Brewing with a Chemist…

In the Great Beer State, homebrewing is becoming a fast growing hobby. My in-laws were doing it before it was the “in” thing to do and married life has brought with it a closet full of beer supplies. The scientists in the family get geeked over the process, I just enjoy their hard work throughout the year. How does one brew at home? While all the parts and processes are more my husband’s thing, here are a few of the steps in the process. These change depending on the type of beer, but there are some basics involved. It all starts with a recipe. Once you know what you want to make, and have all the ingredients and equipment ready, get brewing!

Steps for a partial malt extract version of homebrewing -

Step 1 – Bring extra water to a boil to sanitize for brewing process, also use food sanitizer for any equipment that comes in contact with wort (almost beer) after beer boiling processes.

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Step 2 – Steep the adjuncts, or extra grains.  To complement the flavors and coloration of the finished beer, adjunct grains are put into a grain sack and steeped.  It kind of looks like a big sock-teabag.  Be careful to make sure the temperature doesn’t go above 170 F (to keep out the bitter inky taste associated with bad tea). Remove according the recipe.

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Step 3 – Add malt extract to and carefully bring it to a boil to create a wort (pronounced wert).  This foams up so watch the heat to keep it from boiling over.

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Step 4 – Once the pot is boiling and has stopped foaming, add hops according the the recipe’s hopping schedule (usually an hour).

Step 5 – Rapidly cool wort to crash the protein.  We did it in a bathtub full of ice.  This process makes the finished beer clearer.  The yeast also need the liquid to be aound 70 F before they are added.

Step 6 – Rehydrate yeast.

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Step 7 – After wort has cooled, strain it into the carboy or fermentation bucked.

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Step 8 – Top off with pre-boiled water and add the yeast.

Step 9 – Cover (we use an airlock) and wait for the magic to happen.

The Diaper Cake…

In that stage of life where everyone is either walking down an isle, buying their first home or popping out babies, I’m starting to come up with some pretty sweet gift ideas for all these milestones!

Say hello to my little friend, the Diaper Cake:

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What you need:
2 Packs of diapers
2-3 Receiving blankets or other structural support material
2-3 Little packs of items – wash clothes, bibs, etc. baby items
4+ feet of 1-2 inch ribbon
Enough rubber bands for all dippers plus cloth items
Yarn or String
Cake pan or other container with 2-3 inch sides
Cake topper

Start rolling!

  1. Roll diapers and secure each with rubber bands in the center
  2. Fold and roll receiving blankets to be about three diaper lengths long, secure with two rubber bands
  3. Fold and roll cloth items to be the same dimension as the diapers, secure with rubber bands
  4. Use cake pan as the starting point, round or rectangular will work.  Stand each rolled diaper on end until about two-thirds of of diapers are used.
  5. Cut yarn to wrap around base, leaving 5-10 inches of extra length
  6. Form diapers into base layer and secure with yarn, leaving a few gaps to add baby items and blankets
  7. Remove from cake pan
  8. Insert receiving blankets near center and add more diapers to the next layer
  9. Repeat process for the final layers and fill in gaps with diapers
  10. Space out baby items on the outside edge for all three layers and insert behind string
  11. Measure out ribbon to each layer leaving space for a bow
  12. Tie ribbon around each layer and make sure cake looks even
  13. Roll down cloth layers to be even with diaper height
  14. Add cake topper of your choice and deliver to your deserving mom-to-be!

(A piece of cardboard on the bottom can help in transporting cake)

Celebrating with Class

dinnerJust two years ago, I walked down the aisle to the love of my life and the start of new beginnings.  While every couple is different, we are celebrating our anniversary with what very well could be our tradition for years to come.  Anniversary celebrations in the Heslip house include a home cooked meal, candlelight and great wine.

Most of the ambience is thanks to our friends and family and their beautiful wedding gifts.  Candlesticks that came with well wishes to keep the romance alive are lit.  Table linens are pulled out and I get to class it up since our apartment is really too small to host fancy parties.  Last year we opened a bottle of Champagne we received, this year, we toasted with our wedding wine.427176_10151173820282090_962455129_n

Sneakily I designed these bottles as table numbers for our wedding reception, which really became toast wine.  My very talented in-laws made it themselves and we uncorked the last bottle for anniversary #2.  For desert, we celebrated with a pie that was half him and half me: cherry and apple.  I’m not a big fan of cake, so for our wedding we cut a pie and served it up alamode. I had a desert wine, Burgdorf’s Red Raspberry, I was saving for a special occasion and at the end of the meal, it was amazing!

Every August, the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council hosts their Gold Metal and Spirit Competition where they decide the best of the best of Michigan made wines.  That Red Raspberry wine was a past gold medal winner.  If you have a celebration or want to share a great wine as a gift, the medal winners are the ones to share.  For the competition, the wines have to be made with Michigan ingredients.  From hundreds of entries, the Best in Class winners rise to the top of each category.

This August the 2014 awards were given to eight deserving wines.  Be sure to add a bit of class to your next celebration with these Best in Class winners!

Sparkling: Aurora Cellars 2011 Brut

Dry White: Blustone Vineyards 2013 Riesling

Dry Red: Peninsula Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc

Semi-dry White: Gill’s Pier Vineyard & Winery 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling

Semi-dry Red: Lawton Ridge Winery 2012 AZO Red

Dessert: Black Star Farms 2012 Arcturos Winter Harvest Riesling

Fruit: 45 North Vineyard & Winery Peach Cremant

Rosé: Chateau de Leelanau 2013 Cabernet Franc Rosé