Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ale To The Chief: The White House Beer Recipe

Photo: White House/Pete Souza 
On a campaign stop, President Barack Obama told an Iowa man his bus was stocked with White House home-brewed beer and offered up a bottle.  This led to a number of questions for White House Spokesman, Jay Carney, about the details of the beer.  It was revealed that the White House chefs have been experimenting with home brewing for a while, using honey from the First Lady's beehives in the recipe.  The White House crafts two versions, a light and dark beer.  (See video.)

Soon a citizen filed a Freedom Of Information Act requesting the recipe, and 25,000 people signed a We The People petition, clamoring for the secrets behind the brew.  When word of the public's interest reached the President, he promised to share the recipe with everyone.  And as it turns out, making a tasty home brew is not too difficult.  So from the White House to you, here is how to do it:

WHITE HOUSE HONEY ALE
WHITE HOUSE HONEY PORTER
Ingredients

2 (3.3 lb) cans light malt extract
1 lb light dried malt extract
12 oz crushed amber crystal malt
8 oz Biscuit Malt
1 lb White House Honey
1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
1 1/2 oz Fuggles Hop pellets
2 tsp gypsum 
1 pkg Windsor dry ale yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar for priming

Directions

1. In an 12 qt pot, steep the grains in a hop bag in 1 1/2 gallons of sterile water at 155 degrees for half an hour. 2.Remove the grains.
3. Add the 2 cans of the malt extract and the dried extract and bring to a boil. [The water is now called "wart."]
4. For the first flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings and 2 tsp of gypsum. Boil for 45 minutes. [Hops gives beer its bitterness, flavor and aroma and keeps certain becteria from spoiling it.]
5. For the second flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Fuggles hop pellets at the last minute of the boil.
6. Add the honey and boil for 5 more minutes.
7. Add 2 gallons chilled sterile water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons. There is no need to strain.
8. Pitch yeast when wort temperature is between 70-80˚.
9. Fill airlock halfway with water.
10. Ferment at 68-72˚ for about seven days.
11. Rack to a secondary fermenter after five days and ferment for 14 more days.
12. To bottle, dissolve the corn sugar into 2 pints of boiling water for 15 minutes.  Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it.  14. Distribute priming sugar evenly.  Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks at 75˚.


The green is hops.

Ingredients

2 (3.3 lb) cans light unhopped malt extract
3/4 lb Munich Malt (cracked)
1 lb crystal 20 malt (cracked)
6 oz black malt (cracked)
3 oz chocolate malt (cracked)
1 lb White House Honey
10 HBUs bittering hops
1/2 oz Hallertaur Aroma hops
1 pkg Nottingham dry yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar for bottling

Directions

1. In a 6 qt pot, add grains to 2.25 qts of 168˚ water.
2. Mix well to bring temp down to 155˚. Steep on stovetop at 155˚ for 45 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring 2 gallons of water to 165˚ in a 12 qt pot.
4. Place strainer over, then pour and spoon all the grains and liquid in.
5. Rinse with 2 gallons of 165˚ water.
6. Let liquid drain through.
7 Discard the grains and bring the liquid to a boil. Set aside.
8. Add the 2 cans of malt extract and honey into the pot. Stir well.
9. Boil for an hour.
10. Add half of the bittering hops at the 15 minute mark, the other half at 30 minute mark, then the aroma hops at the 60 minute mark.  Set aside and let stand for 15 minutes.
11. Place 2 gallons of chilled water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons if necessary. Place into an ice bath to cool down to 70-80˚.
12. Activate dry yeast in 1 cup of sterilized water at 75-90˚ for fifteen minutes. Pitch yeast into the fermenter. Fill airlock halfway with water. Ferment at room temp (64-68˚) for 3-4 days.
13. Siphon over to a secondary glass fermenter for another 4-7 days.
14. To bottle, make a priming syrup on the stove with 1 cup sterile water and 3/4 cup priming sugar, bring to a boil for five minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 1-2 weeks at 75˚.


Unlike the home distilling of hard liquor, or moonshine, which is still a felony, states allow you to brew your own beer.  You can buy a home brewing kit at your local spirits store.  Sometimes what begins as a hobby leads to a regional business.  Here are some delicious local brews to try:


If you have a favorite local beer, please add it under comments.  Me: I love Canadian (Moosehead) and Belgian (Blue Moon) beers too and hear there are excellent local Asian (Japanese and Indian) beers; and of course, I'm dying to try a White House Honey Ale.  So Mr. President, the next time you're in town on your campaign bus, pleassse stop by.
Mug

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Blogging Woes: A Bad Thing Can Lead To A Good Thing

Did you notice?  THE SAVVY SHOPPER has a new look.  On Friday when I sat down to write, I noticed that Blogger had updated itself.  How you publish a post works differently now.

Hmm.  The appearance of THE SAVVY SHOPPER looked different too … and not in a good way.  Soon I discovered I could not pull up my old template and fix it.  Blogger now regards that old design as a “classic,” read “limited, impossible to tweak” template, which really means: Hey Jack (or Jill), you are out of luck!

And people, I was nearly in tears.  Over 3 years of content that now looked oh, so terrible!  What was I going to do?  Well instead of crying, I got busy on a new template, customizing layouts, fonts and colors.  I hadn't planned on sitting in front of a computer screen on Friday afternoon, first writing a series of urgent emails to Google, which essentially said the same thing: “OH, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE HELP ME get my blog back to the way it should look!” before accepting the inevitable and working on a new design.

And you know ... even when we are dragged into it kicking and screaming, sometimes change is good.  I hope you like the new look.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Boots No. 7 Is Coming To Walgreens

Boots is sold throughout the UK
One of the aims of  THE SAVVY SHOPPER is to find a few steals.  Boots UK offers stellar beauty products at very affordable prices.  The company began as a family herbal medicine shop in 1849 in Nottingham, England.  Today everybody from Nottingham to Madison Avenue raves about Boots' No 7 line of anti-aging face serums, moisturizers and makeup – much of it priced under $20.  In the USA, Boots' No 7 is now sold at Target and will soon be distributed by Walgreens drugstore.  Recently the two companies, Boots and Walgreens, merged.  [At times you can order online cheaper from sellers at Amazon.]

While the Examiner, an English newpaper, reports that there are higher concentrations of key peptides in more expensive brands, Boots' No 7 consistently scores higher than skin care products costing $100 or more by leading beauty editors, as well as, everyday women who use it.  English roses and Southern belles alike love the results … plus the savings!  Sometimes, you don't need more of the ingredients, you simply need enough of them to work, and that level is often open to debate.  Boots' No 7 is definitely a top-notch brand worth trying!
Red lips

Friday, September 7, 2012

Greenmarkets, Community Gardens And CSA's

Like many of you, I am more mindful about the food I buy these days. I am concerned about where it comes from, what it takes to get it to our tables and whether it's really food, or just food-like-substances.  Concepts like "farm fresh," "eating local" and "sustainability" are now considerations while I'm grocery shopping.  Although I still love a steak or sirloin burger -- grilled to perfection, occasionally -- these days I eat more of a plant based diet, including lots of leafy greens and fresh vegetables, smaller portions of meat, and even many meatless meals, substituting other proteins like dairy, eggs, soy and fish. I care about the planet and the welfare of the other people who occupy it -- and truthfully, eating healthy produce and plant proteins isn't much of a sacrifice. Variety is the spice of life, and I like grains and vegetables.

Furthermore, I like how urban areas are embracing greenmarkets, community gardens and rooftop beekeeping.  Metro-New York, recently reported that Brooklyn Grange, a farm that sits atop of two buildings in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, “produces kale, cherries, eggs and honey, all sold at restaurants and farm stands across the city.”  How cool is that?  A 43,000 square-foot, sky farm growing cucumbers and eggplants high above the concrete, people and activity of Gotham city.

Small related businesses are also springing up.  Partners Doug Muller and Ken Green created the Hudson Valley Seed Library, a company which only sells seeds that thrive in New York's climate and soil.  So a New Yorker who wants to grow salad greens in his windowsill, or broccoli in his community garden can buy the right seeds for his region.

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSAs are becoming especially popular among city dwellers in many states.  [To find one in your area go here.]  Members pay for an entire season of fresh produce, than pick up their boxes of ever changing vegetables weekly. Recipients of the harvest enjoy quality, variety and new taste sensations.  Fellow blogger, Becky's Big Bytes, keeps readers up-to-date with her discoveries and recipes here.  She asked me to post one of my recipes.  So Becky, as the inspiration of today's post, here it is:


 Mock Fried Green Tomatoes And Eggplant 

Ingredients:
2 - 3 big green tomatoes, sliced
1 large eggplant, sliced
Salt, black pepper and seasoning (garlic, onions, etc.) to taste
A little extra virgin olive oil
Uncooked oatmeal and Grapenuts cereal, or breadcrumbs

Directions:
1. Brush two cast iron or aluminum skillets with a little olive oil and heat on your stovetop.
2. Season the slices of vegetables and lay each in separate pans.
3. Top with the oatmeal and Grapenuts (or breadcrumbs).  I rarely buy breadcrumbs, so I just use the cereal.  I coat both sides of the vegetable slices with olive oil right in the skillet and sprinkle on the cereal for crunch.
4. Fry until tender and golden brown. 
5. Flip and brown the other side.  

If you prefer, you can bake the vegetable slices in a cast iron skillet in an oven at 350 F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Either method works.  At times you should get wild and crazy by using a few pads of butter to flavor.  Butter is the secret ingredient, which makes restaurant food so delicious according to several chefs.

Serve with a protein (such as ham) and a starch (I like potatoes, or corn) and enjoy!
Plate

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Photos Taken At Just The Right Moment

Click to enlarge




Loretta G., a reader of the blog, sent these entertaining photos my way.  I hope you enjoy them too.
Camera
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