Brewing, bottling and other odds and ends

Seems that my timing on the mead and the ale is going to be just about perfect.  The mead finished a little faster than I anticipated but I went with a low (7%) potential alcohol. I think that is why it fermented relatively quickly to most other mead. I got some real cute 5oz. clear bottles for the mead and I’ll be adding  to the adult’s Xmas presents.  Started a batch of all-grain wheat beer and from heating the pot of water to pitching the yeast took about 5 hours. Three hours of that is letting the grains steep in the bag and boiling the wort(more of a hot simmer) No, it’s not fast, but it sure does make good beer! Plus in the winter time it will add some much needed moisture to your house, as most well insulated homes tend to have less humidity than the Sahara desert in the winter time.

Got the equipment and culture for making home made yogurt. I need to pick up the milk but this will be my start on the cheese making idea for next year.  The Beer Lady has cheese making classes and gave me some hints for the yogurt and then hanging it up to drain and make some Greek style yogurt for some additional ways to use the milk. The politicians have been sitting on the “Farm Bill” and if it is not passed we could see all dairy products take a huge jump in price after Jan. of next year.  I have seen some of the cheese I buy starting to slowly  go up in price. So along with everything else if you can, get your dairy products and learn to preserve them! A pound of cheese wax is around $10.00 or under and can be ordered via the web. A pound of wax will cover over 15-20 pounds of cheese that is cut into 1-2 pound blocks.  The “average” American eats about 15 pounds of cheese per year so there is your starting  amount.  Shredded cheese freezes well, but the blocks of cheeses like cheddar tend to crumble after they are frozen. If you want to store cheddar by waxing get a mild cheddar as it will continue to age and get sharper tasting the longer it is stored.  There are a lot of recipes on the web for making Mozzarella and Queso fresco for a quick start on cheese making. Cheese is great for adding flavor as well as a super simple meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and soup is something anyone can make easily.

One concept I have been working on is “value added” to any basic staple. Since I’m in the city I can’t keep farm animals, but with a little equipment, time  and some knowledge I can turn some basic staples into foods that are easier for people to use and are similar/better  to what they can get at the local Mega-mart.  A dairy farmer might have lot’s of milk but no time, skills or equipment for making cheese for his family. I might be able to work a trade of me getting some milk but he gets a finished product like cheese or yougurt. My labor is paid by some me getting some of his milk product for “free”  and the farmer gets cheese for “free”.   So far I can do that with wheat/barley and get beer, I can turn honey into mead, and fresh meats into smoked, dried or canned for longer term storage,  next will milk into yogurt and cheese.  I can use all of those skills in my own self-reliance preps but there is no way I have found that my yard space can provide all that I need. I’m not giving up on trying to figure out a way for me to accomplish being as self-reliant as I can I just keep adding skills and knowledge and hope others may find value for trading for what I can do via “value added”.

Latest update on the E -cigarettes I just picked up a pack of 5 cartridges for $15.00. This is supposed to be equivalent to a carton of cigarettes. The holidays will be my first time of using the E-cigs in the home of non-smokers and getting feed back on what they think about them and if the e-cigs are acceptable in their homes. Even if they do not care for them I still think they have a spot in the BOB and BOV based on price, storage space and how they are more safe tactically than smoking a cigarette.

My dogs have been extra itchy lately and shedding with a vengeance so I have treated for any possible fleas on them and were they sleep with some DE.  I was adding a bit of olive oil to their breakfast and that helped some but it wasn’t enough. So for about the last week I have been splitting an Omega three supplement capsule and it is really starting to make a difference!  Smokey the cat was not so itchy or shedding much but her coat has improved a lot and feels soft ,thick and warm. It’s  taking a little longer with the pekes as they have longer hair than Smokey the cat but I’m starting to see and feel a real difference in how much softer their coats are getting since I started the Omega three, and they are both a lot less itchy.  I picked up some kitty no -water cleaning clothes at the dollar store. With the big bag cat food and some treats all of the critters are fairly well prepared for next year.  I’m lucked out with Smokey the cat she prefers to go outside and while she knows how to use a cat box , a bag of kitty litter lasts a very long time for her.

I’m not sure if I’ll post again before Xmas, though I’ll probably do a few more posts before New year’s but if not I wish you and yours a very merry Xmas, a happy New Year and I don’t know about you but I still have plenty of work to do for 2013.  It’s not a problem or disaster we face. It’s just an opportunity to excel!

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