|It's Oktoberfest - let's eat and drink all our carbs! - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Brock grows his own hops, the stuff that gives beer that signature bitter, vegetal flavor. Or I should say, he planted some rhizomes a few years ago, and every year, they sprout from the dirt and threaten to take over everything around it, smothering it in a beer-scented perfume. Not a terrible way to go. Over the last few years, the hop vines have managed to do well enough on tall towers made of PVC that Brock would set up every season. They were lightweight, strong, easy to assemble/disassemble. But hop vines only get bigger, and they just got too heavy for the PVC setup. This year was Hop Trellis 2.0 - The Empire Strikes Back.
|Springtime hop trellis-installation (and sweet Indy), leading to a summer harvest - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Ad hoc hop-harvest tools and making fresh hop beer - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Nice cones, baby - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
|Hop-picking grub and Milo's wishful thinking - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
My Project Food was making pretzel buns for bratwurst. I love how restaurants are using pretzel bread for burger and hot dog buns, and I've seen people make it at home to impressive results, so I got it in my noggin to try it. More than anything else, I'm fascinated with the two-step process with the dough -- to get that caramel-brown color on the surface, you boil the dough in a baking soda bath for a few seconds before baking it. You can use lye, which probably yields richer results but I wasn't comfortable with messing with lye, so I stuck with the safer baking soda option. This recipe from AllRecipes was very easy, using ingredients you probably have in your pantry/fridge right now. The only thing I didn't do was the egg wash, I stuck with the baking soda boil and the results were just fine.
|Getting inspired by the pretzel buns at Brave Horse Tavern and making my own - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
Mixing a pretzel topping of sesame and poppy seeds and different salts gives the bread a lovely finish, plus you'll go through a lot of those dry spices you never think you'll use. Seeing the crust turn a lovely brown while cracking and splitting is what makes baking bread so gratifying. The advice a lot of recipes share, which I'll share again -- don't freak out when the dough gets all wrinkly from the baking soda bath. It's going to look like a hot mess. Like a 90 year old's saggy bottom. You'll want to throw the whole batch out and never make pretzels again. But have faith. The dough -- like Jesus -- shall rise. And the dough will be flavored with poppy seeds and tasty seasonings. Jesus isn't so flavorful. If you can get past the sacrilege of that analogy, I can attest to how buttery and savory pretzel bread is -- it smells wonderful and is addictive-delicious. I admit, I need to keep practicing and experimenting to get a lighter dough, as the pretzel bread is quite dense, so it can be a mouthful for sandwiches.
|Oktoberfest snack - cheese from Chimay and pretzel crisps - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Homemade pretzel chips - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Here's to pretzels and cheese! Hail Bavaria! - Photo by Wasabi Prime|