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Category: food

Fruit Flies!

The kitchen has a bunch of fruit flies in it, and apparantly they are coming from (or at least feeding on) the hole in the top of this banana. Based on their light color I suspect these are very young fruit flies, so they are probably breeding in there as well.

After sealing it in a zip-top bag I’ve thrown out the remaining bananas, but not after taking the most-rotted upper section and putting it in a pint glass, covering the top with foil, and piercing it with a toothpick (photo). Hopefully this will work nicely as trap for the remaining flies that seem to be lingering in the area. Ten minutes or so have passed since I assembled the makeshift trap and it already contains four flies, so it looks promising.

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Oyster Mushrooms!

Earlier this year I mentioned that oyster mushrooms were starting to grown on the Cascadia Mushrooms kit that Danielle and I had received. They’ve been growing in weird spurts, with extended periods of nothingness, then some small starts that died off. For some reason they recently started growing nicely again, and I was able to harvest this cluster which I used to make some dinner.

I didn’t cook the mushrooms for long enough, but they still tasted quite nice. Hopefully another cluster like this will grown soon and I can cook them down a bit more properly.

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Petrol-Gel as Specialized WaterGate Valve Lubricant

The burst valve design of the Specialized WaterGate lids for their bottles are quite nice, and as one can twist the valve gently to remove it for cleaning they don’t suffer the buildup that plagues CamelBak bottles. However, after a few cycles of removing the valve and washing them the o-rings become dry and the valve is hard to reinsert and doesn’t move very slowly.

I have some Petrol-Gel lubricant for maintaining beer dispensing equipment, so I figured I’d give it a go on these seals. It worked great; a very light application to the o-rings and the inside of the valve seat in the lid restores the original smooth action of the valve. This makes the lid work like new.

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Home-Made Protein Bars

Earlier this year I asked Danielle if she’d come up with some manner of food / energy / protein bar for me to eat while doing longer bike rides. She took this Protein Bar recipe from Good Eats and adapted it to use things we had around the house, and they came out quite nice. I’ve eaten some of this stuff on all of the long rides I’ve done recently, and it seems to help quite a bit by getting some solid food in my stomach.

Once baked these have a nice, slightly fruity and peanut butter-y taste, and by cutting them, putting them in individual sandwich bags and freezing, it’s easy to take one out and thaw it before (or on the first part of) a longer ride. I’ve found that a large pizza cutter (rolling style) works very well for cutting these into individual pieces.

Here’s what goes into them — the adapted recipe:

  • 4 oz. Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 2 1/2 oz. Oat Bran
  • 3 1/4 oz. Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 11 oz. Dried Cranberries (Substitute other dried fruit as desired.)
  • 1 oz. Sweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 12.3 oz. Soft Silken Tofu (Typically one package.)
  • 1/2 cup Carrot Juice
  • 4 oz. Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs, Beaten
  • 170g Peanut Butter (Natural as possible, peanuts and salt only.)

To prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 13″ x 9″ baking pan/dish with parchment and coat with oil.
  3. In a large bowl combine protein powder, oat bran, wheat flower, and salt. Whisk together.
  4. Coarsely chop the dried fruit. Set aside in a small bowl.
  5. In a third bowl, whisk the tofu until smooth, then add the carrot juice, brown sugar, eggs, and peanut butter and process until smooth. A stick blender can help with this.
  6. Slowly add the the protein powder mixture into the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
  7. Fold in the dried fruit and coconut flakes.
  8. Pour into pan and spread into an even layer.
  9. Bake for around 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 222°F.
  10. Remove from oven, cool completely, then cut into the desired number of pieces.

Nutritional info for the entire batch, for the original recipe, which should be close to the modified version:

Calories: 4008 kcal
Total Fat: 120 g
Saturated Fat: 24 g
Protein: 192 g
Total Carbohydrates: 552 g
Sugar: 336 g
Fiber: 72 g
Cholesterol: 432 mg
Sodium: 1896 mg

I typically cut this batch into around 12 pieces, resulting in ~334 kcal and around 16 g of protein per bar. Most of them go into the freezer in individual plastic bags, and then I just take one two on each longer ride.


Trilliums at Clinton River Park

This evening I was feeling a bit bored / down so I headed out for a ride at River Bends, extending that over to Clinton River Park Trails as well. The trails were in great shape, and white trilliums are coming up lining many trails, which was beautiful.

I’d figured that this wouldn’t be a very long ride, so I only took a long a bottle of mid-strength Gatorade (mixed from powder) for the ride, but this ended up not being enough for a two hour ride after dinner time. By the time I’d made it back to River Bends I was feeling quite crappy and had to eat a Clif bar to feel better. I picked up a large pizza on the way home and ate most of it for dinner and now I’m feeling back to normal.

I chalked this up to doing a fairly hard on-bike workout last night (hill repeats) and then not eating enough for dinner or during the day today. Danielle thinks that if I start eating more protein more regularly this won’t happen as often, and I tend to agree… But I did have some eggs for breakfast and a bunch of tofu at lunch. It’s probably a mixture of the two.

During this ride I also found that a spoke had come loose giving the wheel a slight hop, and one of the dropouts had slightly shifted putting the wheel slightly askew. Both of these were pretty easy to fix once I was home and fed, and I was also able to do a little shifting tuning made necessary by some trail-side repairs during this past weekend’s endurance race. During the race my rear derailleur cable came loose so I had to set it all back up trail side which wasn’t too hard, but it wasn’t as accurate as I can tune it while on the stand.

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Home Grown Oyster Mushrooms

Danielle’s brother and sister-in-law sent us a kit from Cascadia Mushrooms that promised to grow oyster mushrooms. We’d inadvertently ignored it for a couple weeks, during which time it started growing, so we quickly set to starting it properly. The first harvest of mushrooms was good, but a little bit woody, so we’ll pay much more attention to the second crop which has just started growing.

As seen above, clusters of mushrooms have just barely begun growing, with the largest one comprised of a few primordium now visible. (The scale shown is a millimeter ruler.) I expect that within a week these will be much larger and almost ready to harvest. This time I’ll try to collect them before they turn woody, and if timing works out I’ll try to serve them up with scrambled eggs and toast, just as I ate when Dominic and I were in Brussels.

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Golden Ale, Red Ale

Today I was able to keg, chill, filter, and carbonate my latest two beers, a golden ale (left) and a red ale (right). I’d brewed these from Cap’N’Cork recipe kits over the last couple weeks by first fermenting the golden ale then brewing the red and racking it on to the trub (leftover hops, yeast, etc) from the golden. This resulted in the red fermenting extremely quickly and both beers being ready to keg this morning. I transfered each to kegs (pulling these samples in the process), put the kegs to chill on the porch, and around 10:30pm they’d reached 37°F and were ready to filter.

They’ve since been filtered with a 1μm water filter, force carbonated, and while they need a bit more CO2 they are generally ready to drink.

I’m happy with how both of these came out. They were simple to make, fast to brew, filtered to something fairly nice, and taste good. That’s about all I can hope for. I’ve now got four drinks on tap (Hard Cider, RyePA, Golden Ale, Red Ale) and should probably think about making something a little more special to age and put on tap once one of these run out.

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Grimm Brothers Brewhouse’s Magic Mirror

In the autumn of 2011 when returning from a trip out west Erik and Kristi brought me a bottle of beer from a brewery I’d previously never heard of, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland, Colorado. This beer is a limited, imperial version of their Snow Drop ale (a Köttbusser, made with honey and molasses) that’s been aged in oak, and apparently only 1200 bottles were produced. Erik had told me that it’d be good aged, so I put it on a shelf in the basement and let it sit for a year.

Earlier this week I figured that Christmas would be a good time to open it, so after family doings were over and dishes were done I opened it up. You can see it here, poured into a Poto MBA glass that I acquired at the Triple Trail Challenge. Refrigerator temperature was a bit too cold for this beer at first, but as it warmes up I’m really enjoying it.

I think that this beer is quite good, but reading various reviews online there don’t seem to be many people who share my like of it. All of the reviews that I’m finding are 2011, though, so I suspect the recommended aging did the trick.

Earlier this year Erik and Kristi went on another trip out west and were kind enough to bring me another tasty looking bottle of beer from the same brewery; a smoked smoked wheat ale (Grätzer) called Sooty Brother. I love smoked beers and I’m really looking forward to this, but it’ll wait for another day…

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Beer Filtering: First Attempt

Ever since I began brewing beer I’d heard about filtering my beer to remove haze. While I know that filtering is not necessary as with sufficient skill one can produce quite clear beer without it, it held some appeal to me. After learning that a number of local breweries filter their beer to remove haze and produce sparkling, shiny, clear beers that still have quite a bit of flavor I became even more interested, so after cleaning the beer lines and getting some more stuff kegged I decided to order the parts to give it a go.

To get started I tried filtering a rye pale ale that I brewed a few months ago and kegged just after cleaning the lines. It was already partially carbonated so it foamed a bit during the process (nucleation in the filter and due to pressure drop), but there it wasn’t nearly as much of a problem as I’d expected. I used a 5 micron filter for this batch (the 1 micron filters hadn’t come in yet), and this left the beer a every so slightly hazy, but it looks way better than it had with just aging and letting settle in the keg and it still tastes great.

The process I put together (based on lots of info I’d read) uses a Pentek 158116 filter housing with two liquid-out ball lock keg fittings connected to each side. The housing is sanitized then fitted with a filter that has been dipped in sanitizer, the filter is fitted between two kegs (full keg on the in side, empty on the out), the empty keg’s safety valve is opened, and CO2 is applied to the full keg to push the beer through. I started out with 2-3 psi, but near the end I had to increase this to around 10 psi as the filter became clogged. Periodically throughout the process I’d open the top of the output keg to check the level and foamyness, closing it back up to keep the system relatively closed.

This worked out very well, and I only had a bit of foam blow out through the safety valve right near the end of the process. This lost foam likely resulted in a loss of only a couple ounces of beer, and the filter housing itself probably lost half a pint.

Next time I try this I’ll chill (but not carbonate) the beer in a keg, then force it through the filter to another. I expect that there’ll be no foaming then resulting in even less hassle and mess. The next time I try this will be with the two beers I’ve got brewing now (a golden ale and a red ale), perhaps with 1 micron filters if they arrive in time. My desire is to get crystal clear, sparkling beers that still have good flavor in a relatively short period of time, just by filtering it.

Here’s a few photos taken during this filtering experiment:

· Two kegs, Pentek 158116 filter housing, 5 micron water filter, and connections necessary to filter beer.
· Mostly-carbonated rye pale ale being filtered.
· Since the beer was already carbonated it foamed a little out of the pressure release, but not enough to cause problems. There was very little loss overall.
· Side view of the filter after processing five gallons of beer.
· End view of the filter, from the top, after processing five gallons of beer.

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New AeroPress!

Nearly seven years after purchasing my first Aerobee AeroPress (photo) and with daily (or more frequent) use by Danielle and I, it has been replaced. With a new one. After all these years the plunger seal was getting weak and it would frequently leak while brewing. This resulted in coffee spurting out the top unexpectedly, sometimes spraying around the kitchen.

The new one works much better, exactly as I remember the old one being after first receiving it. Hopefully this one will have an equally long life, as it get used every day for brewing coffee here at home; part of a very cost effective system for acquiring quality coffee.

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