saansaturday: (fornication)
( Friday, 12 February 2010 17:48)
V and I have been doing rather a lot of homebrewing. I've hardly written about it at all, with the exception of a short post about brewing the Backwards Porter. I am going to make an attempt, now, to write about something that is not related to BJJ! (An aside: I find it amusing that my journal usually reflects so directly upon my current obsession. Go back to the beginning and you will find poetry, then recipes, then weightlifting and now BJJ, all with a nice lacing of travel-related posts, mooning over lovers far away, and little slivers of depression, expansiveness and witchcraft). Homebrewing is becoming my secondary obsession currently.

V brewed a bit with a friend back when we were in university but I just started at the end of the summer. Our first beer was a small batch of nut brown ale, cheerful and pleasant and completely gone within a couple of weeks. Next we brewed a sparkling mead with local honey--open fermentation in a big bucket, covered loosely with a plastic drop cloth, in the closet of the temple. We used a recipe from Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers as a guideline. A few ants crawled into the bucket and drowned; when it came time to bottle we filtered them out. I'd never had a sparkling mead before but I declared this mead the best I'd ever had in my life and I still stand by that.

We brewed a herbal ale with damiana and passionflower and called it Double Penetration Ale. It tasted odd and did funny things to my body. Then we brewed a cranberry/chokecherry stout, Asphyxiaphiliac. A lot of people we shared the stout with didn't like it--the sour flavors of the cranberries and chokecherries are pronounced enough that it falls firmly in the category of weird beer. As a weird beer or a stout, I think it is pretty damn good: nice thick mouthfeel, lovely melanoidin roastyness, a refreshing sour note. Pink and red and black. Perhaps a bit unbalanced, with a such a fullness of stout below and that high cranberry note above.

Next came the Backwards Porter, based on the Goat Scrotum Porter in The Complete Joy of Home Brewing. We added a heaping quarter cup of alligator juniper berries gathered in the Manzanitas in NM and at the last minute, after smelling the concoction and deciding it needed chocolate notes, I dumped in the rest of a container of non-alkalized cocoa powder (approx 175g). I'm very glad for my impulsive decision, because I'm loving the chocolate scent and flavor of this beer now. We were worried that the juniper flavor might be too assertive after our early taste tests (we did add more than the recipe called for) but the flavor mellowed considerably in the bottle. The beer has very little head, which I hardly care about in a porter. Thick (though not overly so), chocolaty, somewhat sweet, with a very light astringency from the juniper. Again I think we achieved a lovely mouthfeel. This beer was very well received by everyone we shared it with.

Ah, my beloved ESB. I became hugely enamoured with British ales during the time I spent in England. Americans are great at their assertively hoppy styles but generally fail to achieve the balance of the British bitters. I've tried ESBs from as many local breweries as I could find and been completely dissatisfied. For this beer, we actually just ordered a kit from MoreBeer. We were beyond pleased with the results! The word for this beer (which I named, of course, Extra Special Bitter Like My Heart) is harmonious. It is a bit cloudy (which I don't mind at all) but has a beautiful amber hue. It has a distinctly British hoppy flavor (Northern Brewer bittering hops, British Kent flavoring and aroma hops) well balanced by maltiness. It is best served at a cool room temperature. It has very little head but again, who cares? It smells beautiful, tastes beautiful, looks beautiful...pretty much exactly what I was hoping for. I would brew this one again exactly the same way.

On Wednesday, V got to stay home from work due to snow, so we used the afternoon to brew our Irish dry stout. We used the Guinness clone recipe from Joy of Home Brewing with Wyeast 1882-PC Thames Valley II Yeast.1 We used light malt extract rather than dark (though our dried malt extract was still dark) and used a little bit more than the recipe called for, on a whim. I'm not sure it was the right idea, as when it came time to taste the beer was rather sweet. Hopefully the yeast will eat up the sweetness well and good. We had a few snafus in the brewing process which led to us choosing a 90 minute boil. We cooled the wort, packed in snow, on our deck. When we put the brew into the carboy we got rather a lot of foam, which I guess was a warning sign. Last night we had a blowoff! Meaning that the beer filled the fermentation lock with foam and made a small mess--messes are no problem but this increases the risk of contamination. Boo. This is what we get for brewing an Irish-style beer with a British yeast.

Next we intend to brew a Belgian-style dark strong ale with Belgian Schelde Ale Yeast.2 We're still recipe-hunting for that one.

On our whiteboard we have a list of beers to brew.


  • Mexican lager brewed with agave syrup (and lime &/or chile?) (in the spring)
  • Scotch ale
  • Another stout, basic (sweet) or coffee or chocolate
  • IPA or pale ale
  • Coconut porter
  • Mead: vanilla and berry

Late summer/early autumn:

  • Barleywine
  • Pumpkin ale
  • Belgian-style holiday ale

Weird beers:

  • Kaffir lime leaves + ginger
  • Vegetables from garden?!?!
  • Bitter melon

And finally, once we have a bit more experience...Bock! (Hopefully we can swing a Maibock).

1"This strain was originally sourced from a now defunct brewery on the banks of the river Thames outside of Oxford, England. Thames Valley II produces crisp, dry beers with a rich malt profile and moderate stone fruit esters. This attenuative strain is also highly flocculent resulting in bright beers not requiring filtration. A thorough diacetyl rest is recommended after fermentation is complete." (
2"From the East Flanders - Antwerpen region of Belgium, this unique top fermenting yeast produces complex, classic Belgian aromas and flavors that meld well with premium quality pale and crystal malts. Well rounded and smooth textures are exhibited with a full bodied malty profile and mouthfeel." (
saansaturday: (back)
( Thursday, 15 January 2009 13:13)
I am neither a top fitness bloggers nor a strength coach (yet) but hell, I haven't been writing here at all and thinking about this half-inspired me to post. So, my three favorite (not necessarily most effective) exercises:

1. The deadlift. Could you have guessed? I love deadlifts because they allow me to lift more weight than any other exercise (255 lbs. was my last heavy deadlift and 300 lbs. is my short-term goal). I feel like a badass standing there with that much weight in my hands (no straps, no belt, no equipment whatsoever). Additionally they have made my back thick and heavily muscled, and I do love the aesthetics of a muscular back on either a man or woman. I will take new back photos by March, which would be one year since the photo in the icon. I'm lazy about taking photos but I'm looking forward to seeing what another year of heavy deadlifting has added to what I think was a pretty damn good foundation.

2. Pullups (all the variations I can do, which is currently just chins or parallel-grip). I don't think I've had a moment in the gym as exhilarating as my first chinup. Again, I love these because they make me feel like a badass. I've just installed a pullup bar in the doorway to my rec room and am going to start doing them several times a day. Hopefully the frequency will help me work back up to sets of 5-10, even though I weigh fucking 75 kg. Yes, I can only do sets of two right now. :-P

3. Overhead press. It was tough to decide which lift to include last; there are so many which have endeared themselves to me. But I had to go with overhead press because I'm still riding the exhilaration of the 100 lbs. overhead press I got in Nov. I did sets of five with 90 lbs. last week! So my one rep max is clearly over 100 lbs. now. Even though I knew overhead strength was supposed to be a particular challenge for women, how many times did I tell myself, "I'm not truly strong until I can lift 100 lbs. over my head?" I will most certainly continue to keep this lift a priority.

and the runners up )

What are your three favorites?
saansaturday: (eggplant or radish?)
( Tuesday, 9 December 2008 00:31)
Tightening up my nutrition has had me eating well the past week. Part of this is that having rules and restrictions can foster creativity for me--it's sort of like writing a poem within the bounds of a form. It's also because eating out is difficult to do and I'm trying to eat more often--recently I'd reverted to only eating 3-4 times a day--so I really need to cook a tasty variety of food to keep myself happy. Here are a few of my creations.

Protein Kaiserschmarrn

This is not quite Kaiserschmarrn but the taste and cooking method really remind me of this German/Austrian dessert. I created this recipe by accident one morning when attempting to make protein pancakes. Our sea shipment from China, which had my good nonstick skillet in it, had not yet arrived. So I cooked the pancake in a not-very-nonstick skillet which I had left behind in Germany. It stuck like crazy, so I couldn't flip it. I broke the pancake up into pieces and continued flipping them around in the pan until everything was just barely cooked. This concoction was pretty amazing, like eating dessert for breakfast. It would make a delicious dessert--if you wanted to be decadent you could dust it with powdered sugar and/or serve it with applesauce, another fruit sauce or barely (or not at all) sweetened whipped cream. I do make this in my good nonstick skillet now, intentionally breaking the cake into pieces as it cooks.

2 scoops low-carb vanilla whey protein powder
3 eggs
about 1/2-1 cup rolled oats
about 1/3 tsp. salt
about 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
about 2 Tbsp. milk or water
(optional: about 2-4 Tbsp. milled flaxseed, or this milled flax mixed with dehydrated berry powder that I found at Costco)
about 1/2-1 cup frozen blueberries
a large handful of chopped pecans (I just break them by hand into the bowl, no need to get a knife and cutting board dirty)
unsalted butter

In a large bowl use a fork to whisk together the protein powder and eggs. Stir in the oats, salt, cinnamon, milk or water and if, desired, flaxseed. Add the berries and nuts and stir again. The batter will be pretty gloopy. You can use the blueberries frozen since they're small but if you use some other kind of larger berry it's best to at least partially defrost them first.

Rub a stick of unsalted butter over the bottom of a skillet, a thin layer to cover. Heat the skillet over medium, then add the batter. It will be very thick so you'll need to spread it out to cover the pan. Cook it for about 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom side is browning like a pancake. Use a spatula to flip the pancake in parts, breaking it into pieces. I like to have some nice large pieces as well as smaller ones. Cook for a few more minutes, flipping and breaking the cake more as needed, until it is just cooked--still moist in the middle. This serves two very hungry people. It has substantial carbs so I like it for breakfast or for a post-workout meal.

Five-Spice Tilapia

This is a variation on my Baked Salmon with Magically Delicious Fish-oil Drenched Onions. I have yet to get tired of this recipe, as there are so many variations possible. Another variation is to use basil and substitute sliced tomatoes for the citrus.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 bell peppers (I like one red and one orange), sliced
about 5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
about 1 Tbsp. thinly sliced ginger (I like to make matchsticks)
about 2 tsp. five spice powder (I may have used more, I kind of spilled it into the pan)
a little salt
fresh ground pepper
4 tilapia loins, rinsed and patted dry
4 or 5 mandarin oranges (or other variety of orange), unpeeled, sliced thin

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium. Add the olive oil and after it's hot, add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, ginger and some of the five spice. Saute until tender and turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and lightly salt the vegetables. Rub the tilapia with a little salt, pepper and allspice and place it over the vegetables. Arrange the orange slices over the fish. Slide the pan into the oven and bake about 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked.

Vaguely Greek Spinach Burgers

I really wanted feta in these but I didn't have any. This is only the second time in my life I've made hamburgers. I know adding all sorts of things to burgers was a bit of a fad a few years ago I'm behind the times as I made up this recipe Friday afternoon.

about 1 Tbsp. peanut oil
about 5 cloves garlic, more or less to your taste, minced
1/2 yellow onion, minced
a lot of fresh spinach, as much as will fit in your wok, washed (you want some water still clinging to the leaves to help it steam a little in the wok)
a dash of salt

oh, let's say something like 16-20oz. ground lean beef. I don't really know. It was about 1/3 of a huge package we got at Costco.
1 egg
about 1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1/2 yellow onion, minced
a few cloves of garlic, minced
about 1/4-1/3 cup grated monterey jack cheese
about 2 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper

Heat your wok over high heat. When hot, add the peanut oil in a swirl to coat the surface. Add the garlic and onion and cook 20-30 seconds. Add all the spinach and a little salt and continue to cook, turning and stirring the spinach often (I like to use tongs) until it is wilted. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, stir together the beef, egg, onion, garlic, cheese, salt and pepper. Squeeze the excess water out of the spinach, mince it, and add it to the mix. Let rest for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Form burgers--I attempted to go for about 5oz. each but who knows? This made seven burgers for me. I just got a new cast iron stovetop griddle/grill, so I cooked them on that. You can cook them in a skillet or grill them or whatever you prefer. Serve with sliced tomato and stone-ground mustard. (Or whatever your desired condiments are).

Palava Chicken

I made this one this afternoon. I particularly liked how the peanut butter made the sauce creamy. The flavors were quite harmonious.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed, patted dry and sliced fairly thin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
about 4-5 cloves garlic, roughly minced
6 small or 4 large tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter (just peanuts and salt people!)
about 2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
lots of fresh spinach, probably 6 cups or so
about 1 Tbsp. extra hot New Mexican red chile powder
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet (or chef's pan, which I prefer) over medium. Add the olive oil, then the chicken. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is browning a bit on all sides, then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Add the onion, garlic and tomatoes to the pan juices and saute for about five minutes or until they are soft. Reduce the heat to low and add the peanut butter and half the water. Cook, stirring pretty much constantly to keep the peanut butter from burning, for about 4-5 minutes. Then add the remaining water, thyme, chile, spinach and, if desired, a little more salt and pepper (I didn't add more as there was plenty of salt on my chicken and in my peanut butter). Stir the spinach into the liquid until it is starting to wilt enough that there's room to add the chicken back to the pan. Add the chicken and cook the whole mess, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through, about another 5-10 minutes. If your chicken breasts are large you can probably get about 6 servings of stew out of this recipe.
saansaturday: (back)
( Friday, 5 December 2008 15:55)
After I wrote about my new training plan, [ profile] maramaye let me know that she's been reading my weightlifting posts and wants to make a similar transformation but feels pretty clueless about what to do. After writing her quite the long reply, I realized that we could help each other out. She can't afford a trainer right now but I can train her for free and learn from the experience. This is a good opportunity for me to try my hand at personal training and see how well I do and how much I like it. I started having thoughts about this path only a few months after I fell so in love with weightlifting--I love to teach and I also like telling people what to do. ;) V has been encouraging me to get on with it but I've had some hesitation because I know I need to learn more and I'm also worried that I'm too bossy/mean/hardcore for most people.

[ profile] maramaye accepted my offer and we've already set her up with a program. So far the entirety of our discussion is contained in the comments to that previous post because we thought it would be helpful to allow others to join in and critique our process or learn along with us. But I'm not sure anyone noticed. It's time to bring this project out into the open, hence this new post.

We're going to continue our discussion in the comments to this post. Additionally, I'm going to create a filter and tag for future posts on this subject (I'm thinking once a week, depending on the volume of comments). LJ probably isn't the best format for this but I think it will work well enough. This will be an opt-in filter, so let me know if you would like to follow [ profile] maramaye's transformation.

[ profile] maramaye's main goal is to speed up her metabolism, so she'll be lifting heavy weights, increasing her general physical activity, and eating much and often.
What kind dinner does one cook the night after a success such as my pizza? Bunnies!

Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu

4 rabbit shoulders
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 anchovy
1 medium onion, diced
2 small carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 dried peperoncino, crushed
about 9-13 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
about 1 cup Chianti
1 can whole tomatoes
about 1 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
Parmesano Reggiano

recipe and a couple more photos )
Inspired. I cooked onions slowly until they began to brown at the edges, then added a small spoonful of brown sugar and just a tiny dash of grated nutmeg, turned up the heat, and continued cooking until they were dark and caramelized. Then I pushed all the onions to one side of the pan and melted about a tablespoon of butter in the other side. I brushed this onion-infused melted butter over a pizza crust (ready-made, but still good), then topped it with sliced apples, mascarpone and gorgonzola cheese and the caramelized onions. Gods, it may have been the best pizza I've ever had.
saansaturday: (lady red)
( Tuesday, 28 February 2006 15:14)
Any time the subject of popcorn comes up, I will tell anyone who will listen about this fantastic discovery of mine. If you don't like sweet popcorn, read on! I'm not talking about sweet popcorn. If you do like sweet popcorn, read on! This is seriously delicious.

About three winters ago, I had made mulled wine one night and later wanted popcorn. The pan I use for popcorn was also the one I had mulled the wine in, and I had a crazy idea that it might be interesting to not wash the pan out (it was still sitting on the stove with a thin coating of thick wine goo on its insides) before making the popcorn, letting the popcorn have a bit of the flavor of the wine and mulling spices. I did so and when it came time to season the popcorn, after adding melted butter and salt, my intuition told me to add cinnamon. So of course I did, and created the greatest popcorn known to humankind. (The mulled wine residue didn't actually flavor the popcorn very much...but the *cinnamon* was a discovery!)

The flavor of cinnamon is so warm, it makes this popcorn perfect for winter. But I've found it so addictive that I add cinnamon pretty much every time I make popcorn. I vary the amount though; sometimes I like just the tiniest bit, sometimes quite a lot. A year or two after the discovery of cinnamon popcorn, I discovered olive oil popcorn and improved upon my recipe.

One of the times I was travelling in Italy with my family, we were staying in a villa kind of in the middle of nowhere, Tuscany. My nieces were always in need of snacks, so we had bought some popcorn at the grocery store when we were in town. Nobody in my family had ever made popcorn on the stovetop, besides me. There was no oil in the villa but the olive oil from the grove right outside the door, so I made the popcorn with olive oil. There was no cinnamon, either, but it was delicious with olive oil and salt!

Of course when I next made popcorn at home, I tried olive oil with cinnamon and found a whole new level of popcorn-tastiness. I eventually found that it's even better to top the popcorn with a combination of olive oil and melted butter, along with the cinnamon and salt. I change the proportions of olive oil and butter to suit my tastes, just as I change how much cinnamon I add. But this basic combination is the most divine popcorn can possibly be.
I'm coming down with some sort of sore throat/cough/fever/wooziness sickness and this evening I no longer had any desire to eat what I had planned for dinner. I didn't have a lot of ingredients to work with but I came up with a delicious and soothing soup.

3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup wild rice, rinsed and drained
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
about 1/4 tsp. spicy (not sweet!) paprika
about 1 cup sliced ubiquitous brown mushrooms
salt, to taste

Combine the broth and rice in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir in the green onions and simmer another 8 minutes or so, then stir in the mushrooms, thyme and paprika. Whisk the flour and milk together in a bowl or large cup. After another 3 minutes or so, pour this mixture into the soup, slowly, while stirring. Bring back to a low boil and continue stirring until it has thickened a bit.
saansaturday: (fornication)
( Thursday, 16 February 2006 16:39)
The concoction I created for dinner last night was yummy. I was already thinking about chicken salad when I went grocery shopping in the late afternoon. V had mentioned that he was in the mood for something with fruit, such as mandarin oranges. I thought I could make some sort of chicken salad, serve it over greens with the mandarin orange slices and perhaps something else as garnish. But on my way to grab the oranges I noticed a display with cans of mango slices. Thinking that V surely wouldn't be opposed to mango rather than orange, I grabbed them.

So the items of inspiration: chicken breasts, canned mangos, walnuts, baby chard.

I started by poaching the chicken breasts in chicken stock which I spiked with ginger, peppercorns, coriander, garlic and onion. Meanwhile I began assembling the salad:

2 green onions, minced
1 can mango slices, mangos chopped, juice reserved
about 1/4 cup mayo
about 1/4 cup plain yogurt
a handful of toasted walnuts (would have been better with almonds, I think)
a fair amount of powdered ginger
a bit of garlic powder
enough cayenne pepper to give some pleasant heat
a bit of crushed red peppercorns
a couple of splashes of rice wine vinegar
mango juice &/or poaching liquid, to taste
salt, to taste

When the chicken was done (after about 25 minutes of simmering in the stock), I cut it into bite-sized pieces, let them cool a bit, then stirred them into the salad. The yogurt I used was seriously thick, and the mangos were very sweet, so I ended up with something both thicker and sweeter than I wanted. I added a few spoonfuls of the poaching liquid to up the chicken flavor and thin it out a bit. Then the chicken flavor was a bit too pronounced, so I added a little bit of the reserved mango juice. I put the salad in the refrigerator to chill for a while.

I served it over the baby chard. It looked so pretty! I really should have garnished with a few green onions or some nuts but I forgot about it. I snapped a couple of photos really quickly--they didn't come out so great but I wasn't interested in taking the time to get a good photo. I was hungry and this dinner was satisfying and so tasty.

one more photo )
saansaturday: (fornication)
( Wednesday, 1 February 2006 16:44)
I   ♥ dark matter
This white cheddar polenta with sauteed greens and garlic-roasted shrooms was a seriously tasty dinner. I used ubiquitous brown mushrooms, quartered, rather than the big bad portobellos called for. Otherwise, I pretty much followed the recipe (well, except I used far more garlic and didn't measure anything). It was perfect after a long, stressful, activity-filled day in the coldest heart of winter.
saansaturday: (swoon)
( Wednesday, 21 December 2005 16:31)
It's that time of my family Posole was a tradition on the eve.

(serves about 8-12)

1 lb. posole corn, rinsed thoroughly (if posole is too hard to find hominy can be substituted)
10 cups water
about 1 lb. pork or beef roast (I prefer pork)
5 more cups water
2 Tbsp salt
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed dried oregano
1 tsp. fresh ground cumin
3-6 dried red chile pods, rinsed and crumbled (or about 1-4 Tbsp red chile powder, to taste)

Put the posole and 10 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 3 hours.

After about 2 hours, brown the pork in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the browned pork to the posole with another 5 cups of water and continue cooking on low heat until the pork is tender.

Add the remaining ingredients and continue simmering until the posole pops (the kernels break open). (In the end posole takes quite a long time to cook). Adjust seasonings and serve. Posole is even better after it sits in the refrigerator for a day or two, as it gets hotter and the flavors deepen and meld. :) It also freezes well.

Serve with fresh flour or corn tortillas, lime wedges, minced onion, chopped cilantro, maybe some chopped avocado--all the garnishes heaped in bowls so everyone can have as much or as little as they want--and Mexican beer. :)
saansaturday: (swoon)
( Monday, 12 December 2005 23:31)
Tonight I made a pizza with sauteed red potatoes, kalamata olives, anchovies, roasted garlic, garlic oil and mozzarella. I *love* potatoes on pizza.

wanna see? )


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