Saturday Night Lunacy

Today we spent the afternoon gardening and letting the chickens run around.  We harvested 5 lbs of delicious apricots from a neighbor’s tree that is growing over the fence.  We visited Costco and they had some awesome looking berries at a great price.  When we got home I set up to do some beer maintenance stuff on the Bier de Garde we brewed two weeks ago.  Since I was going to be standing around the kitchen for an hour, I figured why not do something with those berries.  Today was a Saturday of B’s; Bier de Garde, blackberry sorbet, and blueberry pie.

Bier de Garde is a style of beer brewed in the North-East corner of France.  Though France is famous for its wine, the north does not quite have the right climate for it; instead they brew beer.  The style itself is a strong pale ale, which leans heavily upon Belgian brewing traditions.

Belgian beers are characterized by fruity and spicy aromas and flavors; most commonly banana and clove.  These flavors come not from the addition of fruit or spice to the beer, but rather from the unique Belgian yeasts used in the brewing.  French brewers use this same yeast in their beers.

“Bier de Garde” translates to guarded beer, or what the British might call keeping beer or old ale.  This simply means the beer is aged before consumption.  A rest period is required for some of the yeast by-products to mellow out.  Bier de Garde is a strong (~8% ABV) pale ale, though some of the more thrilling versions I had in France were a bit dark.  It was traditionally brewed in winter and spring, when air temperature was cool enough to facilitate good fermentation.

Tonight I transferred our Bier de Garde to a secondary fermentor.  This helps some of the yeast and crap to settle out of the beer and really helps make the brew quite clean.  I also measured the alcohol content, and I’m please to report that it came in at 7.997% ABV, which is very close to the prescribed 8%.  I tried a bit, bearing in mind that some rest time was required.  It was damn good, I think it might turn out to be my favorite recipe yet.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Blackberry sorbet is something I’ve been meaning to try for some time.  We bought an ice cream maker about 18 months ago, and with some excitement, made 3 different ice creams in 2 days.  We came to the conclusion that making ice cream is a waste of time, money, and effort.

A pint of Ben and Jerry’s costs $3-4 and is utterly delicious.  Homemade ice cream costs $4 just for the cream and then you have to get the vanilla, berries, or whatever; though you do get a bit more than a pint.  Our ice cream also came out grainy and somewhat flat flavored.  Maybe we needed to persevere a bit more, but we kind of gave up.

By contrast, sorbet in the ice cream maker is brilliant.  The recipe is also incredibly simple.  Boil 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar and set aside to cool.  Puree whatever fruit you like, add the cool sugar water, and strain.  Shoot for 2 cups fruit puree to 1 cup sugar water (about 3 cups total).  Then add to the ice cream machine and go.  Fruit sorbet is delicious, refreshing, low fat, low calorie, easy to make, and awesome.  If you want to get fancy you can add a bit of lemon juice/zest or even a tiny bit of alcohol.

A pint of sorbet costs $3-4, but can be made for only the cost of the fruit and a small amount of sugar.  My blackberry sorbet cost $3.99, and I got 2 pints out of the deal.  It’s setting up in the freezer right now, but I’ll go out on a limb here to say I think it will be the best one yet.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Blueberry pie is, in my friend’s words, ridiculous.  It is so good, and when I make it I know summer has arrived.  I have been using a modified version of an online recipe for years.  For the filling use 32 oz of blueberries (by weight), zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and a pinch of cinnamon.  Toss together and let sit 5-10 minutes.

Use whatever pie crust you like, tonight I used Trader Joe’s frozen crust which I find has just the right amount of salt (no sugar) to be used for sweet or savory pies.  Also it comes in a 2 pack, so you can make 2 beet pies, or one blueberry.  Put one crust in the pie-tin, add the filling, place the second crust over the top, and crimp the two crusts together however you see fit.  Don’t be afraid to really mound up the berries.  They will cook down and shrink but the crust will accommodate.

I hope you had as much fun on your Saturday night as I did.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Saturday Night Lunacy”

  1. Matt,
    are you using some home chemistry lab to determine alcohol content or are you calculating via hydrometer or refractometer measurement?

      1. No worries. I think you can call it 8% though.
        I have about 15 gallons of beer in the fridge we should do a beer exchange.

  2. Hi Matt,
    Your pie looks delicious! I absolutely agree that homemade sorbets are the best, full of fruity flavor and easy to make. I’m not a fan of homemade ice cream either, they don’t get enough air and come out too dense. You should try homemade frozen yogurt, they are quite good…..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s