Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sic 'em Sixteen!

Mark and I are lucky enough to be at the Baylor basketball games this weekend in Houston. We left Waco around lunchtime, made it to Houston in plenty of time to check-in to our hotel room, and then we were off to the Baylor pre-game Pep Rally! It was great - complete with hot dogs and sausage (Mark was pleasantly surprised with the jalapeno cheddar sausage), cookies, and drinks. Much cheaper than getting it at the game.

We got in the gates and into our (GREAT) seats in plenty of time to watch the dueling bands (mainly St. Mary's at this point) and the teams warm up. {Let's not forget the St. Mary's woodblock band player. Yikes. A FEATURE of every single song they played.}

There were a TON of Baylor fans at the game - it really was truly a Baylor "home" game! I was so glad that all of the Baylor fans showed up in their green and gold.

Baylor dominated the game from the beginning -and it was a lot of fun to watch. It was nice to never really have to worry about the outcome and just enjoy how great Baylor's team is this year. The picture below shows just how lopsided the final score was 72-49 and even that is a little deceptive since we lead by as much as 35 points in the second half and played our entire bench for the last 3 minutes (Way to go, Dragan the Croat !)

A BIG thanks to our benefactors!

Oh, and an added bonus to the Baylor win - Mark got to watch his Duke Blue Devils win also. (He even brought his Duke basketball t-shirt in case he needed to wear it instead of green and gold on Sunday...luckily he doesn't have to!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brussel Sprouts

I'd never had brussel sprouts or cabbage before Mark and I got married. Now I've had both. I don't really like cabbage, but I've found a way to make brussel sprouts that I think is pretty good - even if you don't love all things cabbage.

This recipe really doesn't have measurements - and you can experiment with toppings. Mark added roasted garlic pieces and they added a nice flavor.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

1. Cut brussel sprouts in half and remove any wilted looking outer leaves.
2. Toss in a bowl with olive oil.
3. Place all cut side down on a sheet pan lined with foil (or lightly oiled). Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, sea salt, pepper, and roasted garlic crunchies.
4. Bake at 375 for 15 min then flip and add a bit more balsamic. Put back in the oven for about 10 more minutes until gently browned.

That's all there is to it. Enjoy!

PS - Is the proper term Brussel Sprouts or Brussels Sprouts? Google (the source of all knowledge) comes up with both.

picture from here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In my dreams...

... this fridge is in my kitchen.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mouse Catcher

We have a new Mouse Trap on our hands...Rocky!!!

This morning I woke up...and almost stepped on a mouse. Rocky killed the mouse and left it in the middle of the bedroom doorway - to ensure that we would see his prize. He was very proud of himself, and we made sure that he was adequately praised (including treats). This was the first mouse he has killed. He's gotten his fair share of crickets (He doesn't usually eat them unless they prove especially hard to catch. Usually you just find the body and the legs pulled off a few inches away. We like to think this is because the chirping drives him crazy and he knows the legs are the source of the chirping.), a few other bugs, but nothing else.

Mark is our mouse catcher in training - he got a baby tonight...caught in my shoe. After the second mouse appearance, we did a thorough search and think we have found the source of the problem.

Unfortunately for Rocky, we are on to his hunt, and have now zip tied those cabinets so he can't open them and let the mice free.

I think I will be just fine to keep his mice kill count to one.

Oh, and Mark considers "outside kitty" the first line of defense...the forward operating base.

Take 2: Honey Amber Ale

On the heels of the relative success of my first brewing attempt, I decided that I wanted to try a slightly more complex recipe for my second beer. I decided to do what I call a Honey Amber Ale. Amber ale's are closely related to Pale Ales and are generally copper colored and relatively hoppy.

Honey Amber Ale Recipe:

1 Can of Mr Beer Englishman's Nut Brown Ale Hopped Malt Extract
1 Can of Mr Beer Mellow Amber Unhopped Malt Extract
1/2 Cup of Honey
.5 Oz. Northern Brewer Pellet Hops
11 grams of Safales US-05 American Ale Yeast


Step 1- Sanitized all equipment
Step 2- Boiled 4 cups of water to sanitized and removed from heat
Step 3- Slowly whisked in 1 can of Mr Beer Mellow Amber UME and added Northern Brewer pellet hops (in muslin sack)
Step 4- Boiled Mellow Amber UME and Northern Brewer pellet hops for 10 minutes then removed from heat
Step 5- Slowly whisked in 1 can of Englishman's Nut Brown Ale and 1/2 cup of honey to complete the wort
Step 6- Filled fermenter with 4 quarts of cold water and poured wort (with Northern Brewer hops) into fermenter
Step 7- Filled fermenter with more cold water until it reached the 8.5 quart mark
Step 8- Pitched Safales US-05 Dry American Ale Yeast and let rehydrate for 10 minutes
Step 9- Mixed rehydrated yeast and wort together very well and sealed fermenter, then moved fermenter into closet upstairs (Lauren's suggestion) for better fermentation temperature control than the laundry room

Total Fermentation Time: 15 days

Step 10- Filled 8 1-Liter bottles with 2 1/4 tsp. of corn sugar (finer than granulated sugar that makes smoother and cleaner beer)
Step 11- Filled the bottles with the beer from the fermenter and placed the bottles back in the closet for room temperature conditioning and carbonating

Total Room Temp/Carbonating Time: 14 days

Step 12- Transferred bottles from the closet to the refrigerator for cold conditioning

Here's a pic of the beer after 3 days of cold conditioning...

And here's one of me drinking it after 3 days of cold conditioning

The beer was nice and full-bodied at this point, but had a kind of lemony aftertaste that I hoped the remaining cold conditioning would smooth out.

Total Cold Conditioning Time: 13 days

The final result of my Honey Amber Ale was very good. It is nice and full-bodied with a nice copper color and just the right amount of carbonation. As far as flavor goes, it is somewhat hoppy and has some nice citrus notes with slight toasted caramel flavor and a hint of honey. I was worried about it being overly sweet, but that is definitely not the case. Overall, I think it is very drinkable and pretty damn good for my second attempt at homebrewing.

Here is a pic of me pouring the finished product

A side view of the copper color and the head

A view of the head from above

Me enjoying my Honey Amber Ale

A Homebrewer Is Born

Lauren gave me a Mr Beer Homebrewing Kit for Christmas, and let's just say that I was quite excite to receive said gift...maybe too excited, but who are you to judge. The kit came with a 2 gallon fermenter, 8 Plastic 1-Liter bottles and caps, and the ingredients for a West Coast Pale Ale Style beer. Thus, for my inaugural brew I decided to go with the West Coast Pale Ale.

WCPA Recipe:

1 Can of West Coast Pale Ale Hopped Malt Extract
1 Package of Booster (a brewing adjunct made from corn syrup solids that adds body and fermentable sugars)
1 Package of Standard Mr Beer Dry Brewing Yeast

Step 1- Sanitized all equipment using One-Step No Rinse Sanitizer
Step 2- Brought 4 cups of water to a boil and slowly whisked in 1 package of Booster
Step 3- Removed the pot from the heat and slowly whisked in the West Coast Pale Ale Hopped Malt Extract (this mixture is the wort)
Step 4- Filled the fermenter with 4 quarts of cold water
Step 5- Poured the wort into the fermenter
Step 6- Added more cool water to the fermenter until it reached 8.5 quarts and mixed very well
Step 7- Pitched the yeast and allowed it to rehydrate in the wort for 10 minutes
Step 8- Mixed the yeast into the wort and sealed the fermenter
Step 9- Moved fermenter into laundry room and let the yeast do their thing
Step 10- Filled 8 1-Liter bottles with 2 1/4 tsp. of granulated sugar each (this is how the beer becomes carbonated)
Step 11- Filled bottles with the beer from the fermenter and put the bottles in the laundry to condition at room temperature for 1 week
Step 12- Moved bottles to the refrigerator to cold condition for about 3 days

Results: Tasted a little sweet and flat without much body...but was drinkable and did not make anyone ill, so I consider it a successful first attempt.

Here's a pic

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