Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Couponing Win!

I’m writing an article for work about couponing. You’ve seen the show I’m sure, or if you haven’t you at least know about it -- EXTREME COUPONING. I had never actually seen it before… until last night. I had seen clips of it, when it was briefly being made fun of on something like The Soup, but I had never really seen it in its entirety. Well, I was in for a treat.

I knew what to expect though because two weeks ago I started to follow some coupon blogs. I started to LEARN. I came into this coupon thing as a total newbie. I seriously asked questions like: “Does Target take coupons?” “You can print coupons ONLINE?” “What is a circular?” “You can use more than one coupon at once?” But that’s all for a later discussion – and my work article.

What I’m here to tell you about is my first real coupon experience. Yesterday! And because this is a food blog, it’s food! But, here’s the catch, it’s not people food… it is kitty food.

I was a coupon superstar yesterday and was able to snag free cat treats at Target and now I’m going to tell you how you can do it too:

The usual price for the Whisker Lickin’s Cat Treats is about $2
There’s currently a SALE to $1 (until 10/22)
Target is offering a $1 off coupon on there website (which you can find & print HERE)
Final Cost: FREE! (Really, FREE! This still sort of blows my mind!)

Now, I’m not suggesting you waste an hour of your time or travel 20 miles to score a $2 bag of cat treats for free, but if you happen to be going to Target in the next few weeks, think about your fuzzy friends and maybe bring them home something special.

ALSO: There's a Living Social deal today for $20 worth of Whole Foods groceries for $10. (Click that link and buy it, seriously.) And my awesome 75% off J. Crew trench coat arrived yesterday. The world is just full of deals this week. How did I ever buy anything full price before?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Black Bean & Mango Salad

Hello loyal food blog readers, I have forsaken you and I am sorry! I have been so busy this past month (why the heck am I busy? I graduated!) that I’ve barely had time to post. But I’m back… and with a vengeance! I vow to be more consistent in my food blog posts and I’m kicking it off with a yummy recipe! (And lots of exclamation points!)

I went to Whole Foods yesterday with the intention of buying burgers to throw on the grill for dinner and stumbled upon a great (non-burger) recipe which I will now share with you. But let’s back up a moment…. That’s right foodie readers, I bought a grill. It happened over 4th of July weekend when I went to Home Depot with the intention of buying some potting soil. As you can see I’m an impulse shopper.

Anyway, Whole Foods has this awesome little flyer called “Meals for Under $15.” Since I just invested $1000 in a trip to LA for a writing conference I figured a less than $15 meal is just what I needed. Enter Black Bean & Mango Salad. Also, there is no actual “cooking” involved, it’s all chopping and throwing in a bowl. Score.

I think chopped up mango sort of looks like cubes of cheese....

This salad was so summery and delicious and I even got to use some fresh items out of my very own garden, including cilantro which has magically stayed alive! (Apparently, fourth time’s a charm when it comes to growing cilantro plants.) The salad was also a great accompaniment to the Au Poivre burgers, but I think it would also be tasty with some grilled chicken or fish.

Fresh cilantro!

BLACK BEAN & MANGO SALAD compliments of Whole Foods

Prep time: 20 minutes Total time: 20 minutes (aka, the whole thing is prep)


  • 1 (28 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large mango, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh lime, zested and juiced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix beans, mango, onion, peppers, cilantro and garlic in large bowl. Toss with lime zest and lime juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled. See how easy that was? Serves 4-6.

I also served mine with some taco chips. Yummmmm.

Happy summer, see you soon… I promise!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Urban Gardening Week 3 : Garden Expansion

I added a few plants to the little backyard garden! Things are really coming along nicely!

The full garden:

New additions:

  • Purple basil
  • Pineapple mint/sage
  • Catnip (this sent Mittsy into a fit of crazy aka she tried to maul the plant immediately. Totally a hit.)
  • Alpine strawberries
  • Cilantro (looking very sad, I hope it will resurrect itself.)
  • Arugula
  • Mixed greens


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Urban Gardening Week 2

So far so good. Mostly. I went out of town for a few days, and what blew through Massachusetts while I was gone? A tornado. Really, folks. And that tornado carried with it a storm that did some damage to my wee urban garden. But alas, all seems fine. Even if the board behind my plants fell over, causing the jumbo mint plant to fall on my small oregano plant, where it sat atop it -- crushing it -- for four days before I could come back into town to rescue it.

OREGANO STATUS: Surviving? Hanging on?


CHIVES STATUS: kitty loves them. She now has stinky breath.

MINT STATUS: growing great. I tried to feed some mint to kitty so she would smell better. She wasn't having it. Aren't cats supposed to like mint because it's a relative of cat nip?

TOMATOES STATUS: Looking plentiful.

Urban garden week 2 overall status: Great. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

(Mis) Adventures in Gardening

I'll be honest, I don't have a green thumb. I like to think I do though. I like to buy plants. Whenever I see them at a store, let's say, Whole Foods, I always stop and look at them and think, "Why yes, I could use an ivy plant in my house." Most of the time I make the right choice and keep walking. But sometimes I take a plant home.

And wouldn't you know, the very first plants I ever bought are still alive and kickin'. I was so excited to get them I even named them. Spike & Fuzz. I got them both at Trader Joe's when I was living in Tucson. These babies are more than 5 years old now. Granted they are succulents, aka hard to kill, but I still take pride in the fact that they have lasted that long. And have outlasted some of their fellow plant-mates. RIP bamboo1, bamboo2, bamboo3, indoor tree, cilantro1, cilantro2, oregano plant & pepper plant.

Spike & Fuzz are to the far left and far right.
That cilantro plant in the front died within a week.
Basil is now a beast.

Part of my failure as an indoor gardener is that my plants don't get enough sunlight. Enter: the OUTDOORS! For the first time in years I have a bit of a backyard, and a sunny one at that. So I decided that this summer was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at container gardening. I opted for relatively easy plants (I think? I hope?) that love sunlight. All of them are also edible so I can enjoy the rewards of my gardening in the kitchen.

If you couldn't tell from the above picture, the garden lineup includes:
  • Hungarian spicy wax peppers (which are supposed to be way spicy!)
  • Tiny Tim tomatoes (the perks of this plant is that it produces cute little tomatoes and doesn't need a stake/grate/cage/etc.)
  • Globe basil (smells delish!)
  • Spicy oregano (it's not spicy like the peppers are, spicy like flavorful)
  • Chives
  • Peppermint
  • Chocolate mint (seriously, omg! I can't wait for this to grow to be a beast so I can eat chocolate mint every day.)
  • French lavender (lavender is supposed to be a migraine cure, so we'll see how this does to aid my aching head.)
I'll be keeping you posted on how the garden grows. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pistachio-Chai Muffins

Mmmmm I love a good muffin. When I saw the list of “Healthy Muffins” from Cooking Lite I knew I was in heaven. A few years ago I used to buy a blueberry or corn muffin each morning from Wegmans until I learned that each muffin had approximately 60 grams of fat and 300,000 calories (yes, an exaggeration, but it was still a lot!). Unreal. FOR A MUFFIN! I was disgusted. If you’re getting all those fat and calories you might as well be shoveling in like ten donuts and a chocolate-filled croissant.

Anyway, I was so pleased to see these healthy muffins, and one’s that don’t seem to skimp on flavor. With my mom and sister coming into town, I decided to try out the first one that jumped out at me: Pistachio-Chai.

It gets the chai flavor from real tea bags which seemed cool to me because you can adjust the flavor based on which tea you select. All was going well in the cooking process… I even managed to work around the fact that my oven fills my kitchen with an awful gas smell so cooked my muffins with the broiler (turning it on and off at intervals to heat up the oven just enough without searing the tops of the muffins… somehow the broiler doesn’t make my kitchen stink of gas. Anyone have an answer for this?)

And then, the final reveal. I pulled the muffins out of the oven and let them cool and got ready to drizzle on the icing. And what? I FORGOT THE PISTACHIOS! In all my cleaning, stressing about the gas smell, etc. I forgot to add the crushed pistachios to the tops of the muffins before baking. *sigh* BUT they were still good. They were just Chai Muffins. Or Pistachio-Chai Muffins Sans Pistachios, if you want to think of it that way.

They were easy to make so I’ll probably whip up a new batch for myself later this week WITH pistachios. Mmmmm. Recipe is below. Enjoy!

Pistachio-Chai Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

• 7 9/10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 chai blend tea bags, opened
• 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
• 1/4 cup butter, melted
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• Cooking spray
• 1/3 cup shelled dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 1 tablespoon water


1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut open tea bags; add tea to flour mixture, stirring well. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
3. Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle nuts evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
4. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon water, stirring until smooth. Drizzle evenly over muffins.

Source: Cooking Lite. See the rest of the muffin recipes HERE.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Farm Market / Spring Market

Oh, I am so totally craving Farm Market Season already. I love me some fresh/local/organic produce but golly Whole Foods is just so darn expensive. And I like supporting local, and browsing the crazy selection of things offered at Farm Markets that even Whole Foods doesn't stock. Can it be Farm Market Season yet, pleeeeease?

After some intense internet searching I found a mini-solution, it looks like Newton has a spring market! Huzzah! Here's the deets found on the Newton Farmers Market website

American Legion Post 440,
295 California St., Parking Lot
May 24 - June 28
12:00PM - 5:00PM

Picture compliments of the Newton Farmer's Market website...
look how pretty!

I still have to wait three weeks, but it's better than waiting until mid-June which is went my local markets, Brookline and Alston, open. If you're looking for info about Boston area markets once they open, check out my post from last year featuring area markets by the day of the week: FARM MARKET TIME!

Anyone else know of area spring markets? Please share!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Panini Perfection

I bought myself a new kitchen gadget -- a panini press! It's more than just a panini maker though, I went for the Cuisinart Griddler so it serves a lot of functions, including the fact that I can buy waffle inserts to make my own Belgian waffles. YUM.

In the past week I’ve tried it out three times, all with amazing success. I’ve made two grilled sandwiches and one quesadilla. What I love about this grill/panini press is that it has removable/reversible plates so you have the option of a flat surface or a rippled one -- I’ve learned that I completely prefer flat.

MEAL 1 : Proscuitto, Fig & Fontina Panini


  • A few slices of proscuitto
  • Fig spread
  • Fontina cheese
  • Salad greens
  • Good bread (I splurged and used $6 a loaf rosemary/garlic bread from a local bakery – Nashoba Brook Bakery -- that I got at Whole Foods. It made an incredible difference.)


  • Spread fig preserve on one slice of bread.
  • Add cheese, greens, and proscuitto on top of spread and top with second slice of bread. 
  • Grill on medium until cheese is melty and bread is toasty. Cut in half. Enjoy!

Photographing sandwiches is hard....


MEAL 2 : Beef & Cheddar Quesadilla


  • A few slices of roast beef
  • Sharp cheddar cheese (I recommend using really good cheese, not that phony cheese stuff. The better the cheese the more delicious this quesadilla will be, and with only a few ingredients you really want the cheese to shine.)
  • 1 medium onion
  • Tortillas


  • Slice onion and sauté until translucent. While onion is cooking slice cheese into thin strips to help it melt.
  • Layer cooked onion, cheese, beef in a tortilla and fold over so it looks like a big taco.
  • Grill on medium until cheese melts and outside of tortilla is toasty. Enjoy!
  • (Note: Watch out that cheese doesn't melt too much and run all over the panini plate… mine did.)


MEAL 3 : Roasted Pepper & Veggie Panini

Before grilling... it looks like a big piece of bruschetta.

Ingredients: The best part about this panini is that you can use basically anything you have on hand. I used:

My ingredients all chopped up

  • Roasted red peppers
  • Artichoke hearts
  • 10 kalamata olives
  • Basil & sun dried tomato goat cheese
  • Salad greens
  • Good bread (I used the same bread as Meal 1.)


  • Chop up all veggies and cheese.
  • Layer all ingredients between two slices of bread.
  • Grill on medium until cheese is melty and bread is toasty. Cut in half & enjoy!

All three of these meals were incredibly delicious and relatively healthy, too! I’m so excited to make some more. Thank goodness I no longer have to do the awkward attempt to flip sandwich/quesadilla on pan and watch all my fillings fall out routine that I used to do when making grilled sandwiches. YAY!

If you have a favorite sandwich/panini recipe I would love to hear it! Share!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pasta With Mushrooms & Rosemary

Last week a fellow Simmons grad student lamented about the difficulties of meal prep/planning on her food blog, and I couldn’t agree more. Planning meals is hard work! Especially when you have boyfriends to factor into the equation and can’t do the single girl thing of “eat a bunch of cookies for dinner and call it a night.” I have a hard enough time deciding what I want to eat for dinner on Wednesday night ON Wednesday night, let alone trying to decide that on Monday night as I pour over food blogs and cookbooks and try to plan out my week. But I’ve been trying… with some success. With such a busy schedule this semester I’m still relying heavily on take-out, but I’m trying much more to do some easy meal-prep and to shop accordingly.

I’ve also re-instituted “date nights” which makes The Boyfriend laugh when I call it that since we live together and all it’s not like we’re really going out for a date. But I insist we are… it’s a reward for my careful meal planning and preparations all week long. And it’s our chance to get out of the house.

I’ve been on a mushroom kick lately, so when I saw that Fellow Grad Student posted that one of her recent meals was pasta with mushrooms I knew I had to try it. 

After all, it already had a stamp of approval. The original blogger she got the recipe from HERE served it with a side of sautéed kale, but heeding Fellow Grad Student’s warning that pasta plus kale was a lot to cook together, I saved the tasty-sounding kale recipe for a later date and just stuck to the mushrooms and pasta. Definitely a good idea.

I couldn’t find the cute little ear-shaped pastas at Trader Joe’s so I had to settle for bow ties, which were still cute. It made an enormous batch and we had leftovers that I ate for lunch for a few days after. I liked that this recipe was so easy... it was definitely a good mid-week meal for when I drag myself home from class or writing group or pull myself away from the computer after writing/working all day long. I think next time I try to the recipe I might fancy it up a bit with some wild mushrooms to give it an extra kick.

I served the pasta with steamed artichokes and butter for dipping. Delish!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Krispie Crazy

I am a kid at heart. I have never grown out of loving Rice Krispie Treats. If anything, my fondness for them has only grown over the years. They are so simple, yet so delicious. That’s why when there was a bake sale earlier this year (I know, I’m a little behind writing this post) at the MSPCA where I volunteer I knew exactly what I was going to make.

I thought it was possible that someone else might have the same brilliant idea so I wanted to add some extra flair to my treats. I began with a little search of the internet. When my sister was living in Philadelphia a few years back we were at a restaurant that boasted a “Rice Krispie Treat Platter” for dessert. (Had we not been so stuffed from dinner we would have ordered it. And to this day I still sort of regret that we didn’t. C’est la vie.) I hunted around online trying to find the types of unique Krispie Treats that might have graced that list. What I found was incredible. People do all sorts of unique things with Rice Krispie treats!

First thing’s first, you can find THE ORIGINAL RECIPE HERENow… on to the fun part. I found people who did just about EVERYTHING. Mixing in Oreo cookies (YUM!), M&Ms, layering with chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, etc.

I decided to buy a bag of chocolate and peanut butter chips which I melted over my super old school flat top plug in heater (the official name for which I don’t even know). I made the Rice Krispie treats according to the box directions (same as the directions above). When the chips were melted into a nice smooth creamy consistency I spread out the chocolate/peanut butter mixture on top of the treats. I then tossed on colorful sprinkles and let the whole thing sit for a while so the chocolate/peanut butter could cool and harden.

Let me tell you, it was AH-MAZING. I wish I could make treats every day.

Here’s a list of a few treats that sound interesting:
(I think I am going to have to pick something off of this list and whip them up for class and/or writing group this month!)

Have you ever made Rice Krispie Treats with unique mix-ins and ingredients? If so, share!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My March : Dining Out, Bangers & Stew

I have been such a bad, bad little food blogger. I deserve to be doomed to eat nothing but McDonalds French fries and burnt toast for the rest of my life… Ok, not really. I keep promising myself I’ll post more regularly, but this semester/past few months have just been insane. I’m trying to write a novel, edit the novel I wrote this fall, keep up with TWO classes, keep up with my 30 hour a week job AND cook more? Yowzers.

So here’s a little recap of what my past month has entailed:

>> I found a delicious restaurant in Newton that I LOVE called 51 Lincoln (http://www.51lincolnnewton.com). Highlights: house-made charcuteries (which were so very tasty!) and this awesome prix fixe option Mondays through Thursdays called the “Chef’s Whim.” Seriously, it’s his whim. For $35 he gives you an appetizer, an entrée (specify if you want veg, meat, or seafood) and a desert. Byron and I both ordered this. We got different appetizers (myself a salad, him a soup) and the same chicken entrée and different deserts (myself Italian donuts, him banana flan). INCREDIBLE. I can’t talk this place up enough. Definitely placing it on my “date night go-to” list.

>> I made bangers and mash the day before St. Patrick’s Day… look I was festive!

>> I pulled out my crockpot and made an incredibly delicious pork and tomatillo stew. I ALMOST erred in making it though (eeep misadventure!) I got everything into the crockpot and had it on cook when I realized that I forgot to add the hot peppers (the 6 seranos!) Whoops! So I stuck them into the oven and roasted them on their own and then used my handy little food processor to chop them up. They really made my kitchen smell like spicy goodness and I had to be super careful not to touch my fingers ANYWHERE NEAR MY EYE. Luckily, I escaped without tears.

tomatillos sort of look like mini apples

I was first introduced to tomatillos when I received them in my farm share last summer. They are awesome. I always wondered how green salsa was green but I guess I never wondered quite enough to look on the back of the bottle and read the ingredients to find out. Tomatillos are tasty.

Here they are all browned up from the broiler

The stew was so easy to make. I used a recipe from one of my cookbooks but you barely even need one. Here is my simplified HOW TO:

Step 1: Brown 2 lbs. of cubed stew pork then add to slow cooker
Step 2: Roast under broiler 2-3 lbs. of tomatillos, 1 onion, ½ clove of garlic, 5-7 serrano peppers (depending on preferred spiciness) until browned. Chop then add 2 cups of chicken stock and puree and add to slow cooker. You can add some tortillas to the pureeing if you want to thicken it up a bit.
Step 3: Cook for 6-8 hours on low heat.
Serve with shredded cheese and tortillas. Done!

Mmmmm cooking pork!

This stew had the perfect amount of spiciness and tang. YUM! I almost never cook with pork (I’m not sure why exactly, other than the fact that in the history of my cooking I just haven’t) and I was pleasantly surprised.

So that’s been my month of March. Hopefully April will bring me some extra time to cook, some extra time to post, some extra time to brew up a new batch of beer, and some extra time to dine out so I can share all of these wonderful things with you… my fabulous readers.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Patiently Awaiting My Beer

Our third and fourth batches of brew are now in bottles (an Imperial Stout & a Nut Brown Ale) and I'm anxiously awaiting the day they will be ready for drinkin'. I'm super excited for the Nut Brown Ale, my selection, which I hope turns out tasty because I really want to do some experimenting with it -- think Hazelnut Nut Brown Ale, Vanilla Nut Brown Ale, Cinnamon Twist Nut Brown Ale, Raspberry Nut Brown Ale, Chocolate Nut Brown Ale... oh the possibilities are endless!

Here's a little preview of our work from our taste test pre-bottling:

Meanwhile, I just read a great article in The Atlantic about shattering beer's glass ceiling. Yay, girlpower! << Read it!

I'm really excited to start planning brew batches 5 & 6. I'm thinking something spring-like and summery. Perhaps a honey blonde. Mmmmmm.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I found this recent article in the Atlantic interesting. As someone who enjoys food writing (reading it as well as making attempts at writing it) it's a fascinating look at what it means to be a foodie, enjoy the food experience, as well as write about it:


Monday, February 21, 2011

Eating Healthy and Eating Cheap(er)

I love food. So a lot of my money naturally goes to filling up my belly with delicious goodness. In a city like Boston it's so, SO easy to abandon the kitchen and order moderately priced take-out every single day... and when one is tired and over-worked and doesn't have energy for cooking, those menus look better and better. Indian, please. Oh, no, wait, Thai. Oh, or pizza! Thin crust! Wait... wait... there's an Anna's down the street... I want a burrito. *sigh*

But while there's tons of great, easy food that can come right to my door, I love dining out even more. Perhaps if I can do a little more homecookin' I can convince the boyfriend that we deserve more date nights out. 

So in a effort to be a little healthier, and save a little cash (not that Whole Foods is inexpensive by any means, cooking at home can be pricey too), I'm trying to reconnect with my kitchen. The problem I've had this past year is that when I cook it's a big production. It takes hours, I labor over recipes and chop veggies til my fingers hurt. Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the meals I have been making take time. And time is a precious thing right now...

I decided what I really need are some quickie recipes. But I don't want to sacrifice flavor either. Ramen noodles might have cut it in my younger years, but not anymore.

So I scoured my cookbooks for some relatively easy, moderately priced recipes and planned out some meals for the rest of my week. What's cookin' at casa de Jillian?

Pasta with Shitake Mushrooms & Panchetta in Cream Sauce
Puttanesca Bianca (kalamata olives, anchovy and caper sauce)
Penne with Spinach & Ricotta Cheese
Wild Mushroom and Rice Soup
Black & Blue Beef Quesadillas (with blue cheese)
Veggie stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Off to Whole Foods I go!

Do you have quick go-to recipes that are somewhat inexpensive and don't take hours to prepare? I would love to hear them! Share away! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Which We Brew

I waited years for this day. I dreamed about it while I lived in my little studio apartment. I thought and I planned and I imagined what it would be like. And now that I have a big kitchen, the day finally arrived -- HOMEBREW DAY!

Instead of going into elaborate detail about the brewing process (*snore*) I’ll give you a little pictoral showcase of our handiwork.

Our first brew was called Liquid Desert. We got the recipe from the Homebrew Emporium in Cambridge, where we also picked up all the ingredients and supplies. (You can find the recipe through the Homebrew Emporium’s website here: https://www.beerbrew.com/downloads/recipes/LiquidDessert.pdf) No brewing kit for us on our first time! We picked out the grains, malts, hops, and followed the directions (mostly). We erred a bit in our first batch, but errors are to be expected! We learned from it and have moved on. But even with errors, Batch 1 turned out delicious.

Since that fateful day, we’ve brewed 3 more batches of beer. First we did a second attempt at Liquid Desert (which we recently bottled), then an Imperial Stout (currently in the first fermenter), and then a Nut Brown Ale (in its first fermenter). I’m very excited about the Nut Brown Ale... I want to play around with the recipe in the future, adding some things like Hazelnut, Vanilla, Cocoa, Raspberry, and the like. Mmmmmm Hazelnut Vanilla Nut Brown.

The one thing I've learned so far about brewing is that you have to be patient, there is a LOT of waiting! But, hey, I've been waiting years to start brewing so what's a few more weeks? :)

Without further ado, I bring you BEER:

Mashing up the Cocoa Beans

All crushed up.

We didn't have a big enough pot to handle all the ingredients (we've
since purchased one) so we had to brew two pots at once, thus had to
divide all ingredients in half. 

Steeping the grains.

Grains steeping.

Boiling hops in with the grains.

Of course, kitty wants to sit on the kitchen mat and watch what we're doing.

After the hour boil of the hops cooling the pot down in the sink.

More lessons learned: buy a strainer so you don't have to reuse
the grain sack to try to strain as you pour into the fermenter.

Straining/pouring into the first fermenter.

After two weeks of sitting in the closet it's time to transfer over to the
secondary fermenter!
Utoh, here's where things went wrong. We SHOULD HAVE added this
malt to the original boil. We wonder if we can just toss it now. Hmmm...

It worked. (Sort of.) It was very clumpy. But it didn't ruin our beer
like we thought it might.

Taste test!

Wow, sludge.

Lots more sludge.

Secondary fermenter. A few more weeks
in the closet.

Siphoning so we can bottle.

Getting ready to bottle.

Putting on the caps.

FINAL STEP: Wait (again) then drink & enjoy! Cheers!

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