Posts Tagged Earth

Bewitchingly Serious Moonlight

HeatherJ, this post is for you. You commented a while back that you were interested in knowing more about my homebrewing endeavors. I hope you find this information useful when deciding upon your brother-in-law’s Christmas present. Thank for reading and following my blog. I so appreciate you!

Did you know? Sweet Mother Nature, BEER IS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU!

One reason I know this is because, back in my librarian days, I worked with a knowledgeable Catholic mother of nine (yes, nine!) children who extolled beers’ virtues for its milk producing capacity for breastfeeding Moms experiencing low milk supply. Of course, she was not advocating getting schnockered, but said having one beer a few days a week precisely timed around the breast-feeding schedule was not detrimental. Turns out, she was right not that I’m breastfeeding or anything.

A quote on a beer community forum site reads ” Beer is a wholesome liquor….it abounds with nourishment. ”

Dr. Benjamin Rush- American physician

Now working for a medical publishing company, I know physician testimonials are worth their weight in gold so I put on my librarian cap and did a little more research. It turns out moderate beer drinking benefits include: a stronger heart and bones; healthier kidneys and brain; reduced cancer, diabetes, and stroke risk; a boost in B vitamins; and a longer life. Heck yah, everybody grab a cold one!

It just so happens that the beer community forum I was visiting was that of MrBeer.com and since discovering it, I’ve decided that MR. BEER ROCKS!!

I decided to buy Mr. Beer’s Premium Gold kit for $59.95, plus $7.95 shipping and handling. This kit included everything one needs to brew and bottle two batches or four gallons of what turned out to be truly great tasting beer. This is what came with the  Premium Gold kit:

  • 1 Fermenter (2 GAL)
  • 2 Standard Booster™ Refills
  • 8 Bottles with Caps
  • 8 Labels
  • 1 Brewer’s Guide
  • 1 Set of Instructions
Of course, being the feminist I am, I had to make some minor adjustments to the kit when it arrived. (HeatherJ, your brother-in-law would not have to make these adjustments.)
Mr Beer Kit

That Would Be Ms. Beer  😉

Some words of advice before creating your first batch:

1) Read the directions

HeatherJ, I hope you found this informative and helpful in your decision-making process. And, finally there is an issue close to my heart that I hope you will agree is important to our health and the health of our children. So, for my friends reading, please take a moment to click the link and support Senator Gillibrand’s healthy food amendment.

And, when you’re done signing the petition, please take a moment to check out HeatherJ’s blog SoFull EATS. She is a phenomenal writer and she will have your mouth watering before you can say yummy in my tummy.

To Mother Earth,

Heather's Homegrown Signature

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Happy Earth Day!

First off, I want to give a shout out to my peeps, Jonathan, Heather, Darren, and Michelle. Thank you for following Heather’s Homegrown. I soooo appreciate you!!

I’m writing today to wish you a happy Earth Day. I hope everyone takes a moment to appreciate the amazing planet upon which we reside. Plant something, rescue a chameleon from your cat’s mouth, hug a tree. It certainly is a beautiful day in Birmingham, Ala., and I’m happy to say that many beneficial and positive events have transpired since my last post.

On April 14th, I spent much of the day with Jake volunteering our time at a fundraiser for Girls, Inc. in Linn Park. It was a long, productive, and rewarding day starting with the second annual Cajun Cook-Off. I’m not ashamed to say our team’s vittles, Crawfish and Shrimp Po’ Boys, practically had a cult following by the end of the day. (Not bad for 3 Yankees, a Creole, and a trooper of a woman from Georgia named Kristi.)

I’m really proud of how the team did and I am compelled to share some footage.  You need to know, I wasn’t a cook (I wasn’t even allowed to touch the food according to the cook-off rules); I was a “consultant,” historian, and the Fran Drescher-esque laugh behind the video camera. I’m hoping the team doesn’t get mad at me for posting these videos and photos. One dude, who shall remain nameless, only wanted his hands in the video, hence the faceless-neighbor-from-Home-Improvement element. If you catch him, it’s because he leaned into the camera. However, I’m not thinking this will go viral so I feel our identities are safe.  😉

This first video is the cooking team in the initial phases of prototype creation, which we did on the Thursday evening before Saturday’s cook-off. The team had a ton to accomplish in a few short hours, including attempting to assemble a fish fryer after a long day at work and the grocery store. We decided to develop two recipes and three different versions, and then settle on a prototype for Saturday.

Our entry had to be something that could be cooked and assembled outside under a tent. No advance prep allowed! It was quite a daunting task to undertake and I am extremely proud of the team, which was headed up by my friend and colleague, Marianne. By the end of the evening, I felt as if I’d been baptized with these folks. Dipped in the river. Little did we know how much the hard work would pay off, which is always rewarding in retrospect.

Anyway, in this next video, Marianne and Kristi explain the two different breading methods and recipes used.

The fish fryer was a pain to assemble and the gas grill promptly ran out of propane, so we moved the frying indoors.

Heating Up The Oil

The Hands Preparing For Frying

Assembling The Prototype

Assembling The Prototype

Long story short, we ended up falling in love with the first version we tasted, and not just because we were famished by that time of night. I cannot disclose the secret recipe, but it was a combo of ideas and techniques, which was adapted to become The MudBuggers own unique recipe. In my humble opinion, The MudBuggers Crawfish & Shrimp Po’ Boy was phenomenal.

On the day of the event, it was pretty obvious it was. We had a continuous line all day long. People even asked us where we were “located” – as if we had a restaurant! LOL

How’d we do in the cook-off?!

No less than Second Place in the Judges Choice Cajun Open category.

Here’s  a partial representation of the Oakstone Publishing MudBuggers – those who remained to attend the award ceremony. The four chefs are pictured front and center; our new, (and very cool) CEO is in the back center; and various and sundry esteemed colleagues scattered about.  🙂

cajun cook-off 2nd place judges choice with Crawfish & Shrimp Po'Boy

Oakstone Publishing MudBuggers
2nd Place, Judges Choice: Cajun Open Category
Entry - Crawfish & Shrimp Po'Boys

I had planned to continue with the rest of the day and tell you about the garden, which is the reason for this blog in the first place, but I have to run and stop the pitching process on a batch of homebrew I’m making in the here and now. My next post, entitled ‘Stake and Ale’ will be forthcoming.

Again, thank you followers and happy Earth Day!

I leave you with this:

life

Life

To Mother Earth,

Heather's Homegrown Signature

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Stake and Ale

So me and Jake drove home from the Girls, Inc. 2nd Annual Cajun Cook-off, weary…

cajun cook-off 2nd place judges choice with Crawfish & Shrimp Po'Boy

Oakstone Publishing MudBuggers, 2nd Place, Judges Choice – Crawfish & Shrimp Po’ Boys

..but WINNING.

It just goes to show what good, hard work, perseverance, and a positive attitude will get you. Now, it’s on to the next event. Thankfully, we can stay home for this one because we’re tired, thirsty, and in need of refreshment.

Much to my delight and wonderment, at the end of my last post, I left you with this:

life

Life 🙂

I had convinced myself it was dead.

So, with Gurney’s replacement (thanks again Gurney’s), I’ll now have three grapevines growing. Surely, that’ll be enough to make wine? Oh, which reminds me… I have a naysayer. Hard to believe, I know.

Of all people, Mum read my blog and chuckled incredulously at the prospect of me growing grapes in a box on my balcony.

She laughed, “Grapes take three years to get established. And even then, you have to grow them in the ground!”

She elaborated, “Don’t you remember when Martin chopped down one of the grapevines when we lived in Connecticut? And, how upset we were?!”

Seven years my senior, Martin is my brother and only sibling. I remembered.

The pitch rising in her voice, she explained, “We couldn’t figure out how he did it?! He was using the push mower for goodness sake!”

Apparently, my parents deduced that he blatantly and egregiously committed herbicide so he could get out of mowing the lawn henceforth.

Yeah. That sounds about right.

Undaunted (and a firm believer in miracles), I sensed it was time to assemble and install the EarthBox staking systems in the boxes containing the grapes. In fact, I sensed “The Stick” would be teaming with life before long and growing, growing, growing. Might as well get her started right, growing up the staking system.

But, first? Thirst.

I am thrilled to announce that I twisted the cap off my first ever batch of home-brewed beer that fine day! It took a month from start to finish, and I had been dying to see if it was carbonated, and how it tasted.

pouring beer

Pouring: West Coast Pale Ale

Nice pour. Good head. Lovin’ the bubbles.

west coast pale ale

Admiring: West Coast Pale Ale
My first bottle of homebrew ever!!

OMG, it was Heaven in a glass. And not just because I was “starving of thirst,” as my youngest, Chuck, would say. And not just because I’d made it myself, although that did give me a huge feeling of accomplishment. It really tasted great! Please leave a comment if you are interested in knowing how to do this yourself, and I’ll blog about it. After this batch, I’m going to make a batch of Bewitched Red Ale. Just so you know, one batch produces 8 – 1.5 liter bottles.

So, I sipped my beer, read the instructions, assembled away like an eager beaver, and completed the first staking system — one down, one to go. I think I may have made a mistake in the top part of the assembly, but it worked nevertheless, so I rolled with it (plus, I couldn’t get the pieces apart again — Doh!)

assembled EarthBox staking system

EarthBox Staking System Assembled
(Somewhat Properly)

Good job, Heather’s Homegrown! Grow little grapes! Grow like there’s no tomorrow! And, now it’s on to staking system number two.

But, first? I think I deserve another beer for a job well done. Maybe two…  😛

To Mother Earth,

Heather's Homegrown Signature

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The Joy Of Growing

7 Day Growth

7 Day Growth

I’m immensely happy report to that my “reliable” Seedless Pink Reliance Grape is growing by the second. I took this picture last Friday, one week after planting it in an EarthBox container garden. It was right after a thunderstorm too, obviously, from all the water sitting atop the “mulch cover” as it is called by the folks at EarthBox. [Incidentally, that thunderstorm produced a lightening bolt that struck the very floor of the building I work in (the top), sending us all home early on a Friday! Thank you, Mother Earth!!]

This is what it looks like today. Amazing!

Proof Life Exists

Almost 2 Week Growth

(And by the looks of that retaining wall in the background, the building isn’t the only thing in need of a facelift. Whoa!)

There is even NEW growth on that one, as you can see.

buds on pink seedless grapevine

New Buds Even!

I couldn’t be happier with this plant. Now, the other plant has me a bit worried. “The Stick” (as it shall remain aptly named until I see proof that it deserves more prosperous nomenclature) is still a stick.  

the stick

“The Stick”

In fact, I’m worried enough that I emailed Gurney’s customer service today and referred them to my blog so they could check it out. I’m still waiting to hear back. That said, my optimism isn’t waning. I am hopeful Mother Earth will prevail.

To Mother Earth,

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