Our First Homebrew: Everyday IPA

A few months ago, my boyfriend had a birthday.

And I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty good at gift giving. It helps that T-Man is pretty easy to shop for. But I’m pretty good at gift giving. 😉

This year, I bought him a Home Brewing Kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop to make his own Everyday IPA. (I also got him this mug which is perfect if you know T-Man and his liberal, ACLU-loving ways.)

For it being an IPA, it was a much easier process than anticipated. T-Man decided it was a two-person job, so I got to help! (read: I hovered over his shoulder and took pictures. And now you all get to benefit!)

Here’s how we did it:



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How to Make Pumpkin PurĂ©e

I’ve been doing a lot to keep my hands busy lately.

There’s my Papa’s impossible puzzle… (which I actually made a ton of progress on on Saturday! Look!)

And all the moving pieces coming into place being sewed into place for my Halloween costume.

But one thing that I’ve been doing lately that involves using my hands requires much less time and concentration, and delivers results of the most delicious variety: roasting and purĂ©eing pumpkins!

I’ve already told you all about how I don’t like pumpkin stuff much. I’m discovering that it isn’t actually pumpkin or pumpkin pie spice that I have an aversion to — it’s the canned stuff! I’ve been having a blast experimenting with the homemade stuff.

It’s really easy, I promise, and it will take you barely an hour. Plus, most of it is downtime. And it makes a lot, so you can easily store it in the fridge or freezer for later.

Start by picking out a small pumpkin. This one was $1.99 at Safeway, and I found slightly smaller ones at Bel Air for $.69!! Quite a steal, eh?

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and cut your pumpkin into quarters. I have two methods for doing this:

1) use a large knife and use a heavy object or rubber mallet to help you safely guide the knife through the pumpkin. (True story, I used my cast to help me carve large objects when my hand was broken. Maybe that thing was handy after all..)
2) Carve around stem first, like you’re making a jack o lantern, then use that opening to carve the rest of your pumpkin.

(Now that I have no cast, I use large bottles of dish soap to assist my carving…..lol)

Scoop out the seeds and as much of the insides as you can get. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly clean. It should look something like this:

(Imagine those cut in half)

Lay the quarters on a baking sheet. It doesn’t much matter if you lay them skin side up or down…I usually do half and half, and turn them halfway through.

Put in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, or until fork tender.

Now comes the fun part! Once the pumpkin has cooled a bit, peel the skin off the back, and carefully remove the tough (charred) parts of the flesh, plus whatever stringy insides you couldn’t get before.

Place into a food processor, and purée away!

T-Man got me this food processor for our anniversary… (that may sound weird…but I probably said “I NEED A FOOD PROCESSOR” abooouuuut 3489274 times during the months I had a broken hand. The man was only granting my wishes!) She is a beaut.

I also made some at my parents house, and their Cuisinart worked just as well:

When the pumpkin is being processed, it may need a tablespoon or two of water to help it along. This is OK. Don’t add too much though, because you want the pumpkin flavor of the purĂ©e to be concentrated.

You can store the purée in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or two, OR do as Pioneer Woman suggests (and what I did the 2nd time) and measure out 1 cup baggies to put in the freezer.

Use in place of canned pumpkin in all your favorite pumpkin recipes!

You pumpkin weirdos.

How to Make Gnocchi

When I decide there’s some sort of classic recipe I want to try and make, this is normally what my brainstorming process looks like:

(don’t mind the note about the calcium…I took notes when my doctor told me I had low bone density, haha)

When it comes to popular recipes like banana bread, crockpot chicken, ratatouille, or gnocchi, there are a lot of people who claim to have found the end-all-be-all recipe for that dish. So I usually compile all their words of wisdom and try to make it into one epic combination of all their ideas. When I saw butternut squash gnocchi on Kristin’s (Iowa Girl Eats) blog, she made it seem so simple that I knew I had to try it. I looked up a couple of other recipes, as well as one from a blogger I consider a master (smitten kitchen) and got to work.

Here’s the most important things I gathered from the above 4 recipes:

  • Traditional gnocchi is made with potatoes that have been sent through a ricer or a food mill. Most people don’t have these. A food processor or box grater are acceptable alternatives.
  • The less flour you add, the better.
  • You can achieve this by, when waiting for your potatoes to cool, spreading them out on a plate and letting as much steam escape as possible.
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash…. they’re all fine to use. Just don’t add too much flour!

On we go!

When I got home to make my gnocchi, I realized that my sweet potatoes were actually rather small. Maybe only a little over a pound total.

So my recipe worked out like this:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

1-1/4 lb sweet potatoes
1 egg yolk
1/2-3/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

First, you cook the sweet potatoes. I would recommend piercing them with a knife and roasting them. I would have, but my apartment was this hot the day I made gnocchi:

So I used the microwave.

(BTW, our microwave is broken and my roommate and I actually kind of totally live off leftovers, so we plugged in another one… in our living room.)

I did about 6 minutes (3 on each side) for the larger potato, and 4 minutes for the smaller one.

I decided to use my box grater instead of my food processor to break down the potatoes. It worked great…However, be advised that it’s not easy grating hot potatoes, and you will get some texture in your final gnocchi. I actually really liked it 🙂

After grating the potatoes is the time you will spread them on a plate so they can release steam. (You’ll probably need to release some steam too, after grating cooked potatoes. Go ahead, enjoy a glass of wine.)

Once the potatoes haves cooled down to a level at which you can handle them (pretty cool), gather them into a ball on a floured surface.

Create a small well and add egg yolk and 1/2 cup of flour. I went with less flour than was called for in the recipe, in case I needed to add more later (which I did).

You could also add the salt at this point, but I didn’t. I opted to add my salt into the pasta water instead.

Mix it all together and it should look something like this!

Split up your pasta dough into 3 ropes. This is probably the part where you may need to add a little bit more flour.

You should make your ropes about the size of the one on top (1/2-3/4 inch thick)…the other two created some ginormous gnocchi, haha.

Next step…cut off small pieces of each rope! I tried making the traditional ridges with my fork, but they still didn’t look anything like gnocchi, so I just went Kristin’s (Iowa Girl Eats) route and left them “rustic” 😛

To cook the gnocchi, simply drop them in boiling salted water and cook until they all float to the top! It doesn’t take long, 3-4 minutes max!

Not bad for my first homemade pasta, eh?! Grandma Kitty would be proud! (My great grandma from Italy for whom I was named…My parents opted to shorten Katherine to Katie instead of Kitty like she did, thankfully)

If you’re not going to eat the gnocchi right away, it freezes perfectly. Freeze gnocchi on a sheet when they’re still separated like this, then once they’re all frozen, toss ’em in a bag. Freezing them separately first makes it so they don’t all become a big pile of sweet potato in the freezer.

Stay tuned for another fall-ish how to later this week or next week!

Have you ever made pasta before? If not, what’s your favorite kind to eat? 😛