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Revolt! Brew your own…

August 13, 2011

Calling all beer lovers.  Rise up and unite to overthrow the monarchy…  First maybe I should explain.

Much to the neglect of the “Global Food Challenge”, I have become a relatively prolific brewer in the past 6 months.  I have made about 9-10 different beers since then and I have to say that as I gained understanding of the processes of brewing, I have begun to churn out some of the tastiest beers I have ever consumed.  No seriously, fresh homemade beer is a superior product to even the most delicious craft brews available that have the disadvantage of being less fresh.  I have even started a mead recently which requires much longer than the average 1 month required to make a good brew…I should be able to sample that in about 6-12 months.  Additionally, when you make a small batch Ale, you cut no corners with ingredients and avoid adjuncts and similar discrepancies.

The part of the process which I have little love for is the act of bottling.  Yet it is a necessary part of the process, perhaps the most important.  A good sealed bottled properly primed is the key to those little tickly bubbles that dance on the tongue carrying the delicious golden beverage to it’s natural resting place.  My belly.  But it is tedious.  And sticky.  Seriously.

The point of my rambling is that I am bottling today.  I have a batch of India Pale Ale or I.P.A. finished with secondary fermentation and it is time to give it the bubbles.  It will be ready to consume in two weeks.

For those of you who enjoy good craft beers, you are probably familiar with Bell’s Brewing’s “Two Hearted Ale” .   This Michigan based brewery started as a home brewing shop and eventually evolved into a favorite regional brewery.  The 2 hearted ale is considered by many to be one of the finest examples of American Style IPA available on the market.   I would tend to agree although American craft brewing has produced many many great beers.  Today’s beer is a clone recipe I devised to mimic Two Hearted.  I have been working on the recipe for months.  In the meantime I have studied, ahem, our nations finest craft brewers.  For innovation and consistent high quality I am a fan of the Dogfish Head Brewery from Delaware.   For a dedication to the ancient Belgian arts, try Upstate New Yorks Ommegang Brewing.

Belgium is famous for their 150+ local breweries (in a tiny country) that produce everything from farmhouse ales to Trappiste Monk open air fermentation and blended sours, the list goes on and on.  Belgium is Mecca for brewers.  My favorite trip with my wife was to Brugges in Belgium where we fell in love with a simple local brew called Brugges Zot or Fool of Bruge.  Anyway, I digress…

In the past 25 years, America has experienced a glorious resurgence of craft and regional brewing.  This could be compared to the French revolution in that the giant corporate brewers (Budweiser, Coors, Miller etc.) had aggressively bought out and diluted the American breweries (1400 or so) since prohibition, until the average American beer had become a pale, watered down, adjuncted lager with little flavor and almost no character.  It would take a genuine organic grassroots revolution to break these chains.  It has begun!  In the past several decades, the number of brewers (it had shrunk to less than one hundred) has rebounded to something like 1400 breweries.  Vive La Revolucion!  But the challenges have been immense with the monarchy hurling every nasty corporate trick in the way of progress…

This is not just my opinion.  Watch this trailer…

http://beerwarsmovie.com/trailer/large/

In recent times, small local and regional beer makers have literally burst free from the chains of substandard brewing to emerge as a global force of reckoning, with establishment of companies that cater to the beer lovers of this country. In so doing they have begun the fight against the big boys and have begun to revolutionize craft brewing, putting the US back on the map and brewing some of the most delicious beers available anywhere on earth in the process.  Hooray Beer!

I cannot stress enough that, although bottling is a drag (easily avoided with a kegerator), home brewing is a simple delicious process that requires little more than some basic equipment and some motivation (easily found when drinking one’s own brew).  If you want to give it a whirl, follow this link and you will get a good lesson in the basics.  Click here to start your journey…:)

In the wise words of Charlie Papazian, “relax drink a homebrew” and be a part of the Great American Craft Beer Revolution…

Photo of Delicious American Craft Beers by David Jensen

Image source: http://beer47.com/2010/05/second-annual-craft-beer-in-can-tasting-sf-beer-week/
"Photo Copyright © 2011 by David D. Jensen. Used with permission." http://beer47.com

Still Cooking & Now Brewing Too!

May 8, 2011

Alright friends.  It has been too long that I have neglected to write.  To say I have been wrapped up in my day to day life would be an understatement.  Working about 50 hours sometimes more plus juggling the kids etc. etc. blah blah blah… I know there are a million and one reasons not to post and not to cook.

The truth is that I HAVE been cooking, just not writing.  I have been creating recipes and some have been fabulous.  Today is mothers day and breakfast in bed for my wife consisted of Mango, Banana and Orange fruit salad, fresh Costa Rican coffee and Breakfast Burritos made with scrambled eggs, feta, Berkshire applewood smoked bacon and seasoned hashbrowns topped with vine ripe tomatoes.  This afternoon we went strawberry picking and I will be putting up a small batch of jam and some different purees for toppings.

To top it all off, I have been building toward an experiment in the kitchen and today was the day I took the plunge.  I have officially begun homebrewing.  If you know me, you know how much I appreciate a quality craft beer and I am fortunate enough to have  a great local brewery right around the corner from my house.  I know the head brewer and partly through his encouragement I decided to take on brewing.  It does make the task easier when you have a professional brewer as a reference.

In many ways, this is the closest thing I have done to a national dish in awhile.  Many of the countries we have visited so far and many that we have yet to cook count beer as a national beverage.  Germany for instance is famous for its many delicious brews and of course Belgium, Scotland and the list goes on and on.  Beer has been with us almost as long as we have been with us.  Well, 5000 years or so before Jesus walked the earth and changed water into wine, if you so believe.  Ancient Iraq and ancient Sumerian writings record beer as a tradition.  The oldest known barley beer was recorded in ancient Iran about 3500 B.C..

I could go on and on about this most dear of culinary subjects, but basically I wanted to quickly touch base with the world and let everyone know that I have not been inactive, I simply do not have much time to write.  I plan to post some updates as my first attempt at beer progresses.  So far it looks very promising.  Cross fingers that I kept everything sanitary enough and that my yeast begin to bubble at a rapid rate…

Here are a few pics of the first steps, cooking and 1st stage fermentation…

Cooking the malt and hopping the beer takes about 1.5 hrs

Fermentation in a carboy lasts between 1 week and 2 mos on average

More to follow!!!!!

Blogging is A Controversial Business

March 13, 2011
Hello Friends,
I have been trying to figure out when I can get back to blogging.  Recently it seems as if I spend more time thinking and less time doing.
I wanted to share something with you that at first bothered me and then ultimately led to what I trust will be a positive outcome.   In the time that this blog has been in existence, I have had literally hundreds of thousands of people take time out of their day to both visit the blog and then in hundreds of cases leave me comments.  It is so seldom a negative comment that the few times that someone has taken issue with my characterization of their country, I am literally shocked by it.  Then I go through a stretch of questioning myself and rereading my postings and even editing something if I realize that I was too influenced by my perceptions when I wrote the original.  I knew this was a risk when I started this blog.  I knew that if I discussed history and geography that invariably I would say something that was reflective of my own upbringing or that was simply false.  But I decided to press forward and go through with it anyhow hoping that in so doing I would grow and learn as a person.  It is and always has been a journey after all.
This morning I had one of those experiences.  I wanted to share the original comment and my reply with you because it is very easy in the anonymous world of forums and comments to forget you are dealing with a person on the other end, a person with feelings and an ego.  I have had to do very little “censoring” of the comments on this blog.  For this I am grateful.  I made myself a promise that whether or not I liked something that someone leaves as a comment, that I would post it in it’s unedited form for everyone to read, unless it crossed the line of decency i.e. racism, hatred etc.  I have had only one such comment to date, and I deleted it happily.  The following comment came to me this morning and my first reaction was anger and a bruised ego.   My second reaction after reflection is characterized in my reply to the author.   I hope he can understand what I took issue with and why I replied the way I did.
If you have thoughts or feelings on the whole thing, please feel free to leave them below this posting.  Thanks to everyone who has helped make this blog a possibility…That means all of you.
The Comment in Question:

March 12, 2011 11:12 pm

“Canada is still technically ruled by Queen Elizabeth 2 of England. For all intents, Canada acts and is governed as an independent state, but is still technically a constitutional monarchy under the control of England. Most of the government is fashioned after England’s parliamentary system and the Queen is the basic ruler of this system.”

This is wrong, and some basic Google work would have told you so. The Queen of England is not the same as the Queen of Canada; they are separate thrones which currently have a shared succession. Should England decide to abolish the monarchy tomorrow, the monarchy in Canada remains. England – more accurately, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – has no control over Canadian affairs at all.

The Queen is also not the ‘basic ruler’ of the Canadian legal system. There’s this thing called Crown in Parliament, but I’ll let you learn about that on your own. By the by, England’s parliamentary system – the Westminster system – is the basis for the vast majority of western democratic systems, including that of the USA. Please don’t live up to the stereotype of the ignorant American.

Edit

  • March 13, 2011 8:08 pm

    Hello John,

    I tried emailing you rather than replying on my blog, but you left me a fake email address. I would have enjoyed being able to reach out to you and in so doing learn more about a country I also love (having spent much time in Canada). I appreciate your clarifying the issue of the throne in Canada. I found this interesting. My Google search did not turn this up so it is nice to have someone who knows point it out.

    BTW I spend several days on each of these postings but as I point out several times in my blog I do make errors and overlook things. This is a labor of love and something that most people will never attempt. You should bear that in mind when reading my blog.

    I have to tell you that the “Please don’t live up to the stereotype of the ignorant American.” comment was uncalled for and off the point. I don’t know you and you don’t know me.
    If I came into your house and said something similar, you would be rightfully offended. Bear in mind that in showing me your knowledge (which I appreciated) you also showed me some of your ignorance (which I did not).

    I appreciate your clarifications and wish you a good day.

    Regards,

    Eric Ackerson

An update…and an Apology.

February 12, 2011

Good Morning Travellers,

I have clearly been on hiatus recently.  I do not want anyone to think I have forgotten them or given up the journey.  Not so.  I am simply recharging the batteries after a long year and a sort of rough start to 2011.  I promise to return to the journey very soon.  Hang tight…

Eric

BTW here is a video you might enjoy in the meantime…I owe Cameroon a better representation :)

Merry Hungry Christmas

December 25, 2010

Hello Travellers,

Just wanted to stop by on this delicious feast day and wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and prosperous new year.

Thanks to you all for being great supporters of this adventure and for taking the time to regularly leave comments etc.

Just so everyone is aware, the HungryTum global adventure has had about 50K visitors this year with another 15K downloading the recipes.  That number staggers my mind.  Who’d have thought that so many folks would be hooked by our search for global cuisine.  We are nearly 1/3 completed in our journey.  Germany is next at number 67.  Did you know that it was German immigrants that first brought the Christmas tree to our American shores? Danke, for that.  It brings great cheer and seasonal beauty each year…

To all persons who have and who are still celebrating the Christmas holiday, good cheer to you all.  To those that do not participate in this holiday, may your celebrations be as joyful and peaceful in this and the coming year…

Here’s to good food and cheer in 2011!

 

Jala’s Supercalifragilistic Grilled Pork Chops

December 22, 2010

They say that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so, in a diversion from our usual travelling adventure, I bring a small gift from my family to you…

This is my daughters first recipe that she discovered while surfing cooking sites at age 8.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

Center Cut Pork Chops (4-8)

1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

1 tsp Cumin Powder

1 tsp Chili Powder

2 Nectarines Diced w/ seed removed

2 Onions Diced

1 Tomato Diced

1 bunch Cilantro Chopped

1/2 cup Parsley Chopped

Juice from 1 lemon

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Place nectarines, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, red pepper flakes and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl.   Blend with a fork.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Blend salt, pepper, cumin powder, chili powder in a small glass bowl.

Season pork chops with the blend of spices.

Place pork chops on a grilling rack and place in the preheated oven baking until center of pork chops reaches 160 degrees farenheit about 20 minutes.

Place the pork chops on to dinner plates and ladle the salsa over top of each.  Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

Khinkali, Bazhe and Phkali a Georgian Supra – Day 276/Dish 66

December 14, 2010

Greetings again fellow travelers!

Click here for the audio version of this posting:

Today we are invited to a feast of sorts.  That is, a feast in so much as the author is prepared to cook a complete meal from our next destination.  There is good reason to prepare this feast, as our destination country has a long tradition of gatherings and feasts as we are about to see.

To reach our target country, we must sail from Gambia north to the Mediterranean then east to the shores of Turkey.  From here we make our way north to the Black Sea then east by small boat to Georgia, our destination.

Georgia is a country of about 4.5 million people.  It is one of the first places to adopt Christianity as its national religion in the 4th century.  It was claimed by the Russian Republic in the 19th century and remained that way until the Iron Curtain fell.  As with most former Soviet states, political turmoil was rampant during much of the 1990’s followed by a period of economic boom and currently by a decline.

Georgia contains two de facto independent regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia considers the regions to be occupied by Russia.  Russia considers them to be independent countries allied with Russia.  This was the gist of the factors that launched the 2008 War between South Ossetia and Russia against Georgia.   After several days of heavy fighting and confusing media reports, Georgian troops were made to withdraw from South Ossetia.

Jvari, a Georgian Orthodox Monastery

 

On a more peaceful note, Georgia is a nation with a love affair with all things food, wine, art and dance.  With long histories and traditions of all of these, it is a pleasant place for a hungry adventurer to visit.

In Georgia, a Supra or Georgian Table is both a way to enjoy classic cuisine and a way to socialize with the family unit.  The Tamada, or head of the table, is the host of the evening and is largely responsible for the toasting and enjoyment of his guests.  No Supra is complete without this important role being filled by a worthy individual.

A variety of classic Georgian cuisine would be served at Supra and tonight we will sample a few of these dishes.  Officially, (at least for the sake of this blog) the national dish of Georgia is Khinkali, a dumpling made with meat filling and dough of wheat flour.  This dish has its roots in the Eastern Mountains but is thoroughly enjoyed throughout the country.  In addition, we are preparing two other dishes.  Chicken Bazhe is a roasted chicken with a ground walnut sauce and Beet Pkhali is a blended salad of beets, walnuts and other veggies that is seasoned with vinegar salt and pepper.  Beets are one of my favorite vegetables and visiting Eastern European cuisine gives us a chance to eat this delicious vegetable since it is common throughout much of the region.

A few notes I thought I would mention before we sit down to eat.   The top twist of the khinkali is not traditionally consumed.  It is dense and not terribly palatable.  It is also placed on the corner of the plate to let the eater know how many khinkali he/she has consumed.

The Chicken Bazhe is delicious!  I love the flavors of the walnut sauce.  For todays recipe, I used roasted boneless skinless chicken breast instead of a whole bird.  For one thing, I had some chicken breasts in the fridge and for two with the other dishes we did not need a whole chicken.  If you choose to do chicken breasts, simply season and roast them for an appropriate amount of time (15-20 mins) and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before slicing them for service.  You may also wish to cut the sauce recipe in half as it makes a good amount.

The Beet Phkali is good, but in the future, I might skip the food processor and go with a bite sized chop of the veggies.  I prefer the texture of sliced or diced beets to blended ones.

Finally, I would like to propose a toast to you, my loyal readers:

“To my dear friends and loyal fellow adventurers, although this voyage is long and requires a commitment of time and energy, I could not imagine doing this without each of you.  May you always find safe harbors and friendly roads and may each day end with a warm meal and pleasant conversation…”

CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION

The rating is for the Khinkali only as it is the dish of the day.

Rating:

Appearance: 4 out of 5

Aroma: 4 out of 5

Flavor: 3 out of 5

Total:  11 out of 15

Khinkali (Georgian Dumplings)

Ingredients

Makes 25 dumplings

4 cups of unbleached white flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 1/4 cups of warm water

1 pound of mixed ground beef and pork (not too lean)

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 teaspoons of salt

Pinch or two of cayenne

1/4 teaspoon of ground caraway seed

3 small onions, peeled

1/2 cup of warm water or beef bouillon

Preparation

Combine the flour, salt and warm water to make firm dough. Knead for 5 minutes, then let it sit, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix the ground meats and spices. Grind the onions and stir them into the meat mixture. With your hands, knead in water or bouillon.

Divide the dough into 25 pieces. On a floured board, roll each piece out to a 6-inch round. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each round. Make accordion pleats all the way around the filling by folding the edges of the dough in toward the center. Move in a clockwise direction, allowing each fold of dough to overlap the previous one until the filling is completely enclosed in the pleated dough. Holding the dumpling firmly in one hand, twist the pleats together at the center to seal, breaking off the excess dough at the topknot.

Cook the dumplings in salted, boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Chicken Bazhe

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups walnuts

5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

3/4 cup boiling water

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground marigold (if available)

3/4 tsp. ground coriander seeds

1/4 tsp. paprika

Dash cayenne

One 4- to 5-lb. roasting chicken

Butter or olive oil

Preparation

In a food processor, grind the nuts coarsely. Add the garlic and continue to grind to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and beat in the boiling water, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in the vinegar and spices. Allow to sit for several hours to meld.

About 1 1/2 hours before serving time, rinse the chicken and wipe it dry. Rub the skin with a little butter or olive oil. Place on a rack in a shallow pan at roast at 375°F for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, basting occasionally. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before carving.

Serve the bazhe sauce over slices of hot roast chicken.

Red Beet Pkhali

Ingredients:

Walnuts-200 gr.

Beets- 1 kg

Garlic- 4 cloves

Celery-1 bunch

Parsley-1 bunch

Coriander- 1 bunch

Salt, pepper and vinegar to taste

Preparation

Wash and boil the red beet with leaves. While boiling add celery and parsley. Chill, strain and put this through the meat grinder or food processor. Then add minced walnut, garlic, new and dry coriander, salt, pepper and wine vinegar to taste. Mix the ingredients well and serve.

Serves 6.

http://www.aboutgeorgia.ge/cuisine/meats.html?page=10

http://www.darragoldstein.com/bazhe.html

http://sisauri.tripod.com/ref/cuisine/cuisine.html

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