Sunday, January 30, 2011

Almost Beer

I'm pretty sure the only reason my husband and I have friends in Tennessee is because we brew beer. So if you're lonely and looking for a friend. Learn how to brew beer, and you'll have more people "stopping by" to see "how you're doing" than you're prepared for. At any rate, I enjoy having people enjoy my beer, some folks even bring their own homebrew to swap! It's a great cycle.

Be sure to have plenty of empties on hand.

This is going to be bass-akwards I know, but my first post about the beer brewing process is going to be bottling. This makes sense for two reasons. One, bottling is the part of the process we are currently in. Two, it's my favorite part of the process. Ask any one who has ever brewed beer and they'll let you know it's about 5 hours active work and 3+ weeks passive work. Just like growing red peppers, beer brewing is an acceptable activity for the lazy.

Did you let your "almost beer" sit around in a carboy for two weeks or more without doing a thing to it?
Good job! It's ready to be bottled.

Our previous six batches of beer only needed primary fermentation. This time around we did a second fermentation and it cleared the beer up a whole lot. So when this batch was transfered to the bottling bucket there was less leftover yeast-sludge and settled junk (yum! beer!). We'll see what this means for sediment in the bottles (probably a lot less rinsing and scrubbing for the next batch). In anticipation of secondary fermentation being great we purchased another glass carboy so we don't have to worry about plastic buckets. Not that I've found anything wrong with them, I just feel safer with glass.

Bottling is pretty awesome. "Why?" you say, "Sounds like it's kind of boring, I'd rather be drinking beer than bottling it." To that I say, "Sounds like you don't like to have fun." The best part of bottling isn't necessarily filling bottles with beer, but capping bottles! Unfortunately Andy and I act as a "team" so we switch off duties and I can only spend half the time crimping caps onto bottles.

This contraption is my favorite tool. Ever.

To bottle you must first add the priming sugar to the batch. Don't forget this step or you will have to pour all your bottled beer back into the bucket and start over. This is considered un-fun. Priming sugar is just sugar that the yeast you added weeks ago will eat up and get gassy. Instead of releasing the gas into the airlock and out of the carboy; When you bottle, the gas is trapped, and forms carbonation.

If you think bottling beer would be tricky because pouring from the carboy is probably difficult, I introduce you to... the hose! I believe in my 7th grade science class we learned about siphoning.
Beer making: Putting grade school skills to good use.

Next, run a hose from the bottling bucket down to your bottling station (gravity helps here). Attach your nifty wand thing that came with your beer-making kit that lets beer run through when you push the bottom in. And then siphon your beer into the wand-thing and fill 'er up! Then you pass the bottles to me and I cap, using caps that we have simmering in hot water.

Un-capped bottle caps. Hanging out, waiting to fulfill their ultimate purpose.

This latest batch of beer comes courtesy of my nephew and niece, Colin and Emily, you don't have to be 21 to buy beer making supplies! We cracked open the Irish Draught first and will be posting soon about the results. After our move in a few weeks, we'll start on another batch and I will post on the brewing process.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stuffed Cranberry Orange Muffins

My supervisor at work has been asking me to make cranberry muffins ever since I brought in my first batch in July. For her birthday I decided it was time to give her what she wanted. This was an interesting recipe. I peeled and quartered and orange and then pureed it with boiling water. Seems strange, but it gave the liquid ingredients a nice frothy texture.

This muffin-making experience taught me the importance of reading through the whole recipe. I filled the 12 cups 1/2 full as the recipe instructed and there was a whole bunch of batter left. I was super excited, so I made 6 more muffins. There was still even more batter left and so I was going to make mini muffins! However, reading further I saw that the recipe said to fill cups 1/2 way, add the cream cheese and then fill the rest of the way. Oops! Instead of mini muffins I scraped the bottom of the bowl and managed to top off the muffins.

The thing about this recipe is that the liquid measure would vary based on the size of the orange. So you need to adjust the amount of flour accordingly. Those sort of challenges are the kinds of things I enjoy with baking.

Despite the blurry photo op, the Stuffed Cranberry Orange Muffins went quickly at work. Thankfully we saved a couple at home for Andy and I to enjoy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Sewing an apron seems very 1950s housewife. Since I dislike any "holly homemaker" labels, I would like to clarify as to why I chose to make an apron (apart from my inability to make a skirt). Since I was a youngster camping with my father, I was taught that napkins were frivolous. Why dirty up a napkin when you have a perfectly good sleeve at all times? Upon returning to the civilized world my mom was horrified at my manners; however, I was delighted at the convenience.

At any rate, I cook a lot, which means a lot of food get spill, splattered and splashed onto me. Therefore an apron would be a practical first time sewing project. Plus, I would be at liberty to wipe my dirty hands all over my apron.

This lovely apron took me 3 days to make, over a 3 month span of hemming and hawing. My greatest challenge to sewing was fear of the sewing machine. Andy knows how to work both our machines better than I do, so I needed his help to set up. I can do most of it now, except winding a bobbin. But the set up was a big mental hurdle.

I worked on the pocket in one day and finished it. It's quite the intricate little pocket. Deciphering the instructions for the pocket were reminiscent of an 8th grade grad standard, which my dad had to finish for me. The sewing project almost came to a frustrated halt, Andy saved the day with his mastery of sewing-instruction interpretation.

Making a stay-stitch.

After the pocket struggle, the rest of the apron was relatively simple. I highly recommend an apron as a starter project. Sizing isn't that difficult and if it doesn't turn out well, at least it's something you'd only wear in your own house. Overall, I enjoyed my sewing experience. If I can get more confidence with setting up the machine myself then I could possibly get quite good. Though I would like some basic practice before branching out too much. Anyone else need an apron?

Tipper enjoying her position of Sew Master and supervising my slip-stitch.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Knitting Socks

Happy New Year! It's a bit late, but I'm starting this new year off on the right foot, with a new pair of socks. My knitting experience has been limited to hats and scarves so I thought it was time to branch out and make something different.

Socks have thus far been the most difficult thing I've knit. Everything went smooth from the cuff on down, and then... the heel. Heels of socks really hadn't made it on my radar of something to consider, until I tried to make one. Sometime, take a look at the heel of your sock. It's quite intricate.

After watching many YouTube videos, I attached the heel, flap, cup, gusset and all. It turned out to be quite a satisfying thing to make. It was tricky without being too difficult and discouraging. The way the stitches join and turn is wonderful, I'm amazed that I actually made it.

After admiring my heel for awhile, the rest of the sock was a breeze. Except that my ball of yarn was getting smaller and smaller. I worried I wouldn't have enough to finish. So my first sock ended up being a little shorter in the foot than preferable. I don't know how to undo it and make it longer, but it's not too bad. So I have one good fitting sock and one tighter, but wearable sock.

Yesterday I wore my new socks all day and they were nice and comfortable. I thought they may be a bit warm since they're made of wool, but they weren't too toasty at all. Even the short one wasn't noticeable.

My next knitting project is making fingerless gloves for myself, then I will tackle making my husband socks.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Introduction and Proclamation

Welcome to Antique Modernism!

My name is Amanda and I am an explorer. This blog is a way to share my discoveries, illuminations, and information. I love food, creating and sharing with others. I will post about my recent activities such as cooking, beer brewing, knitting, and gardening.

Antique Modernism is a way of combining new and old to maintain tradition and utilize current technology. Mind you, Antique Modernism isn't always convenient. It's about taking joy in the effort of creation; appreciating the difficulty of getting the things we have and reaching the places we want to go. Antique Modernism is about embracing technology to maintain tradition (such as using a watering system in your organic garden that can detect moisture levels in the soil to activate soaker hoses connected to your rain barrel.) It's about not forgetting to past while we dive into the future. It's about savoring the old while discovering the new.