Our beer-brewing equipment arrived today! The packaging was not robust — every box had some fairly substantial damage. There’s a dent inside the kettle and one of the fermenters has a pushed in section (supposedly this will pop right out when we fill it). My first surprise was that we got a DigiBoil in a box and the mash upgrade kit in another box. The kettle is even branded as DigiBoil. Which … from a manufacturing / material standpoint makes sense. Why would they have two different sets of packaging and product labels? And three different SKU’s — DigiBoil, DigiMash kit, DigiBoil Mash Upgrade. It was a better deal buying the DigiBoil package — the DigiMash 65L was $259.99 and the mash upgrade $89.99, so we saved ten bucks ordering
We saw a DigiBoil at the local homebrew shop when we stopped by to pick up yeast. Scott had been pricing out a three-kettle system with pumps (along with some sort of table) and it wasn’t cheap. The DigiBoil was about 200 bucks. I took a quick picture of it to research later. Quickly discounted it as an option because it’s just a big pot with electric elements to boil water. We needed something for mashing too.
At which point we decided to shop around and see what other options were available. There’s the Grainfather — super expensive and, if I wanted to walk away while it cooked, I’d want to go farther than Bluetooth range. We came across Brewzilla — the software controls of a Grainfather minus connectivity, but 650 bucks is a lot more reasonable for a 65L brewing platform. Unfortunately, the 3.1 version starts the timer when the elements kick in to reach that temperature. Version 3.1.1 systems change this logic so the timer starts once the temperature is reached. The control board can be swapped out, but I really don’t want to blow fifty bucks upgrading something I bought this week. And, while there were some 65L 3.1.1 Brewzilla’s hit the US at the start of 2020, suppliers are all awaiting delivery “late summer 2020”, “late September 2020”, or “Autumn 2020” … which I took to mean “we don’t know when”. Understandable, but pretty much put the Brewzilla out of the running.
I came across a Mash & Boil — a 35L system with re-circulation pump is about 350. Decent price, but there’s no 65L system. Same with the Anvil Foundry — where a 6.5 and 10.5 system are available.
In looking at the Brewzilla, I found a mash upgrade kit for the DigiBoil. And a kit which includes both the mash upgrade and DigiBoil called a DigiMash. Both a 120V and a 240V 35L DigiMash are available, as well as a 240V 65L system. At around 240 bucks for the 240V 35L system, it’s a great deal compared to a three-kettle system. Because we frequently do double batches and potentially recipes with larger grainbills, the 18 pound capacity was limiting. At 340 bucks for the 65L DigiMash, it sounded like a great deal. No re-circulation pump, but it’s easy enough to hook a pump up to the output valve. Brewzilla has a port in the bottom of the vessel that goes down to a pump under the unit — a short silicone tube connects to the pot and another short silicone tube that connects to the metal fitting through the side-wall of the vessel. On the video we found, that tube was pretty cruddy looking … which isn’t exactly a selling point.
DigiMash doesn’t have the software-control of Brewzilla — you can set a 158F mash temp and come back and hour later, but you cannot perform step mashing. Which … not something we’ve done. And, really, you could. You’d just have to change the temps manually. It sounds like an interesting experiment to put together an ESP12e and a few relays to control the elements. Potentially, we could turn the DigiMash into an open source customizable controllable (and WiFi connected) brewing system.
Cinnamon Sugar AlmondsCourse: SnacksDifficulty: Easy
2 egg whites
2 tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups unblanched almonds
2/3 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 300 F
- Beat egg whites until frothy; beat in vanilla. Add almonds and stir to coat.
- Combine sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add to nut mixture and stir gently to coat.
- Spread evenly on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Stir and bake for another 10-15 minutes (until crispy).
I got a bunch of flavoring to make carbonated flavored water. In the process of researching all-in-one electric brewing systems, I happened across a recipe to make a *hop* sparkling water!
Boil water for 10 minutes to sterilize. Chill to 170 degrees. Add a bit of lemon or lime juice to drop PH to 4.6. Add ~2 grams of hops per gallon of water and let stand 20 minutes to make a hop tea. Filter out hops. Keg hop tea and carbonate. Voila, hop soda.
Creamy Corn ChowderCourse: Dinner, SoupsCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs
6 cups stock (veggie, chicken)
1 lb potatoes, diced
2 tbsp corn starch
Bacon (or veggie bacon)
- Melt the butter in a stock pot and saute onions until translucent.
- Add garlic and saute until fragrant
- Add corn kernels and saute until they start to caramelize
- Add stock, corn cobs, and potatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Mix cornstarch with a little water to form non-Newtonian fluid. Slowly mix into soup to thicken broth.
- Near the end of cooking time, saute bacon.
- Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bacon.
Krispy Kale ChipsCourse: SnacksCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Wash kale, dry, and slice
- Toss kale with olive oil and salt
- Set convection oven to 325 degrees F and roast for 10 minutes. Turn kale over and roast for another 5-10 minutes
- This is a great snack, but I also use it as a crunchy topping on hearty stews.
Turns out you can cook corn directly on the grill. When we bought our grill eight or nine years ago, I found a recipe has you peel back the husk, remove the silk, re-wrap the corn in the husk, and soak it all in saltwater for an hour. That is a lot of lead time, and we wrapped up our yard work at 9PM this evening … so an extra hour and a half or so to get the corn ready wasn’t going to happen.
But if you shuck the corn, baste it with a little olive oil, and toss it on the grill … turn the ears every 3-4 minutes to avoid scorching … it is delicious. Total cook time was somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes over medium-high flame. The grill itself was open a lot (every 3 or 4 minutes to turn it, plus checking on the burgers).
Garlic Yogurt Salad DressingCourse: SaladsCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
2 cups Greek yogurt
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1-2 tsp salt
- Combine all ingredients and mix well – adding salt to taste.
- Served over a combination of romaine lettuce, onions, and cucumbers.
Oven Roasted MushroomsCourse: DinnerCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Salt / pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- While oven heats, clean mushrooms and slice
- Toss mushrooms with olive oil (about a tablespoon per pound of mushroom) and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper
- Change to convection at 400 degrees. Roast mushrooms for 10-15 minutes, stir and flip, and roast for another 10-15 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
- Pan roasted mushrooms take a long time — there’s only so much space in a pan, and raw mushrooms are much larger than their cooked counterparts. Scott loves strogonoff, but it takes me HOURS to make it simply because two pounds of mushrooms take HOURS to cook. Using two large roasting pans, I was able to roast three pounds of mushrooms in under an hour (including washing, cutting, and cooking). By making the sauce and egg noodles while the mushrooms roast, I had strogonoff ready in about an hour (and that’s because I let the mushrooms simmer in the sauce for about fifteen minutes to absorb flavours).
Baked Breaded FishCourse: FoodCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
4 fillets of tilapia
- Panko Mixture
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Egg Mixture
1 tablespoon chili seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil
- Flour Mixture
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Heat the oven to 425 F
- Oil a baking tray
- Blend the egg mixture ingredients in a bowl
- Blend the flour mixture ingredients in a bowl
- Blend the panko mixture ingredients in a bowl
- Dip fish filet in flour mixture, then egg mixture. Then dip in panko mixture and press to ensure crumbs adhere to fish.
- Place each filet on oiled baking tray
- Using convection oven at 400 degrees F, bake for 15 minutes, turn fish, and bake for 5 more minutes
- Serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges