Saturday, December 15, 2012

Clementine Wine

photo by: Free Wine
1 gallon water
24 Clementines
10 Valencia oranges
1 lb extra fine granulated sugar
1 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon pectic enzyme
¼ teaspoon tannin
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
1 package Champagne wine yeast

Mix sugar and water in large pot. Bring to boil.

Peel all Clementines and Valencias and save the zest from 10 of the Clementines.

Section the fruit and remove any pith. Place zest and sections in a nylon mesh straining bag. Close bag with a tie and mash fruit in a primary fermentation container.

Pour boiling sugar water over fruit and stir. Let liquid cool until room temperature. Add citric acid, pectic enzyme, tannin, and yeast nutrient to container. Cover and let sit for 12 hours.

Remove cover, add activated Champagne wine yeast, and cover again. Stir daily for 10 days.

Remove bag from container and pour liquid into secondary fermentation container. Seal with airtight lock lid and ferment.

Skim froth, as necessary. When froth ceases to form, rack and place into bottles. Rack again every two months for one year.

Age an additional year before enjoying. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dried Apricot Wine

6 lb. dried apricots, 

2 oranges, 

3 ½ lb. sugar, 

9 pts water, 

1 oz. Yeast, 

1 tablespoonful of freshly made tea.

Put the apricots in the fermenting vessel with the cut-up oranges and their peel. Fold the orange peel and squeeze to get as much oil out of it as you can.

Boil two pounds sugar in seven pints water for two minutes and pour over the fruits while still boiling. Allow to cool and add the yeast.

Cover as directed and ferment for ten days, crushing by hand each day and covering again at once.

After ten days, strain and wring out as dry as you can and put the strained liquor in the gallon jar. Boil the remaining sugar in the last two pints of water for two minutes and when cool add to the rest, and then add the tea.

Cover as directed or fit fermentation lock and leave until all fermentation has ceased.

Saturday, December 8, 2012



  • 2 quarts whole milk

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

  • Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon salt


In a large pot, bring the milk, yogurt, heavy cream (if using), vinegar, and salt to a boil. Very gently boil for one to two minutes, until the milk is curdled.

Meanwhile, line a strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and set it over a deep bowl.

Pour the milk mixture into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and squeeze gently to extract any excess liquid.

Storage: Homemade ricotta is best served slightly warm, although it can be refrigerated for up to three days, if desired.

Makes 2 cups.


Tips To Lower High Blood Sugar Levels

Author: Julia Hanf

Lowering elevated blood sugar levels is important in preventing
diabetes or keeping it under control if you already have it.
Depending on what you eat you can expect your blood sugar levels
to fluctuate throughout the day. Consistent high blood sugar
levels may lead to life-threatening illness such as heart
disease, circulatory problems and kidney failure. Circulatory
problems can lead to loss of limbs. Consistent high blood sugar
levels can cause blindness as well as a host of other problems.

When blood sugar levels remain high for too long severe damage
can occur to your body's organs. This is why it's vital to
monitor your blood sugar levels on a regular basis. Your doctor
may prescribe an easy to use blood sugar monitoring kit. When
checking your blood sugar levels throughout the day you can make
adjustments to your diet or take other measures necessary to
lower your blood sugar levels as soon as possible.

Eating a healthy diet can help keep your blood sugar levels
under control. Refined sugars cause the pancreas, which produces
insulin, to work too hard. Insulin's function is getting glucose
to your body's cells to fuel your body. Eating too many sweets
and drinking too many sugary drinks wreaks chaos on your system.
Eating processed, packaged foods and white breads also affect
blood sugar levels. You should mainly eat mostly fresh fruits
and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals and fish and
chicken. These kinds of foods are healthy choices for lowering
high blood sugar levels. Many people can avoid going on insulin
simply by eating right.

Vitamins and minerals also work to help reduce high blood sugar
levels. Studies have shown that certain nutrients are necessary
in the body for maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Chromium
has been found to be one of the most important minerals for
lowering high blood sugar levels. Decades of research on
chromium and its effect on the body suggests that too little
chromium in your system increases your chances of getting
diabetes. Americans who are over the age of 50 may have general
chromium deficiencies due to poor eating habits. Another
important mineral for keeping blood sugar levels in healthy
ranges is Magnesium. It is important to take vitamin and mineral
supplements and be sure you get chromium and magnesium in your
daily dose.

Exercise is also important for lowering high blood sugar levels.
Obesity is a major factor in developing type 2 diabetes. Eating
too much of the wrong foods will not only cause your weight to
go up, but your blood sugar to go up as well. It's important
that you get off the couch and walk your blood sugar down. A
simple 30-minute walk three to five times per week may go a long
way in lowering your weight and your blood sugar at the same

About the author:
Visit Your Diabetes Cure.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Counting Carbs in Casseroles

Casseroles are easy meals, but it can be hard to calculate how many carbs are in that mix of different ingredients. Here's an easy way to make the count:

If you are making a casserole at home, you can get a very good carb count by adding up the carbohydrates in the ingredients and then dividing the total carbohydrates by the number of servings.

Unfortunately, that technique doesn't work when you're not the cook. When you're eating at someone else's home or in a restaurant, use the following technique:

For a typical casserole with potatoes, rice or noodles, meat, vegetables, and sauce, you can figure that each 1/2 cup of casserole has about 15 grams of carbohydrate (equal to one fruit or bread exchange). The number may be off a little, but it will be a close estimate. Check your blood glucose two hours after eating the casserole. If your reading is higher than you expect, your casserole probably had more carbohydrate calories than the estimate. Next time you have the same meal, adjust by taking more insulin or eating less of the casserole.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Mini Herb Garden That Goes a Long Way

By: Eustache Davenport

Any great meal starts with fresh ingredients, so it is said and has been proven time and time again. So, imagine that if instead of using store bought herbs to add some zest to the meal, you could simply pick the herbs you need while preparing a meal, a snack, a salad directly from the plants in your mini herb garden on the kitchen windowsill.

Can't get any fresher than that, right! Fresh herbs will add a ''zestier" burst of flavor that you will definitively notice. Think of great meals in a many-stars restaurants you might have enjoyed so much that you can almost feel the taste in your mouth when reminiscing about them. You can be sure that they insist on fresh supplies and it definitively includes fresh herbs.

A lot of folks live in small apartments and lack space as some people just don't wish to get into a bigger size garden project for lack of experience or might not dispose of much time, no matter the reason, a mini garden is a fantastic solution to consider. It is an occasion to start small and let you test your skills at this highly rewarding hobby. Some parents initiates the young ones to life, evolution and the practicality of cultivating and the rewards to reap through a mini herb garden for kids.

These kitchen herb gardens have been gaining in popularity for some time now, certainly for the fresh, healthy and flavorful value they add to any prepared dish but also for the economical alternative that assure a constant fresh supply.

Of course, once you have a good experience with your initial project and see how easy it really is, you may wish to add a few more plants and expand.
Big or small garden: Same rules apply
The mini garden requires the same basics care as larger gardens do. Lots of sunlight, a good soil that drains well and regular appropriate amount of water. Of course, a small scale garden will require only minimal maintenance. Another advantage is the miniature garden is the next-to-nothing space they occupy. The 1 to 3 pot making-up your garden can occupy the kitchen windowsill is very handy when preparing dishes. The biggest downfall of growing only a few plants restricts the choice of fresh herbs you can use.
The choice of herbs
Considering the large choice of herbs to choose from, the biggest dilemma you might have to deal with is which ones to grow. Start with a choice that is practical and can be used for multiple purposes or the one you use a lot in your cooking. Take full advantage of the work you will be doing to give provide good care to those plants.
Herb Garden Kits
The variety of choice is considerable and can pretty much live up to most needs. A herb garden kit require a one-stop purchase, is easy and quick set-up and contains all you need to start a mini herb garden. The only other element to provide is water. If the space you can provide for the garden is more in height, a stacking herb garden is available but usually contains more herbs.

Once the first steps are taken in this adventure, expanding to numerous mini gardens adds variety to you choice of herbs for cooking but also for other purposes. Consider a little garden for tea herbs or, grow a few medicinal herbs that can be what the doctor orders.

About the Author

Eustache Davenport is a gardening enthusiast and author. He lives in Montreal and enjoy teaching his gardening secrets to work groups on how to setup, optimize and maintain an amazing herb garden. For more great tips and information on kitchen herb gardens, visit

(ArticlesBase SC #1619697)

Article Source: - A Mini Herb Garden That Goes a Long Way

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Alternative Medicine: What Is It?

By Jessica Burde

What is alternative medicine? It is a phrase that has been tossed around more and more in the media, the bookstores, and increasingly, the doctor's office, but how often does anyone say what alternative medicine is?

Theoretically, alternative medicine is any form of medicine that does not fit with in the scientific framework of western medicine. Once a form of medicine has been proven scientifically effective, and a theory has been determined to explain in the language of western medicine why it is effective, it should no longer be considered alternative

Unfortunately, after the theory comes the politics. In reality, in the United States, alternative medicine is any form of medicine that has not been accepted as scientifically valid by the American Medical Association and the United States Government. In other countries different official bodies will determine what is and is not alternative medicine. In the United States, massage is alternative medicine. In Canada massage is conventional medicine, and as such, highly regulated.

Would you believe that according the US government's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vitamins are a complementary or alternative medicine (depending on how they are used) that have not yet been proven to have any greater effect on the human body then a placebo? Personally, I'd like to know if they would like to be treated for scurvy with a placebo. I'll stick with vitamin C. There are theoretical uses for vitamins that have not yet been fully proven, but that does not make the proven effects any less scientifically valid.

At the same time, just because someone claims what they offer is medicine does not make it true. Herbal supplements are not regulated, and may not fully disclose their ingredients. They certainly will not tell you about any dangerous interaction with your heart medication!

Of course, you can ask an expert, but keep in mind that there are many kinds of alternative medicine, an acupuncturist is not necessarily trained in herbs, and your primary care physician probably won't be trained in any of them.

If you are interested in using alternative medicine, either for a specific problem, or simply improve your overall health, it's probably best to first research what kinds of alternative medicine you are interested in, and speak with you doctor about whether or not she will be willing to work with an alternative medicine practitioner. Then find a practitioner who has had training in that specific area of alternative medicine. Most forms of alternative medicine are not licensed in the United States, so ask where they went to school, and how long they have been practicing. Then they can work with your doctor to make sure you get the care you need, without any unexpected side effects.

Some forms of alternative medicine that might be worth looking into are:

Oriental medicine: Oriental medicine is the only form of alternative medicine that is truly comparably to western medicine as a complete system of medicine. Oriental medicine is based on several theories developed thousands of years ago and first elaborated on in the Yellow Emperor's Classic, between three and five thousand years ago. Oriental medicine includes the practices of massage, acupuncture, herbal therapy, qi gong, and several others. Tradition Chinese Medicine is a variant of oriental medicine specific to China. It is the only variant of oriental medicine the can be found with relative ease in the United States. In many parts of Asia, oriental medicine is still considered the standard of medical care and western medicine is 'alternative.'

Herbal therapy: Herbal therapy is probably the most common form of alternative medicine found in the United States, and quite possibly one of the riskiest. While most of the conventional medicines doctors prescribe today were derived from herbs, the herbal supplements commonly on sale have no common dosages, mat contain fillers, and will rarely warn of side effects. While herbs can be used to treat everything that medication can, and possibly quite a bit more, make sure you speak with a trained herbalist before taking any. They can tell you what dosage is safe, what suppliers are worth using, and any potential side effects.

Homeopathy: Homeopathy was developed in the 1800's by two doctors who noticed that quinine, the only medicine capable of treated malaria, caused symptoms of malaria in healthy people who were given it. They theorized that like would cure like, so caffeine which normally causes wakefulness, would be used to help someone who was not sleeping through the night, sleep better. Homeopathy is probably the only alternative medicine that is safe to try without speaking with an expert, because the active substance is so dilute that it is not possible to over dose, or incur side effects on the amounts in the local health food store, never mind the few bottles you would keep in your home. At the same time, it is still best to consult a homeopath to be sure that what your taking will work for what you need.

Massage: Massage is the use of hands or tools to manipulate the muscles and tendons. The two most common uses of massage are to ease aches and pains, and for stress relief. While there are many conditions that massage will obviously not help with (diabetes, for instance), there are many that it is surprisingly effective on, such as eating disorders, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition, almost any muscular injury can be treated with massage to prevent scar build up, speed healing, and increase a restricted range of motion. There are many different forms of massage therapy, including Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Pre-Natal Massage, Shiatsu, Thai Massage, Lomi Lomi, Medical Massage, Chair Massage, Aromatherapy Massage and Hot Stone Massage. If you go to a massage therapist for a medical condition, make sure they are trained in Medical Massage. Some states have licensing programs for massage therapists now, as do most European countries. If you live in an area that has licensing, make sure the therapist you go to is licensed.

Other forms of alternative medicine include: energetic healing, aromatherapy, Rolfing, cranial-sacral therapy, and most forms of holistic medicine.

I am a trained massage therapist, and grew up surrounded by alternative medicine. I entered massage training almost by accident, and found that I had fallen into the place I truly belonged. I believe that healthy human contact is the most powerful medicine there is. If you're interested, you can learn more about me, and my massage practice at []

Article Source:

Monday, April 30, 2012

How To Make Beer - All Grain Steps

The picture above is a good example of what a "true" all grain brewer would be getting into. A lot more equipment and time, but a better control over your beer. On the other hand, if you want to try brewing an all-grain beer without too much of an investment, visit J. Kelly's Homepage. Nice little set-up for very little cost. Personally, I use the partial mashing technique because it saves time and I also don't want to take up a lot of space with my hobby. Keeps the wife happy. Here are the steps in making an all-grain beer:

1. Heat 1 1/3 quarts of water for every pound of grain. The temperature should be around 160 - 170 degrees F.

2. Mix in the crushed grains and stir well.

3. Temperature at this point should be 150 - 158 degrees F and water pH should be 5 - 5.5

4. Hold this temperature for about 60 - 90 minutes to get a full starch conversion.

5. In another kettle, heat up 2 quarts of water per pound of grain

6. After the starch conversion, raise the temperature to 160 - 170 degrees F. Keep at this
temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

7. Ladle the mash into a lauter tun. A lauter tun is basically another kettle that has a false bottom that allows the wort through and keeps the grains behind. Think big strainer.

8. As the mash is draining in the lauter tun, take a sauce pan and draw off about 2 quarts of wort and add it back into the lauter tun. This is call recirculation and what recirculation does is filter out any large particles. This will take about 10 - 15 minutes and by that time you should have a clear liquid. Add this to your brewpot.

9. Next begin to slowly add the sparge water (step 5) and allow it drain down through the grains. This will take between 45 - 60 minutes. So you might as well grab a beer by this time. Add the liquid to your brewpot. At this point you should have 6 to 7 gallons of wort if doing a 5 gallon batch.

10. Boil the wort for about 60 to 90 minutes and add the hops and other ingredients according to your recipe.

11. Chill the wort. Most "All-Grainers" use a wort chiller. Siphon the wort to your primary fermenter and add yeast.

As you can see, there is a lot of time involved. If you are using a hand cranked crusher, doing 10 pounds of grain will take some time. Hopefully, you can get your partner involved in this and make a day of it. Because, in most cases, it will take almost a good 8 hours.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

6 Features Your Kitchen Compost Pail Should Have


  • A lid that fits tightly.

  • Enough space to fit your food scraps.

  • Style – which is debatable.

  • Easily washable.

  • Easily transportable. Preferably with a handle.

  • Fits on your kitchen counter or close to your cutting board.

Read More at the Urban Organic Gardner

Monday, April 23, 2012

Planting Garlic

Photo by Linda N.

Garlic can be planted from fall to early spring, although hardneck varieties prefer to be in the ground during a cold winter.

Garlic grows best in deep, fertile well-drained soil. To plant, separate the cloves from each bulb and place pointy end up 1-2 inches below the surface of the soil and about 3-4 inches apart. Mulch the area and keep the garlic moist.

Garlic will be ready to harvest in summer when the flower stalks of hardneck garlic stand up straight or when the leaves of softneck garlic begin to turn yellow. Allow garlic to dry for several weeks before storing or using in your cooking.

Read More: Celebrate National Garlic Month - Vegetable Gardener

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How To Make Beer - Partial Mash Steps

Partial Mashing Steps

1. Add 1 1/2 quarts of water per pound of grain to your brew pot. So for example, you are using 5 pounds of grain then you will need 7.5 quarts of water or almost 2 gallons. Your water should have a ph reading between 5.0 to 5.5 to achieve optimal results.

2. Heat water to between 160 to 168 degrees F.

3. Add crushed malt to water and mix well. Ideally when you crush the malt it shouldn't look like cornmeal. The husk on the grain should be split but not completely off. Personally, I tend to crush my speciality grains to a cornmeal consistency. It seems to me that I get a thicker more flavorful wort that way. I have also done it for an all-grain batch, but it tends to be messier and more of a hassle when draining and sparging.

4. Stir the wort and check the temperature. You want get the temperature to 158 degrees F. Once that is done, cover the brew pot and maintain that temperature for 60 minutes.

5. In a separate pot, heat 2 quarts of water per pound of grain to between 160 to 170 degrees F.

6. After the starch conversion (original pot with grains) has simmered for 60 minutes, raise the temperature to between 160 to 170 degrees F and hold for 15 minutes.

7. Pour the mash into a strainer that is suspended over your brewing bucket. I bought a large stainless steel colander to use in cottage cheese and it fits perfect over the brewing bucket. Allow to drain for a few minutes.

8. Next take the strainer full of grain and put it over your brew pot and pour the cloudy wort from your brewing bucket over the grains in the strainer.

9. Pour the sparge water over the grains and allow to drain for 5 to 10 minutes.

10. Remove the strainer, add your extract and begin your beer.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Starting Rosemary From A Clipping


Rosemary is usually propagated by cuttings. Seeds can be difficult to germinate and often don't grow true to their parent. It's much faster to start with a cutting and you will be sure of what type of plant you will get. It's possible to root rosemary in a glass of water, but a bit more effort will give more dependable results.

Snip about a 2 inch cutting from the soft, new growth of an established plant.

Remove the leaves from the bottom inch and dip that tip into a rooting hormone. Rooting hormones can be found in any garden center.

Carefully place the dipped end into a container of dampened, sterile seed starting mix. Choose a mix that says it is well draining, like something containing peat moss and vermiculite or perlite.

Place the container in a warm spot with indirect sunlight.

Mist the cuttings daily and make sure the soil does not dry out.

In about 2-3 weeks, test for root growth by very gently tugging on the cuttings.

Once your cuttings have roots, transplant into individual pots about 3-4 inches in diameter.
Pinch off the very top of the cutting to encourage it to develop branches.

Begin caring for your cutting as a rosemary plant.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

How To Grow Lemon Balm


Lemon balm is easy to grow from seed, rooted cuttings, or by root division. It prefers light soil, but will adapt if some amendments are worked into heavier clay soils; soil should also be fairly fertile and well balanced. Balm thrives in full sun but can be grown in partially shaded areas. (The cultivars ‘All Gold’ and ‘Aurea’ have variegated and yellow foliage, and need some shade since the full hot sun tends to burn them.)

A member of the mint family, balm looks and grows much like mint, though it does not send runners. It will compete for space and is best planted next to other vigorous perennials that will hold their own against this sweet, yet invasive herb. Balm grows from 2 to 2-1/2 feet tall, bushing out laterally, so give each plant 2 feet all around.

Trim plants to help maintain their handsome bushy appearance. The hardy root system will survive the coldest winters if the plants are well mulched.

Read More: Herbal Harbingers of Spring: Lemon Balm - Vegetable Gardener

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

7 Location Ideas for Apartment and Urban Gardens

When you live in an apartment your space is limited.

That’s especially true when it comes to your garden.

We barely have room for furniture. Forget about tomatoes.

This is why it’s important to consider all options when deciding where to start your apartment vegetable garden.


The 7 areas are:


Fire Escape

Hand Rails



Window Sills

Front or Back Yard

Along Side the Building

You can find out more at the Urban Organic Gardner

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What You Can Compost at Home

Common greens you have at home that can be composted:

  • Fruit and veggie scraps. Avoid onions and citrus. Yes, they can be composted, but for your indoor compost bin it’s best to stay away.

  • Coffee grounds and tea bags

  • Grass clippings. Only if the grass hasn’t been treated with chemical fertilizers.

  • Plain cooked rice or pasta

  • Stale crackers, bread, cereal or pretzels

  • Old herbs and spices

  • Egg shells. Not really a green, but they can be composted

Common browns you have at home that can be composted:

  • Cardboard including boxes and toilet paper rolls

  • Dryer lint

  • Dried leaves

  • Shredded black and white newspaper

  • Hair from your brush. Make sure there is no gel or hairspray in it

  • Shredded bills and documents

Source: Urban Organic Gardner

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Growing Basil Indoors

Some herb gardeners think that growing basil indoors is not easy. Well, whether you are an experienced gardener or a new one, you can successfully grow basil by following these steps. Many dishes can be cooked with basil and if you have one at home, you will have a fresh supply of this herb variety. For gardeners with limited yard space, there is a solution - growing basil indoors.

Step 1- Prepare the needed supplies. You will need pots and containers of various sizes, soil, gardening tools, and seeds of basil, gloves, and fertilizer (optional). If you have gardening tools, then there is no more need to purchase them. Soil is readily available at home but if it is not well drained, you should buy commercial soil instead together with the seeds and fertilizer. Get the supplies you need to growing basil indoors from the local garden center or the nursery. Most of the supplies are reasonably priced and if you get the gardening kits, you can save a lot of money.

Step 2 - Learn everything you can about planting basil. As you purchase the supplies from the local nursery or center, you can ask the people there about growing basil. Use the net to find additional info about growing basil indoors. If you are knowledgeable enough, it will be very easy to grow the herb indoors.

Step 3 - Growing the herbs inside the house is similar to the outdoors but the difference is the location. You will also use container and pots so the planting area is limited. You have to ensure that you provide the required soil, water, and sunlight. The soil was already discussed earlier and in growing basil indoors, you should not provide too much water. Too much water can rot the roots of the plant. You also need to check if the pots have enough holes at the bottom. Here is a tip - water the plant with just the right amount of water everyday so long as to keep the soil moist.

Step 4 - Check the pH level. The ideal pH for basil is from 6.5 - 7.5. Growing basil indoors require you to conduct pH tests every month to make sure that the pH level is just right. Tester kits can also be obtained from garden centers. As long as you are growing basil, you may need to check the pH every month.

Step 5 - When harvesting the basil leaves, get only single leaves. Leave off paired ones. You can have several basil plants and growing basil indoors will be able to provide you with a year long supply of fresh basil leaves. You can use basil for cooking certain dishes and it can be used for medicinal purposes as well. If you plan to use basil for cooking, use organic fertilizer only.

Follow these steps and you will surely grow healthy basil at home. You do not have to be an expert gardener because with the appropriate knowledge, you can harvest basil at any time of the year. You can begin growing basil indoors once you secured the supplies.

Tim is an experienced herb gardener and loves to grow herbs. To learn more about growing basil indoors as well as other great herb gardening, planting, growing and using techniques check out his dedicated herb growing and care website

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How To Make Beer - Extract Brewing Steps

So, your tired of the mass produced swill that you have been drinking. Your ready to make a change and you want to make your "perfect" glass of suds. Well, grab a beer, sit back and for the next few Thursdays, learn how to brew your own beer.

Now, in the old days, making your own beer was a long process and still is for the all-grain brewer. But, thanks to modern technology, you don't have to spend hours making beer. There are 3 basic methods in making beer. You can be an extract brewer and this will also include those who use a kit, a partial masher, or an all grain brewer. If you are a beginner, then you might want to make quite a few extract batches before move up. It will cut down on your frustration factor big time.

Extract Brewing Steps

  • Fill your brewpot about 2/3 full of clean water and set on the stove. I usually use bottled water since it doesn't have chlorine.
  • Turn burner to medium-high
  • Some people at this stage warm up their extract while waiting for the water in the brewpot to boil. I don't
  • As the water begins to boil in the brewpot, open your extract and slowly stir it in with a long handled spoon. Don't dump it in and hurry up and stir it. It might clump if you do it that way and scorch on the bottom. I've done it and it is a real pain to clean up.
  • At this point, I take some of the warm wort out and put in the empty extract can. Swirl it around to get as much extract as you can and pour it in the wort. I usually do this several times to each can. Makes for easier cleaning later on
  • Top off the brewpot to about 2 - 3 inches from the top. Bring the wort to a boil (you might need to turn up the burner) DO NOT, put a lid on the brewpot because it will boil over a create one heck of a mess.
  • Boil the wort for the time of the recipe. During this stage you will be adding hops and for the last 15 - 20 minutes adding Irish moss. The Irish moss helps to clarify the beer by pulling the solid material out.
  • After boiling, you must chill the wort. There are several different ways. I pour cold water into my primary fermenter and then pour the wort into it. Other people fill the sink with cold water or ice and chill down the brewpot.
  • After the wort has chilled below 100 degrees, take a hydrometer reading. Use the chart that comes with the hydrometer to figure out how much more you need to add to your reading. For a reading around 100 degrees, add .007 to your reading.
  • Add the yeast. I usually add my yeast around "blood temperature" (98 degrees), while others will only pitch around 70 degrees.
  • I open ferment for the first 12 hours. I tie a clean grain bag around the top of the fermenter and allow it to "breath". After 12 hours, I put the lid on along with the airlock and allow it to continue fermenting for about a week. If you are not into the open fermentation (most people will tell you that it will become contaminated and bad), then put the lid on and allow the beer to ferment.
  • Keep your fermenter in a cool place during the week and keep it out of direct sunlight.
  • After a week, take another hydrometer reading and either transfer to a secondary fermenter or begin bottling. Your hydrometer reading should be 65 - 75% below your original reading before fermentation. ie. Original reading 1.050 After a week it should be between 1.012 to 1.017.
      That should get you started. Try making a couple of small batches to get the feel of how things should work. Best of all, just have fun.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Herb Gardening Essentials - Gardener Guide

By: Matthew Hick

Herbs are a greatly popular result of gardening - just as popular as flowers, shrubs, trees, fruits and vegetables. Herbs are used to spice up or add a nice spark of flavor to all types of food dishes. They are used for medicinal purposes as well as for their pretty flowers. These are just a few reasons why herbs are so popular among gardeners all over the world.

Have you ever reached for a spice when cooking only to realize you were out of it? Wouldn't it be nice to just go over to your plant and clip off what you need, instead of running to the store or doing without? You can have fresh basil, thyme, sage, chives, dill, rosemary or tarragon right at your fingertips from your very own herb garden.

Herbs can be annuals, biennials or perennials. Annuals will flower one season and then die. Biennials will live two seasons, flower one and then die. Perennials will die in winter but return to blossom each season. If you do choose perennials, make sure you plant them in a place they can be kept year after year.

Herb gardens need little space. You can plant them by seeds or plant clippings. Seeds should be planted in shallow boxes in late winter and can then be transplanted outdoors in spring. Soil is a determining factor of whether your herb garden will thrive or falter. Herbs will not grow in wet soil. So it is important you provide adequate drainage. If you do not have good drainage you can correct this by adding compost and sand to your soil, or digging out 15-18 inches of dirt and adding crushed stone under it to assist in this process.

Herbs also do not need much fertilizer. The more fertile the soil, the less foliage will occur and the resulting herb will have little flavor. There are also very few diseases and insects which will attack herbal plants.

Harvesting herbs should take place in the morning and only after the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth. When picked, they should be washed immediately in cold water. They can be used fresh or dried for winter use.

To dry herbs, after washing, hang until drops of water evaporate. Tie the stems together and place in a bag with the stems at the bag's opening. Close the bag with a rubber band and hang from a line in a cool, dry, dark place. Basements are too damp, so the attic is a better choice. After two to three weeks, remove herbs from the bag and crumble the leaves. Place in a shallow pan and put in an oven on the warm setting. When the crumbled leaves are crispy, store in glass jars or an airtight container in a cool place. They will be ready for you whenever you need them.

There are almost sixty different varieties of herbs to choose from when deciding on what herb to plant. Each variety comes with its own unique flavor. Cooking with herbs livens up bland foods naturally. Add some gusto to your life and use some of the herbs from your very own garden, next time you are preparing a meal.

About the Author

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Article Source: - Herb Gardening Essentials - Gardener Guide

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Getting Your Vegetable Garden Ready for Spring

Submitted by: Stephanie

Whether you suffer through harsh, cold winters or enjoy relatively mild ones, we are coming up on the time when you need to get ready to plant your seeds for your vegetable garden.

If you need another compost bin this time of year is great to add them, if only because there's not much actual gardening work to do. Build one or buy one, just make sure you can easily add, remove and turn the material.

Clean up your tools. Sharpen blades if they need it. Clean off old dirt and wipe with an oiled cloth to help prevent rusting.

At this time you can also start planning your next garden. You can figure out what you want to grow and how you're going to lay that garden out. Planning ahead can help you make the most of your garden. Getting things started at the right time for each type of plant will help your garden succeed.

If you want an early start, get some planters and sun lamps and start your seeds indoors. If you get sufficient sunlight, placing the boxes in windows can help you get that early start too.

This is a great time for looking back at how your garden did last year and your goals for this year. For example, my garden last year failed miserably due to a combination of poor soil, a neighboring shade tree that had been shading my garden being cut to pieces and an unusually hot summer.

Over the winter we've been preparing quick compost for the soil. This is just throwing fresh kitchen scraps into the blender with some water, then pouring it into the garden. It's our first step in improving the soil naturally. More will be done as planting time approaches.

Obviously, factors that are out of your control you can't do anything about. Heat waves cannot be avoided and neighbors can be unpredictable (you should have seen that poor tree when they were done 'pruning' it!). Some years insects are more problematic than others.

In those cases you need to have plans for how to handle it. Keep an eye on what the sun is doing to your plants during a heat wave and ensure they have enough water. Know what pest control steps you are willing to take.

Planning and preparing to plant your garden before you can actually start planting gives you a lot of advantages when it's time to really work your garden. It gets some of the chores out of the way and leaves you prepared for a great start to your vegetable garden.

About Author: Stephanie Foster runs to keep track of how her own garden grows and to give gardening advice. Visit her site to learn more about vegetable gardening.

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