Category Archives: Test Items

Soda Replacement Project: DIY Sarsparilla Root Extract – First Taste.

After two weeks the sarsparilla root extract tastes about how the vanilla extract would taste. The flavor of the sarsparilla is there and strong, but the flavor of the vodka is still quite present. I am going to let this go another four weeks and report on it again. So check back on March 3. However, overall the flavor is earthy and unique. I think this is really going to turn out well and I will likely start a larger batch in the mean time so that it is ready close to this test batch.

Happy extracting!

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Filed under Beverages, Dairy Free, DIY, Test Items, Vegan, Vegetarian

Soda Replacement Project: DIY Sarsparilla Root Extract.

The hubs is still drinking soda with his cocktails, zero calorie soda no less, which is just terrible for you for a myriad of reasons. I have been trying to wean him off the stuff, but this is going to continue to prove difficult until I find a replacement that likes equally as much. I made this Cream “Soda” replacer and he really liked it, so much so that he started thinking of other replacements. Last week, while at the home brew store, he got some Sarsparilla Root, specifically Hemidesmus indicus, which is Indian Sarsparilla, which according to Wiki is from Southern Asia.

I treated it just like the vanilla extract I had made last year. I added a heaping tablespoon to a 1/2 pint jar full of vodka, put a lid on it and gave it shake. It is now sitting in my pantry waiting to be tested. I will do my first test in two weeks. This was started on January 20th, so check back on February 3rd to see how it is tasting.

Ultimately, I will use this the same way I did the vanilla to make the cream soda replacement and we will see what the hubs thinks!

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Filed under Beverages, Dairy Free, DIY, Test Items, Vegan, Vegetarian

2012 Red Wine Vinegar Project.

Ok, we are diving into a new one. I have already told you about my store bought and home brewed malt vinegar projects, now we are on to wine! A couple of notes, 1. don’t make fun of my cheap wine, this is going to be vinegar after all, 2. don’t make fun of my giant crock, I could only get one and I wanted it to be versatile.

Alright, onto the fun. I used one giant bottle of wine and two tablespoons of mother for this recipe. I covered the crock with cheesecloth to keep the fruit flies out and put it in my fermentation closet…which is really just a space in our house that is dark, stays warm and has an inordinate amount of “science projects”, err vinegars fermenting in it. It is also the bottle closet. The hubs doesn’t like this much, but I figured, beer and vinegar go great together, they are all fermenting right? I also thought that since his brewing supplies are in there, I could catch a larger batch of yeast and bacteria for my vinegar!

Check back for an update!

Happy fermenting!


Filed under DIY, Fermentation and Yeast, Test Items

Soda Replacement Project: Homemade Cream “Soda” Replacer.

Let me preface, that this is not a soda. It is not carbonated, though it would be good carbonated and that could be achieved any number of ways. This is simply a concoction that I made that tastes like cream soda. I am working on weaning the hubs off soda when he is having cocktails. It is the only time he drinks the stuff, but it is still evil and nasty and should not be in our house. So I am on a quest to find a replacement. This recipe was a thought I had but I had no idea if we would drink it. Turns out he did and it got his brain going about other things we could make like this! Stay tuned for more to come.

This was as simple as adding 1 1/2 cups of water to a pint jar with 2-3 drops of vanilla (I use homemade, simple recipe – 1 cup vodka with 4 vanilla beans that have been cut and scraped, allow to sit for months), and 1 tablespoon of agave nectar. Put a lid on the mixture and shake to combine. Serve in place of soda. Should you want this carbonated you could add a little to flavor seltzer water. You could also make a big batch of this and keg it…



Filed under Beverages, Dairy Free, DIY, Test Items, Vegan, Vegetarian

2012 Malt Vinegar Project – Home Brew.

As promised I am continuing my experimentation with making vinegar and open/wild fermentation. I started my second batch of malt vinegar on January 21, this time using home brewed stout. I used a 22 ounce bottle of stout and included the yeasty sediment at the bottom of the bottle and one tablespoon of cider vinegar mother that we made at the end of last year by fermenting unpasturized cider into vinegar. I will keep you all updated as this progresses.

Here is the promised update on the first batch, made with Guinness. You can read more about this here.

The beer has not really done much at this time. You can see a scum on the surface that looks different from the mother of the cider vinegar, but still has that similar pearly look that I think it should between the scum. Also, my thought is that the scum is coming from one of two things, left over carbonation from the beer creating foam or that it is simply supposed to look that way.

One last note, I am purposefully not being scientific when I talk about my vinegar. I prefer to know less so as to be more in tune with the wild side of the fermemntation. I know this can sound stupid or crazy to some, but back before there were books, this all happened by chance, and that is what intrigues me about wild fermentation.

There is one book I use, though, Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. I love this book. It is insightful, educational and it possesses a similar passion for the wild that I have myself. A favorite excerpt from the introduction states, “Fermentation is everywhere, always. It is an everyday miracle, the path of least resistance. Microscopic bacteria and fungi (encompassing yeasts and molds) are in every breath we take and every bite we eat. Try-as many do-to eradicate them with antibacterial soaps, antifungal creams, and antibiotic drugs, there is no escaping them. They are ubiquitous agents of transformation, feasting upon decaying matter, constantly shifting dynamic life forces from one miraculous and horrible creation to the next.”

Happy fermenting!

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Filed under Beer, DIY, Fermentation and Yeast, Test Items

2012 Malt Vinegar Project – Store Bought.

In 2011 the hubs and I started down a path of interest in wild yeast and open fermentation. We have started several activities that are directly interconnected to these things. We have been brewing our own beer, which you can read about here, if you have not already. I also started some cider vinegar in October with unpasteurized cider from the farm. I also tried starting sourdough, three times, from wild yeast. All three ultimately failed, but I believe this was due to the cold temperatures in my house during the cold fall that we had. In November I started some cranberry vinegar with leftover cranberries from this amazing stuffing.

At the end of 2011, even more smitten with wild yeast and open fermentation I added some goals to my bucket list for 2012. One of these goals was to continue my vinegar project, but to make sure I blog about it so that everyone can get as motivated about yeast and bacteria as I am! Weird, right!

In any case, we wasted no time. On January 1 we started our first malt vinegar. This is a trial run and we hope to someday use our own beer to make this product. For this batch we used Guinness. We used the “mother” from the cider vinegar that has been fermenting since October. In one of the jars, the vinegar is almost completely evaporated at this point and the mother is quite large and in the other jar, there is still a significant amount of vinegar and another large mother. Our goal is to use this throughout the next several months to start more batches of vinegar, that we are actually going to use. This first batch really just turned into a mother growing endeavor, which is a great money saver as I have seen the stuff for quite a bit on the internet. Now we can use it to grow any vinegar we want. You can read about vinegar mother, here.

Malt Vinegar.


16 ounces of Guinness draught

1 large spoonful of cider vinegar “mother”


Open beer and leave it to sit on the counter for 24 hours. This takes the carbonation out of it. The next day pour it into your container of choice, make sure it has a wide mouth and is not metal. I use a glass jar. Add the “mother” and affix cheese cloth over the top of the container to keep the fruit flies out of it (This is a true reality of making vinegar, the fruit flies love it. I have found that 2 tablespoons of store bought cider vinegar with 3 drops of dish soap in it will catch all of the flies you can find. Just set it near the fermenting vinegar). Do not seal this, it needs oxygen and access to wild yeast and bacteria that will be in the air.

Place the container in a warm, dark place, like the pantry and allow it to sit for 6-8 weeks.

Stay tuned. I will be back with updates as this ages.


Filed under Beer, DIY, Fermentation and Yeast, Test Items

Pie Irons & a Camping Creation.

So I eased you into our little camping trip with a quick list of foods consumed. One of those items was some chicken thighs in Mojo Sauce. We made this our first night camping, but did not eat all of the chicken. So I put it in the cooler for consumption the next day. I also reserved some of the rice we had with the chicken just to see what I could come up with. I was thinking quesadillas, but that is not what we ended up with!

I was sitting, looking at our afternoon camp fire, thinking. It came to me. Why make quesadillas on the camp stove when I could make them into hobo pies and cook them on the fire!?! This is what I got.


2 large flour tortillas

4 cooked chicken thighs

1 handful of grated cheese

1/2 C cooked jasmine rice


cheese for sealing

Butter tortilla on the back side where it is going to touch the pie iron.

Prepare the filling ingredients...chop the chicken. Oh and mix the cheese, chicken and rice together.

Fill tortilla with one half of the filling mixture and use cheese to seal the tortilla as you fold it.

Butter the outside and close pie iron.

Have fun with it!

Put the pie in the fire. Check every few minutes depending on how hot your coals are. You can just open the iron and check the char. Flip when you are satisfied.

Cut off the burned edges...though they actually did not taste bad...if you like that kind of thing!

Enjoy with a side of ranch dressing!


And, Enjoy!

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Filed under Cheese, Chicken, Grains/Rice, Grilling, Snacks, Test Items