Category Archives: Homebrewing & Microbreweries

Book Review – Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally

I just finished reading Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally. The authors, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, tell their story of living for a year eating only foods produced within 100 miles of their Vancouver apartment. If you think it’s easy to eat 100% within a 100-mile radius, think again. The authors endure several months without wheat and a year without buying salt and olive oil. Thank goodness they quite drinking coffee and tea several years before their experiment, or I think I would have gone mad reading about a year without two of my favorite drinks.

If you already eat locally, you come across familiar scenes in the book – stored apples smelling like hard cider, closets taken over by canned food and butternut squash, and potatoes beginning to sprout eyes because you don’t have a root cellar. Eating locally isn’t all glamour, but the rewards are fantastic! As Smith and MacKinnon discovers, you get to eat AND taste real food. Have you ever had store bought eggs after you started eating locally? I’m always shocked that store bought eggs taste like, um, nothing. Same with honey. I know I sound like an elitist, but how do people eat them?

Eating locally takes you to bizarre places, and Smith and MacKinnon are no exception. They drive to nowhere Canada to buy walnuts from a lady whose farm has a sign that says BIOSECURITY ZONE. They encounter a bear while foraging in a Canadian forest. I’ve encountered snakes while foraging and met my peach dealer at a gas station, so I was able to relate.

Whether you just started eating locally or are an old veteran, Plenty has plenty of good local foods stories. Check it out and discover how fun eating locally can be!

For more information about the authors’ 100-mile diet, visit http://100milediet.org/.

Wednesday To-Do: Keep LR Beautiful Fundraiser

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Keep Little Rock Beautiful and Diamond Bear Brewery invite you to stop in after work for a drink with friends!

WHAT: Keep Little Rock Beautiful Fundraiser

WHEN: Wednesday, November 4 – 5:30-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Diamond Bear Brewery (323C Cross Street, Little Rock)

Diamond Bear beer and hors d’oeuvres from local eateries! Brewery tours. Entertainment provided by the Downtown Divas – their last local performance!

$10 in advance – $15 at the door. Purchase your tickets at the Green Corner Store (1423 South Main Street).

Proceeds benefit Keep Little Rock Beautiful for recycling programs and awareness.

For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=pepper+pepper&init=quick#/event.php?eid=180789058803&index=1.

Build a Pallet Planter!

One of our pallet planters. We grow pole beans and hops in them. The picture was taken several weeks ago. The plants have grown considerably since then.

One of our pallet planters. We grow pole beans and hops in them. The picture was taken several weeks ago. The plants have grown considerably since then.

Eddy and I have two large southfacing windows in our kitchen. This time of the year, our kitchen gets so hot we can hardly stand to eat there. This year we decided to shade our windows by growing vining plants in front of them. Since our house is raised, and we can’t plant plants in the ground, Eddy built me a planter. What did he use to build a planter? Old discarded pallets! Most pallets are made with untreated wood, so you can use them to build a vegetable planter. We grow pole beans and hop plants in our planters. Hopefully, we will harvest some hops to use in our beer brewing.

Search the Internet for different pallet planter designs. We modified this design for our planters: http://www.instructables.com/id/Planter-from-pallets-no-nail-pull-method/.

This summer, engage in passive cooling by growing vining plants in front of your windows. Reuse discarded pallets and build a pallet planter!

Spot on Green: Carrie’s

Located in southwest Little Rock, Carrie's is one of my favorite thrift stores.

Located in southwest Little Rock, Carrie's is one of my favorite thrift stores.

Lamps for sale, $24 and $14 respectively.

Lamps for sale, $24 and $14 respectively.

Retro red chairs for $20 each.

Retro red chairs for $20 each.

Need a smoker? Carrie's sells it for $7.

Need a smoker? Carrie's sells it for $7.

I consider myself to be a coffee geek. I read Kenneth Davids’ coffee reviews religiously. I roast my beans at home, using an old air popcorn popper. Since the advent of microwavable popcorn, many air popcorn poppers have made their way to thrift stores. Carrie’s is one of my favorite thrift stores to look for one.

Located in southwest Little Rock, Carrie’s is a HUGE flea market. You find almost everything at Carrie’s – furniture, appliances, tableware, books. etc. Last time I visited Carrie’s, I scored a copy of The Moosewood Cookbook ($1) and a 20-quart stainless steel pot to brew beer ($20). You never know what you’ll find there, but you are bound to find something.

Carrie’s is located on 8717 Geyer Springs Road in Little Rock. Hours are 10-6 on Mondays-Thursdays, 10-7:30 on Fridays, 10-6 on Saturdays, and 1-6 on Sundays. For more information, call (501)562-8088.

Weekly Meal Roundup

dsc00779dsc00147Cold spell is back, and so are the hot pots. Eddy and I love to make kimchee hot pots when the weather gets cold. They are easy to make, you can eat LOTS of veggies, and you start sweating in no time.

This week we made a hot pot using kimchee made right here in Little Rock. The ladies at the Sam’s Oriental Store make them every week, and they are FANTASTIC!!! An added bonus – they reuse the glass jars that kimchee come in. Simply wash and return to the store after you finish eating. Isn’t it great?

We also thew in pork from the Petit Jean Farm, Napa cabbage and green onions from the Armstead Mountain Farm, and shiitake mushrooms from the Arkansas Natural Produce. YUM, YUM!!! The next day we used the leftover soup to make kimchee udon. Mmm…. we were in heaven!

Friday Eddy and I hosted the Arkansas Earth Institute Discussion Course After Party. Recently we finished taking the Voluntary Simplicity course, and we decided to celebrate the great time that we had by throwing a party. Thanks, everyone, for coming! Since we still have TONS of Arkansas strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, we decided to make mixed berry ice cream using the stored berries as well as our chickens’ eggs. It turned out great! We also made orange pecans using Arkansas pecans that we stored last fall. They were yummy as well!

What have you been eating lately? Share by leaving a comment! And now, here is the roundup for this past week.

Sunday

Breakfast – homemade whole wheat & rye pancakes made with homegrown eggs & AR pecans, topped with AR honey, homegrown eggs, AR sausage, home roasted coffee

Lunch – organic bow-tie pasta with homemade pesto made with AR basil & garlic

Dinner – homemade minestrone with Swiss chard & beans made with AR tomatoes & Swiss chard, pecan mashed sweet potatoes made with AR sweet potatoes & pecans, sauteed asparagus

Monday

Breakfast – organic War Eagle Mill (WEM) oatmeal with WEM flax and AR pecans, honey & honeybee pollen, banana, home roasted coffee

Lunch – organic udon with AR kale, homemade miso soup

Dinner – homemade stir-fried Asian vegetables made with AR cabbage, shiitake mushrooms & Napa cabbage, organic AR rice, homemade miso soup, home brewed beer

Tuesday

Breakfast – organic WEM oatmeal with WEM flax and AR pecans, honey & honeybee pollen, banana, home roasted coffee

Lunch – organic bow-tie pasta with homemade pesto made with AR basil & garlic

Dinner – dinner at Bosco’s (Thanks, Leah & Jason!)

Wednesday

Breakfast – organic WEM oatmeal with WEM flax and AR pecans, honey & honeybee pollen, banana, home roasted coffee

Lunch – homemade mustard green gratin, pecan mashed sweet potatoes made with AR sweet potatoes & pecans, arugula & radish salad made with AR arugula

Dinner – Mexican at El Dorado

Thursday

Breakfast – organic WEM oatmeal with WEM flax and AR pecans, honey & honeybee pollen, banana, home roasted coffee

Lunch – at Master Gardener’s class

Dinner – homemade Korean kimchee hot pot made with locally-made kimchee and AR pork, Napa cabbage, shiitake mushrooms & green onions, homemade miso soup, organic AR rice, mixed green salad made with AR greens, topped with homemade miso vinaigrette, home brewed beer

Friday

Breakfast – homemade whole wheat & rye pancakes made with homegrown eggs & AR pecans, topped with AR honey, banana, AR sausage, home roasted coffee

Lunch – organic udon with leftover Korean kimchee soup, veggie dumplings

Dinner – homemade hummus, mixed berry ice cream made with homegrown eggs and AR milk, strawberries, blueberries & blackberries, orange pecans made with AR pecans, homemade goat cheese made with AR goat milk, homemade bread, Boulevard 8-grain bread, crackers, tofu spread from The Station, olives, Blueberry Hill cheese, taro chips, cookies, home brewed beer, wine, home roasted coffee, tea (Thanks, everyone, for coming and bringing stuff!)

Saturday

Breakfast – homemade French toast made with homemade bread, homegrown eggs, topped with AR honey, home roasted coffee

Lunch – pork ribs at the Storm on the Water Barbecue Contest at the Clinton Library (Thanks, Adam, for treating us!)

Dinner – too full from the barbecue contest to eat 🙂

Go Green & Opt Out of the System!

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One of the reasons why I like to cook from scratch is so that I don’t support companies that I disagree with unknowingly. Did you know that Phillip Morris owns Kraft Foods? I don’t care what other people do. If you choose to smoke, fine with me. Just don’t smoke around me. If you buy Kraft Foods products, go for it. But I choose not to support Kraft Foods because I don’t like smoking. I have no need for its products anyway. I make almost everything from scratch. 

Recently I added Barnes & Noble to the list of companies I refuse to support. Why? Because Barnes & Noble sponsors The Rush Limbaugh Show. The same show that has been broadcasting “Barack the Magic Negro” song since this past June. I find the song and any talk radio show that finds humor in airing the song to be racist. And I refuse to support any business that sponsors such shows. Barnes & Noble has responded to the public outcry, defending its sponsorship by saying it makes no political judgment about the books it carries, and it extends the same stance to the radio programs that it sponsors. “As we carry both conservative and liberal authors, we are on programs that reach both audience,” says Suzanne Peterson, Barnes & Noble’s Customer Relations Advocate. Now since when did all conservatives become racists? I dated a Republican for 4 years, and he and I were in an interracial relationship. Maybe I was asleep during the relationship. Besides, is racism a political issue? I thought it was an ethical issue. Perhaps I didn’t get the memo that conservatives have officially incorporated racism as part of their political platform. 

I don’t care how others feel about Barnes & Noble, but I sure won’t be supporting it anymore. I rarely go there anyway. I borrow books from the library, and if I can’t find a copy of the book I want at the library, I buy it used or request it from PaperBackSwap. By going green, I’ve opted out of the system that includes companies like Barnes & Noble and Phillip Morris. Oh, I’ve also opted out of Wal-Mart, Tyson, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and The Gap. Quite frankly, I don’t miss a thing!

Every dollar you spend affects the world you live in, so spend it wisely. Go green and opt out of the system!

Spot on Green: Fermentables

Located in North Little Rcok, Fermentables has been supplying homebrewers and cheesemakers in central Arkansas since 1994.

Located in North Little Rock, Fermentables has been supplying homebrewers and cheesemakers in central Arkansas since 1994.

Sage, bok choy, and tomatoes grow in Fermentables' hydroponics garden.

Sage, bok choy, and tomatoes grow in Fermentables' hydroponics garden.

 

MOzzarella kit, cheese press, carboys, and wine kits.

Mozzarella kit, cheese press, carboys, and wine kits.

I’ve had so many people ask where I buy supplies for homebrewing and cheesemaking. Well, I buy them from Fermentables. Located in North Little Rock, Fermentables has been selling supplies to homebrewers and cheesemakers in central Arkansas since 1994. New to homebrewing? Don’t worry. Fermentables caters to beginners and advanced hobbyists alike, selling beer kits for beginners and grains for more adventurous. Mike Byrum, who has owned the store for the past 7 years, says that up until about 5 years ago, it was difficult for beer enthusiasts to find craft beer in Arkansas. Now that we see New Belgium, Boulevard, and others in the state, the interest in craft beer has increased, and so has the interest in homebrewing. The economic downturn also contributes to the increased interest in homebrewing. According to Mike, as the economy goes down, many people try to become more self-sufficient, thus the interest in homebrewing goes up. Mike has seen the interest in cheesemaking go up as well for the same reasons.

Beer kits for beginners.

Beer kits for beginners.

According to Mike, homebrewing has several green factors. First, homebrewing allows you to recycle bottles. Second, homebrewing involves no shipping, whereas craft beer from out of state requires energy to transport. Cheesemaking can help save the environment as well. When you make cheese at home, you reduce packaging and transportation costs. Best of all, you know what’s in your cheese, eliminating unwanted substances such as preservatives and artificial coloring and flavoring.

Fermentables sells supplies for hydroponics.

Fermentables sells supplies for hydroponics.

Fermentables also sells supplies for hydroponics. Hydroponics refers to a a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, without soil. I’ve met many organic gardeners who remain skeptical of hydroponics, and I asked Mike to address their concerns. He says that hydroponics uses less space and water than conventional gardening, allowing city dwellers and countries without much water to grow fresh produce. Hydroponics produces no fertilizer runoff and yields more crops for less, making it the choice method for many third-world countries to resolve food shortages. Several independent hydroponics merchants participate in an initiative called Hydro for Hunger. They donate certain percentage of their profits to this initiative that supports hunger relief organizations dedicated to reducing world hunger through hydroponics gardening. Since 2002, Hydro for Hunger has raised almost $70,000 to support the fight against world hunger. And, I believe it will continue to raise more funds as the popularity of hydroponics increases.

Fermetables sells organic gardening supplies for both hydroponics and conventional gardening.

Fermetables sells organic gardening supplies for both hydroponics and conventional gardening.

I have been considering hydroponics as the way to enjoy certain fresh produce during winter. I grow winter vegetables outside but rely on Whole Foods for produce that I cannot grow during cold season such as tomatoes and cucumbers. I have been researching the environmental footprint of growing own produce hydroponically during winter versus buying produce from afar at Whole Foods. According to Mike, many produce at the store are grown hydroponically, therefore it may be less taxing on the environment if you do it yourself. When engaging in greenhouse hydroponics, you enjoy all the benefits of indoor hydroponics plus eliminate lighting needed when growing inside. Hmm…I’m starting to be convinced.

Whatever you are interested in, be it homebrewing, cheesemaking or hydroponics, go to Fermentables for all your fermenting needs.