• Category Archives pioneer arts
  • The old-timey things we do, like brewing, cooking in the wood-fired oven, or Anne’s spinning/knitting projects.

  • Captain Beefheart

    We were at the Allentown Farmer’s Market the other day, and Anne bought half of a beef heart.

    There was a heart for sale at the butcher shop a few weeks ago, and she was so intrigued she asked the butcher what you’d do with one (he recommended pickling it). She was going to buy it right then and there, but the look of horror on my face stopped her in her tracks. Fast forward a few weeks, and this time I guess I wasn’t paying close attention…

    beef heart
    Cleaning the heart before cooking.

    When we got home she washed the heart off and slow-cooked it for a few hours, letting it simmer with a bunch of spices — the house smelled awesome — and when it cooled she cut the heart into chunks, put it in a pickling brine, and put it in the fridge.

    Pickled Beef Heart
    Pickled Beef Heart

    It was ready to eat after a day or two, but we needed to work up our courage — we ended up trying it when we got home after an evening out. It was shockingly good, with a very strong steak taste behind the pickling, and a similarly steaklike texture (but no marbling). I think the both of us were surprised, and it’s now one of my favorite cuts of meat. Who knew?

    The ancient ones, that’s who…

    Sliced Pickled Beef Heart
    Sliced Pickled Beef Heart

  • Another Rest Day, Another Brew Day

    Home-brew beer boils on outdoor burner.
    The second boil for our Berliner Weisse, on our new outdoor burner.

    Yesterday was another long ride, so today was another rest day, and today we did our second boil for the new batch of Berliner Weisse we’re brewing.

    (Our method: We do the mash as usual, e.g. strike and sparge, and after a very short boil we cool the wort and pitchLactobacillusfor a preliminary fermentation.Lactobacilluseats sugar and produces lactic acid; it’s the bug that turns milk into yogurt, and it gives a clean tart taste to sour beers. After a few days its job is done, and we perform a second, 60-minute boil, the “real boil” which in addition to killing the Lacto is where we toss in the hops. After that comes the regular yeast-based fermentation to convert the remaining sugar to alcohol.)

    We were a little surprised and disconcerted when we opened the pot with the wort: it had a nasty off-odor, very much like cooked corn, and it didn’t look as clean as the last batch. Fortunately, I’d read that this particular odor — an indicator of dimethyl sulfide — is common in certain types of beers if they’d been cooked but not thoroughly boiled, and is easily driven off with a longer boil. Like the one were about to do…

    We’d done the strike-and-sparge on Monday, along with making a batch of a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale clone, using an outdoor propane burner borrowed from Keystone Homebrew. That worked out so well that we bought our own on Tuesday when we returned the loaner, and today was our new toy’s maiden voyage. Everything worked out great, the off-odor was driven off pretty quickly, and after cooling the wort we pitched the yeast. Both beers are now in carboys in the kitchen.

    Homebrew beer ferments in jugs.
    Our latest brews fermenting away in the kitchen.