Making Homemade Wine

I like wine, and I love learning how to do new things.  Thing brings me to my latest project – winemaking.  

Making wine has been on my mind for a while but I became intimidated by the process after buying and reading a book that I though would accommodate beginning wine makers; it turned out the book was far more complex.  This stalled my initiative to get started.  I finally decided to research wine making on-line for better instructions, recipes, and a list of ingredients.

From my research I gained enough momentum to go to Fulkerson Winery, a nearby winemaker in the Finger Lakes, to buy some basic supplies. Fulkerson Winery is awesome – they offer Saturday winemaking classes during the season, carry a huge inventory for winemaking and home brewing, and carry grape juice  from just about every grape imaginable. They have even take the time to answer a few of my  questions – very much appreciated!

The pictures below show my juice which is currently fermenting.  Fermenting the first major step to making any wine.  The balloon at the top of my jug will eventually deflate when the fermenting slows.  When this happens there will be an update – so stay turned!

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Have you ever made your own homemade wine or beer?  I’d love to hear about your experiences.  Please share!  What’s one of the hardest DIY projects you’ve ever done?

For a follow-up on this post visit:  From this to that

Spice things up a bit

Nights are getting relatively cooler here in the North East so there is no better time to spice things up.  Follow along…

Start with fresh jalapeno peppers.

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Cut in half; scrape the seeds and ribs out of each pepper.

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Fill each pepper half with cream cheese, I used light.  You can also use goat cheese.

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Wrap each pepper half with a 1/2 strip of bacon.

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Place in a pan lined with aluminum foil.  Bake at 350 degrees until bacon turns crispy.

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Finally, devour them!

(Writers note – I didn’t waste any time serving these, as you might suspect by the lack of a well taken photo of the finished gems.)

Another Great Finger Lakes Cork & Fork

The 2011 Finger Lakes Cork & Fork wrapped up this year leaving patrons with an unprecedented taste of what Finger Lakes local food and wine truly is – an unbelievable gastronomic delight.  No stone was left unturned.

Those fortunate enough to have made it to this years showcase & sales event on Saturday got a front row taste of some of the areas best artisan specialty oils, sauces, balsamic vinegars, fruit juices, chocolates, jams and jellies, fruits and vegetables, salsas, cheeses, custom blended teas, herbs, maple syrup, honey. and fresh dairy butter.  And of course, wines galore.

Area caterers, restaurateurs and bakers also dished out bites of some of their delicious epicurean creativity and shared their recipes as well.

Cooking demonstrations were offered throughout the day, giving spectators a birds eye view of preparation techniques, and educational seminars were on-going and covered topics such as proper wine tasting, trends in chocolate, and eating & cooking raw foods.

The proceeds earned from this event help support the Food Bank of the Southern Tier and the House of Concern.

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Thank you Seneca County Chamber of Commerce for another successful, fun, and tasty Finger Lakes Cork & Fork!

2nd Annual Finger Lakes Cork & Fork Partners & Pairings

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Pictured above

1.) Beautiful autumn centerpieces brightened each guests table

2.) Cool Club of Hector Jazz Band entertained the crowd

3.) Guests mingled and tasted delicious Finger Lakes Foods & Wines

Stay tuned because Saturday is a whole new day of more adventures at the 2nd Annual Finger Lakes Cork & Fork!

Bacon Ham & Cheese Frittata

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We have chickens.  We have eggs.  We have lots of eggs.  Here is what you make with lots of eggs – a frittata.

I usually make quiche but today I wasn’t in to mood to make a crust.  You know what I’m talking about don’t you? So, I searched for a good frittata recipe at All-Recipes.com .  I found one that looked and sounded delicious, and got great reviews too. 

I modified the recipe a bit.  I used 10 eggs instead of the 6 the recipe called for.  I also added 1 cup of diced ham (since I had a lot left over from a prior meal,) and I cut the bacon down to 2 strips since I didn’t have the 5 strips that the recipe called for.

The frittata turned out great.  This makes a quick and easy breakfast.  It also makes a quick and tasty supper in a pinch – just serve with a salad and fresh bakery bread.

Go ahead, make a frittata, be creative, and support your local egg farmers!

Enjoy!

A Marx Foods Recipe Contest – A Recipe You Don’t Want to Miss

When Marx Foods recently contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in creating a recipe using dried chilies for a contest they’re hosting I jumped at the chance.  Seriously, their inquiry couldn’t have come at a better time.  I  love a good cooking challenge and I haven’t had one in what seems like forever.  Suddenly I felt as if I was a contestant on Master Chef, armed with a variety of somewhat unfamiliar ingredients, and being challenged to create an original and winning recipe with them. 

When I opened the package from Marx Foods I found six smaller packages of beautifully colored dried peppers to examine.  Each donning a unique appearance, scent and flavor.  I immediately realized that not all chilies are created equal.

My mind was in a whirl.  The closest thing I’ve ever used in the dried chili department are red pepper flakes.  I know it sounds pathetic, and it is… 

I weighed many choices before I finally settled on a recipe idea. This was no easy feat. Do you realize the possibilities for using dried chilies in recipes is endless? In creating this recipe I decided to stick to what I’m comfortable with – baking.  Not a sweet this time, but a savory and spicy treat. 

And my recipe???  Drum roll please…

                    Kickin Habanero Cheese Crackers

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Once I decided on my recipe I then had to decide on the pepper I was going to use. I had to choose between the Aji Amarillo, Mulato, Cascabel, Japones, Puya, and Habanero chilies that were sent to me. A great resource for deciding on which pepper to use can be found right at Marx Foods.  It’s called the Scoville Scale.  This scale gives you a heat index for each pepper along with a flavor profile. The Scoville Scale has been around since 1912. 

I have to admit I didn’t use the scale though – I just picked the pepper that I was the most attracted to at the time.  

                                           The Habanero 

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The habanero packs a little more heat than some of the other chilies so I proceeded with caution when applying it to my recipe.  I didn’t want the pepper to overpower the rest of the great flavors in the crackers.

The first thing I did to start preparing my dried pepper for my recipe was take a sharp knife and cut one of the chilies in half.  I then removed the seeds and ribs of the chili and chopped it into small flakes.  If you need help learning the techniques for preparing chilies you can find that information at Marx Foods Chili Pepper Recipes and Techniques.

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One small habanero produced about 1/2 teaspoon of pepper flakes.  I decided to use 1/4 of a teaspoon of the pepper flakes in the recipe so I put the left over pepper into a small airtight container for later use.

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Recipe for Kickin Habanero Cheese Crackers

1  1/2 c . grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (room temperature)

1/4 c. grated jalapeno pepper jack cheese (room temperature)

1/2 c. butter (room temperature)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. dried habanero chili flakes

dash of nutmeg

1/4 c. cornmeal

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large metal cookie sheets with parchment paper, or use 3 ungreased pizza stones.

In a large bowl, add cheese and butter; beat with electric mixer until the cheese and butter are well blended.  Stir in salt, onion powder, habanero flakes, nutmeg, cornmeal and flour; mix thoroughly by hand. 

On a lightly floured cutting board, divide the dough in half.  Roll each dough into equal rectangular shapes.  Using a crinkle cutter or sharp knife, slice dough into cracker shapes and place on cookie sheets or pizza stones.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes on metal cookie sheets, and 15 minutes on pizza stones. Keep close watch, bottoms of crackers should be light brown.  Transfer to cooling rack.  Once cool, store in airtight container at room temperature.  Makes about 48 crackers.

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Now, I have just one more suggestion for these little gems.  Put a small dollop of (whipped) cream cheese and some pepper jelly on top to really turn things up a notch.

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These crackers make great appetizers and pair well with your favorite bottle of wine, or serve them with a warm bowl of tomato soup. They have a slight kick, but it’s not the kind of kick that you should be intimidated by.  I’m not a fan of hot and super spicy foods and these are neither, but if you are a fan, don’t be afraid to increase the habanero to satisfy your heat index.

Please drop over to Marx Foods and vote for Kickin Habanero Cheese Crackers.  Voting will take place between September 12th and 16th.

In the future I will be creating more recipes using some of the peppers I received from Marx Foods – so please stay tuned…

Enjoy!