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Archive for August, 2011

By Mila Zinkova. Edited by Alvesgaspar

Heya, moonshining misfits!

It’s time to hike up your fishnets and…

clean.

I know.  That doesn’t sound badass at all.  But if you want to make your own beer, wine, and spirits, you need to know how to do this stuff.  This post will be my resource for you

Whenever you’re making alcohol and dealing with the long-term process of fermentation, you’ll need to first cleanse, then rinse, then sanitize any equipment that isn’t getting boiled.  The results if you slack off could be grody, unsafe, and unpredictable.

Sometimes grody, unsafe, and unpredictable conditions make for good times!  Not in moonshining, though.

The Boy brews beer professionally, and he turned me onto a simple system that I love and use every time I make beer or wine.

Get three 5-gallon buckets from the hardware store.  Label the first “Cleansing,” the second “Rinsing,” and the third, “Sanitizing.”  Now let’s talk about the mixtures that go into each–you have “best” options, and you have “cheap-ass” options:

Cleansing
The best option: PBW or B-Brite diluted per the manufacturer’s instructions with HOT water.
The cheap-ass option: A bit of dish soap dissolved in HOT water, though it may leave a residue that can affect the finished product.

Rinsing
Fresh, HOT water.

Sanitizing
The best option: BTF Iodophor diluted per the manufacturer’s instructions with COLD water.
The cheap-ass option:  A mixture of unscented bleach and water –1 ounce bleach per 5 gallons of water.  After doing this, you should rinse with water again and again AND OH HOLY HELL AGAIN to eliminate any remaining chlorine smell.  For obvious reasons, I’m not a fan of the bleach method, but it works.

If filling buckets in your sink seems a bit unwieldy, do like we’ve done and buy a new garden hose and sink adaptor that you can attach to your faucet.  This gives you the flexibility to work anywhere in your kitchen, and prevents you from having to do so much lifting and spilling.

The Process (you may need to do this in batches):

1) Fill the three buckets with their appropriate mixtures (see above).

2) Put items into the cleanser solution, being sure to hold any hollow items under the surface until they expel enough air to sink.  For hoses and tubing, slowly insert one end into the mixture, then gradually drop its length into the bucket, snaking around the sides-this prevents air bubble formation and ensures proper coverage.  All sides of all pieces, including the insides, need to be in contact with the cleanser for at least a minute, 2-3 minutes being preferable.

3) Move the freshly cleansed items into the rinse bucket in the same thorough fashion, agitating the items until the cleanser is off (items won’t have that slippery soap feel anymore).

4) Drop the items into the sanitizer, again taking care to coat everything and prevent air bubbles, and leave them there for at least 3 minutes.

Whoohoo!  Now you’re about as clean as you dirty, dirty misfits are gonna get.  Who knew sanitizing could be such a turn-on?

Ready to make some booze-o-hol?  Okay!

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Some misfits think they need a super-productive garden to make canning possible or worthwhile.  Not so, my spicy little dumplings, not so!  At least, not with pepper jelly.  Just a few cups of chopped peppers is enough to make a baker’s dozen of pepper jelly half-pints.

Now these half-pints are different from the half-pints that your Bad Mama Genny normally enjoys around here because they will not get you drunk and they do not possess bubbles.  If you’re doing it right, that is.  (Pepper jelly that gets you drunk is probably dangerous.  And a lot of fun.  But dangerous.  But, you know, still fun.)  But in any case, pepper jelly half-pints are still joyful half-pints indeed.

In fact, they got me so excited that I had to go play with those little fake baby bottles for dolls that you turn upside down and the orange juice and milk disappear and make it look like Baby drank it.

They’re very soothing.

So how would a misfit use pepper jelly?

I’m glad you asked!

Eat it with cream cheese or goat cheese and crackers, stir it into a sweet and spicy stir fry, baste grilled meats and sausages with it, make a totally different kind of PB & J or grilled cheese with it, melt it down and use it as the base for a KAH-razy cocktail, put it on a cheese plate alongside these pickled grapes, stir some into deviled egg filling, put it in tuna or chicken salad, load it into your kids’ water guns for playtime with higher stakes, bring it to parties, give it as gifts, mail it to other misfits…

BUT NO SEX PLAY.

Y’all hear me?  Pepper jelly is not for sex pla–

NO!  Bad misfits!  BAD!

No sex play.

A public service announcement from Bad Mama Genny.

Movin’ on.

(No sex play.)

Sweet and Hot Pepper Jelly (No sex play)
Makes 13 half-pints (if it’s too annoying to buy an extra 12-pack for a thirteenth jar you may not need, just plan on putting the extra in a cup or bowl for eating right away)

Go Get:
2 1/2 total cups minced sweet and hot peppers (for medium heat, I used 6 large jalapenos, no seeds or membranes, and the rest sweet peppers) (The mincing is best done in a food processor, once you’ve done the bare minimum at chopping and de-seeding them while wearing gloves or little plastic baggies on your hands)
12 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
1 cup liquid pectin, somewhere around 2 and a half pouches
6 drops green food coloring, optional

Go Do:
Get your jars heating and sterilizing–the dishwasher is ideal for this.  And start your boiling hot water bath in a large canning pot on the stove.

Okay, now:

Mix the peppers, sugar, and vinegar in a large pot (Dutch Oven size is just right).

Turn the heat to high and stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a full boil and sugar is dissolved.  Don’t breathe in the vinegar/pepper vapors if you can help it.  They are a perfect storm of pain and suffering.
Remove it from the heat, give it another stir, and add the pectin.  Now is when you’ll add the food coloring, if you’re using it.  You totally don’t have to.  I considered not, but the jam was a sickly yellowish color that, frankly, made me think of plasma in a jar.  In went the food coloring.

Now ladle it into those hot and ready jars (what?) and leave about half an inch of headspace.  Tap the jars onto the table to bring any air bubbles to the surface, where you can pop them with a wooden chopstick or something.

Put on the lids, screw the rings on just a wittle tight, and process them in the canner for 10 minutes (you may have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your canner).  Let ’em sit for a day before putting them in your pantry, and I’d say give ’em two weeks before eating to let the pepper flavor really permeate.  But NO SEX PLAY!

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These are your BMG’s half-wheat sourdough cookies–rolled in cinnamon sugar, and then stamped as “HOME MADE.”

Because apparently, nobody would suspect it if I didn’t tell them in ALL CAPS.

Want yer own overly enthusiastic cookie stamp?  Come and get it, misfits!

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So do y’all remember the BMG’s cabbage patch?

Oh, come on, sure you do!

Precious!

Anyway, well, most of those got harvested, and while a few made their way into dinner, the vast majority were turned into homemade, naturally vegan, lacto-fermented kraut.

<Homer Simpson drooling sound>

Yes, that’s right–we’re up to no good with live cultures yet again in a new series I’m calling “FERMENTING IS FUN!”

Not really.  That makes it sound like one of those puberty videos you have to watch in your fifth grade science classes.

“Getting Down with Gonads!”

“Engorgin’ Sex Organs!”

“Chillaxin’ With Childbirth!”

“Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Menses.”

“A Peculiar Thunder Down Under.”

“Congratulations! As if Your Status as a Female Didn’t Already Disadvantage You Enough, You’re Now Both Fertile and Alluring and That Is About As Good for Your Future as Mixing Valium With Everclear Okay Have Fun Bye Bye!”

Right.  Back to fermentation.

This requires no vinegar, injects you with sexy, sexy probiotics, and tastes phenomenal.  The Boy and I like it as an appetizer with a little sharp cheddar, homemade sourdough, and homebrew.  But really, now, you misfits are creative.  You could do a whole host of things with it!

Said Whole Host of Things, if A Metric Whole Host Equals Ten

1. Grilled Cheese and Kraut

2. Pork Chops, Kraut, and Pink Applesauce

3. Hot Dogs and Kraut

4. Put it on your cat.

5. Make sauerkraut pierogi!

6. Best. Corned Beef Sandwich. Ever.

7. Put it on your mom.

7. Serve an unconventional pickle plate: pumpernickel, fermented kraut, smoked salmon, yogurt cheese, briny olives, pickled mushrooms

8. Bring a jar of it to a high school reunion.  Insist on introducing it to people and following up with vaguely German slurs and raucous laughter.  Bonus points if you never even went to that high school.

9. Kraut plus Shredded Swiss Cheese plus Potato Chips = Nommiful Nachos

10. Put it on your archenemy.

So really, you get the idea–eat it, enjoy it, or just put it on the stuff and/or people in your life.  Mmm…tangy!

Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut
Makes 1 half-gallon crock/jar of tightly-packed kraut

Go Get:
2 small to medium cabbages
1 large white onion (optional: carrots and beets are fun additions, too)
1/4 cup whole Dutch caraway seeds (optional)
1/2 cup whey extracted from yogurt (instructions here) (wanna do this the vegan/dairy-free way?  See this post.)
2 Tablespoons sea salt

Go Do:
Shred the cabbage, either with a food processor or a sharp knife and cutting board.  Put it into a large bowl, then finely chop the onion and add it to the bowl.  Add in the caraway seeds, salt, and whey, and toss everything to combine.

Let mixture sit for 20 minutes, then start pounding it with a potato masher.  Pound until you get tired, then set it aside to rest for a few minutes.  Alternately pound and rest until the mixture is much reduced in volume and is yielding a lot of water.

It’s ready when you can pack the kraut down with the masher or a wooden spoon and liquid comes up to cover it, usually an hour.  When it’s ready, pile it into a half-gallon crock or jar, packing tightly as you go.

Press the top down.  If there’s enough liquid to submerge the vegetables, you’re golden.  If not, add some filtered water until they’re covered.  Now place an open Ziploc bag over the jar (open side up), and fill with enough water to weight the kraut down and keep it submerged.  When you have that right, seal the bag, cover the whole thing loosely with a towel, and let sit in a dark, room-temperature location.  Check the kraut for sourness each day.  Mine is usually at optimal sourness in 1-2 weeks, but your results will differ based on temperature and environment.  Once it’s perfect, refrigerate the batch to slow fermentation.  It’ll keep for about a year, and usually longer.

Note: If a little mold develops on top, you misfits shouldn’t worry about it–this is normal.  Just skim it off, rinse and replace the bag, and keep fermenting.

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Lalala, what a beautiful day, and what a nice tree, and WHAT THE HECK IS THAT ORB IN THE TREE?

OH DEAR GOD IT’S A PUMPKIN.

Apparently this wasn’t the only pregnant punkin action happening around here.

So I guess while things in Bad Mama Genny-land were busy storming and flooding and flaming and crying and power outaging and Xanaxing and funeral-ing and repressing and all kinds of oh hellz bellzing, your BMG’s fantastical mystery blue pumpkin plant was all, “Screw you guys.  I’m climbing a tree.”

What can I say?  Even my plants do their own weird, twisted, unnatural thing.

But, uh, if the following photos are any indication, this pumpkin won’t exactly be an anomaly:

And, uh, by the looks of this healthy leading edge, Destroyer Pumpkin has absolutely no intention of slowing its roll:

OMG LOLZ HI GUYS!

I will be picking pumpkins from a tree this year.  And, no, your eyes weren’t deceiving you–those WERE indeed tomatoes and cucumbers intertwining with the tree’s foliage.  That tree, man.

I’m just waiting for the rom-com version of this to come out.  It will, naturally, be titled, “There’s Something About Tree.”

UPDATE: Since this went live a few hours ago, I’ve gone back outside to stare at my pumpkin tree whilst grinning stupidly.  And have discovered that the pumpkin has sent out vines in another direction and CLIMBED A SECOND TREE.  There are also 7 additional pumpkins on the vine that I failed to count the first time.

Misfits?

If this works?

I will be the happiest BMG in all the land.

That is all.

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For Bad Mama Genny’s hungry zombie misfit fans…today’s food porn post is ALL FOR YOU.

This is a picture of me and Handy that my friend took at a pub.  Handy is a severed hand.

Handy is pretty much my official mascot.  He likes to live in my work tote and come with me to cafes and stuff.  You know…for inspiration.

When I was at a Starbucks last week, my bag fell over and Handy slipped out.  I could have explained myself to the nervous onlookers…but instead I just shrugged my shoulders and put Handy back where he belonged.

I think it was best that way.

Happy weekend, hungry zombie misfit fans and people who love hungry zombie misfit fans!

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Every time your BMG (BNG?  Bad Nonna Genny for today’s recipe?) walks up to the front door, she’s bombarded with a cloud of basil ambrosia.  But she knows it won’t last forever.  Soon she’ll be wailing and gnashing her teeth and rending The Boy’s garments (what?  They’re not as cute as hers) because she can’t get fresh basil anymore.  But she will be encouraged to know that, despite the lack of basil ambrosia in her life, despite the fact that she seems to have reverted to speaking of herself in the third person, there is basilage to be had, and it’s as close as the freezer.

Pesto, peeps!  During the summer I make a fresh batch every week, which is about as long as it takes for the monster plants at the front door to become unwieldy again.  Then I drop it by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper sheets, roll up the paper, bag it, and stick it in the freezer.  By the end of September, I’ve got rolls and rolls of pesto like herbaceous green button candy, and it sees me through until the next year’s plants kick into SEARCH AND FUCKING DESTROY mode.

I keep the pesto on the thick side–easy to spoon, and it stays concentrated so I can use it however which way I like.

SOME EXAMPLES OF HOWEVER WHICH WAY I LIKE:

*Folded full-strength into some softened butter for rolls
*Dropped into soup or stew for quick seasoning
*Thinned with a little pasta cooking water and tossed with your favorite noodles
*Under my arms–all-natural deodorant! (“Is she joking? I hope she’s joking.”)
*Creamed into mayonnaise and adorning a BLT
*Thinned out with some vinegar and drizzled over a salad
*As a cool hipster-y lip gloss (“Where is she going with all these body product jokes?”)
*Spread thinly onto a pizza crust in place of red sauce
*Whisked into scrambled eggs
*Layered in a tomato and mozzarella pie, topped with a biscuit crust
*As an all-natural, scented lube! (“Oh dear God.”)

Okay, so would you like to know how to execute this most marvelous and simple yet impressive feat of domesticity, or would you like your Bad Nonna Genny to give you increasingly more suggestive uses for pes–

–Oh, you’d like the recipe?  Okay, then.

5 Minute Pesto Buttons
Makes about 8 buttons, each button equal to approx. 1 1/2 tablespoons pesto

Go Get:
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/4 cup nuts (pine nuts are traditional, but I’ve used walnuts, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, etc. with great results–today I started with slivered almonds)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano Cheese (BNG is never without it, parmesan is a good substitute)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt ‘n Pepa (the hip-hop duo from the ’90’s, not the seasonings.  Okay, fine, I meant the seasonings.)
olive oil (this isn’t exact, but it’s usually around 1/4 cup)

Go Do:
Okay, now toss those basil leaves into the bowl of your food processor.

Now add in the garlic cloves, a few shakes of salt and pepper, and cheese.

Now toss those nuts into a dry skillet, turn the heat to medium, and agitate things around until it’s all toasty–shouldn’t take more than a minute, and they’re usually done when you start to smell them.  Observe!

Now drop in those nuts and give the food processor a few good pulses until everything’s all macerated.  Now start the motor running and slowly drizzle in olive oil through the feed tube in the top.  You should see things start to form a paste.  You can add a little more if need be, but I’d just take off the top and check before you do that, just to make sure the oil’s being incorporated.  When things form a loose paste, you’re done!  Check it for Salt ‘n Pepa (the seasonings, not the ’90’s hip-hop duo), and adjust accordingly.

Now put out a sheet of wax paper and drop the pesto by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Lay another sheet of wax paper on top, lightly flatten the pesto mounds into thick, flat buttons for easier storage, and gently roll it up.  Pop the roll into a bag, stick it into the freezer, and rest easy, misfits.

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