Posts From Category: personal

No-Knead Bread Recipe

This sourdough recipe will yield artisan loafs without any kneading. I have combined a no-knead bread technique from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff HertzBerg and Zoe Francois with the ingredients and techniques from a Wild Yeast Blog post on Norwich Sourdough. The Norwich Sourdough inclusion of rye flour gives the loaves an extra bite complimentary to the tangy sourdough, all without ever needing to touch the dough. The hands-on time spent actually paying attention to these loaves is minimal making this recipe a low commitment, but yields delicious results.

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Plain Kombucha Recipe

I adopted this recipe from here which has led to at least a dozen successful batches. The plain kombucha will take about 2 weeks to complete at room temperature.

Plain Kombucha

Makes 1 gallon

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 quarts water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 bags black tea (or 1 tablespoons loose tea)
  • 4 bags green or herbal tea (or 1 tablespoon loose tea)
  • 2 cups pre-made unflavored kombucha (from your last homemade batch or store-bought)
  • 1 scoby

Steps

  1. Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Steep tea until the water has cooled.

  2. Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags. Stir in the pre-made kombucha.

  3. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar and gently slide the scoby on top with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.

  4. Keep the fermenting kombucha at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, or until taste is desired.

  5. Remove the scoby. Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha to be added to the next batch.

  6. Stir kombucha to distribute leftover scoby fragments. Add the kombucha to bottles. Leave about an inch of head room in each bottle. Store the bottled kombucha at room-temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate.

  7. Refrigerate once carbonated.

Problems? This troubleshooting guide has many answers.

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Rye Tripel

A little birdie recently told me that a Tripel actually refers to triple the malt of the Trappist “Simple”. Triple the malt we shall have.

This Tripel will emerge in the late winter as a hearty reminder of the warmth to come. The predicted 8-9\% ABV will keep the body warm as we claim the outdoors once again, while the lighter body of the Tripel will remind the consumer of the promised summer. Rye malt will polish the Tripel’s body with a spicy overtone. Tettnang aroma hops complete the Rye Tripel with an earthy compliment.

Find the recipe here, and the brew log here.

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Barleywine

When you need to face the frigid air outside, one seeks a bold beverage. One seeks a beverage similar to a meal and enough alcohol to dilate your blood vessels. One seeks a Barleywine.

I’m fueling my obsession with rye. This American Barleywine will have a lighter body than an English, have slightly spicy mouthfeel from the rye, and lemony aroma from Amarillo hops. American Ale Wyeast will bring the Barleywine to fruition at 9% ABV.

Find the recipe here, and the brew log here.

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Birds-Eye-Maple Jewelry Box

The Box

A few years ago I built a jewelry box out of Bird’s-Eye Maple and cherry as a gift. The rounded sides and lid frame the hand-carved Celtic knot as the focus of the box. The design is minimalist, yet elegant. Three compartments await inside the box, along with a padded tray which rests atop the back compartment.

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Miter Saw Tables

Rolling Miter Saw Table

I designed and built a portable steel-frame miter-saw table for use in the Macalester College Theater Department Scene Shop. The table is 6$\ft$ long, capable of extending to 12$\ft$ with folding extensions. I installed a quick-access trash cut-out for discarding small scraps immediately after cutting. The table allows the saw to operate at the full range of its original miter angles. A vacuum below with a smart switch turns on whenever the miter saw is used, limiting the amount of sawdust. The table frame is steel mounted on four casters.

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More Mint Kombucha

Kombucha with Muerh Mint Tea

Today I bottled my first batch of mint kombucha. It was a total success. The mint adds a refreshing zing.

Execution

  1. Fermented the scoby on 9/27 with 3.5 Qrts water steeped in 4 bags of Irish Breakfast, 4 tsp of muerh mint tea and 1 C sugar.

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Mint Kombucha

Kombucha with Herbal Mint Tea

I used some type of mint tea, Muerh mint? I suppose I’m not hopeful about this Kombucha.

Execution

  1. Fermented the scoby on 9/18 with 3.5 Qrts water steeped in 4 bags of Irish Breakfast, 4 tsp of muerh mint tea and 1 C sugar.

  2. Bottled on 9/27. Good balance of sweet and vinegary. The mint adds a smooth refreshing flavor to the kombucha. Definitely will be doing this in the future again.

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Shaving Brush Stand

The Stand

My shaving brush was not drying entirely between uses; the solution: hang it upside down. I recycled some scrap cherry and maple in the burn pile to make a modern stand about 5 inches tall to hold my shaving brush upside down. The stand took a couple of hours to construct.

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Kombucha with Herbal Tea

Kombucha with Herbal Tea

I am thinking of making a lavender kombucha. After some research though I discovered that many of the scoby’s nutrients come from the oxidization of tea leaves, i.e., green or black tea. One source suggests I may use up to 75% herbal tea and still have a healthy scoby. I’ll try 50% herbal, and 50% black tea.

New Batch

I immediately contradicted myself. I brewed a batch with about 40% black tea and 60% herbal.

Execution

  1. Fermented the scoby on 9/9 with 3.5 Qrts water steeped in 3 bags of darjeeling, 4 tsp of ginger tea and 1 C sugar.

  2. Bottled on 9/18. Good balance of sweetness with vinegar. The ginger tea shines through as a slight bite.

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Kombucha Beer Results / New Batch

Kombucha Beer

A couple weeks ago I tried brewing a kombucha beer. I fed the scoby 2 Qrts of the wort from a Session Irish Red Ale, and 1 Qrt of kombucha starter, 4 tea bags and 1/4 C sugar. This is not worth repeating. The kombucha is vinegary and flat. Perhaps I let the kombucha ferment for too long, between 1.5 and 2 weeks. If one were to try this again, I recommend fermenting for a week only.

I might have more success if I used the pre-boiled wort to feed the scoby. The hops may very well be hostile to the scoby.

New Batch

Brewing a new batch. A simple one.

Execution

  1. Fermented the scoby on 9/2 with 3.5 Qrts water steeped in 4 bags of oolong, 4 bags of English Breakfast and 1 C sugar.

  2. Bottled on 9/9. A little too sweet. Waiting for another three days, so 10 days total would benefit the drink.

  3. Added back to fermenter with scoby on 9/14. It was too sweet.

  4. Bottled on 9/18. Perfect amount of sweetness / vinegar. Average temperature was around 70 deg F.

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Oatmeal Stout

I’m brewing an oatmeal stout tomorrow in order to have dinner on the go during the winter. Since I know little about oatmeal stouts, I’ll be using a recipe aimed to reproduce Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout.

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Kegerator Fan

Today I installed a fan into my new kegerater.

A fan helps maintain a constant temperature throughout the fridge. The converted chest freezer I am using cools the fridge with plates on the outside. The air is quite stagnant in the fridge, so the cool air settles to the bottom. This can create a temperature gradient of the beer within the keg, leading to foamy pours. The first pour is a little foamy right now.

The solution: a fan. This DIY post describes an example of installing a fan, and outlines the need for one.

The Finished product

I used to angle brackets to mount the fan to the collar. Currently the USB wire for the fan just rests on top of the lip, but does not seem to disrupt the seal between the lid and the lip.

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German Gose

Here is the original all-grain recipe which I reformatted into a Brewtoad recipe. If ever I come across this German Gose I will be sure to take notes.

I will be using a bacteria for the first type. The particular strain is called brettanomyces. I will be fermenting the wart with the bacteria alone for one day at 110 F. I will kill the bacteria by boiling, at which point I’ll add hops. Then adding the traditional Kolsh ale yeast.

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Kombucha

The Kombucha from a couple weeks ago was a complete success. The drink was the right amount of vinegary and sweet. It was well carbonated. After about two days, the ginger flavor kicked in. I definitely need to make some more.

Since last time I split the scoby in two by cutting it along the diameter. This isn’t how others would do it, but I figured the scoby is an amorphous blob which wouldn’t be hurt by such a macroscopic disturbance.

Execution

  1. Fermented the scoby on 7/29 with 3.5 Qrts water steeped in 6 bags of black Irish tea and 1 C sugar.

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Rocking Chair

In 2012 I adopted plans for an Art & Crafts Rocking Chair from Popular Mechanics for a tech theater woodworking project. Below are images of chair itself.

Drafting

I redrafted the Popular Mechanics plans on paper as part of the project.

Construction

The Popular Mechanics article suggested that to make the rockers, one should kerf the wood, then plane away the leftovers to a smooth surface. I used a less tiresome method, cutting with a bandsaw. This turned out to be relatively simple. I used a belt sander to smooth the bandsaw cuts on both the top and bottom of the rockers. In hindsight, a spindle sander would be much more appropriate for the top of the rocker, where the bend is inwards.

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Yeast Starters

Yeast Starter

Instructions originally from here.

Below are the steps I have adopted for a yeast starter.

  1. Boil a pint (1/2 quart) of water and stir in 1/2 cup (80 g) of Dextrified Malt Extract. Boil to sanitize.

  2. Place pot of DME water in cool waterbath.

  3. Fill a 1/2 gallon ball jar with sanitizing liquid. Shake with top loose to sanitize lid.

  4. Sanitize the yeast packet and scissors.

  5. Poor out sanitizer from jar. Add yeast and DME water.

  6. Screw lid loosely, so CO can escape, but air does not enter.

  7. Store in a 70 - 80 F area. Disturb the yeast periodically by sloshing the liquid to feed it.

  8. Allow 12 - 48 hours for the yeast to multiply.

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Ginger Kombucha

Recipe originally from here. But this recipe is convoluted, so this post summarizes the steps. I’ve also adjusted the recipe slightly to remove the ginger chunks from the tea.

Ginger Kombucha

Makes 1 gallon

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 quarts water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 bags black tea (or 1 tablespoons loose tea)
  • 4 bags green tea (or 1 tablespoon loose tea)
  • 2 cups pre-made unflavored kombucha (from your last homemade batch or store-bought)
  • 1 scoby per fermentation jar
  • 2- to 3-inch piece fresh ginger (See recipe note)

Steps

  1. Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Steep tea until the water has cooled.

  2. Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags. Stir in the pre-made kombucha.

  3. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar and gently slide the scoby on top with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.

  4. Keep the fermenting kombucha at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, or until taste is desired.

  5. Remove the scoby. Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha to be added to the next batch.

  6. Add grated ginger to kombucha. Infuse until tea has desired ginger flavor.

  7. Strain the ginger from the kombucha. Stir kombucha to distribute scoby fragments. Add the kombucha to bottles. Leave about an inch of head room in each bottle. Store the bottled kombucha at room-temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate.

  8. Refrigerate once carbonated.

Execution

  1. Fermented the scoby on 7/10 with 3.5 Qrts water steeped in 8 bags of tea and 1 C sugar.

  2. 7/22 - Bottled kombucha with t finely grated ginger per 12 oz. Withheld 1 pint of kombucha for next batch. Adding 1 Qrt water steeped with 2 bags of irish breakfast tea and 1/4 C sugar to the scoby for storage. Batch produced 4 12 oz bottles, and 1 L plastic bottle.

Troubleshooting

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Lectern

Finished Product

This year I made a lectern for the astronomy department colloquium room out of red oak. The lectern now serves as a functional, yet attractive addition to the room.

The lectern is equipped with the necessary cables for projection from a laptop. The cables run out of the bottom to be connected to the wall.

Construction

You can never have too many clamps. The facing holds on to the lectern only by glue, keeping the facing smooth and flawless.

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First Post

The most recent project of mine was a foldable cedar drying rack. The rack spanned about 14 inches across. I included a lower rack to accommodate cups.

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