新年快乐! 我正在獵 Home Improvement 的龍! (Chasing the Home Improvement Dragon)

Happy New Year, everyone!

So what have i been up to? Home Improvement, mostly. Can I just say that it's hard to make any new construction look straight in a 120-year-old house? The more you measure, and the straighter it is, the more crooked it looks. But anyway, under my belt so far this week:

- Installed new track lighting in the Formal Parlour (formerly the library)

- Mounted the new flat screen on the wall of the Formal Parlour and installed a nifty cord guard

- Gutted a closet and began installation of a new bar (gonna finish that up today, hopefully)

- Built my own saw horses! (Maybe not a big deal for some, but i'm impressed with myself, nonetheless.)

- Put down molding between the Scullery and the Drawing Room to keep the floor from coming up any more

- Installed peg board in the closet opposite the new bar to have a handy place to hide my tools, so I can find them to continue my Home Improvements

- Did my own electrical work! Woohoo! (Don't tell anyone in the co-op - it's illegal!)

Still to do:

- Install a light and light switch in the new bar.

- Figure out how to fit all the booze in the new, smaller bar.

- Run conduit to the new track lights (so the cord isn't just hanging there!)

- Run conduit from the cable to the computer and the TV... no more coaxial cable running around tripping people up!

- Run even more conduit to install my new network jacks! (Oh yeah - I went there and bought myself some Cat-6 and some RJ-45 jacks and I'm gonna network this place up!)

- Install pegboard in the Scullery for kitcheny peg-board things, including, but not limited to, pot lids.

Otherwise, I'm just looking forward to spending New Year's Eve on the Island, where there will be fabulous parties and fireworks... all very exclusive, you know!

Anyway, 新年快乐 (Happy New Year), and stay warm!


Happy Yule!

So we're just getting ready for a grand old yule dinner for about twenty. Goose is in the oven, cranberry-oatmeal bread is rising, turkey-elk-beef-venison-bacon meatballs are congealing, bavarian kartoffelknödel are being stuffed with onions, bacon, and cabbage, homemade beer is being chilled, homemade garden pickles (beans, purple cauliflower, and purple carrots)... the list goes on.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and whatever other solstice-based tradition you may celebrate! Stay warm! Happiest of Holidays to you and yours!

- Jamin & Peat


Wedding Pictures

I just posted a bunch of wedding pictures on facebook. Check 'em out! They're in four separate albums:

The Ceremony
Friends & Family
Setup & Scenery
The Food!

Enjoy! And if anyone has any photos they took that they'd like to send me, please do so! I'd love to see them!


There's no such thing as the Plague of 10,000 Pestilential Putrescences!

...or at least that what i thought until late monday afternoon.

I'm sick :(

And not just your regular stuffy coughy achy sick. We're talking about going on day three and feeling worse than ever! Tylenol, DayQuil, and aspirin all have no effect whatsoever. I'm drinking TheraFlu right now, but i'm pretty sure that's just Tylenol mixed with something to make it taste like ass.

Then there are the electric shocks. That's right - every once in a while i get these horrible electric shocks that make me fall to the ground. Kind of what i imagine getting tazed is like. I'm hoping that it's the result of me pinching a nerve in my back from coughing so violently, because a quick glance around the intertubes suggests tumors, radiation poisoning, and other less-than-savory fates.



Dark & Spooky Translations for Goths, volume IV

Just a single phrase this time around, and i'm not going to tell you what it means. Let's see if you've picked up enough Gothic to figure it out - first one to comment the translation wins a piece of what this handy phrase is about!

Sō taffei ubila ïst; si þarf tugana. Tiuh þō ubilon taffein. Tiuh ïja!

Hint: This is something you always find Goths doing!


In the interest of consolidation, I'm moving my primary blog to:

It's just a little bit of a friendlier interface, no offense MySpace...


Goths & Gothic

I don't really have much in the way of anything interesting in any of my old blog posts, but one thing i do want to make sure gets carried over is my collection of inappropriate phrases in Gothic, which is a little blog string i started a few months ago. I'll skip the formalities about pronunciation and transliteration for now. So without further ado, i bring you:

Dark & Spooky Translations for Goths: Inappropriate Phrases in Gothic

Ƕar ïst meins gaitsūgja gangans?
Where is my chupacabra?

Meins feina niuja swarta undarsnaga gneidiþ mik.
My fancy new black underwear is chafing.

Duhwē finþada fiusa ïn þizei saipjōn??
Why is there bacon in the soap??

Gutans frijōnd Daweid Hasalhufa!
The Goths love David Haselhof!

Uþ ïk habaidēdjau ainata niukilō wiþra hwazuh sigaraita þataei þeina aiþei rauk, wēsjau'k dauþa.
If i had a nickle for every cigarette your mom smoked, i'd be dead.

Sildaleika patai, akei ïk þarf gaggan uþ ïk teimaleikō ana þamma gafilh qima!
Great pâté, but i've gotta motor if i'm gonna make it to that funeral!

Ōkai, sō dulþs wairþiþ unhraina. ïk gawasja mik þan fara haima!
Okay, this party's getting dirty. I'm putting on my clothes and going home.

Weih niþanhun wiþra ain Sikiljan, biþē þat faur dauþau gaggiþ!
Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!

Wileis þu paumais þarmiþ gahaban?
Do you want fries with that?

Wileis þu freidōmis brēdans þarmiþ gahaban?
Do you want freedom fries with that?

Hwat faur ainat sildaleika faurhāh!
What a fabulous window treatment!

"Þu þugkjis wisan ains sēla guma. ïk hataidēdjau þuk dauþjan."
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

"Þu þugkjis wisan ains sēla guma. ïk hataidēdjau diwan!"
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die!"

Please stay tuned for more useful phrases for the weary traveler venturing around Goth territory, such as, "How come all the communists i know are drag queens?" and "There's no such thing as the plague of 10,000 pestillential putrescences!"

So this is my new blog...

I didn't mean to have a new blog, really. Nathan wanted my help setting one up on his website, which i host. (It's currently at http://blog.herrperfekt.net, but with any luck i'll soon be able to move it to http://www.herrperfekt.net, which is currently giving me some DNS issues.) Anyway, i set this up to test it and see what it can do, so here i am.

In fact, it seems popular enough that i'll most likely be doing the same thing for Ms. Fledermaus and the Urban Agrarian later today.

I'm saddened by the fact that there is no œ̄ in Unicode, but that's hardly Blogger's fault, or Google, or really anyone but the Unicode Consortium. It would also be nice to get an uppercase ᵫ, as well as one with a macron, and hell, even some fonts that have them! And i'm a little disappointed that ᵫ with a combining macron goes all wonky, at least in Times New Roman. ᵫ̄ See? So in the meantime, blogging about Northeadish is going to be a little tricky. As much as it saddens me, i'll probably start using ȳ for ᵫ-macron for the time being. And i worry that anyone who doesn't have Vista and Office 2007 might not even be able to see the additional subsets of the Times New Roman font that contain things like ᵫ to begin with. Meh.

Anyway, the Urban Agrarian and i are off to visit Ms Fledermaus for the Great Leftover Exchange!

By the way, those of you who are new to my blog may be thinking, 'What's up with this guy not capitalizing the word "I"? Damn lazy bloggers anyway!' But for the record, i leave the word lower-case not out of laziness, but as a matter of principle. I'll extrapolate later, but rest assured that i am not a lazy blogger.


I have a new blog. This is it. Enjoy.

I'm still working on getting it to work with Northeadish text, but that's another story. I think i'm going to have to create some image files for oe-ligature-macron, ue-ligature, and ue-ligature-macron. Or i can just be lazy and use y for ue-ligature. More on that later.


Ginger Ale

So I'm making ginger ale for our Halloween party coming up in a few weeks. No, not ginger-ale: Ginger. Ale.

Here's the recipe I'm using, if anyone's interested:
4 lemons
8 oz fresh ginger root
2 pounds light malt extract
4 pounds (8 cups) sugar
5 gallons water
2 tbsp yeast nutient
2 pounds lactose
dry ale yeast (I used Munton's, but any kinds will do)
Zest lemons and remove pith. Mash up lemons with the zest in a large pot. (I.e. what you want to do is keep the zest and the wedges, but throw out everything in between that can leave a bitter taste.) Peel ginger root and slice thinly. Add 1 gallon of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes, then reduce heat until boiling stops. Remove pot from the heat and add malt extract and sugar. Stir in thoroughly and return to heat, but do not boil. Hold just below boiling for about 20 minutes.

Add 4 gallons of water to primary fermenter. Strain wort into the fermenter to get out the big chunks of lemon, ginger, etc. - this should give you a temperature of about 85°F assuming the water was at room temperature. Stir in yeast nutrient and lactose. When temperature evens out (i.e. when it's between 80° and 85°) add the yeast. Seal the fermenter with an air lock.

Let it ferment for about three days until the violent part of the bubbling has stopped, then transfer it into a secondary fermenter, discarding anything that has sunk to the bottom or floated to the top (inevitably, there will be some lemon pulp that escapes the primary straining).

Normally, at this point you ferment for another couple of days and then bottle. Let me be very clear. Let this ferment out for at least another week or even two. Ginger ale is a little more enthusiastic than most beer, and my first attempt at it resulted in hideous explosions.

After fermentation is definitively complete, rack into a bottling bucket and add about 5oz of corn sugar, then bottle and cap. Give it about 2-3 weeks of priming time and then drink (this doesn't have to age quite as long as a regular beer after priming.

Anyway, I'm still on the secondary fermentation stage. The primary gravity was 1.050, but I believe a lot of this has to do with the lactose, which doesn't ferment. I'm anticipating the final gravity to be around 1.020, which should give it a nice light 4-5% alcohol. I'll let you know how it turns out...



So you know how i said something about not wanting to waste my weekend? My obsession has taken a new twist:

I'll get the rest on there soon, but it's a start.

Dark and Spooky Translations for Goths, Volume 2

Okay, something's wrong with my nifty macro that displays gothic text. Any VBScripters out there wanna take a stab at it for me, let me know*, but for this week's installment, I'm just gonna give you the commonly accepted transliteration.

* The macro hasn't changed at all, but one of its functions is that it takes only text that's in Times New Roman and changes it to Courier New to prevent a loop. Now when you run it, nothing happens, but the find/replace window now says "Times New Roman (default)" and "Courier New (default)" instead of without the defaults. Like I said, the macro hasn't changed, so maybe a Windows Update? Maybe something stupid I'm overlooking? I dunno. It's annoying, and I'm not feeling obsessive-compulsive enough about it to blow my weekend on it.

weih ni þanhun wiþra ain sikíljan, biþê þat faur dauþau gaggiþ!
Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!

hwat faur ainat sildaleika faurhâh!
What a fabulous window treatment!

wileis þu paumais þarmiþ gahaban?
Would you like fries with that?

"þu þugkjis wisan ains sêla guma. ik hataidêdjau þuk dauþjan."
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

"þu þugkjis wisan ains sêla guma. ik hataidêdjau diwan."
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die!"


Vinegar Update

Just a quick update on the vinegar sitch.

The red wine continues to crank out great vinegar. I bottled up about 2 cups of it (which was most of it) and took out most of the mother, then set it to work again.

So I went to Surdyk's on Wednesday to pick up some supplies for Project Runway night, and while I was there I asked the snotty wine guy for their cheapest, nastiest bottle of red wine they had. It was awfully funny to see his reaction, especially when I told him what I was doing with it.

"But for a dollar more, this one is really a little more drinkable."
"But I'm going to dump it into a bucket and let it spoil. I don't care how palatable is it."
"But... but... WHY?? HOW?? Why would you do that??"

Peat and I both poured ourselves a glass (it was a 2007 Barefoot Merlot) and poured the rest into the crock. We each took one sip, and then our ample glasses followed the rest into the crock as well. It tasted like plastic and old lady perfume. That's what you get for $5, I guess, but I maintain that Trader Joe's Three-buck Chuck is way better.

The mead vinegar chugs along slowly but surely and is actually really nice. I haven't delved back into the world of malt vinegar again yet, because I think it just has too low an alcohol content to keep bad things from growing in it. I think I need to brew up a good strong stout and try again. Someday...


Dark and Spooky Translations for Goths

Because I am extremely busy and have a million better things to do, I decided to translate some things into Gothic.

Hwar ist meins gaitsûgja?
Where is my chupacabra?

Meins feina niuja swarta undarsnaga gneidiþ mik.
My fancy new black underwear is chafing.

Du-hwé finþada fiusa in þizei saipjôn?
Why is there bacon in the soap?

Guþiskans frijônd/liuband David Hasselhof!
The Goths love David Hasselhof!

Uþ ik habáidêdjáu ainata niukilô wiþra hwazuh sigaraita þataei þeina âiþei rauk, ik werþîdjáu dauþs/dauþa wesan.
If I had a nickle for every cigarette your mother smoked, I'd be dead. (dauþs = male, dauþa = female)

Silda-leika patai, akei ik þarf gaggan uþ ik qima an þata gafilh!
Great pâté, but I've gotta motor if I'm gonna make it to that funeral!

I'm not going to go very deep into pronunciation here, but here are a couple of general tips:

ai = [E:] eh in meh, not igh in sigh!
ei = [i:] ee in see, not ay in say or igh in sigh! (This is gothic, not german!)
au = [C:] aw in awful, not ow in how.
iu = [y:] ü in fühlen or u in vu, not you in you.
þ = [T] th in think.
gg = [Ng] ng in finger.
gk = [Nk] nk in think.

That should get you pointed in the right direction.

Anyway, Gothic is not my best germanic langauge, but this is my best shot. Please comment if you have any corrections (particularly if anyone can correct the declension of "hwazuh sigaraita" which I know is wrong but can't figure out).


Vinegar Fail! :(

Vinegar Fail, Green-and-Yellow Mould Win!

So just an update on the vinegar situation. I uncovered the vinegar keg to reveal a cloud of blue smoke, and sadly, inside, all I saw was yellow and green mould! :( Recently I'd noticed that it had smelled a little funny - I guess I should have taken that as a sign, but I wish I knew what I could have done about it. I wonder if the beer I made it out of just had too low an alcohol content to keep the mould at bay.

I'm still trying to figure out how to clean the keg so I can start over. I'm afraid that bleach will stay in the wood and contaminate future batches, but I'm not sure how else to kill the mold spores. I guess I could go out and buy 3 gallons of distilled white vinegar and fill it up and leave it for a couple days, but it just seems like throwing good vinegar after bad, so to speak.

Anyway, when I get that figured out, I've still got some of the mother that I set aside before it went funky, so maybe I'll take a trip down to Midwest Supplies and craft up a special, super-strong, hopless beer and start over.

On the bright side, however, the red wine vinegar is kicking some serious ass, aided in part by the cases and cases of 3-buck chuck from the wedding. The mead vinegar is also doing well. Unfortunately, I can't give any specifics, because I'm out of the solution I use to test the acidity, but more generally, I think I've come to some sort of understanding with the red vinegar, which is that if I add a quarter cup of wine to it, it'll be turned into vinegar by the next week and the vinegar is perfectly usable. We've used it a time or two in salad dressings, and it's rockin'! We have close to a quart of it by now. About the same with the mead (I've been adding a little mead every week), but I haven't dared to try that yet, partly because it was so low acid the last I checked, and partly because I'm just not sure what it would taste good with.

I also have an inordinate amount of white wine left over from the wedding, which, frankly, isn't very good to drink. I've been toying with the idea of starting a batch of white, but I've heard that white vinegars are kind of a pain in the ass; id est they take about a year to even start forming mother. And as easy as it is to say, "Well, just stick it in a corner and leave it alone," I know myself well enough to know that six weeks in, I'd be in there poking at it and trying to measure some sort of results and I'd mess it up or contaminate it somehow.

Someday, I envision a lovely row of casks full of malt, red, white, mead, cider, and other vinegars just sitting there being lovely in our kitchen. But in the meantime, this is working nicely so far.

Hmmm... maybe a nice stout vinegar? Or perry? I'm also thinking about making an onion-jalepeño wine that might also make a nice vinegar. But anyway, that's for another day.


Most Metal Wedding Ever!

Sorry I haven't posted about the wedding yet - we spent a solid week cleaning up and now I'm back at work. But while I'm waiting for this really farked hard drive to finish its scan, I'll post a little blurb.

So somehow, everything just came together and worked out at the last minute. A perfect sunny 78 degree day with just about 12 drops of rain during dinner. The ceremony was lovely, with readings by Oma, Ochen, and Phyllis, and with Vera the Goat as dual ringbearer and flowergirl (though she ate most of the flowers).

And the food... oh!, the food. Two rams, complete with horns, roasting on a spit, along with a goat and 12 chickens on the grill. Guinea hens in the couscous. Fruit, fruit, omigod fruit, and nearly a cubic yard of greek salad. Phyllis made little chocolate truffles and the Baker's Wife provided pastries. I made the beer and some of the wine. In all, I think it's fair to say that a good time was had by all.

More to come, including pictures... back to work!


Gettin’ my freak on...

So, I've been trying to decide what to do with my hair for the summer. Because, as most of you know, I have boring old corporate slave hair for most of the cold months (...wait, this is Minnesota... they're all cold months!...) and then some sort of interesting hair in the summer.

Last year I went all-out and got a mohawk (like the one in my profile picture, which [and this makes me smile] is taken from a technology brochure that was sent out to incoming students last year).

Usually I do the something-funky-with-my-hair thing around the beginning of May, to coincide with finals for the students. This year, though, I just wasn't feeling it. I wanted to do something, but couldn't decide what. So I kept my same old boring old hair.

So a week ago I learn that there's this upcoming ThinkTank conference in North Carolina, and I convince the Powers That Be to let Dan, Erin, and me go. [soapbox: Yes, it is "and me" because it is in the accusative case. "Let Dan go." "Let Erin go." "Let me go." Hence, "let Dan, Erin, and me go." There is no disjunctive case in english, so stop using one!] Erin went alone last year, and it seemed like the sort of thing that we really should all be a part of. Also, when Erin was there last year, she had bright blue hair. She made an impression, and everyone knew who she was. I decided we needed to do the same again, only we all needed to make some sort of big impression.

(BTW, for those of you who might not know, Dan and Erin are the full-time staff of the LSCS department, which I supervise at the U of M. Erin is the girl with blue hair and Dan is the guy who looks like Wolverine.)

Anyway, Erin has blue hair again. And Dan still looks like Wolverine. But I just looked like plain old boring old me, so I set about doing something about it.

So. When trying to give yourself a mohawk, have someone help you with the back. I accidentally cut at a diagonal at one point, and so the back just kinda ends, just at that point where I couldn't see it anymore. The front/top looks good. I actually found a 2" wide belt with a nifty hook on the end which hooked right onto the bridge of my glasses that I was able to use as a guide... until I got to the back, turned my head to be able to see, and threw the whole thing off.

But still, another plain old boring old mohawk? I decided a trip to the Sprawl of A-scare-ica was in order, if nothing else but I wanted to get some lunch at Tiger Sushi (which is surprisingly good for a 12 square foot sushi restaurant in a mall! In fact, it's really good! I recommend the Tiger Balls!) But moreover, I wanted to pick up some sort of mohawk glue that I could spike up with properly.

Man, there are some dumbass people who work in Bath & Body. "No, I don't think that using pomade is the same thing…I don't care if it has glitter in it and gives my hair a nice shine…No, really, I don't want it!" Anyway, she finally sent me to the other Bath & Body shop. (Yes, for some reason they think it's necessary to have two in the same mall.) (Did I mention I hate the mall? Not in that angsty gothy teenage "I-hate-the-mall" way, but in a sort of "I feel gross being here. Oh my god, the population of this mall makes it the third biggest city in Minnesota. Oh my god, this is where people from the suburbs go for 'culture'" kind of way.) But I digress.

Anyway, on my way to the other Bath & Body works, I passed Hot Topic. I know, I know, Goth-lite. But I thought they might have something. And hey, it turns out they did. But I have to document the conversation.

Me: "Do you have any sort of mohawk glue?"

Cashier: "No, nothing like that. But we do have this stuff." (Holds us a tube of something called Mohawk Glue™.)

Me: "Well, I guess that'll have to do."

Then I started looking at all the pretty colors that dark, sad people could make their hair. On a whim, I bought a bleaching kit and "Deep Purple" by Raw Color. What the heck. I also bought a pair of clear 1/2" plugs for a scant $8, which I like to think of as monocles for my earlobes.

Anyway, enough of all that blather. Go check out my pictures and see how it turned out! (Better ones coming soon... my camera is going wonky.) You can't really see it in the pictures, but my hair is now a most amazing shade of roughly AA00CC.


Vinegar Update

Just a quick vinegar update. Here are the current acidity percentages. (Finished is between 4% and 6% acid.)

4.2% - red (probably usable at this point!)
3.0% - malt (not long! and that's after adding another gallon of beer last month!)
1.8% - mead (slow-going, but at least it's going.)

On a slightly unrelated note, I gathered up all the half-bottles of mediocre balsamic vinegar that we had lying around, and based on a rumour I heard, I boiled them all down until they fit in one bottle - nice and syrupy and actually a lot better than any of the vinegars I started with.


Floobing around the Interblags (It’s a series of tubes)

So just some updates...

First, the wedding date still holds firm at June 21st! Woohoo! Now add to that my sister's wedding date of August 9th. Huzzah!

I added a gallon of beer to the malt vinegar and the rest of the lingonberry wine to the red wine vinegar and decided to just leave them alone for a couple of months and check in on them around March.

I invented a really tasty drink that's become Jen's new favorite. It's a little tricky, because you have to drink it all at once since the density is off and otherwise it separates. Take 3/4 oz absolute mandarin, 3/4 oz absolute vanilla, and 3/4 oz passion fruit juice. Mix or not - it doesn't really mix anyway. Drink from a tall thin glass through a straw. Kind of a passionfruit dreamcicle.

The RFP goes out tomorrow! Woohoo! I know that probably doesn't mean much to most people, but anybody who's tired of me bitching about it on a daily basis will be glad of it.

Anyway, that's the gist of it. Back to procrastinating...


Okay, it’s official now...

Okay, so it's official. Peat, Jen, Aaron, and I spent a good chunk of the weekend working on wedding plans, and we can now officially announce a firm date:

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

So mark your calendars! (Though it won't be officially official until I send out invitations.)
Our theme is Urban Agrarian Chic, so dress is formally informal. We're thinking kilts for the wedding party, and Jen has a great corset/hoop skirt combo going on, and plans to join with Michelle to form the hoop skirt mafia.


Make Mother Happy

So after my last post, I still couldn't leave well enough alone, which fortunately for vinegar is good, but for most other things is bad. So I actually pulled out the mother from the malt vinegar and cut it up into little pieces. Most of them I returned to the barrel, but a few I dropped into the mead. It seemed to do the trick.

The malt vinegar has gone to town once again, and its acidity has increased a bit. The mead vinegar is now full of a few new layers of mother that have cropped up just in the last few days. I added a little proto-wine to the red wine vinegar as well and it seems quite happy. I poured it out into a measuring cup just to see if there was any mother in it, and sure enough, right at the bottom, there was a big slimy blob.

So just for record-keeping purposes, our acidity at the moment is:

Malt: 2.75%
Red: 3.0%
Mead: 0.5% (not much going on there, but lots of mother)

In other news, I'm going to be making beer tomorrow, with the aid of some new fun gadgets I picked up from Midwest Supplies and some easy-seal bottles from Phyllis. Another neighbor offered me some beer bottles, which I might still go over and pick up, but it means walking two blocks outside, and since it's currently -13 F, I'm going to try to stay inside for as long as possible. I'll be sure to post something about the beering tomorrow.


Vinegar Gnomes

So our cottage-industry empire has expanded once again.

Back in October Peat said that he wanted a vinegar crock for Yule. I searched around and ended up getting a french oak vinegar barrel from oakbarrels.com. It's pretty spiffy. I also ordered some malt vinegar mother from beer-wine.com, since i figured we drink more beer than wine, and eat more french fries than salads. Hmmm... maybe that's why I'm two stone overweight. But anyway, as time went by, I think I became even more excited by the idea of making our own vinegar than Peat was.

I did a lot of research before starting out, but the main advice seemed to be to just not worry about it and let it do its own thing. It's basically like making wine or beer, only don't do all the things you usually do to keep it from turning into vinegar (leave it exposed to the air, don't sterilize things, etc.)

Anyway, the big day arrive and I gave the barrel to Peat, although admittedly at this point it was as much a present for myself as it was for him. We soaked it (although not for the full recommended time - it was just too exciting to wait!) and added the mother with a 750ml bottle of stout I made last year and some flat belgian ale left over from our Yule party. It barely covered the bottom of the 10 litre barrel, so I made up a quick batch of "feeder beer" - I just threw together some water, malt extract, yeast nutrient, and generic bread yeast in a 1/2 gallon bottle, airlocked it, and set it brewing.

At the same time, I found a 375ml bottle of watermelon wine I had started to make a few years ago. Then, as it was finishing in its bottle probably a year or so ago, Peat decided to place it on a high shelf behind some other bottles, and I completely forgot about it. Its airlock had run dry, and there was a definite vinegar smell coming from it. I decided why limit ourselves to malt vinegar? I found a nifty purple crock - about 2 - 3 litres maybe - and decided it would become home to the red wine vinegar. I didn't have any mother to put in it, but the watermelon wine seemed to be doing okay on its own. I added it to the crock with a few dregs of red wine left over from the Yule party, though there's still barely anything there (maybe 400ml in the bottom of the crock). I decided to do the same thing I had done with the malt, and made up a "feeder wine" to add to it. We didn't seem to have any juice, but I found some lingonberry extract that didn't contain sulfites and decided to give it a try - lingonberry extract, water, a little sugar, yeast nutrient, and bread yeast. (Hey, I'm not going to waste a packet of champagne yeast on wine I'm hoping will go bad.)

But was I satisfied? Not really. After about 20 minutes of sitting there looking at the two crocks and wanting to see them do something, but knowing that they wouldn't really do anything for weeks, I set about making up a third crock. A tall glass jar from Ikea covered with a napkin which I filled with a bottle of maple mead I made last year. It was really dark syrup, and I was hoping it would mellow over time, but it really hasn't. It might as well make good vinegar if it doesn't make good mead. I also fished out a bit of something gooey from the malt barrel and dropped it in there. I couldn't find any "mother" as such, but it couldn't hurt.

And so we waited... and waited... and every day we'd give the barrel a swirl or a shake and then wait some more.

Around January 4th I poured the feeder beer into the barrel. And waited. The wine smelled like vinegar but there was no sign of mother. The mead smelled like mead and didn't look any different.

So today I decided to take a look through the vinegars and see how they're doing. Holy crap! I was starting to worry that it wasn't doing anything, although it has been giving off a vinegary smell. I decided to do an acid test, though, just to see, and I couldn't get a sample! It was almost completely mother! I finally broke through on the side and got a sample - it's about 2.5% acid at this point. Halfway there!

The feeder wine has been bubbling up a storm, but I want to give it a little more time to stop bubbling before I add it to the red wine crock. There is definitely something going on in there, though there's still no mother.

The mead still doesn't smell like vinegar, but I was very happy to see a gross little ring of mother around the top of the mead. I stirred it in and shook the thing a little.

So anyway, this begins the chronicling of my adventures in vinegar-making.