27 January 2009


Our computer died this weekend. Thanks to Don for giving me his old dell tower system a while back, it still works!

Anyway, it's too old to hook up my USB stuff like my MP3 player and the external hard drive which holds all my pictures, music, and podcasts, so the blog may be on hold until I get repaired/replaced and that may be a while. I've just made an appointment with the mechanic to remove all the money from our savings account in return for which our van will run like it did two months ago. What a deal!

23 January 2009

Brasserie Caracole

I first tried a Br. Caracole beer last year, at a H.A.M.S. pub social held at The Cock 'n Bull in Sarasota. They had Saxo (named after the Belgian inventor of the saxophone) on tap at I believe $7! They said it was a Belgian golden ale and I liked Duvel, so I thought I'd try it. I didn't realize until it was pulled that it was basically a half-portion (served in a tiny fancy glass). Turned out I didn't mind.

This is what I'm tasting tonight. It was on the discount shelf at the Beer Monster.

Spicy nose. Sweet aroma. Very carbonated. Light, but malt/hop balance is wonderful. Some alcohol in the flavor, but also in balance.

I don't know what it is- maybe yeast- about this brewery- but I think they're my current international favorite.

The link to Saxo is a beer review which I thought came pretty darn close to being a description of their amber ale, too! The one point I'd definitely argue though would be the finish on this one it extraordinarily long- perhaps 30 seconds, maybe even more.

By the way: we first went to The Cock n' Bull a few years ago for the halloween "Witches Ball". It was pretty chilly for October in Sarasota, but they had a fire pit going out back and a crock pot full of mulled mead at the bar. If you get the chance, I'd suggest taking a trip there.

19 January 2009

Mead Update/ Next Mead !V

The dried fruit mead. I've been agitating it (shaking the carboy instead of "punching down") at least twice daily and sometimes even thrice.

The Cabbage Palm/Mangrove triplets:

18 January 2009

Lunch with the girls

I took the girls to BJ's today to do some grocery/household shopping. Kevin stayed home with his new XBox 360. The girls had a hard time picking one cheese to bring home. Since they were trying really hard to get along and decide on a cheese together, I let them get both. They also went to the Fresh Market yesterday with grandma and unbeknownst to me they had brought cheese home from that trip. We got home about 1:00 and Kevin had eaten already, so I let the girls figure out lunch for the 3 of us (the Wife is working). This is what they came up with:
Clockwise from the top: Irish Cheddar (nutty), American Gouda (mild, but good), Polly-O string cheese (pretty well flavorless in comparison), Kaukauna party cake spreadable (well-liked to my surprise), Cabot's 3 year old extra sharp Cheddar (hands-down favorite), Helluvagood Cheddar (smooth),. There were sesame, wheat, and buttercrisp crackers (Keebler Toasteds) and some salami in the middle. It was quite a lunch!

14 January 2009

next mead III

This is what the dried fruit mead looked like after I cleaned the airlock. When I got home today, the airlock was full of pink, and when I removed it I was hit with fruit shrapnel. Apparently it was blocked and pressure was building up in there.
In order to prevent this and to preserve the volume (I didn't lose much, but I don't want to either) I decided to transfer to my 3gallon carboy. The color was so dark after so little time that I figured it wouldn't hurt to dilute it a bit. I dissolved the other 1.5# of honey into 1 gallon of water and added it. Here is the result:
Oh, and a bottle of my WSSAle v3.1 all-grain. I'm not happy with the spice mixture on this one, but it'll be better next year!

Peppered Salmon with Leeks

I thought maybe I'd try adding cooking (a hobby I haven't been indulging much lately) to the blog. I need to work on my indoor photography for this stuff, though.

This is date night food. Or at least "after the kids go to bed" food.

Serves 2.

2 portions skinless Salmon filet (my portions are probably on the large side- just under 1/2lb. each)
2 leeks (try to find leeks with a lot of white on them- that's the part you'll eat)
2Tbs. butter
1/4 cup white wine (we like Riesling, but anything fruity is nice)
1Tbs. flour
2Tbs. cream
salt (I use Kosher because it dissolves nicely)
pepper (freshly ground is critical)

Liberally coat the salmon with pepper and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt the butter in an oven proof skillet (I use a 10" stainless skillet with a stainless handle- no meltable handles!) over medium heat.

Slice leeks thinly and add to butter along with a pinch of salt. Cook until softened, similar to cooking onions.

When leeks are soft, add flour and cook for 1 minute.

After cooking flour, add wine and bring to a boil.

Place slamon filets on top of the mixture and place in the oven.

Cook for 6 minutes, remove skillet from the oven and flip the salmon.

This is the tricky part! Put the skillet back in the oven. Don't forget that the skillet is HOT. I almost always grab the hot handle at this stage and then say things the kids shouldn't hear.
This is a silicone santa potholder/trivet:

Cook for 6 more minutes.Remove from oven. Plate the salmon, but leave the other stuff in the skillet.

Drizzle and whisk the cream into the now thickened wine/leek sauce. Once nicely combined, pour over the salmon and serve with either the wine you opened to cook with or a good Pilsener works well, too.

12 January 2009

update re: next mead

I only used 1.5# of the honey to start with. If it looks like it will ferment dry, I will feed it some more.

the next mead

I may have to dilute it later, that's a lot of fruit for 1 gallon, but I want to see how strong the taste can be. I may also start it with only 2 lbs. of the honey since I'm not sure how much sugar I'll get from the dried fruit. When I spotted the antioxidant blend I instantly thought "that should make for a very ageable mead!"
I know some purists would decry my use of box-store ingredients, but come on... aren't you just a little curious? Besides, I make up for it by having 15 gallons of traditional mead bulk aging to which I added nothing but local raw honey, water, and yeast.

07 January 2009

Winter Vacation...

... for the kids anyway. It ended when they went back to school yesterday.

I remember winter break when I was a kid. I spent every odd winter and spring break and every summer break with my dad while I was in grade school and he lived in Idaho and later Wisconsin. COLD AND SNOWY!!!

I know I sound like a broken record, but you gotta love Florida!

From left to right: Lauren's left hand, Kevin filling Devin's bike tire with air, and Devin eagerly awaiting the return of her bicycle.


The lot of them:

Remember how I want to make impressionist photos? I got close again. Especially on the second one.

WSSAle v3.0