Friday, November 18, 2011

It Takes A Village To Build A Christmas Village

With Christmas soon approaching, it is time to pull out my tedious tasks and make them look like fun when company comes.  The Tom Sawyer effect.   I was going through my Christmas gift supply shelf and found this little treasure.  

It was purchased many years ago at some clearance store.  I am sure it was under $5.00.  I never really looked at the contents as it sat on my shelf collecting dust.  I actually thought it was just one house to a set of seven.  After reading the box for the first time, I realized it was the whole village....SCORE.....  Sisterkins, Bessy Boo happened to stop by and I knew I could sucker her into helping me let her help me put this wonderful little village together.  A fun filled afternoon.  I enticed her with some chocolate port, and we started.  I will just fill the rest of the afternoon in with pictures.

Have a Great Day!

Partying With The Best At

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Hacked Sodastream

Picture sparkling water....."Perrier anyone?"...  as the guests arrive at your awesome dinner party. Could I interest you in a Scotch and soda, or perhaps a Tom Collins?   Until you have to refill Sodastreams' crazy monopolized CO2 bottles. $19.00 for a refill or $39.00 CA  for a new bottle. Well we came up with our own solution. Their Genesis machine is made of plastic cheapness...but it looks nice enough to sit on the beverage counter.

I was afraid it would be knocked over as it seemed to be quite top heavy. Our solution (expensive but a rebel against a company monopoly). We looked on-line and found CO2 Doctor. Make sure you buy pressure rated parts. Compressed gasses can be very dangerous. The parts are very pricey but the service is awesome. We bought a 20 pound CO2 tank from a local supplier.

Because hubby and son are avid paintballers, we had an abundance of 20 ounce CO2 tanks for paintball guns. We ran a hose from our Sodastream machine, through the countertop, to a paintball canister.

We cut a corner out of the shelf. The CO2 container has to be upright and not on its side. This was an easy fix. A new hole was drilled for the shelf support too.

We had to modify our cupboard and drill 2 holes into our concrete countertop.

OOOHHH I smell another blog idea coming. Anyways, as this wasn't one of our best countertops that we created, we felt it was OK to do a little digging. Yikes. The first hole is for the hose. This hole goes right through the countertop to the cupboard below. The second hole was for a bolt. It is only drilled halfway through the countertop. The bolt was epoxied in, and a hole drilled through the base of the sodastram drip tray.

A dremel tool was used to grind away the ribs to make room for the nut.

I hardly lost any cupboard space.

Now it sits firmly on the counter top with little fear of cheap plastic shards all over the floor.

I can remove it with a socket if I have to (what....CLEAN????) 

I love our new setup. Also some of our family members have purchased the Sodastream, so everyone wins (except Sodastream.)
Have a Great Day

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Making Homemade Raspberry Wine

Good day fellow bloggers.  For the last few months we have been in wine mode.

 This is the recipe we follow when making raspberry wine
4 lbs. raspberries
2 1/2 lbs finely granulated sugar
1/2 tsp citric acid
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
4 litres water
1 tsp nutrient
1 crushed Campden tablet
wine yeast (we use 1 package of wine yeast per 20 liters of water)
We times this recipe by five to make a 23 litres batch. (standard  carboy size)
This is how we do it.....

We are blessed with many raspberry bushes.
  Many jars of jam have been made here.  A few years ago we tried our hands at making wine.  It was pretty good.  Last year we made over five gallons and this year we are aiming for 12.5 gallons.  Some will become chocolate raspberry port but the rest will be raspberry wine.  We started picking buckets and buckets

and then even more buckets.

We froze raspberries for about two weeks.  We would pick about 2 to 3 buckets per day and then would pop them into freezer bags.

  When we had enough for a five gallon batch, we got busy.
 In a large bucket we measured out 20 lbs of raspberries.
 After they thawed,  we mashed them all up.
We added the campden.  This mixture is left overnight before anything else is added.

The next day, the rest of the nutrients are added.....not the campden.

Now  the sugar.  12.5 lbs of sugar

We fill our biggest pot with about 8 litres of water and add the sugar to it.  The water-sugar mixture is heated until the sugar is completely dissolved.

We dump this over the raspberries and add 12 more litres of tap water.
The yeast is added when the mix is at room temperature.  We steep this mixture for approximately 3 days.  It is covered with the lid that comes with the primary fermentor.  You do not want anything contaminating your batch or you will end up with vinegar.
SORRY NO PHOTOS..... After the steeping we take out as much pulp with a large holed strainer.  After we get most of the pulp out we strain it through some stainless steel fine mesh that we actually found in a scrap yard.  (should have bought more)  It is finer than cheese cloth.  This is left overnight to drain as much juice as we can get.  All of the juice is put back into the large barrel a.k.a. primary fermentation.   This is left for a few weeks to get the yeast working.  When it slows down we transfer the wine into a plastic carboy a.k.a..... secondary fermentation.  This step of transferring the wine is called racking.
It is racked again 6 weeks later and left to clear.  (Actually, this wine took longer to ferment and clear.   We are at week nine.)  We racked the wine again and have degassed it.  It will be left to clear.

  The chocolate raspberry port will need to be sweetened and we may fortify it with some vodka.  Most people use brandy for fortifying, but we don't want to contaminate any of the flavour of the chocolate and raspberry. 
This is our chocolate raspberry port.

We are going to bottle the raspberry wine.  Sterilize thirty-one   750 ml bottles and soak thirty-one  corks.  The corks soak in a water/ metabisulphate mixture.  One tablet per 4 litres of water.

Have to taste before you bottle.  Its going to be a good batch!
We rack the wine into a bucket.

The bucket is hauled upstairs to our counter. 

We use our siphoning hose to fill our bottles. 

While I am filling the bottles, Hubby is corking.  

This is the finished product.  The wine bottles are left upright for two days and then flipped on there sides for storage.  This keeps the corks from shrinking.  We use dark wine bottles for bottling.  The color of red wine will degrade if exposed to light.

Luckily we have wine from last year as this wine needs to age.

I Party With
Somewhat Simple
A Crafty Soireemonogram
The 36th Avenue