Saturday, November 13, 2010

New Project

Inspired by Conor and Alina's homebrewing, I came up with a great birthday present for Lloyd this year. While I was in Boston, Alina and I went shopping at their favorite brew supply store, and chose a Scottish Ale kit for Lloyd. I'm sure the TSA inspectors were amused when they opened my checked back to see what the can of liquid and assorted powders, grains and foil packs of hops were. I was 2 for 2 that last trip for inspections.

We had all the major equipment we needed from my blackberry wine making venture. That didn't turn out good enough to repeat. Last Sunday we decided to cook up some beer. Alas, my largest pot was a mere 3 gallons, and I feared serious spillage onto my ceramic stovetop. So I went in search of a bigger pot, had to cross the bridge and found what I was looking for at WalMart. The irony of buying my husband a pot! I had a choice of 4 gallon or 5. I figured what the heck, go big. It's a beauty.

I don't know what I was expecting for hops when I opened the foil packs. They looked like something that should be fed to rabbits. They sure smelled good, though. The cooking went well, and I was glad we had the extra headroom, so to speak, as one flash boil nearly reached the top.

After cooking, the whole pot goes into an ice bath in the sink to cool it off before adding the yeast. We did not have a big enough ice supply in our pathetically small ice maker, so that involved an unscheduled late evening run to Thriftway before they closed.

The wort made it into the fermenter, and we put it downstairs in the dark storage area after checking the temp to make sure it was in range. Unfortunately, it got really cold that night and by morning, it was a tad chilly for activating yeast, so it took up residence in the laundry room. By evening it had started percolating away. Glug Glug.

This weekend we'll siphon out the good stuff into the glass carbouy for the secondary, then we'll have a little time to locate some bottles and a capper. I think it will have to stay in the laundry room. Cold weather is on its way and we don't want to kill off our yeast too soon. Good thing our technical advisor is just a text message away. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Falling through Fall

Once again, I'm paving the road to hell with my good intentions...Here, after long last, is the first of several updates to my neglected blog. To my readers who don't care for politics, you will be pleased that the main reason for such a long absence was politically related activity and that I spared you the agony by writing in other venues. We all got enough on our TVs to last a lifetime. I could make some smart comments here, but I will save them for another space. But fall is here in the Gorge, with winter knocking at the door. A nice rainy day makes for good writing weather!

After sending Keara off to Korea, we had some great days hiking and doing Wilderness Steward good deeds, kayaking on the Columbia and Klickitat, working up at the Tilly Jane Guard Station preparing for historical days and winter, dealing with a fantastic harvest of vegetables and apples from the garden, you know, all the usual things happening this time of year. We never did get out for another camping trip. I still hold out hope for one before the snow flies, though it's already flying at Mt. Hood. And as of 15 minutes ago, on Underwood, about 500 ft above us.

We were fortunate to have Roger and Lupe Severson join us for a long weekend, so we could show off our extended neighborhood. We've known them for over 30 years, lived in RI, CA and TX with them, and now they are looking at a landing place, too. I hope we convinced them with our waterfall hikes, wine tasting, mountain and river views, and promises of excellent nordic skiing if they come back this winter. The photo right is of Lloyd, Lupe and Roger at Multnomah Falls, after our Oneonta Gorge/Horsetail Falls hike.

A busy 10 day trip to Boston followed that weekend. The trees were in full color, as evidenced by this one in Grove Hill Cemetary (est. 1703) next to our street, where I love to walk and visit the old graves. I spent some quality time with my parents, visited with some relatives, and had some very nice Alina time, including a Fins Sushi dinner, which I always look forward to. I'll be sorry when she's no longer at BC, walking distance to this great little place. Her busy schedule of student teaching and a M-W childcare/cooking job keeps her hopping, and I was afraid I wouldn't see her at all. But a text message awaited me when I landed, so I took the green line to Chestnut Hill instead of to N. Station and the commuter to Waltham. We had oysters, chowder and salad at Legal Seafood, with Conor as our waiter. Fun, and I was back in Waltham only about an hour later than I would have been if I'd taken the train. What a treat.

My visit coincided with that of Father Bernie (a Columbian Fathers Missionary) and Una McDermott, cousins of my Auntie Marilyn (who was married to my late Uncle Bill, Dad's eldest brother). I hadn't seen Una since I was a teenager, and Fr. Bernie at my cousin Sarah's wedding in 1998. They are always great fun, and we had a wonderful lunch with them, Auntie M and my cousin Beth, at the homestead on Prairie Street. If those walls could talk...remembering the days of seven Waltham cousins hanging out with seven Concord cousins, while the adults had tea.

Another blast from the past included lunch at the Watch City Brewery with four jr high/high school friends, two I hadn't seen since graduation, the other two I've seen only once or twice in that 40 years. I was leaving a week too early for the short notice reunion being planned, so instead met up with a few people to scope out the venue for the main event. I'd been there before, and it was conveniently in walking distance on a nice fall day. Before I left, I got to squeeze in lunch with Arthur, my friend since 10th grade. But most of the time I spent helping out the folks.

We accomplished a lot. I walked with Dad daily, and starting reading him a fantastic book, Last Train to Paradise, about Flagler's Folly, the railroad built from Homestead to Key West FL, an engineering marvel until the hurricane of 1935 wiped it out. I can't wait to go back and read more. I helped Mom clean out her sewing area in preparation of moving it upstairs. Miraculous! Of course, Mom loved having a personal chef. And speaking of reunions, Mom went to her 65th high school reunion at Mt. St. Joseph's Academy, the only one there from her class. I hung out with Dad, and watched baseball (after Lawrence Welk and Jeopardy). Here she is in her reunion dress. Nice!

The day I got back, Will was here from CA for the weekend, always a pleasure. It was Lloyd's 'when I'm 64' birthday. I still need him, and I still feed him. No problem. Then Lloyd and I went to McMinnville on election day to help my sister Mary, Yamhill County Commissioner, celebrate one way or the other. She's checking the first results in the photo to the right. It turned out to be a happy ending, and Mary will have her third and final term. Turning back a tea party candidate in a conservative county was no mean feat this year, but honestly, the best candidate won. That's not biased. it's a FACT. That's all I'm gonna say.

We ended the visit with lunch at Red Hills Provincial Dining in Dundee, our favorite restaurant. Nancy even made Lloyd a yummy birthday cake! Sweet! Here is Lloyd being deliberately un-photogenic.

Stay tuned for some details and photos of recent activities. I won't make you wait too long.