Tag Archives: Do it yourself

The Sweet Life

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“It’s great that you’re doing more than one hobby a week–it means it’s a lifestyle,” – Kimberly Manley 

When I was growing up, my mom told me I was allergic to chocolate–okay, not necessarily chocolate–but caffeine. I spent birthday parties on the sidelines with the gold Diet Coke can, as opposed to the red regular Coke can. I sat on the sidelines, desperately, as children dove into ice cream cakes that had chocolate crumbles, and I indulged in Swedish Fish–instead of Hershey bars. Even still, I watched Willy Wonka religiously, dreaming that I might, one day, swim, like Augustus in a pool of delicious melted chocolate.

By the time I was 10, I had gone through my fair share of red bumpy breakouts from cheating on my caffeine allergy. I was concerned that I’d never be able to indulge in the sweet satisfaction of a Snickers–but as I now understand, we can outgrow our childhood allergies–and somehow and some way I broke free from my sad, unsweetened childhood, and right into a sweet lifelong addiction–of chocolate.

Someone once asked me if there was a type of chocolate I didn’t like–and I said, “Are you crazy? I don’t discriminate against chocolate. That would be silly. You can set me  up on a blind date with whichever, and I’ll be quite content. Add peanut butter to any of it–and I’ll be in heaven.”

It’s amazing that I reached the age of 24, without ever having made chocolate myself. Post half-marathon 2012, my friends all came over, melted chocolate and covered an assortment of goodies for me as a treat for completing my half-marathon–as well as for having gone three months without chocolate to aid in my training. While they took care of the chocolateering, I went off and bought everyone coffee. I’m not much of a baker, so  I left it to my friends, who seemed much more capable of not burning down the house.

But then, as the hobby year continued, I decided it was time I learned to make chocolate–besides I had learned to brew beer this year–and I don’t even drink…so it was probably time I learned the process of chocolate-making. A couple months back, my co-worker sent me a link to a New York Times article that featured a chocolate shop in the Lower East Side. I forwarded the piece along to my other co-workers, and we planned to organize a time to visit.

But on a rainy day in New York City, I had no other choice but to dig into my emails of hobby suggestions, for something fun to do–regardless of already having two other hobbies scheduled for the week.

A good friend had asked me if I wanted to hang out and told me she was really excited for whatever adventure we found!

Originally, I had planned to just pick out a museum or a movie, but my insides growled at me, and my heart seemed to be trying to make out words between each beat. “Don’t be ridiculous-beat-Libby. You know you’d rather-beat-try something new-beat-than-beat-go-beat-back-beat-to-beat-the MOMA.” And my heart was right–I’d rather try something new than see the same exhibits I’d seen before, so I visited the chocolate shop’s website, listed in the article, and booked a lesson for two.  (Don’t worry my co-worker friends–I am still in to return and make more chocolate!!!)

By 3:45pm, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, my friend and I found ourselves hands deep in melted chocolate. I could smell the sweet scents of white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate all around us. As Aditi Malhotra, our knowledgeable instructor, and the owner of Tache Chocolate,  took us on a quick tour of her own Chocolate Factory, she showed us one of the machines that continues to produce melted chocolate all day and night long, I could feel my taste-buds jumping. Suddenly, my dreams of swimming in a pool of chocolate seemed more realistic.

We then started making everything from chocolate covered Rice Krispy bundles to sparkling milk chocolate sea shells.

“If I don’t walk out of here with chocolate all over my face, I want my money back,” I joked. But not before long I had chocolate smudges on my hands, my arms, and even a tiny part of my sweater. –And at the end of the day, I had a pound of chocolate to take home–and plenty of new chocolate loving friends.

And while I’m not quite sure that I am ready to open my own chocolate business yet, I am pretty sure it’s now officially the time that I can promote my project as a lifestyle–rather than just a project.

And that’s what I call a sweet, sweet success.

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Tache Chocolate
http://www.tachechocolate.com

The Hobby Hoarder Brews Beer

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“You were outed early,” says a fellow beer brewing classmate. “You’re here for the hobby aspect…not the beer aspect,” He laughs. I laugh along. He’s right. I am not a drinker. In fact, my friends often wave alcohol in my face in hopes that I’ll take even a sip. For the most part, I can’t stand the taste of alcohol, and I can have a pretty good time without it. So why would I ever want to do beer brewing?

Because it’s a craft, and who knows maybe it would be a craft I would want to continue. I never enjoyed science class, but maybe if fermenting and beer brewing were part of it–I’d have a different take.

I also think it’s good to know exactly how the food and drinks are processed that we are willing to put into our body on a regular basis–or in my case–a non-regular basis.

And of course, it’s always wonderful to meet new people with passions and knowledge that you may have never met otherwise.

And that was one of the best parts of my 6 hour day, spent in Brooklyn Heights.

I came across Fritz Fernow on SideTour, a site one of my bosses had introduced me to. On the site, he offered a one day home-brewing workshop for just $35 dollars. I couldn’t pass it up–and I am glad I didn’t. The moment I got to the door, Fritz smiled at me and kindly let me in. Immediately, I was met by his playful siamese cat Oscar.

One by one my six other classmates shuffled through the front door, and not before long we were on our six-hour adventure. Fritz took us through the ingredients, and offered a brief summary of what the day would look like, and then we began.

Passionately, Fritz spoke about his encounters with beer throughout the day and how he got into it. This was his 105th batch, but we could all tell it was not his last. With a smile on his face, he told us much of what he knew about beer, but I can guarantee not all. He is an encyclopedia of brewing. The perfect teacher.

During a rest period, he led us down to his bedroom, where his closet holds a kegerator–yes a kegerator. Most people have laundry baskets in their bedroom closets–but not him. He and his wife have a kegerator. Talk about a brew-fast in bed!

As the day continued, the 7 students bonded over casual conversation, lunch, beers brewed by his previous Sidetour class, and the anxiousness of the final steps of beer brewing which in a short were:

*Add the Hops
*Stir
*listen to Fritz talk about his experiences brilliantly (Really!)
*Cool
*Add the yeast*Declare you have beer — well at least you’ve got beer processing.

In four weeks the seven of us can return to try our beer. Cheers! I wonder if it will just keep the name 105? I wonder what I would name my beer if I brewed it myself on a consistent basis?

Libbrewery; Libation (The comedian Randy Tongue suggested that one); Libs Hops (Hops are female flower clusters of a hop species that you add for flavoring and such). Or maybe I’d open my own brewery called: Hip HOPS and play really loud hip hop music while serving really delicious beer. Oh the life.

Fritz hasn’t come up with an official name yet, but from what I tasted of the previous brew (Yes the non-drinker gave it a taste–YOU HAVE TO IN THIS CASE), I think he could easily call it “Fritz Fantastic Fix,” because even as a girl who can’t normally stand the taste of alcohol, I was able to taste this brew with a smile on my face.

Here’s our recipe taken directly from the blog Fritz wrote after our class!

Grain Bill:
12 lb 2 Row
8 oz Carapils
8 oz Bairds Light Carastan 13-17
8 oz Bairds Carastan 30-40
4 oz Red Wheat

Hop Schedule:
FWH .5oz Cascade
70 minute boil
60 min. 1.5oz Centennial
15 min. .5 oz Simcoe
10 min 1oz Columbus + Wirlfloc and Nutrient
1 min 2 oz Amarillo

Wyeast 1056 on a stir plate 18 hours in advance
Mash grains at 152 degrees for 60 minutes
preboil: 1.054
post boil: OG 1.063

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Fritz Fernow
Sponsored by SideTour
Located in Brooklyn Heights.

Check out More of Fritz on Time.com and then sign up for his SideTour!

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