Thursday, August 28, 2008

Spent Grain Beer Bread

Being ambitious means making the most of your resources. So what about using the spent grains from a batch of home brew? When you get into intermediate or advanced home brewing, you will be using barley to either create the malt you'll ferment or to add flavor to a malt extract. The problem is what to do with the extra.

I usually put it in the compost bin. But that is a thing of the past. Last weekend, we made a porter and we used the grains to make some beer bread.

Here are a few links for beer bread recipes.

Steve Morrisey's Spent Grain Bread
Ofortuna's Bread (scroll down a bit)
Mill Rat's Bread

We tried Steve's and Rat's breads and both were delicious. I think next time we'll try to use it for pizza dough.

The Big Four Oh

That's right. After all of these years on Earth, I've finally reached that point. I didn't think it would ever happen, but that day has come. Monday, Labor Day, is it. It is the day that I'm having a party with forty guests. That's right, four-oh!

Now, you could argue that this is not big deal. Everyone has had parties before. This one is different than the parties of youth. A keg of cheap beer and a massive quantity of stale nachos are not going to suffice.

So as I host my first adult party, with a spread of killer B's: Beer, Brats, Burgers, and BBQ Brisket, the real question is how much do we need? You don't want to be in the unenviable position of not having enough, but having burgers for leftovers for two or three weeks is absurd.

The internet, the wild west of information sources, has proved to be very helpful in this case. The best article I found suggested the following:

Hors D'oeuvres

  • 6 bites when preceding a meal.
  • 4 - 6 bites per hour when hors d'oeuvres are the meal.
  • The longer your party and the larger your guest list, the greater the number of selections you should offer.

The Main Meal

  • Poultry, meat or fish - 6 ounces when you have one main dish, 8 ounces when you offer two or more main courses.
  • Rice, grains - 1.5 ounces as a side dish, 2 ounces in a main dish such as risotto
  • Potatoes - 5 ounces
  • Vegetables - 4 ounces
  • Beans - 2 ounces as a side dish
  • Pasta - 2 ounces for a side dish, 3 ounces for a first course, 4 ounces for a main dish
  • Green Salad - 1 ounce undressed weight


  • 1 slice cake, tart or pastry
  • 4 ounces creamy dessert such as pudding or mousse
  • 5 ounces ice cream
  • When serving two of the above, reduce each by a little less than half.

This is great. This makes the calculation fairly easy. So let's go through the exercise of estimating how much we need for 40 guests.

Appetizers: 6 bites x 40 people = 240 Bites
(This one I'm cheating on since we're just going to buy chips and salsa and veggies and dip.)

Main meals: Meat 8 oz x 40 people = 320 oz or 20 lbs.
This should be easy. I'm smoking a 6 lbs brisket so I'll need 7lbs of burgers and brats, each.

Potato Salad: 5 oz x 40 people = 200 oz or 12.5 lbs

Beans: 2 oz x 40 people = 80 oz or 5 lbs

I'm cheating on dessert. My sister has decided to bring a cake, so she's in charge. We're providing the ice cream to go along with it, but that should be enough.

The only thing left is to estimate beverages. Unfortunately, there isn't as much information on the internet about that. Any suggestions?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Watermelon and Peach Wine

It rained for nearly two days one weekend in September. Being drawn indoors gave us the perfect excuse to try some food and beverage experiments we'd been meaning to get to this summer.

We found this recipe, and began prepping. We chose to prepare a 3-gallon batch, so we tripled the quantities in the original recipe.

And, it's a much messier process than we thought, beginning with cutting the watermelon. Slice the watermelon in half, and then cut the rind off. We recommend cutting the melon in half (horizontally) and placing the flat end on the cutting board to slice off the rind.

We used a strainer to drain the liquid from the watermelon and peaches, applying pressure with a potato masher. Caution: make certain the drainer is large enough to fit in your pot without the sides slipping down (we learned that tip the hard way).

The fermentation process was one of the most interesting we've ever seen. Despite our straining efforts, some pulp from the watermelon and peaches ended up in the carboy. And did it bubble! It looked a bit like a science experiment, but the real question is: how will it taste? I guess we'll find out in a few weeks.