31 January 2011

The Thought Police Police

Dear All,

Please go on over and check out my friend´s blog, The Thought Police Police.

I am a little jealous of this blog, since it´s awesome, and really smart, super timely, extremely relevant, and sure to quickly gain a huge following. Plus, it´s really about something. You should hop on this train now, so that when it blows up you can tell your friends how long you´ve been reading it for, and they´ll feel dumb.


Nothing New and Rotting

This weekend, I failed to rot (er, ferment) anything new. I´m ashamed of myself.

Coming soon, however.....BANANA WINE!

Any ideas out there for other bizarre things that I can ferment? I´ll surely be making a new batch of beer soon (chipotle porter, I believe), and there are various bubbling concoctions in my fermenting room (onion wine, ginger mead, ginger-chile mead, hard cider), but I am looking to put some energy into some bizarre, strange, and hopefully surprisingly delicious new libations.

Let me know if you have any ideas. In the meantime, enjoy this video:

Scenes From Lumberjackfest 2011

In honor of friend Xavi's beard, for which he underwent great itchiness and general annoyance.

In addition to flannel and axes, the party also featured Lumberjack-tails (whiskey, maple syrup, lemon, bitters, egg white), PBR, and my brother PJ (with his beard).

28 January 2011


Nice day today here in Asheville. Still cold, of course, but nice enough to allow for semi-comfortable motorcycling.

26 January 2011

Box Jumping

Thought I'd pop up a few humorous videos.

Also -- Final analysis of the cucumber kimchee is that you need to go to the store immediately, buy the ingredients, and make it. It is so good! Tonight I ate a half-jar of the stuff, just putting it on every bit of food that I could think of. It tastes like a Korean-Jewish Pickle. Try making it with this recipe and let me know how it goes! Feel free to write with any questions.

25 January 2011

Kimchi Update

Cucumber kimchi update:

I tried it yesterday and it's awesome. A bit salty, but delicious.

My friend X, to whom I gave a jar of normal kimchi, has eaten nearly a whole large jar in the last two days. I should start selling the stuff.


I hear snow and sleet are once again coming to the mountains of Western NC. Do I smell another snow day for me fellow teachers and me?

24 January 2011

New Starts

I am playing with some changes here at the blog. Feel free to tell me if you like it or hate it. The "labels" section on the right is currently fairly useless, since I generally don't label my posts.

Actually, scratch that. I'm taking the label section off until I have some posts actually labeled. That makes more sense.

23 January 2011

Onion Wine

I just brewed up a small batch of onion wine. At present, pre-fermentation, pre-yeast addition, pre-miraculous physical changes, it tastes sort of gross. Really, really sweet.

The recipe that I'm using is this one, though I was originally turned on to the idea by fellow fermentation fiend and friend Mike, who owns some strange pamphlet-like book that is chock-full-o' interesting wine recipes. This one in particular is essentially made of the water from boiled onion and potato, which is then mixed with chopped raisins, sugar, and some random wine additives (acid mixture, yeast energizer, campden tablets). And, of course, yeast, which is the magic ingredient.

In any sort of fermentation like this, yeast is in fact a non-essential ingredient, as the natural yeasts present in the air will invade the liquid and ferment it. Most brewers and winemakers, however, tend to use to store-bought yeast, in order to make the final product somewhat more predictable. The campden tablets mentioned above apparently work to inhibit random wild yeasts from taking over the process.

My fermentation hero, and self-described "fermentation fetishist", Sandor Katz, is the type of guy who does not use store-bought yeast, but rather relishes the natural, unpredictable, and eminently local method of "wild fermentation" (also the name of one of his books).

I'll keep you all posted on how this onion wine comes out. From what I've read, it is supposed to be quite good, and not taste like onions at all. We'll see.

Cucumber Kimchi

I am presenting here a how-to primer on a basic cucumber kimchi...this is my first cucumber batch, and 4th kimchi batch overall, so I am certainly no expert, but damn, my kimchi tastes good.

Actually, I recently took some of my second batch of kimchi to Kim's, our local Asian grocery market, which is owned by Koreans. After some linguistic confusion, I explained to the woman who owns the market (and makes delicious kimchi) that I wanted her to try mine, and perhaps give me some pointers. She was, to put it mildly, rather suspicious of my kimchi. However, she did put a very, very small piece of it in her mouth, chewed it slowly, and then turned to her husband (who was acting as our interpreter in the process) and said something in Korean, with a surprised look on her face. He looked at me, smiled, and said, also with some surprise, "It's good!"

So I now am nonstop making kimchi, and nonstop eating kimchi, and I'd love to share the passion. Check it out below. This is super easy. I'll let you know in a few days how it tastes.

1. Cut four cucumbers into small chunks, put them in a bowl, and mix with two tablespoons of salt. Let sit overnight.

2. Upon your return, you will notice the liquid that the salt has pulled out of the cukes. This is your brine. To this, I added one yellow onion, five garlic cloves, one teaspoon of honey, three tablespoons of Korean chile flakes, one tablespoon of vinegar, and a teaspoon of fish sauce.

You can play with what else you put in, and in a pinch, you can use regular crushed red pepper instead of the korean stuff. It is quite different though.

3. Mix up all that stuff and pack it in some mason jars. Pack it down so that you see the level of the brine (now all red and pretty looking) rise above the level of the veggies.

4. Put the tops on the mason jar, but don't tighten down the ring. Obviously you can also choose to use a different sort of vessel. As long as the brine level is higher than the veggies, all is good and you don't even need a lid at all. Just a towel atop the opening will work fine.

4. Let it ferment. Two days is good, though it will get stronger in taste the more you let it go. If you see any mold on the brine surface or on any veggies poking through, just scrape it off. Harmless.

5. Enjoy!

22 January 2011


Just back from making beer at the home of some friends. Tough to make beer, we found, on a crappy flat-top electric stove, as the burner just doesn't get hot enough to heat up 2-3 gallons of water. Thanks to Charlie Papazian's advice, however, we were able to get through the hardship.

Charlie Papazian, by the way, is the God of homebrewing literature. His motto is "relax, don't worry, have a homebrew."

20 January 2011


I have been playing a whole lot of racquetball lately, and it seems that one of the greatest benefits of the activity (besides the feeling of moral superiority that comes with exercising while the world sleeps) is the chance to actually see a sunrise.

Check it out:

14 January 2011

Sweet Carolina

My two-year old nephew says that Beth and I live in "North Cakalina".

I love that.

Snow and Fermentation

It´s been crazy snowy here lately. Snowy enough, in fact, that we almost got stuck in Tennessee (out near Gatlinburg) in a beautiful cabin in the woods. For the first time in my life I used snow chains, however, and my loyal steed, Mrs. Breeze, was able to get us home.

Things are slowly beginning to calm down from the holidays. A lovely and lively pre-Holiday season slowly morphed into a Holiday season, which led to New Year´s Eve, which led to fun-filled family visits and more reveling and carousing. I am happy, full, content, tired, and I need to visit the gym more, and eat and drink less.

I have been very busy with a host of new projects, mostly related to the new and exciting world of fermentation. New to me that is.

Just the other day, I spent the day in the kitchen, mixing up mysterious concoctions with old and deeply planted cultural roots. I rebottled a batch of beer (I had somehow totally spaced on adding priming sugar when bottling, thus resulting in a most delicious and totally flat "Death by Hops IPA" that I had brewed using a recipe from Hops and Vines, my local brew store). I brewed a batch of Honey-Ginger Hard Cider, as well as a fresh batch of Ginger Mead (I have had one five-gallon batch going for a six or seven weeks now). I also made a new batch of sauerkraut (with the addition of green apples and carrots) as well as a large batch of kimchi (my third batch of that).

It has been exciting, delving into this ancient art. I´ve been so inspired by friends in the area, as well as the book, Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Katz. He´s got a website that might turn you on a little bit to the whole thing.

Funny, the things that become normal in your life. A couple of years ago, I had never heard of kombucha, and now as a matter of course I have two to three batches brewing away atop my refrigerator. I´m not sure that I had ever considered mead beyond reading about it in some novel about medieval people or something of the sort. And now this all seems rather normal. A place and a time, I suppose, exists for everything, and when one is surrounded by people doing interesting things, it´s easy to catch the bug.

One thing that I am considering doing with this here blog is beginning to place greater emphasis on these pursuits, including videos of my processes, descriptions on how to do some of the things I´m doing, etc. I´d even like to offer free (with shipping and handling) kombucha cultures to anyone interested in starting their own batch. (Email me if you are interested).

So....that´s the plan -- more soon.

01 January 2011


It is 2011. We (Sirius.B) rang in the New Year last night at the Lexington Avenue Brewery, playing to a packed house until the lights came on and the booze stopped flowing.

No real resolutions this year, beyond eating more fruit.

Actually, I probably have loads of resolutions, but I haven't yet articulated them all. That will come.

One thing: I am planning a blog overhaul, and I hope soon to place much more emphasis on my varied projects and adventures in the culinary and artistic worlds. I am even planning on including some videos, audio, etc. So stay posted.