Fastest Stout In The World

A while ago I named my first all grain beer Lightening Bolt in honour of Usain Bolt as I watched him break the 200m world record while making it. Soon after I made a stout which would be much more to Usain's taste as I'm told he's a fan of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Stephen, my brother in law is with Digicel in Jamaica and his wife is the Digicel sponsorship manager and looks after Usain Bolt's sponsorship. A plan was hatched to try get a bottle of my stout to Usain Bolt. I relabeled it Lightening Bolt Stout and sent it back with Stephen. The plan worked and he did indeed get the stout and while I was in Jamaica I got the photo. Here's the man himself, Usain Bolt, being presented with the stout by my lovely niece Asia.    

Isn't that just the coolest photo ever? Well I think it is anyway. I got a signed photo of him too so that will take pride of place. Big up to Stephen, Shelly and Asia for arranging that!
It's a great note to finish the year on. Yet again having this blog has led to something really cool happening.

Since it's the end of the year I want to say thanks to everyone who checks in here and reads about the goings on at Aranbrew. I really love it when people read what I write and I love all your comments. I hope you all have a great 2010. Next year the blog will probably move to a new host and the redesign should be coming soon. I'm also hoping to brew a bit more. There's also all sorts of crafty adventures planned involving knitting, spinning and dyeing.

Happy new year everyone!

The Owls of Mid-Winter

It's definitely winter. There's a chill in the air and lights everywhere. I like this time of year, wrapping up warm, preferably in hand knitted things and looking forward to the days getting longer while sitting by the fire in my parents house. This year is a little different though. I'm going to visit my brother in law and his family in Jamaica. My brother in law generously gave us flights over as a christmas present so we're jetting off to Kingston on friday. 

Before that though I have to show you my finished Owls jumper. It took about five weeks to knit which is pretty fast for me. I was studying for exams and doing projects at the same time so I wasn't even working that hard on it. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. The yarn is lovely, warm yet light and the shaping really makes it fit well. I haven't made many knitted garments and this one has really encouraged me to not be afraid of a larger project. I expect it will get lots of wear in January. (The yarn is Louisa Harding Hulda, it's being discontinued unfortunately.)

I also finished the Montego Bay scarf. No photos of that yet, I'm bringing it to Jamaica to get a glamour shot of it in the sun. I think we're going to the beach for a few days and hopefully a photo opportunity will present itself.

I want wish all of you who read this blog a happy whatever mid winter festival you happen to celebrate. For most of you happy christmas. I hope it involves family and friends, feasting and drinking of good beer.

Cheery Cherry Cupcakes and Fat Bottoms

I recently got Susannah Blake's Cupcakes book and have been making many scrumptious recipes from it. I especially liked these lemon meringue cupcakes which have lemon curd in the middle and are topped with meringue. Needless to say they didn't last very long. I've been reading a lot of Donal Skehan's lovely blog recently with all it's great tasty recipes. He has a recipe for Christmas Cupcakes which I must try before the festive season.

Speaking of which last year the Fat Bottomed Santa made his majestic journey around our house at christmas time. This year with all the cutbacks in the house and the recession I have to say I was worried if he'd show up at all. I needn't have worried because the Fat Bottomed Santa is much more resourceful than that. He showed up for the first time today with some cherry almond cupcakes he'd made. They're very tasty and he even left me a recipe.

Cherry Almond Cupcakes

115g Margarine or Butter
115g Golden Caster Sugar
95g Self Raising Flour
20g Ground Almonds
1tsp Vanilla Essence
1-2 tbsp Milk
2 Eggs
Glace Cherries
Icing Sugar
Lemon Juice

Cream the butter and sugar together until it's light fully mixed. Then mix in the eggs one at a time and add the vanilla essence. Sieve the flour and almonds onto the mix and add the cherries. Fold together the mixture adding the milk if needed.
Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 15-20 minutes until the cupcakes have a golden top and are firm to the touch. Times may vary depending on your oven.
Leave the cupcakes to cool.
I mix icing in a kind of random manner. I usually use about 300g of icing sugar and add a tbsp of lemon juice and a tbsp of warm water. I mix it adding more icing sugar if it is too thin and more water if it's too thick. This icing shouldn't be too thick. Spoon it over the cupcakes, it helps if the cases are those big muffin ones so the icing doesn't spill out. Then top each one with a cherry and enjoy.