Friday, February 26, 2010

It's Vegtopia's One Year Blogiversary!

Today Vegtopia is one year old, and while I certainly wouldn't recommend reading our first post (sorry, it really is that bad) I think it's shaping up to be a nice little blog. While Jeff and I have been buried in work lately, and most of the food we've been making is consumed too quickly to photograph and post online, I have been thinking about future projects that I hope to post. So here's a quick list of what to expect in the future.
  • Pineapple wine
  • Recipes for gravy and hot sauce
  • How to guides to things like making chili
  • A third try at worm composting
  • Growing a veggie garden at my parent's house when the weather is nice again
  • All sorts of jams and jellies
  • Etc....
Thanks to everyone who's been reading our blog!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wine Making Update

2010 Cherry Wine Jeff and I just bottled 28 bottles of Chiswick Winery Cherry Wine. It started out a few months ago with two giant 96-oz cans of cherries (which completely stripped my can opener into uselessness), 12-lbs of sugar and some yeast. It is already a very full-bodied wine and I can't wait to try it out as it matures. Hopefully by Valentine's Day next year, it will be a perfect wine to drink to celebrate the holiday.

Jeff and I also engaged in a taste test of our Sauvignon Blanc as it turned four months old on the 11th. We bought a bottle of 2009 120 Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, which was approximately 12$, thinking it might provide a good comparison. I administered the blind taste test to Jeff to ensure that he remained as unbiased as possible. The 120 wine started with a fruity bouquet, and had a luscious, robust taste that lived up to the description on the back of the bottle. Unknowingly, we purchased what is, so far, the best Sav Blanc that either of us has ever tasted, setting the bar really high for our young, home brewed concoction. The Chiswick Winery Sauvignon Blanc had a bouquet that you could tell will mature into something resembling that of the 120 wine, however it did include a couple of off-putting scents, which will hopefully go away in time. The flavor was much more subtle than it was at 2 weeks old, but still has a lot of maturing to do. Jeff was easily able to tell the two wines apart.

At four months old I'd say our Sauvignon Blanc is probably right about where it should be, but probably isn't quite ready to be cracked open for a good drink. For cooking it is superb, and would be perfectly suitable for a wine drinker who doesn't have a terribly picky palate.

2009 Cider Wine That leaves our Cider Wine, which we haven't tasted since bottling it in late November. I think we'll safely leave this, and the Cherry Wine, to age for at least 6 months before drinking. I'm looking forward to how they all turn out, and also looking forward to drinking them, as it's getting increasingly difficult to store so many bottles of wine in our apartment kitchen!

Next up, I think, will be a pineapple wine. We hope to follow that up in the summer with a raspberry wine, and we're also considering buying a 1 gallon carboy to make a few unique wines to test out that we won't necessarily want 30 bottles of. It's been getting much easier making and bottling the wines, now that Jeff and I have made three batches. Our racking skills have greatly improved, and it only takes us one try to get the siphon hose started. The last two wines have had no sediment introduced into the final product. And our families have been doing a wonderful job saving bottles for us, greatly reducing the cost of our hobby. (Did you know that bottles can be the most expensive component per bottle, more expensive even than the ingredients?)

Related Posts:
Vegan Wine Kits
Sauvignon Blanc

Monday, February 1, 2010

Homemade Vegetable Bouillon

Why didn't I think of this before?

I use vegetable stock to make LOTS of dishes--mashed potatoes, curries, sauces and gravies, and obviously soups, but I never thought about making my own stock. Too much time, too much work. Not interested.

But Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks posted a recipe (most annoyingly in ounces and grams instead of cups like a normal American) for a vegetable paste preserved with salt that you simply add to water to make vegetable stock. Awesome!

For this recipe, you will need about 2 lbs of vegetables. My big issue with most vegetable stocks is that they taste heavily of carrots, which just seems cheap to me. I'm going for a richer flavor, with leeks, shallots, celeriac, and dried mushrooms for depth. I used a combination of morels, chanterelles, porcini, and black trumpets.

I have a 7 cup food processor and this recipe was crawling up its walls, so if yours is smaller, half the recipe. Store the finished bouillon in jars in the freezer--it won't harden because of all the salt!

Vegetable Bouillon
makes about 2 pints

2 large carrots, washed and chopped
2 leeks, washed and sliced
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
1 celeriac bulb, peeled, rinsed, and chopped
2 stalks celery with leaves, washed and chopped
1/3 cup dried mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup fresh oregano, stems removed
1/4 cup fresh thyme, stems removed
1 cup, plus 2 Tbl salt

1. Add the first four ingredients to your food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse about 20 times. Add the last ingredients and pulse until your mixture is a smooth paste, patting down the top if it isn't getting to the blades. Blend until the mixture is fully combined, at most 30 seconds.

2. Scoop into jars and keep in the freezer. Add one Tbl per 1 cup of water to make stock, adding more water or bouillon to taste.