Belated Birthday Outings

As I mentioned on Saturday Luke was out of town for his birthday so we put off birthday celebrations until he got home on Friday. On Friday I made him one of his favorite desserts: cinnamon rolls (see Bread of the month: Irish Cinnamon Rolls). Then to continue the celebration had him open b-day cards and presents.

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Then on Saturday we enjoyed a morning/afternoon of lazy sleeping in (and cinnamon rolls) at home then drove up to Dryden NY. Why Dryden? It is the home of a new hop farm and microbrewery: Hopshire.

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Outside of it’s awesome name, Hopshire serves high quality brews made with local honey, grains, and their own home-grown hops. We discovered them at the Ithaca Chili fest (see Ithaca chili Cook Off) where they were giving away samples of two of their brews: a light honey beer called :Beehave and a spicy brown ale called: Round Yon Virgil.

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We pulled up to the brewery and stepped into their taproom:s a cozy room  with a bar and a spare room with a large dinging table. Each door way was framed with  ornately decorated wood framing  carved with leaves and hops and the taproom walls were decorated with vintage beer advertisements.

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Luke decided to try a flight of what was on tap starting with the lightest beer and ending with their IPA’s. His thoughts: they revile the northwest’s beers  (which if you know anything about beer that is saying something). The favorite picks included: Fiddler’s Grain a red ale and their best seller the Shire a darker scottish ale. Even though I am allergic to barley there were one or two tasters I couldn’t resist doing more than smelling. For more on this see (Wait Barley-Free means no beer right?). After signing the guest log Luke decided to use some b-day money and take home a growler of the Fiddler’s Grain and a new hat.

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To finish of our birthday outing we drove into Ithaca for dinner at Maxie’s Supper Club a cajun/southern inspired restaurant serving: blackened fish, gumbo, jambalaya, BBQ,  grits, and more. They offer their full menu every-night until 11pm and in addition to their 4-6pm happy hour they are also an oyster bar.

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As we were brought to our seats I could see that even though it was early on a Saturday night the place was getting busy.  Decorated with new orleans style color themes and decor it wasn’t long before our water glasses were filled and cornbread with honey butter was brought to our table. After glancing at the menus Luke ordered the shrimp and cheese grits with their tasso gravy sauce and I got the house jambalaya.

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As we tried not to fill up on cornbread we watched other people receive delicious looking dishes of ribs, shrimp skewers, green fried tomatoes, and crabcakes.

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And our dinner? Amazing, Luke’s shrimp ‘n grits came with an open face andouille sausage on top and had an awesome  texture, and kick and so did my jambalaya filled with chicken, andouille sausage, and shrimp. We quickly filled up and never had to wait for service; our water glasses were always full as were the multiple baskets of sweet corn bread.

It was a perfect birthday dinner out.

6 months =100 posts

 Hard to believe I started blogging A.Greene’s Adventures 6 months ago. 100 posts later, I have shared with you the ways I have transformed, transitioned, and transcended, into married life in Corning NY.

Looking back, since January we:

Survived our first NY winter

our little home covered in snow

our little home covered in snow

(See: A lesson in Independence2300 degreesmy new hometown)

Settled into our home, state, and name change

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(See: I miss my old lifeBecoming Mrs. ________________Passport to new beginningsThe Game Chest, The front porch project

Celebrated first married holidays just the two of  us

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A very Irish dinner complete with Luke's Irish red ale (I had hard cider).

A very Irish dinner complete with Luke’s Irish red ale (I had hard cider).

(See: Valentines Pie a new traditionHappy St. Patrick’s Day!A (new) Easter traditionHappy Mother’s DayHappy Memorial DayHappy Father’s Day4th of July funfetti cookies,)

Discovered the job market and applied to teaching positions (me).

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(See: The future ispatience: giving myself timeSummer projects, the waiting gameContentment is)

Enjoyed spring and summer festivals:

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(See: Strawberry FestivalStars hollow, fireworks, and minionsTwo festivals,

Learned from each other what our married life looks like:

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(See: Dispelling Marriage MythsMarriage myth busting round 2Sleep after Marriage isn’t always a Dream come TrueHappily Ever After is only the Beginning

Explored the area on drives, hikes, and kayaking

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(See: kayaking and BBqAn Ithaca Birthday Adventure,)

Checked out the best local events and food

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(See:  Sorge’s: local food and wineCabin feverGlassfest, )

Brewed our first homemade barley-free beer

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(See: Why I am barley free part oneA chemistry lesson for a B-day PresentThe home-brewing has begunBottling our first homemade brew,

Created and experimented with many new dinners

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(See: A Vegetarian Mediterranean meal,   A good Spring QuicheGreene’s Tilapia fish tacos

and dessert recipes and found our favorites:

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(See: key lime chocolate cupcakescookies n’ cream pudding popsMocha cupcake oreo brownies)

Reflected back on our wedding as we celebrated each new month of marriage

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(See: Who to choose for your bridal partyWow it’s been 6 monthsThe DressA pictures worthTo the Brides to be . . .)

Spent quality time with family and friends in Oregon

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(See: Our first VacationVacation highlights: Date Days,

Shared in the excitement of my brother’s graduation and engagement

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(See: Wedding Season has BegunFamily Time Vacation Highlights)

Celebrated our birthdays

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(See: Cinnamon Roll Bunt B-day Cake25 is Goldenbirthday in picture review)

Paid off all credit card debt and learned ways to save money after completing a budget class at church

Learned how to maintain and live with one car and no dishwasher

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(See: I’m a New Yorker?!Living without a dishwasherLiving with one car,)

Made new friends

Went to Washington to celebrate my brother’s wedding

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(See: Pre-wedding Jitterscongrats matt and stina! and I promise pictures and details from the wedding are coming soon)

And so much more. Thank you everyone for your encouragement, your comments (here or on facebook), and most of all for sharing in Luke and my lives through reading about our adventures.

If this is your first time exploring my blog, first of all welcome! Also to learn more about my last 6 months  click on the links above, check out the calendar archive ,or look into the categories on the right of my page.

Looking forward to sharing many more adventures,

-A. Greene

Bottling our first homemade Brew

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We are finally bottling our first homemade brew!! And yes I know I failed to keep you updated  (but don’t worry I’ll backtrack with other brews in the future). We last left off with having all the ingredients bought to start our first brew (to see that post click here!).

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Let me walk you through a sum-up of the process so far. About a month ago, Luke got out his big brewing pot, combined the many ingredients, boiling them for several hours on the stove. After letting it cool down in ice in the sink, the brewed concoction, called a wort at this point, was then poured through a funneled filter into a big plastic bucket.

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This bucket of wort sat for more than a week while the yeast turned the wort into beer bubbling as it transformed. After this, the mix was transferred into the glass carboy again using the funneled filter, this process is called racking. It sat once again for a week or so before the bottling process.

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Ok, now that we are caught up, let’s talk about  bottling. We dragged our collected pile of bottles upstairs to be washed.

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To wash and sanitize the bottles, we started an assembly line. Luke poured some of the sanitizing mix into the sink and rinsed off the bottles using a bottle brush, scrubbing out the insides. Then I placed the bottles upside down on the top of the sulphiter and push down on the device which squirts sanitized water up into the bottom of the bottle and back down the sides.

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After four pumps of the sanitation, I  placed the cleaned bottles back in the 6-pack containers upside down to dry.

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Next Luke brought the brew from our spare room in the glass carboy placing it on the kitchen table. He attached a long siphon to the top and sitting on the floor allowed the brew to fill the tube and down into the bottles. I placed the full bottled bottles on the kitchen counter and placed empty ones in front of Luke to fill.

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Once the bottles were full, we added a one carbonation drop to each which dissolves as you plop it in, making a fizzing noise. After this, Luke got out the bottle caps we bought from the brewing store and the bottle capper. I held the bottle while he place the cap  and clamped it on the top of the beer bottles.

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All along the brewing process Luke tasted tested his work feeling a little unhappy with how it was going and thinking it was always missing something. But last night Luke unbottled one of these first brews and after some fridge time and carbonation Luke decided it was not half bad. It is not very strong in aroma or hops plus it is probably only about a 3% alcohol level, unlike most beers which are 5% but for a first attempt-not half bad.

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Our first bottle of homemade brew!!

Luke decided to stick some percolated coffee grounds in a bag into the bottom of the rest of the brew we left in the car boy to add some aroma to the rest of the brew before bottling it.  We will see how that turns out. Considering Luke didn’t use any written recipe I’d say our first brew was a success!

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Any thoughts on what to make next?

Got any ideas on what to name our first brew?

The home-brewing has begun

As I explained last month, one of the first things people think about when they hear I’m allergic to barley is that I cannot drink beer. But my husband Luke has chosen to turn this into a fun challenge. He is finally starting a hobby he has been wanting to do for awhile: home brewing his own beer (as mentioned in wait barley free means not beer right?). As I promised I would keep you posted and I’m excited to say the home-brewing process has begun!

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After reading up on the chemical process and visiting the home-brewing store several times to ask questions, Luke decided he was ready to begin.

So this past weekend I counted up how much of Luke b-day money was left and with that number in mind we went to the home-brewing store. The first step was picking up the one-time purchase supplies which included: glass carboy, primary fermenter, bottling bucket and spigot, no-rinse cleanser, triple scale hydrometer, siphon hose and shut off clamp, liquid crystal thermometer, 20 quart brew pot, drilled carboy bung, carboy brush, lid with grommet, airlock , auto-siphon, bottle filler, twin level capper, bottle brush, brew paddle, lab thermometer, 10 star sanitizer, and 10″test jar.

That is a long list! For all of  this, Luke decided it was cheapest if he bought a kit. And the only reason I know all that was included is because it’s printed on the box.With this kit we can make 5 gallons which amounts to about 53-21 oz. glasses of beer. If this experiment works, we won’t be buying beer for a long time, and have plenty to share 🙂

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Then it was time to pick out which ingredients to include in the beer. Luke knew what he needed: yeast, hops, a grain, and syrup but of those: what flavor? what variety? how much?

Home-brewing has become a big hobby especially among the gluten-free community. So supplies such as sorghum (which replaces the barley as the sugar /syrup component) are not difficult to find. There is a large variety of recipes online and in beer making magazines. The number of which are gluten-free is limited but available. These recipes use replace barley and wheat with corn or rice.

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But the market for barley-free recipes and supplies is even smaller. See what makes our chemical concoction possibilities different is that I can have wheat, rye, or any other grain that is not a malt aka barley. What we have found though is that most wheat beer recipes are actually 50/50 wheat and barley. So Luke doesn’t have a specific recipe to work off of.  As with any food/drink making there is a science to it, but also a lot of guess work.

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So after checking out the options and asking me what I thought we ended up with: a larger yeast, cascade and UK challenger hops, midnight wheat, and sorghum syrup. This is our first try and we have no idea how it will go. With excitement (and a little hesitation) Luke gave me the look of “here we go” and we took everything to the register.

This weekend we will start putting these ingredients to work. I don’t know as much about the process as Luke, but as his designated “beer-making helper” I’m sure I’ll learn. And as before I’ll fill you in on how it goes.

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Any of you trying a new challenging hobby?

Do you like to experiment with new recipes?

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right? aka A Chemistry lesson for a Birthday present

So let me first answer the question:

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right?      

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 This is the first thing people ask me when they find out about my allergy. It was hard news for my ex-bartender boyfriend (now husband) from the micro-brewing region of Oregon. Suddenly I could no longer enjoy a dark cold brew with him at a local pub.

When we go out to pubs now I am lucky if they serve hard cider. (My favorite by the way is Woodchuck) because sometimes wine just doesn’t pair as well with pub food.  Fortunately the gluten-free fad has grown like a wildfire.

Unfortunately many gluten-free beers taste like the cheap light stuff you might encounter at a college party.

One of the only gluten-free beers I have liked was at the Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Portland. We went there on our honeymoon and they have an amazing gluten-free menu (trust me and check it out!)

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Inside the Portland Public House

Inside the Portland Public House

But getting that beer across the country is a little tough. The only other options widely available are Redbridge (Budwieser and I don’t like there regular beer so . ..  yea) or Omission.

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On our honeymoon we also went to the Windmer Bros. Gasthaus Pub  because they listed two gluten-free beers (called Omission) and a gluten-free menu (the buffalo wings were pretty good). When they brought my beer to the table I read the label-it had barley in it! See they played with the chemicals and came up  a low gluten beer so it will not upset the stomach of someone with celliac’s disease.

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So now what? Well I do have some half decent gluten-free beers at our local grocery store (all ambers) or  . . . someone can start a new hobby (now I’m getting to the birthday part)

My allergy is actually a good excuse for Luke to start a hobby one of his best friends had been doing for years: home brewing. So two Christmas’ ago Luke got a beer-making kit with plans to make homemade barley-free porters and stouts. But with a wedding, new job, and moving Luke hasn’t started up home brewing. . . yet.

Here we are: A chemistry lesson for a Birthday present:

So I took Luke for his birthday to Rohrbachs brewery and taproom in Rochester NY hoping it might help jumpstart his creativity.  We started our tour watching a video explaning the history of the brewery meanwhile Luke enjoying a few samples on tap (5 bucks for tour and 6 samples 🙂 ).

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The taproom

The taproom

Then we were taken back to the brewery.  The tour was a full on chemistry lesson! I followed along as they explained the steps for making different beers the best I could, after the 5th step my mind began to drift-but not Luke. He was fully engaged-raising his hand as if back in chemistry class to ask specific questions. It was informal, informative, and best of all Luke loved it.

The tour

The tour

We then took some time to drive (I drove) around finding where the science museum,  parks, auditoriums, observatory etc. were since it was our first time downtown.

After we went to Rohrbach’s brewpub across town for dinner.

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We ordered off their traditional German Menu : Luke ate the sample plate of juicy sausages and sauerkraut while I had crispy potato pancakes with applesauce (can you say yum!). To drink I ordered their homemade root-beer. It was dark delicious dessert in a cup and amazingly I could taste the sasporilla!

And Luke, well he got another sampler of beer, this time of their speciality dark brews only on tap at their microbrewery.

And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?

And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?

Hopefully now that Luke has been inspired, the home-brewing will start soon . Don’t worry I’ll fill you as we go along.

Cabin Fever

Every year during the dead of winter the Gaffer District hosts Cabin Fever: a wine/beer tasting event hosted  in the storefronts along Main Street.

This year Cabin Fever was postponed because of a snow storm, leaving us stuck inside for the month of February (ironic ? yes). So we anxiously waited for the chance to get out this past Friday. We arrived around 6:30pm to the information center, when we showed our IDs we received our purple wrist-bands and souvenir miniature beer/wine  glasses. Taking the program list, we briskly walked in the cold passing parties of college students, old friends, and couples laughed as they strolled down the street.

Some of the wineries at this event were also at the Corning Glass event we attended in January (2300 degrees). Thinking ahead, we brought along our list from the previous wine tasting so we knew which wineries to try something new from, give a second chance, or skip all together.

Going with a Mardi Gras theme, each location gave a string of beads to guest so that by the end of the night people were decorated in green, yellow, and purple. Many of local businesses also provided food/chocolate samples, live entertainment, or coupons/ give-aways for their stores.

Still this will probably not be an annual event for us. We knew that rescheduling would changed a few elements such as which wineries/breweries would participate. Yet there was no effort to make changes based on the new date. For example, it was a little odd to celebrate with a Mardi Gras theme so close to St. Patty’s day. As well as, the brochures were not updated; so which stores were open or which wineries/breweries were present at the event was inaccurate.

The tickets were 15 bucks a person but the number of winiers/breweries participating was substantially less than the free event we went to in January. A downside to using local storefronts was the line out the door; you felt rushed at the one-at-a-time-line for each tasting. This is why I didn’t take a single picture! The samples were also communion-size, far less than the free samples at 2300 degrees. Because Luke works late we didn’t arrive at 5pm when the event started, so by the time we had arrived to some stores the brewery/winery they hosted had already left (apparently out of samples).

Cabin Fever gave us an excuse to step into some of the local businesses we haven’t  visited yet.  It also gave us the opportunity to try samples from several new wineries and confirm what we liked/did not like from before. In addition, Luke was able to sample local beers and check out some of Corning’s pubs/bars.

Our souvenir wine and beer glasses, wrist bands, and Mardi Gras beads

Our souvenir wine and beer glasses, wrist bands, and Mardi Gras beads

Still, there is no limit to the year-round wine/beer tasting events in our area and next year we will check out a different February/March event.  

How about you? Are you out of the winter slump yet?

What post/Christmas winter activities are in your town?