Barley tea!

The following is from an email I sent a couple of friends, that I thought might be handy information here: 

So I had a sneaking suspicion that it was nothing more than unfermented beer, and it appears I’m right. Japanese call it Muchiga, apparently.

It really is nothing more than beer malt, steeped in hot (or cold) water!

I don’t know how this never occurred to me before.

Amazon has the stuff for $12  a pound!!

Beer supply stores will sell a pound of grain, for what, $1.50? And with a focus on freshness, and in any shade, or roastiness you could like. You can go as light or dark as you like, and my guess based on my brewing experience, is that most restaurants serve us barley tea in a very light crystal malt range. The “lovibond” Scale is the scale of roastiness, and darkness of the grain is directly related. This is from my local shop site:

There are HUNDREDS of types of roasted barley. Some with Peat, some like Honey malt that impart a natural sweetness, and some like biscuit malt that impart a nuttiness, etc. This is what gives beer its character.

Here’s some info on Malted barley.

The ONLY difference with beer, is that the sugar has been fermented out with yeast.

So anyway, that’s what I figured out today. I’m going to buy a few extra ounces of different Malts next time I buy a beer recipe, and try this at home. Awesome stuff.

2014 – It Was a Very Good Year.

Old Blue eyes sang a song called “It Was A Very Good Year”. The song is a reflection on his life, and how his tastes and life had changed, perhaps matured over time. I suppose that’s why I scribble away on this thing, so I can reflect later, and see how things have changed. My, how things have changed.

Of course, Sinatra didn’t write that song. Hell, he barely wrote anything. For a guy who sang about how he did things his way, he really did things the way they were written, by someone else.

That’s sort of a liberating thought, that at least what I have created, I’ve done with my own mind, my own two hands. Of course, I don’t have legions of followers, and girls framing pics of me to swoon over. That’s okay though. I can still take some solace in the knowledge that nobody is immune to the sands of time. Time changes us all, waits for no man, and this last year was no exception.

For me it was a bunch of personal stuff that is completely ordinary in the grand scheme of things, but to me life changing. I have a girlfriend as of May 2014, and with that my life changed in all the obvious ways. I deleted all the girls from my phone, blocked some completely, and just left it all behind. I made a real effort to continue living my life the same way I had, not be that guy who disappeared because of a relationship, and have done well to keep things that way since. Some people didn’t like that I became involved, but that’s their problem. I don’t work that hard on other people.

I’ve done SO MUCH with her that I used to daydream about. All the times I was out third wheeling with people, sort of wishing I had someone to share the good times with, well, now I do. All the times I wanted to share something special with somebody, now I have someone to do that with. All my weird little quirks that nobody ever seemed to relate to, are now completely understandable to her. Validating perhaps, but totally enjoyable either way.

This all sounds very corny, believe me, it’s not lost on me.  I don’t care. It’s my life, right? “I Did it My Way” right?

Then there’s the additional motivation, the enthusiasm.  I’m going back to school. As much as I love my job, I want more. Better still, I’m doing something about that “want”. Action. Movement. That fire under my ass that has been missing for a little while. Ever since the band I was in broke up, and the stage left me behind, I’ve felt a little listless. A bit like a boat without a sail.

Well, now the wind is back in the sail, and the momentum is picking back up. That’s exactly how I feel. I’m not sure where it’s going, but my hand is back on the rudder, and I can provide some direction again.

More than that though, I feel like I’ve been reinvigorated. My house looks better, completely different from what it was a year ago. My cars are all getting attention, I’ve lost one dog and gained another. I’ve actually installed a new fridge and stove in my kitchen, which used to be the ultimate bachelor kitchen. I mean, I didn’t even have a stove! Now I can cook full meals, even make beer inside. Awesomeness.

What a year though.

Seattle, Mammoth twice, San Diego a bunch of times, back to Tijuana, San Francisco three times, about 30 fishing trips, about ten camping trips, back on a snowboard, about 20 batches of beer, a triathlon (biking portion of a relay)  probably 20 loaves of bread, so many concerts and Dodger games, a freaking chicken farm, some legitimate theater, it was a very good year. I checked my horse racing account, and I’m up a total of $28 on the whole year. That’s a pretty damned good year. I’m sure I’m leaving out a ton, but it really just feels like I’ve got a renewed vigor, a renewed lust for life.

The crazy thing is I’ve only played one show, for a friend’s birthday. It was a little show out in the valley, and it felt crazy to perform in front of somebody I loved. I can’t say that I’ve ever done that before, which is insane. Maybe once or twice, with my first real girlfriend about 20 years ago. So long ago, such a different person, a completely different life.

Usually when I write out these types of retrospectives, it’s a somber feeling. Like another handful of sand out of the hourglass of my life. Like maybe the best is behind me. I don’t feel that way this year. I feel like maybe I’m right at the middle of it, and that’s okay. I have the wisdom of my years, and still have my health and strength, what more could I ask for? I can play a wicked bass, and intend to put that to some use this year. More than that though, I’m inspired to do so. It’s no longer just something I’m continuing. It feels like something new I want to do because I am motivated and really moved to express myself.

Today I heard someone say “History forgets people who don’t finish things”. It’s never felt more obvious or true. And while I don’t expect my life to be some great mile marker in the annals of time, I do expect myself to finish some things this year, whether anybody cares or not.

So happy new year everybody, and thanks for your continued support. It means very much to me that I see people reading this little blog every day. I wonder who you all are? Drop me a line sometime.

– Fred.

Chicken processing, part 1.

I processed my first chicken ever, and here’s the video of the first part, bleeding it out.

I did this to get a sense of what it takes to take a chicken from the field to the table, and also because more of my hens turned out to be roos than I expected. I also wanted to learn to do it in a way that was humane, and would not freak out the bird. It was surprisingly easy. In my opinion, much easier than a fish.

Beach fishing weekend, Triathlon, and a beetle.

This was a productive weekend! I tore my Volkswagen apart, found that some jerk had replaced some hex head nuts with cheese head screws (these are car terms I was previously unaware of).

This meant I had to tear into the old VW a little more than I wanted to, but so be it. All this mess, just to change a generator. For once, the simple VW engine was a major headache. usually these things are pretty easy to work on. Not today.

Here is the engine bay with the generator ripped out. What a mess.

Still haven’t had the guts to attempt the re-install, hoping to do so this weekend. With that out of the way, I had time for some fun this weekend too.

Friday night I went down to OC to see my gf, our schedules conflict so I head down there when I can to spend time. She comes up for the same reason. I needed something to do while she was at work Saturday, so I decided to try my hand at some Surf Fishing. I looked at my notes, and it had been 7 years since I’d fished in the surf! Damn, WAY overdue.

Had a blast fishing at Capistrano Beach. The parking there is RIGHT on the beach, and there are fire pits available. I will DEFINITELY be going back there.

I needed to break in a new rod as well, so I tied myself a nice Fish Finder rig, put a “Gulp!” Camouflage pattern artificial Sand Worm  and tossed it all into the surf. My new rod’s action was perfect, launching the rig well past the surf. On the second cast, Bam! a big bite, and a fish fighting me all the way back to the beach, I landed my first ever Yellowfin Croaker. It was so awesome knowing there were fish there, and very encouraging.

Cast after cast, I hooked into good fish. People on the beach were surprised to see me pulling these things out of the water they were swimming in. It was pretty incredible. This one was the biggest, and fought REALLY hard. Another fish crossed off my SoCal checklist. After catching 6 fish, the sun burned through the fog, and I decided to get out before it got too hot. I realized I had forgotten to put sunblock on my feet, and in my sandals wading on the beach, they were burned pretty badly. LOL Lesson learned.

So Saturday Morning was a success. I went home and went to bed early, because Sunday morning, My brother and I were part of a relay team in the Hermosa Beach “Day At The Beach”  triathlon. We were at the beach by 4:30 am, actually very early judging by the # of people on the beach. The volunteers running the event hadn’t even set up yet, too early.

When the event finally came, we had a blast. I rode 10 miles at about a 14 mph average, and put in a pretty decent time, for someone who hadn’t trained at ALL for this event. We were in the middle of the pack for the relay teams, so it was pretty good considering we were up against actual athletes who trained for this sort of thing all the time. I was # 48, and it was awesome passing people on fancy road bikes, on my not so fancy, heavy mountain bike.

It was a really fun crowd, and it was a short race really, so people were having fun with it. Like these two mousketeers who ran the entire thing in a tutu, and made a nice little curtsy at the end. Also this guy, who was one of a few people who carried their kids through the finish line. Super sweet.

After that, I was pretty much burnt out the rest of Sunday, so I took it way easy, nursed my sunburned feet, and caught up on some Boardwalk Empire.

All in all, it was a pretty spectacular Southern Cal weekend, and it really highlighted that you can do a lo of fun stuff here, if you just get out there and do it. Looking forward to trying my luck in the surf again next weekend, I feel like I’ve re-caught a bit of a surf fishing bug. I guess catching 6 croakers from the surf, in the warm sun will do that.

Cheers everybody, get out there and enjoy the last remnants of the warm sun before REAL fall sets in!

– Fred.