a Father's Day present to me and my husband.  Isn't she pretty?

Well, the after picture surprisingly doesn't look much better right now.  I weed and then throw down the weeded parts back onto the garden to keep the weeds down.  I know this sounds strange and counter-intuitive, but I swear it really helps keeps weeds (in my case mostly grass) from creeping back in.  One of the things I find most helpful in this project is rhubarb leaves.  You can't eat them, so why not use them to keep the weeds down?
Raspberries are really starting to come out, and even a few have started changing!  I've gotten a scant pint off the bushes so far, so we are a happy family. Raspberry preserves are just around the corner!

Plus, I had the handsome guy on your right helping me with all of my gardening tasks this weekend, while the big guy got his father's day wish--to nerd out alone inside...

I'm thinking I'll have to move the tomatoes next year--the tree in my neighbor's yard is starting to cover part of the garden and they need full sun for sure.  Plus, the tomato blight (a weird disease that makes for lame tomato plants if you don't rotate your crops after a few years) is starting to creep in.

Happy gardening!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Feeling kind of awesome

June 1-8 was Beer Week here in Philly. A pretty big deal in such a beer drinking town.  And guess who was part of it?  ME!  It's kind of a small (and pretty lame) accolade (especially seeing as I wasn't even mentioned in the event description), but I had two of my beers featured as the homebrew to beat a commercial version during a teaching event.  Apparently, a woman even described my tripel as "a rainstorm in my mouth"!  I really don't know what that means, but it sounds cool!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Garden planted?

Can you believe that it's June and I STILL don't have all of my garden planted?

We had a bit of an epic fail with starting some plants from seed inside.  Basically, I kept forgetting to water the seedlings once they sprouted until I could get outside to plant them, so they died, a cruel slow death on my window sill...

In order to salvage my garden and possibly get some food from it this summer, I went into over drive a few weeks ago, and directly sowed some seeds.  PROBLEM!  My big guy had put Preen in the garden (I know, I know), so nothing could really sprout, though somehow my acorn/butternut squash hybrid did and is looking rather spritely right now.  Since I went through all of my other seeds, I broke down and bought a rosemary plant, which I can never seem to make a perennial in my garden, and a packet of basil seeds at the Depot.

Though I have sprouted the seeds and was smart enough to do so outside in a container this time, they're still not quite ready for planting and live on my patio table as an odd centerpiece.  Nor have I gotten around to planting the rosemary...

I am woefully delinquent in my gardening duties this year (weeding?  what's that?), I have to remind myself of how much better I'm doing this year as opposed to last when I was barely pregnant and dog tired.  Hopefully, I have myself together a bit more when it comes time for pickling and canning!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Baby Food Time!

Right around the 4 month mark, I noticed that my little one was reaching for my food.  Of course, at first, I thought I was just seeing things and assumed that it was a symptom of the "my baby is advanced and awesome" syndrome that so many mothers have.  Then, he tried to eat my raisin toast.

When we went in for his 4-month well visit, I mentioned this to his Dr., and she said to try some foods or cereal.  So after consulting with friends, family, and a random facebook group I'm part of, I decided to start with rice cereal, just in case he wasn't really ready for food...

I really expected it to be a disaster.  Spitting, coughing, smearing, and general displeasure and grossness all over the place.  But, boy, was this kid ready to eat.  He ate that first teeny bowl of rice cereal so quickly and eagerly that he started crying for more while I was mixing up another bowl!

We did some banana a few days after that, and MAN!  He ate half of it.  I could also see the sugar high in his eyes...but half of a banana!  And apparently a few days after starting the bananas, my husband ate one in front of the little guy, and he cried and reached out for it.  When they say, the baby will tell you what he wants, they weren't kidding!

Since he ate a whole banana, I haven't gone back to the cereal.  It literally has no nutritional content, and there are so many foods he can try that are good for him!  (And to the folks who say "he'll sleep longer with a belly full of cereal" I say, this kids has slept at least 6 hours at night since he was two weeks old...)

Last week, we tried avocado.  Little guy did not like.  So I mixed it with banana.  Little guy did not like.  So I mixed it with more banana.  Again, little guy did not like.  He ended up looking like a bird pooped on his face, and extremely unenthusiastic.  (As a rule, high eyebrows=happy; low eyebrows=annoyed)

This week, we're trying sweet potato.  I had to add a bit of water to it after mashing; little guy did not like the thickness at first, but thinned out a bit and we were good to go.

On the menu for next week?  I'm thinking pears, but the big guy gets to pick the little guy's next food, so we'll see.

I'm going to try to not go the pre-made baby food route.  I just don't see the point in spending the money on it when I just have to mush up some of what I eat for him now and eventually just cube up some stuff.  I've found some really great resources in friends and websites for ideas, and I realized that everything they're recommending for your kid, is stuff we eat anyway.  And maybe it will help me and my other guy eat better in the process...

Just to be clear: Am I ruling out ever buying/using store bought baby food?  HELL NO!  I'll probably get a few jars from the store for back up and to have jars...

How I'm making little guy's food right now:
-mashing up soft things (so far no food processor needed)
-introducing one new thing a week, while continuing to feed him the previous weeks' items as well
-once I know he likes something, I make a bit of it a time.  For example, after I realized he likes bananas, I mashed up a few in little bowls since it takes about as much time to it for three bananas as it did for a half of one.
-starting next week, I'll probably have to start freezing my mashed up bits in ice cube trays.  More than three items at one sitting might be a little too much for either me or the little guy to handle.
-I have not purchased any special "baby" eating items like a little spoon or plate.  I use a custard cup and a normal teaspoon.  Again, I don't see the point in the extra expense, but to each his own.

I found this website through a recommendation.  It has great lists of what's good to try at what time, and even some recipes, though I have not explored that part.  Of most interest to me has been (and probably will continue to be) the food preservation techniques (freezing, etc.).

I'm really excited to see what little guy will eat as our garden starts producing things he actually CAN eat.  Right now our options are non-options (rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries), but I've got squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and I don't even remember what else for him to try throughout the summer and fall.  I might even try to through a melon in there real quick before it gets too late...