Saturday, January 12, 2008

When good beer goes bad...

...Make beer bread!

Well, it was my fault that a bottle of Wychwood's finest, a pint of Hobgoblin, got left too long in the freezer. After being turned into a beer-cicle, it just is no good for drinking, so my Yankee heritage took over and I made a loaf of beer bread (I could not in good conscience pour the beer down the drain-it is not cheap stuff!). It was as yummy as I remember it (especially with a big spoonful of apple butter on a warm slice), so here is the recipe:

Old-Fashioned Beer Bread

3 Cups flour (sifted!!!!!)
3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1/4 Cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) beer
1/4 Cup melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix dry ingredients and beer. Sifting flour will make this bread lighter and less dense… so DO IT (who wants to eat a beer brick?)
3. Pour into a greased loaf pan.
4. Pour melted butter over mixture.
5. Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Excuses, excuses...

I have been getting caught up with the needs of my users after our glorious winter break, and as always, my own endeavors suffer... It's an excuse for not writing, and it may not be the best one, but it is mine, and I am sticking to it!

Part of the reason I love the house in Pilot is all the wildlife, and I am planning to make sure that all the critters are happy and healthy. I am especially fond of the wild birds, but I am not the most reliable filler of bird feeders, I do not like mess and storing of the mouse-attracting seed, and I am not fond of the look of most bird feeders. I would rather put food all around the property that is self-contained. I looked at the bird seed cakes, cones, bells and other hanging items and found they were fairly expensive. I like a lot of value for my money, so I looked on the internet and found many great recipes for bird cakes, but they all seemed to require me to buy suet and render it (ah, really, that is gross), or they needed me to be eating a lot of fatty meats that had grease by-products.

I found two interesting recipes that I am going to put into action for winter feeding around the property:

Vegetarian Bird Suet Recipe

1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup shortening
2 cups quick cook oats
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar

1. Melt the peanut butter and shortening over low heat
2. Add remaining ingredients
3. Spoon into molds (you can use your washed left-over yogurt cups, margarine tubs, sour cream containers, etc. for this purpose)
4. Let the molds cool at room temperature and un-mold when the mixture is completely cooled and hardened.

Bird Seed Cakes

150 grams of shortening
200 grams of bird seed mixture

1. Melt the shortening on low heat. Add the bird seed mixture to the liquid shortening and stir thoroughly (You can also add dried fruits, nuts and seeds if you like!).
2. Fill each of the molds and insert a hook in the center of each cup while the mixture is still wet (OR use recycled netting to hold the food once it is un-molded).
3. Store the cups either outside (if the temperatures are cold enough) or in the refrigerator until your mixture becomes solid. Remove the recipe from the mold.
5. Tie a string to the hook and hang on a branch.

I suggest hanging these with natural string, so you will not have to worry about having to go back clean up later. Some people use wire clothes hangers they poke through the cakes as well, others use the mesh bags that onions or other produce comes in so that the cake lasts longer and the birds have the mesh to hang onto while they feast (just remember to not leave those mesh bags and wires hanging around when the food is gone).