Archives for category: diy

Six weeks ago I began the process of attempting to make my own limoncello. The lemon peels have been stewing in a noxious mixture of Everclear and vodka this entire time, waiting to be turned into something delectable.

Still referring to this recipe, today I came much closer to having my very own bottled limoncello. First, I removed as many lemon peels as I could from the lemon/alcohol mixture with a slotted spoon.

I noticed the peels were quite pale and had lost a lot of their yellow color. Apparently this is both normal and good — the lemony color and essence had successfully transferred into the alcohol.
Then I poured the rest of the alcohol mixture through a wet coffee filter, to strain out the other particles and impurities. I had to attach the filter to the funnel with paper clamps, to keep the coffee filter from sliding down. (Later I realized I probably could have strained it through a french press coffee maker, making sure the french press was super clean so my limoncello wouldn’t tase like coffee.)

Then I poured each cup of filtered lemon alcohol into a bowl, on deck until I completed a simple syrup. (I used 4 cups of water, 4 cups of sugar, dissolved the sugar then brought to a boil, boiled for 7 minutes, removed it from heat and let it reach room temperature).
After mixing the simple syrup with the lemon alcohol, it was time to bottle. This recipe made way more than I’d expected so I had to scrounge for bottles and put some of it in a mason jar.

So… how did it taste? Well, according to the recipe I followed I still need to wait another week to let the sugar and lemons and alcohol work their magic, and in the meantime keep the bottles in the freezer. I did have a little taste on ice, and it was pretty good. And strong — I had less than a shot’s worth and determined that this stuff is definitely not just for the ladies. I’m hoping that in a week I’ll have something even more tasty. And maybe I can mix it with a little club soda, fresh lemon juice and fresh mint leaves? Mmmmm…

PS – I’ve been kind of overwhelmed that my bagel post has been on the WordPress Freshly Pressed front page for the last three days. Before this happened, I’d honestly never really even looked at that page and had never considered that a bunch of random people would read any of this. (Otherwise I would’ve written clearer instructions on how to make the bagels!) I started this blog mainly for myself, so I can look back and remember that I actually am accomplishing things in my new city, and to keep friends and family updated on what I’m doing. I’ve had almost 5,000 hits, 80 comments and over 100 likes on that post. Guess people really like bagels. (Well, yeah. That makes sense.) I’m sure most people who checked this blog out probably won’t keep reading, but for those that do, thanks!


I have a few projects going on around my house that I’ve been wanting to post about, but they’re not complete yet. And the limoncello won’t be ready until later this week. So, I’ll post about making bagels.
Yesterday, my friend Jess and I went to a bagel making workshop through Sour Flour. Turns out there’s a bunch of things about making bread and bagels that I didn’t know. At its basic level, bread making can be easy (obviously people have been doing it for centuries), but there’s a lot of nuances to learn once you get really into it.
In the class, we used a starter. I’d never used that before to make bread, always just packet yeast. I didn’t even really know what starter was. Basically, it’s just a goopy mixture of flour and water that you let sit at room temperature for a while — maybe a few days. The mixture then grows its own natural yeast that you use to start up your own bread. You “feed” it periodically by adding more flour or water, to help the yeast “grow”. I asked in the class if you could use beer instead of water in the starter — yes, you can. Your starter might grow differently, and your bread might taste a bit like the beer. I’ve made beer bread before, but that’s actually pretty different from this process.
Back to bagels. We mixed together (by hand) about 3 1/2 cups high-gluten flour (aka bread flour), 1tbsp salt, and about 2 cups of water. And a clumpy handful of starter. Then there was kneading, then resting, then stretching thin like pizza dough, then resting, then rolling into snakes and then rolling into little logs. Then forming into six bagel-like shapes.
I let the doughy bagel shapes proof overnight (aka rest), and woke up to find that they’d doubled in size. This is what they looked like this morning:

Then I boiled them for 3 minutes and added toppings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, sesame seeds).

Then baked ’em. 15 minutes at approximately 475° (my oven has really funky temperatures, and no markings on the dial). I probably could have baked them just shy of the 15-minute mark. They weren’t burnt, but they were definitely toasty on the bottom.

I’ve come to the conclusion that making bagels isn’t really as difficult as I once thought, but it helps to kind of know what you’re doing. Splitting up the tasks made it seem like a lot less work — I liked making the dough the day before and popping them in the oven in the morning. And considering the fact that these are the best bagels I’ve had since leaving NYC, it’s probably worth it to attempt these again.

I signed up to take a calligraphy class way back in January. Just had the first one yesterday. I’m definitely not a master yet, can’t even make any full words, but hopefully I’ll make some progress over the next few weeks. One of the main things I’ve realized is that calligraphy is not a form of handwriting– it’s much more like drawing. You kind of have to unlearn how you actually write things, and then relearn how to draw each letter. And it’s time consuming. Our instructor, a master calligrapher, told us she can address about 10 envelopes per hour. Which isn’t very fast, but she’s been doing this for 23 years. So it’s a hobby you’ve got to have patience with. Still, I think it’s a gorgeous dying art and worth the effort. I can’t wait till I can write full phrases and create my own embellishments.

My patio is coming together. I just got a couple of these fun macrame chairs off Craigslist. You can’t tell in this pic, but the darker yarn is purple. I love them. They’re so hideously perfect. Probably because I’m young (relatively speaking) and an urbanite, I had no idea that macrame lawn chairs were a thing. Seems like they hit their stride in the 70s/80s, and have dwindled a bit in recent years save for old lady diehards and people who like to make chairs for their favorite sports team. But I found some instructions and patterns online, and have also discovered that these types of chairs are “waterproof, sunproof” and will “last 20 years”. Awesome! Maybe I’ll attempt some more kitschy patterns and colors. Seems like a summer project and potential gift idea.