Breakfast! It’s Good for You!

It is said that breakfast is an important part of your day, and I have found this to be true. Making a few minutes every morning for food to get your day started has a lot of potential benefits.

There’s a lot of research out there on the effects of a nutritionally balanced morning meal (whenever your relative morning may be), though even a simple glass of orange juice can get your motor running more effectively than an empty stomach.

Your metabolic rate will get a boost if you wake your system up with some breakfast. This not only gets your fat-burning potential revved up, but can energize your whole system. Your body and brain can benefit from the boost. They should me more energized and active all during the day.

Your heart, the central motor of your circulatory system, will likely thank you. Breakfast may assist in reducing the risk of a number of heart disease risks, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Cognitive function can be difficult to maintain if you are being distracted by a cramping or growling stomach. Higher protein foods can help your stomach remain satisfied, which in turn tends to keep down overeating later in the day.

Your mood is another factor that breakfast can help with. Starting your day on an empty stomach can make you cranky, especially if you are a coffee drinker. Adding food to your morning can help keep you on a even keel. Even a cup of yogurt can help, and add 1 of the 3 recommended servings of dairy to your daily intake.

Breakfast doesn’t always have to be super healthy granola and berries, either. As the start to your day, it can be a wide rage of tasty things depending on your dietary requirements. The two recipes below are bacon-based palate pleasers!

BREAKFAST CLUB
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:
1 croissant
1 egg, fried or scrambled
2 leaves Romaine lettuce
1 Roma tomato, thinly sliced
2 slices bacon, cooked
3 slices oven roasted deli turkey
3 sliced honey deli ham
Mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper to taste

Slice your croissant in half as a base for the sandwich. Apply condiments to taste. Layer on remaining ingredients as you prefer. Insert two toothpicks, one on either side, and slice in half. Enjoy.

NOTES: Why anyone would want to pile more salt on top of the sodium in the meats is beyond me, but some folks prefer a lot of salt. For this sandwich, I prefer fluffy scrambled eggs held together by a slice of cheddar or Swiss above and below, a brown mustard, and sliced pickle instead of tomato. The suggested condiments are all right, but not to my personal taste. My partner on the other hand, loves yellow mustard and black pepper.

The prep time for doing two to four of these sandwiches is not noticeably different. Not only are they great for a fairly quick breakfast, they are also a delicious addition to the brunch table.

 

BACON CINNAMON ROLLS
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:
1 package refrigerated cinnamon rolls (with cream cheese icing)
2 slices bacon, cooked (not too crispy) PER ROLL

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Prep a baking sheet with either parchment paper or baking spray.

Unroll the dough onto a flat surface with the cinnamon side up. If the rolls do not separate during this process, cut them apart gently. Lay 2 slices of bacon along each strip on the cinnamon side. Re-roll each strip of dough, maintaining the bacon along one long edge of the dough.

Place the bacon rolls flat side down on on the prepared baking dish. Bake 16-20 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. Remove to wire rack and let stand for five minutes.

Glaze the rolls with icing while still warm. Let stand until glaze is set. Serve warm.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

NOTES: Make sure you have 2 slices of bacon per roll noted on the packaging – some packs of cinnamon rolls contain 6 rolls, while others may have 8 or 10. Adjust your recipe accordingly.

Whip an ounce or two of cream cheese with the icing from the package, or just spread cream cheese instead of the sugar for a less sweet breakfast roll. When using the cream cheese by itself, you might consider adding a dash of chili powder to the roll before adding the bacon, or dried or fresh herbs for a more savory presentation.

I prefer to cook the bacon, drain and pat it dry of excess grease. Beef bacon as well as pork bacon both go well with this recipe. I have not tried it out with turkey or tofu based bacon products.

I had to learn the hard way that breakfast really was a good way to start my day. In making it a practice, however, I find myself with more energy and have actually lost a few pounds over the last year – without really trying. You might give it a shot if you don’t already eat breakfast in the mornings and see how you feel after a week or so.

Enjoy!

– Ann Cathey

Grain Free Pumpkin Biscuits

With the pumpkin spice madness coming down upon us, I thought something pumpkin might be appropriate right about now. I keep seeing recipes online for pumpkin rolls, biscuits, and muffins that are Suited to a Paleo diet. They also seem to be suited to a well controlled diabetic diet, so I decided to check them out.

My results were a little different than I expected, but the resulting ‘biscuits’ were quite tasty and great with coffee. They did not rise as I hoped and were very moist – almost like little pumpkin custards rather than what i would consider a biscuit or a roll.

Grain Free Pumpkin Biscuits
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Total Time: 20 min

Ingredients:
-Dry
1 cup blanched almond flour
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 cup arrowroot powder (or tapioca powder)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt, more to taste
-Wet
1/4 cup canned pumpkin (OR unsweetened applesauce)**
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, cold or room temperature (not melted)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with baking liner or parchment paper.

In one bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and whisk together to combine

Roll dough into balls and place on parchment paper. Or in my case drop 1/4 cup of mixture into cupcake pan segments. (Mine came out rather wet.)

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through and flaky. Serve warm with butter.

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My dough was more of a batter.

 

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Finished ‘biscuits’.

Make them more of a sweet roll by adding a touch of cinnamon and raw honey. Or make more of a savory by adding white pepper, garlic, sage, or your favorite savory spices.

Paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, in case you were wondering.

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

 

Simple Almond Flour Waffles

This tuly simple waffle recipe is great for folks on gluten free diets and can be made Paleo in a pinch. It’s also super tasty for folks who simply enjoy waffles!

I admit I found it on the internet and decided to give it a try. The ingredients listed below are what I actually use at home.

Simple Almond Flour Waffles 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 4-6 waffles

 

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Almond flour is creamier in color than wheat flour and has a coarser texture.

Ingredients 
1-1/2 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
oil for brushing waffle iron (if needed)

 

 

 

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Hot waffle iron treated with olive oil spray.

Preheat a waffle iron to medium. Spray or brush with oil if needed just before adding batter.

 

 

 

 

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Push dry ingredients more to the sides, creating a ‘well’. This will allow wet ingredients to be mixed in more readily.

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Note the difference in color and texture of each of the dry ingredients. Arrowroot is white (left), baking soda is a brighter white (far right), and the salt is a greyer white (left side of right-hand photo. These small differences can help you keep track of added ingredients.

dsc_0953Add eggs, milk and honey to bowl and mix until well blended. The mixture will come out similar to cookie dough, though not as visually smooth due to the almond flour.dsc_0954

 

 

 

 

 

dsc_0956Drop approximately 1/2-3/4 cup batter into the waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.

 

 

Serve hot with butter and/or syrup as desired.

 

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Large waffle still on the griddle (left), and a smaller waffle on a salad plate (right).

To make these waffles Paleo friendly, use pure honey or maple syrup (not the stuff that’s full of preservatives or cut with high fructose corn syrup) and a non-dairy milk product. Also be sure to use a fine ground sea salt.

If you prefer not to use honey, an equal amount of molasses, maple or another syrup may be used instead.

While arrowroot is easy for me to find locally, you may substitute an equal amount of tapioca starch or coconut flour.

“Oh, holy low carb, Batman!”
– Me, excited about being able to eat waffles again.

This recipe came out right the first time for us. Tasty, fluffy, though obviously with the
slightly grainy texture of almond flour. Even after they have cooled off, they were delicious
and went outstandingly well with fried chicken tenders.

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Chicken and Waffles!

— Ann Cathey

Corned Beef Hash Quiche Tarts

My partner is Irish and has a distinct affinity for corned beef and potatoes. I wanted something that I could serve for breakfast that wasn’t just hash on a plate with a biscuit and eggs. The idea for this dish came to me one evening in the grocery, where I wound up hunting down the individual ingredients for availability.

Corned Beef Hash Quiche TartsDSC_0024
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 tarts

Ingredients
1 15oz can corned beef hash
8 eggs
1 can crescent roll dough, large
8 tsp heavy whipping cream
8 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
baking spray or olive oil

Preheat oven to temperature required for the crescent roll dough. If using a toaster oven, increase heat according to your experienced usage. (My toaster oven requires a 50 degree increase.)

Spray insides of cups on a standard 12 cup muffin tin. Adjust size of tray for your oven or for larger individual cups.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and cream until you have a uniform color and consistency. You should have some froth appearing.


Open crescent  roll dough and roll out on a glass board. Do not use flour. Separate dough in pairs, making long strips of 2 triangles each. Pinch seams shut. Cut each strip into three relatively equal squares.

Place one square of dough into each individual cup and pat with fingertips to ensure that the bottom of the cup is covered. You may push some of the dough gently up the sides if desired.

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Place one tablespoon of hash into each cup, spreading it out to roughly cover the bottom of the dough.

Place a hefty tablespoon of Swiss cheese into each cup. Make sure to tuck in any stray strand so that they are contained and will not melt onto the pan and make a mess.

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Whisk egg mixture again lightly to reverse any separation. Pour egg mixture in a thin stream into each cup, making sure to cover all the cheese with at least a thin layer of liquid. Do not over fill (as shown in photo). Leave about a quarter of an inch space in the cup above the level of the egg. The egg mixture will rise like a muffin, creating a lovely dome top that may spill over onto the connective tray.

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Place tray into the preheated oven and cook for the time directed on the package of dough.

When ready, remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Use a spatula or other plastic implement to loosen he sides for easy removal.

Serve with a spot of sour cream on top, or a sprinkle of cheese. You might also accompany with these Crock Pot German Style Potatoes, the recipe for which is coming up next week.
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As with most of my recipes, there are plenty of variations that may be used. Add a bit of garlic or salt to the eggs. Dice and toss in some bell pepper for a bit of color. Top with bacon. Be creative and combine flavor that please your taste buds. A sprinkle of parsley flakes on top before baking will help to differentiate any tarts with additional or customized ingredients.

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

Home-made Pot Pies

Whether you prefer to make them single serving size, or make larger family sized pies, pot pies are a wonderful dish to serve warm on a cold evening.

You can use traditional recipes, making your crust from scratch and cooking up a stew-pot of sauce and veggies. You can also use a lot of modern day short cuts as you will see below.

CRUSTY CONCEPTS
For single serving pot pies, grab a can of biscuit dough in your favorite variety. Separate the biscuits on a board and using a rolling pin, roll them out flat while retaining their round shape.

Using a cup cake tin, line each cup with one rolled out biscuit. Add your filling (we’ll discuss that below), and use a second rolled out biscuit to cap the cup. Inch the edges together and slit the top for a steam vent. You might also use a quarter of a biscuit on top as dumpling instead of a cap.

Bake these as directed on the biscuit container. When they come hot out of the over, top with a bit of grated cheese and serve warm.

Another crust short-cut for family sized pies is to use pre-made pie crusts or pizza dough. For pie shells, pre-bake them for ten minutes before filling. This will give you a better, less soggy texture. Pizza crusts are great to slice and weave for a beautiful cap on the pies. You can also skip the lining crust and just use a lattice on top to reduce your carbs a bit.

FILLINGS
Broken meats, or meats purchased specifically for pie fillings are both good to work with. Canned chicken, turkey, beef or ham will bring an extra load of salt and preservatives to the dish, but they are also very handy.

If your meats need to be cooked first, use a fat-free or low-sodium broth to start your filling out.

Fresh vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, or turnips should be diced to 1/2 inch cubes and tossed in with the cooking meat to cook through. Peas and mushrooms, which cook much faster, should be added later in the process. Remember that mushrooms release a lot of water.

Leftover veggies are also great for this dish. They are precooked and ready to be tossed into the sauce. Baked potatoes, savory yams, buttered carrots are all likely candidates. Drain them well, skin them if you prefer, and dice them to a comfortable size before adding them.

Canned veggies, which are of course already fully cooked, should be drained thoroughly before being added to anything. Again, low or no-salt is encouraged.

For the sauce, follow your recipe for the next few steps. If you are taking short cuts, you might consider a condensed cream soup such as a cream of mushroom, asparagus, chicken or potato. Do not add any liquids! You do not want your sauce to be runny.

Turn the soup out into a bowl. Fold in your meats, veggies, and additional spices you may desire. Garlic, onion, rosemary and thyme are a good mix for most meats.

If you find yourself in need of a thickening agent, don’t rely on corn-starch. While it works very well, it also adds a lot of carbs/sugars and calories to your dish. Use finely grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano, as thickeners. These are a tasty addition as well adding extra protein.

Fill your pastry cups 3/4 of the way with whichever mixture you decide to use. Cap, lattice or dumpling the tops and bake as directed.

SERVING
Unlike most dishes that are called “pies” the inside of a pot pie of this sort will not gelatinize. You will wind up with a very thick stew in a shell. Be prepared to spoon out some extra filling if you serve family sized pies, and to be very careful when popping the individual pies out of the baking cups. Place your serving in a dish, sprinkle with some shredded cheese and a slice of toasted baguette.

If all of this sounds vague and less like a recipe than an idea, that’s because it is. The variations are seemingly endless, and the choice of ingredients is up to your own tastes. Make your pot pies creamy with chicken and mushrooms, or a bit more tart with turkey and turnips. Use Italian spices and tomato paste for a roseate alternative, or wild onion and venison in a brown gravy style sauce. No matter what angle you choose, it’s sure to be delicious!

— Ann Cathey

Crock Pot Sides

There are an amazing number of side dishes that can be cooked in a crock pot or other slow cooker. I bet you didn’t know that mac-n-cheese and even dinner rolls can be prepared in a slow cooker rather than in a conventional oven. Here are a few recipes to get you started.

These recipes are written more like concepts than with the usual ingredients list due to the many variations that are available for each.

MAC AND CHEESE
Slow cooked mac and cheese is creamier than baked, so make sure to have some nice crusty bread on hand to bring it all together. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups of milk, 12 ounces of evaporated milk, 1/4 cup of melted and cooled butter, three eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour into a buttered crock pot. Add three cups of shredded cheese and 1/2 pound of macaroni. Stir gently to combine and cook on high for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for three more hours.

DINNER ROLLS
Cooking dinner rolls in a slow cooker creates bread that is warm and soft with a steamed bun texture. Take any yeast bread dough and cut into small roll-sized pieces. Put them in a buttered crock pot and let them rise for an hour. Cook the rolls on high for 60 to 90 minutes until they’re no longer sticky. Serve warm, and moan because they’re so delicious.

GERMAN “FRIED” POTATOES
My mother used to do this dish in a cast iron skillet, first on the stove top and finishing in the oven. In experimenting with crock pot cooking, I have discovered that these potatoes can be easily set up and cooked without constantly being watched. Spray or spread a little olive oil in the bottom and lower sides of your crock pot. Add sliced potatoes (skin on is more traditional), thinly sliced raw onion, minced garlic and a bit of salt and pepper to taste in layers to fill the crock pot about half way. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with a spot of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives on top.

POTATOES AU GRATIN
Everyone loves cheesy potatoes, right? As with the potato dish above, spray olive oil to coat the bottom and lower sides of your crock pot. Layer sliced potatoes (skin on or off as you prefer), grated cheese (cheddar, Gouda, or another firm cheese is recommended), and a little minced garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste on each layer if you like. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with a spot of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives on top or just add more grated cheese.

Give these side dishes a try and let us know how you enjoyed them. See if you don’t agree that the crock pot method is a time-saving twist on these home-made favorites.

–Ann Cathey

Food Porn Episode 6

This episode of Food Porn is brought to you by my kitchen. The food photos were, as they have been in this series, culled from stock photography. I’ve added a little info about each one, though I’m told they speak for themselves, especially the ones that scream, “BACON!”

DSC_0247Bunless bacon cheeseburgers! Broiled beef patties, hickory smoked bacon, shredded colbyjack cheese, and kosher dill slices.

 

DSC_0489Okay this one is not from my kitchen, but from a campout we enjoyed a month or so ago. Chicken Enchilada Lasagne with fresh diced tomatoes, a corn and black bean mix, with a side of French bread and butter.

 

Yellow curried chicken over white rice with mini pita on the side.

 

Scrambled ham with spices and ham sandwiched on a fresh butter croissant.

 

photoA heart attack on a butter croissant with coarse mustard, three layers of maple bacon, kosher dills, and colbyjack cheddar cheese.

 

DSC_0248Let’s get another look at that bunless bacon cheeseburger, shall we?

–Ann Cathey

Crock Pot Adventure – Pork Chops

In my kitchen, the “manager’s markdown” items at our local groceries are a boon. Today’s dinner menu is based around several of them that had been purchased and frozen for use on days such as this – when I can’t immediately think of anything to cook.

As I perused the freezers (a top and a chest), my mind began to formulate a plan. Here was a bag of pork chops, there a pack of fresh chives; here a red wine/onion broth from a previous crock pot adventure, there a package of sliced Pancetta. In the dry cabinet there were three large white potatoes. I pulled out a casserole style crock pot and some olive oil spray, and began to compose.

I sprayed the inside of the crock as it does not easily accommodate the liner bags I prefer to use. This one is a 3.5 quart, long and sleek and low. Perfect for chops and other such cuts of meat.

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The potatoes were washed and sliced in rounds. This is how they are sliced for German potatoes (potatoes, onions, and butter, baked into a lovely hot side dish). they were layered into the bottom of the crock with a little seasoned salt and a light spray of olive oil in between the layers. This was topped with a sprinkle of diced chives, and a thin layer of the Pancetta.

Essentially bacon and potatoes – what could be a better base?

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Roasted garlic schmeer

The next layer was the pork chops, the meat of the meal, as it were. They were arranged in a neat, single layer. A bulb of roasted garlic was squeezed out and spread on top of the meat. Already aromatic and slightly sweet to the taste, it would become moreso with this second roasting, flavoring the meat and the potatoes beneath in one fell swoop.

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Frozen broth

 

The broth was set into the microwave on low to thaw from the frozen brick it had become. Full of onions and based in a red wine, the broth was reserved from a previous pork chop crock. Waste not, want not, as they say. In this case it came in quite handy for another dish of pork chops when I had a noticeable lack of red wine available in the kitchen.

Broth over the pork, you can see the previously cooked onions

Broth over the pork, you can see the previously cooked onions

The broth was gently poured over the contents of the pot, covering every available surface. It was followed by a light sprinkle of seasoned salt, then the pot was sealed for the next several hours.

DSC_0381While the pork was roasting, the bread and cheese side was conceived, discussed, and executed.

Pulling out all the leftover cheeses in the fridge, we cubed them and tossed them in a bowl. This included all the odds and ends from a party and some bits that had just not yet been consumed. There was a bit of Monterrey Jack, a couple of different cheddars, a tomato and basil mozzarella, some Romano and parmesan, and I don’t recall what all else.

Using a can of crescent roll dough, it was laid out flat and instead of being cut into the recommended triangles, the seams were pinched shut and it was sliced into 6 squares.

DSC_0385The squares lined a pan of large cupcake cups. The cheese was liberally spooned into each shell. The tops and sides were pulled over the cheese and patted into place. The tray baked at the recommended temperature for 12-15 minutes.

The resulting savory pasty was nom-o-rific!

DSC_0384When the pork was ready, we emplated with the potatoes and pastry for a fantastic meal.

 

 

 

 

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— Ann Cathey

Lees and Trub – Waste Not!

Homebrew! Have I grabbed your attention?

Homebrew lime mead (metheglyn).

Homebrew lime mead (metheglyn).

Mead in the process of freeze distillation.

Mead in the process of freeze distillation.

Having a home-brewer sharing my kitchen, I’m finding out all kinds of nifty things. I have come to understand the basics for brewing beer and mead, and there’s an experiment in freezing the water out of mead to make it stronger going on in my fridge.

Bottled lime mead (metheglyn) showing lees settled at the bottom.

Bottled lime mead (metheglyn) showing lees settled at the bottom.

Then there’s learning what to do with the leftovers. A lot of lees and trub (the yeast goop leftover after the bottling process) get washed down the drain by people who don’t understand what they could be good for. It’s all a waste product, right?

Hardly.

When brewing beer with actual grains, the grains are removed and set aside. What could they possibly be used for after they have been leeched of everything the beer requires of them? Plenty of things come to mind.

Spent grains from beer brewing resting in the deep freeze until needed for a baking project.

Spent grains from beer brewing resting in the deep freeze until needed for a baking project.

Remember that these “spent grains” are sometimes treated with hops, which is toxic to dogs. Don’t even think about making doggie biscuits with them. Spent grains are sometimes used as cattle feed supplements, without apparent harm to the cattle. They also make up some tasty recipes. A few samples of spent grain recipes may be found here.

Mead lees and beer trub in the freezer until it's bread-making time.

Mead lees and beer trub in the freezer until it’s bread-making time.

Trub from beer brewing is also great for making breads and muffins, though the products do tend toward the bitter spectrum. The breads I have tried have been well paired with hearty beef dishes, and sliced thin and piled high with corned beef or pastrami and Swiss. The breads made from trub support strong flavors quite well. If you are into the SCA, Civil War, or other historical reenactment groups, trub breads are both historically accurate and make great trenchers.

Lees are another great way to be creative in the kitchen.

I have not yet had a chance to try it, but lees are apparently quite good in a pork based stew. The sweetness of the honey accentuates the pork in a way only honey can. The yeast acts as a thickener from what I have been told.

Bread made from orange mead lees.

Bread made from orange mead lees.

Lees breads are also a great way to use up all that yeast and flavor. I’ve been lucky enough to have a daughter who cooks. She has made lees bread from mead lees, as well as cinnamon, lemon, orange, and whatever other flavors my other half brews up. Both the mead lees and the lees from metheglyns (mead with spices) and melomels (mead with fruit) have consistently turned up delightfully tasty breads and muffins. We haven’t tried a capsicumel, but it promises to be sweet and spicy!

I have not been able to try out any recipes that include the lees from wine, but I would imagine they would also make for some tasty cooking.

If you are home brewing, or know someone who is, try some of these cooking combinations with the cast offs of the brewing process. you will be able to experience a culinary treat that has been in mankind’s collective kitchen for over a thousand years.

Don’t forget – try the brew, too! It was the starting point for this creation process in the first place!

Homebrew mead on ice.

Homebrew mead on ice.

— Ann Cathey
Photos via Christopher’s cell-phone