All sewn up

I got a new sewing machine! It's from Lidl and cost eighty euro. I've been using my Mum's sewing machine rather too much so she got me one of my own for my birthday. It works great and is pretty simple which is better for me, when a sewing machine gets too complicated it's hard to use.

I've done a good bit of sewing over the years, as a kid my Barbies and Sindys all had couture outfits made from scraps left over from my Mum's sewing. My Mum is my secret weapon when sewing as she knows everything there is to know about sewing. She made her own wedding dress and lots of our clothes when we were kids. She works in a home furnishing shop and brings home loads of fabric with the excuse but it was cheap. I've gotten all my new curtains made by my Mum.

I want to make skirts as I never see skirts I like in the shops and they're not that hard to make. I decided to listen to my Mum who is always right about everything and make some cushions first. These are the mad looking cushions I like them a lot, they'll come camping with us this summer and brighten up the tent. I picked up the lovely colourful throw to go with them in Heatons for ten euro. I can almost sew straight but I'm really terrible at cutting straight. I can see a rotary cutter and a ruler in my future. Cutting wonky is ok on a cushion but not on a skirt.

I've got one or two sewing books recently. First of all is Sew What? Skirts. It's a great starter book about sewing as it goes through lots of techniques at the start. Then it shows you how to draft an a-line and straight skirt pattern. All the skirts are then made using variations on these techniques. The first skirt I make will be one from this book.

The other book is Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. I love this book! It's all laid back easy style, nothing too fussy. The other advantage is that it's all aimed at the beginning/intermediate sewer. Hopefully I'll make some stuff from this.

I went shopping today and got some fabric in Fabric World on Parnell Street. I got some lovely navy and pink stuff to make a skirt and some lovely white flowery fabric to make this spring ruffle top. I also got lots of bits and pieces like thread, tracing paper and elastic thread in The Dublin Woolen Mills just beside the Hapenny Bridge. Expect to see some results on the blog in the future.

Molly Bloom's Raspberry White Beer

Over at Irish Craft Brewer an all grain brewing challenge was dreamed up by SBillings. As he said

The challenge is to do a 23 litre all grain brew using 3Kg of a single base malt, no speciality malt and only one hop addition.
I signed up for the challenge and got my thinking hat on.

I've been drinking a good few wheat and wit beers recently. I like Hoegaarden a lot but that's probably because it was one of the first different beers I ever tried while living in the dullest town on earth, Eindhoven. I usually find that weiss beers are a bit too sweet and cloying for my taste. I like the spiced Belgian versions much better than the German sweet ones. Although a weiss beer is nice served cold on a hot day. Hot days seem to be in short supply recently though so drinking opportunities are limited. I like the lemon zesty taste from Hoegaarden and it got me to thinking how I could make an altered version of a Belgian wit.

I turned to my always trusty Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher and read a bit about white beers. This seemed to be the base I could build the beer on. As the challenge says you can only use 3kg of base malt and no other I needed some adjunct grain to add to the plain malt to give it some fermentables and taste. An adjunct is an unmalted fermentable grain and things like rice, corn, sorghum, wheat and oats are often used. I haven't tried an adjunct mash before so I decided to try it so I'd learn something from the challenge.

I used 3kg of Maris Otter pale ale malt, 1kg unmalted Flaked Wheat and 500g Flaked Oats. I used about 240g which was 8% of the total malt in the adjunct mash. I brought about 4 litres of water to 60 degrees celsius and then put in the grains. I gave it a stir and checked it was at 50 degrees. I left it for about 15 minutes. The stuff looked like very gluey porridge. I then raised the temperature to 65.5 degrees and left it for another 15 minutes. After this I boiled it for a few minutes. The series of temperature rests is used to break down the starches in the un-malted grains to make them more easily accessible to the enzymes in the main mash. While I was doing this I brought the rest of the mash to 50 degrees. I then dumped the contents of the adjunct mash pot into the main mash tun. It splashed a bit and that stuff burns. I stirred it up, checked the temperature was 67 degrees and left it all to mash away for 45 minutes.

I took off the first runnings and then sparged with about 14 litres of water at 77 degrees. I topped up with about 5 litres of water and the gravity of the wort at this stage was 1.039.

I boiled for an hour and the only hop addition was 40g of 4.8%AA tettnang hops at the 60 minute mark. Since this was a challenge brew it would be pretty boring if I left it at that. I decided to throw a load of spices and herbs into this brew.
10g of chamomile flowers
1 star anise
1 tsp crushed cardamon pods
1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
5-10g crushed coriander seeds
Zest of one lemon

In Radical Brewing Mr. Mosher reckons that chamomile is a secret spice used in Belgian white beers. I also added the other stuff just in case. I hope the cardamon comes out as not too overpowering. I find it has a washing up liquid taste when there's too much of it in a curry. It'll be interesting to see what character comes from them.

I cooled and pitched the beer with Brewferm Blanche wheat beer yeast. It's fermenting away with a lot of foam. I'm keeping the temperature fairly low as I want some yeast character but nothing too bubblegum which you can get with white beer yeasts.

Now the astute amongst you will notice raspberry mentioned in the title. Well they come later, I plan to secondary this beer over about 1.2kg of raspberries. I'm hoping the spices, yeast and raspberries will all combine to make a frothy summer beer with a nice blurry fruity spiciness to it.

This challenge was a great idea. I made a new style of beer and learned to do an adjunct mash. I also got to play with different fruits and spices. I think it's nice to make unusual beer that you can't get in the shops. I loved the raspberry lambic Rose de Gambrinus from Cantillon so this is inspired by that though this will be much sweeter and probably less fruity.

I've named it Molly Bloom. I can't wait to have a lot of fun making the label for it. Sandymount will feature, hopefully on Bloomsday.

Smug Spinning Satisfaction

With my first ever yarn from my spinning wheel I had to make something and decided on a get the skinny scarf a free pattern from interweave crochet.

It's a really nice easy pattern and the scarf itself is perfect for wearing with the weather at this time of year. No sign of summer sun in Dublin yet. It spirals a bit but I've decided to call that a design feature. I'm so happy I've ended up with something wearable at end of the process of spinning the fibre and then crocheting it into something. Though as I do more crafts I find it's the process I enjoy as much if not more than the end result.

The Session 27: Beer Cocktails

The Session this month is hosted by Beer At Joes and is called Beyond the Black and Tan (Beer Cocktails). In America a Black and Tan is a mixture of pale ale and porter but we don't get them in Ireland. A word of warning if you're American walking into most Irish bars and asking for a Black and Tan will at best get you a three hour history lesson from a drunk local and at worst you'll be asked to leave. I think the closest we get to beer cocktails in Ireland is when women get Guinness with a dash of blackcurrant cordial in them. Usually though the blackcurrant is just put in there until you get used to the taste and then you just drink normal Guinness.

The other time I saw a beer cocktail was when I was in Havana last year. In the Caribbean they are crazy for cocktails and in Cuba the mojito is king. I love mojitos and due to almost constant food poisoning I gave up eating and just drank mojitos for the few days we were there. We went to Taverna de la Muralla on the Plaza Vieja which is Havana's brew pub. They brew three beers and they also offer beer cocktails. One was a mojito made with their blonde ale. It's a nice if odd drink. It tasted more of mojito than beer if I remember rightly.

Dave has blogged before about the insane combination of Guinness and Red Bull that you get in Jamaica. It tastes horrible but that's not the point. We asked some barmen in our hotel what we should drink at a wedding in Kingston and they said Guinness and Red Bull so you get drunk and can dance all night. You certainly need energy if you're going to be dancing to Jamaican dancehall all night. Dancehall sounds like a bunch of power tools being randomly being turned on and off. It makes no sense until you dance to it. Though being Irish we weren't very good, all the Jamaicans are incredible dancers, even old grannies and they know all the moves to every song.

I can't resist putting up this photo again as it's so funny. It's The Beer Nut and Dave enjoying a picon beer. It's bavaria mixed with sirop de picon. I like Bavaria as it reminds me of sitting outside the Pav bar in Trinity watching the cricket. Me and my pals would come up from our underground laser lab to see some real daylight and drink a six pack of cheap Bavaria. Even better the crazy, french, obsessed by physics postdoc I worked with would go home and not come to the pub. He never talked about anything but our project and talking about resonance energy transfer in nanocrystals while slightly merry was never a forte of mine. We never knew that we could have claimed to be classy by pouring in some picon into our cans.

I really don't know many beer cocktails but maybe in honour of this session I'll try some of the ones posted by fellow session bloggers this weekend.