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Friday, April 29, 2011

Mash tuns available, great price & quality

This just in! Mash tuns are now available at Siciliano's Market for the bargain-basement price of only $125.00 (+tax). We think it's a great deal for a great product, and we think our customers will agree. Here's Siciliano staffer Doug Dorda to say more about the features these mash tuns have to offer -- take it away, Chug!

Siciliano's Mash Tun Features

  • False bottom to minimize dead space & maximize efficiency
  • Stainless steel fittings to ensure maximum cleanliness & durability
  • 10-gallon capacity to easily accommodate double batches or monster single batches
  • Thick cooler insulation to maximize thermal capacity
  • Ball valve to easily control flow rates
  • Handsome I "pint glass" MI sticker
  • All parts available for individual sale
We have several mash tuns currently in stock and, barring any blights down on the old cooler farm, we will continue to keep several in stock indefinitely. Feel free to stop in for a closer look or with any questions that you have.

See you soon!

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Spring's Early Bounty: Wild Leeks

    By Alexander Atkin

    Wild leeks, also known by other names - ramp, spring onion, ramson, and wild garlic - can be found in forests from South Carolina all the way north to where the taiga forest begins in Canada.


    Among the first to shoulder out of the cold early Spring soil, leeks are abundant in forests all over West Michigan. Typically occurring in patchy oases, they are easily spied by their bifurcated broad green leaves which look somewhat similar to those of lilies.

    Sheathed Leek

    Though shallow-rooted, leeks are not particularly easy to unearth. A small garden spade will do the trick. When uprooted, the bulb is covered by a dirt-sodden sheath which is easily removed.

    The exposed bulb; oniony goodness

    While the entire leek plant is edible, the bulb is most prized. With a pungent garlic-onion aroma and flavor, these wild members of the onion family make a spectacular addition to any dish that might normally call for onions. If cleaned and refrigerated, leeks will keep for months. I usually have some left to enjoy all the way through to the fall, if I can manage to use them sparingly.

    Chicago's Namesake?

    Traveling the area near the southern terminus of Lake Michigan in the 17th century, French explorer René-Robert Cavelier named the area Chicago after the name given to wild leeks by the local natives. His naturalist noted the area's dense growth of the vegetable.

    Foraging is a part of humanity as ancient as any other. Taking a few hours to walk in woodlands and find wild edibles is a rewarding experience, and a rare chance to reconnect to once-common traditions now nearly lost in the wake of modern civilization. Take care to follow a reliable guide as there are sometimes poisonous mimics to certain plants and fungi. However, wild leeks have no closely resembling species, so the risk of mistakenly bringing home something else is very low. If you wish to forage on private lands, be sure to obtain permission beforehand. No wild edible is worth dodging bullets.

    Lastly, only take what you and your family can reasonably consume. You may come across patches of several hundred leeks, but there are areas of the country that have known exploitation and local extinction. A good forager always leaves some behind to maintain the species and natural balance of the ecosystem.

    Siciliano's staffer Alexander Atkin lives and forages in Grand Rapids, MI, where the edibles are wild in more ways than one.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Vote BULL, Support Michigan Literature

    By Chris Siciliano (with help from Tim Chilcote)

    BULL: Men’s Fiction, a literary journal run by Buzz contributor and Michigan blogger Tim Chilcote, needs your help. BULL is one of five finalists vying for 100K in funding through the Dockers “Wear the Pants” contest. BULL needs YOUR VOTES*—one a day, every day this week—to win this unprecedented sum for an independent literary journal.

    With your vote and $100,000 in-pocket, BULL will carry on the literary traditions of Michigan writers like Ernest Hemingway and Jim Harrison, and lend support to a new generation of talented Great Lakes authors. Ultimately BULL intends to grow into a full-scale publishing house, one providing good men (and women, too) with consistently good fiction, no different than the way our favorite breweries provide us all with consistently good beer.

    I first met BULL’s managing editor, Tim Chilcote, in an English class at Western Michigan University. Tim and I were roommates in Prague during our time abroad (pivo anyone?), and roommates again in Portland, Oregon during our lean, post-collegiate years. I know Tim well and can say with confidence that no person is more deserving of this money and your vote.

    I also happen to believe wholeheartedly in BULL's mission: simply put, to get men reading again. It's a worthy objective and one that, I admit, as a contributing writer to BULL, I have a personal interest in seeing pan out.

    The campaign is run through BULL’s editor-in-chief, Jarrett Haley. He's the passionate lad in the video below (look for his mug on the voting page as well).

    To learn more about the contest and BULL visit or go straight to vote through the Dockers Facebook app:

    *A note from Tim: Unfortunately, voting takes place on a third-party Facebook application, so you need to “like” Dockers and allow Levi’s access to your most basic profile info. I would only offer that khaki pants are much more trustworthy than Facebook itself, so you’ve no need to worry any more than usual.

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Recipe: No-knead spelt (50%)

    By Chris Siciliano

    Of the several interesting types of bread grain Siciliano's now carries, the one that currently excites me most is our organic spelt. Thanks to its relative friendliness to people sensitive (not intolerant) to gluten, this 8,000-year-old precursor to modern wheat is today a common alternative to regular white flour. However, deserving of more than just the "alternative" label, spelt can be a worthwhile, tasty addition to your regular cache of every-day ingredients.

    Whoever spelt it, dealt it.

    In Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes, Jeffrey Hamelman (who is to baking what John Palmer is to brewing) has this to say about spelt:
    It has attributes similar to regular wheat in bread baking, such as a high protein level and sufficient gluten to produce breads with reasonable volume. It is nutritionally similar if not superior to wheat. Another important benefit of spelt is that it can be tolerated by people with certain wheat allergies.
    Aside from the health benefits, we're finding that bread made from spelt has excellent flavor, a little nuttier maybe, a little sweeter than traditional all-wheat bread. The recipe below--equal parts fresh-milled spelt and natural white flour--produces both a crumb and texture comparable to that of similar all-wheat formulas. This is a hearty, healthy, feel-good-about-yourself kind of bread, good for toast and sandwiches of all kinds. (Please see this post here for a discussion and directions on using the no-knead method of bread baking.)


    • 227 grams (8oz) "natural premium" white flour (or any good, non-bleached white flour)
    • 227 grams (8oz) fresh-milled organic spelt berries (grind medium-fine to course; you should see bran flecks in the flour, and the flour should feel slightly gritty)
    • 312 grams (11oz) water
    • 10 grams (1.5 tsp) salt
    • 1 gram (1/4 tsp) Saf-instant yeast
    Notes & Tips

    • Several sources suggest cutting back on water when using spelt flour. Hence the recipe above calls for only 11 ounces of H20 and not the usual 12. Apparently spelt hydrates faster and more thoroughly than regular wheat flour. Though I don't yet have enough experience with spelt to verify this, I can attest to the quality of dough this particularly recipe makes, regardless of the difference in overall hydration.
    • If you've got designs on baking this recipe for a gluten-sensitive loved one, keep in mind that using one-half pound of wheat flour will likely negate the gluten-friendly benefits spelt otherwise has to offer.
    • The last time I made this recipe, I doubled it and used half the dough to make pitas. This was a good decision. Pitas made from this recipe are chewy and incredibly flavorful, as perfect a compliment to sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, and feta (for dinner) as they are to peanut butter and bananas (breakfast). Recipe coming soon!
    As always, if you have have tips, comments, questions, or concerns, please send them our way. Happy baking (and eating) everyone!

    Spelt close-up

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Harry Winston, Part VI

    Our old friend Harry is back at it and only a day after his last post, which you can read here. Join him now as he attempts to explain what it is about Samantha Lowe that makes him so uneasy.  

    After taking care of some rather nasty business in Chicago recently I unwound with a few pints of Alpha King at The Map Room then went to Gene & Giorgetti’s where I had a bottle of a second growth Bordeaux with a thick, dry-aged porterhouse. I went to the Art Institute the next morning and spent about an hour looking at a painting that I particularly like. What I find most striking about this portraiture is the way that Rembrandt used elements of light and dark, a technique called chiaroscuro. I’m going to employ this technique while painting the following portrait of Samantha Lowe.

    The black background in the portrait contrasts sharply with the brightly illuminated face. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful, well-proportioned face, one side of which is bathed in light, the other faintly dimmed by shadow. The face has high cheekbones, a delicate, slightly upturned nose, and full lips that, when seen from differing perspectives, may present the barest hint of a frown, an indifferent pout, or a vaguely enchanting, somewhat mischievous smile. There are perfectly formed dark eyebrows underneath a snow white, flawlessly smooth forehead onto which drops a single curving wisp of coal-black hair. But ultimately it’s the eyes that you are drawn to. The eyes are dark and are surrounded by shadow. They seem dangerous, and if you look directly into them they in turn bore into you; if you merely glance at them the way you would glance at the sun, they appear to be focused inward, as if they were reflecting upon privileged, esoteric knowledge or, perhaps, some secret, unspeakable sorrow.

    After Samantha Lowe walked into darkened bar from the late afternoon light she stood just inside the door and those eyes slowly surveyed the room. Jimmie was standing behind the bar and when he saw her he looked over at me, frowned, then went back to his crossword. The Crazy Hippie was asleep at a table and when he felt those eyes pass over him he suddenly snapped awake and blinked a couple of times before looking down at the floor. Two regulars who were playing pool stood with their mouths slightly open and I thought they were going to genuflect. But it was Charles Brewster’s reaction that was most puzzling. He had moved to the bar, and when Samantha looked at him he coolly returned her gaze and gave her a slight, almost imperceptible nod.

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    The Adventures of Harry Winston, Part V

    Ladies and gentlemen, allow us to present the fifth installment in the continuing saga of one Mr. Harry Winston. Today we learn more about Harry's favorite barkeep, Jimmie O'Doyle. (Please click here to read last week's installment).

    Jimmie O’Doyle has owned Beason’s for over thirty years. To survive that long in the bar business, especially a bar on the lower west side, you have to be tough and sometimes you have to be mean. Jimmie’s tough, sometimes mean, but he also has a soft side. I’ve seen him throw guys twice his size out of the bar, watched him kick the shit out of two drunken bikers, observed him in action with the sawed off pool cue and stopped him one night from killing some dude who came after him with a switchblade. But I also watched him pick up a dying butterfly off the sidewalk and gently place it in a patch of weeds beside the curb. I saw him wipe a tear from his eye one night while he was sitting at the bar watching a movie, and I’ve seen him fry up free burgers for the neighborhood bums. He used to run drink tabs for customers who were short on cash but stopped doing that after his ex-wife blew the whistle and the MLCC busted him.

    His office has the ying/yang symbol painted on one of the cinder block walls. It took a week for The Crazy Hippie to paint it and Jimmie was so impressed that he gave The Crazy Hippie five hundred bucks. The Crazy Hippie lives upstairs in one of the apartments and Jimmie lets him live there for free in exchange for doing odd jobs around the bar. He does a good job fixing whatever breaks despite the fact that he has one eye, one leg, and three fingers missing from one of his hands. He was working as an upholsterer in the furniture factory across the street when he got drafted and after basic training he came home and married his high school sweetheart. He was in a jeep when it hit an anti-tank mine in Saigon during the Tet offensive. When he first came home he was just a little strange. It was after he couldn’t find a job and his wife divorced him that he went crazy. He’s drunk every day by noon but he’s not a mean drunk and there’s nothing about him that’s evil. The things that happened to him made him crazy but they didn’t make him evil. We all have the capacity for doing good and the potential for being evil. Like the ying/yang symbol on the wall in Jimmie’s office, we all have a light side and a dark side.

    The second I saw Samantha Lowe get out of her car I should have gone into Jimmie’s office. I should have sat in Jimmie’s office for five minutes looking at the ying/ yang symbol and then my mind would have cleared. I knew when I first heard her voice that Samantha had a strong dark side but I didn’t realize how strong it was until I saw her. I try not to judge people but I found myself judging Samantha Lowe because she was evil. If you know someone has a strong dark side you should just deal with it accordingly. You shouldn’t judge them because you might have turned out the same way they did if the things that happened to them had happened to you. If you start judging people your rational mind prevents you from listening to your intuitions and then you might make wrong decisions. And when you’re in my business, making wrong decisions can get you in a lot of trouble.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Rowster: new American coffee? Lets hope so

    By Chris Siciliano

    A version of the following post is scheduled to appear in the May, 2011 issue of Recoil Magazine.

    “Soft on the palate, with subtle undertones of blackberries.” To walk in on the above conversation mid-sentence, you would think Kurt Stauffer was not describing coffee, but rather his favorite bottle of wine or, more likely, this being Michigan, a new summer beer from Shorts, Bells, or New Holland Brewing. The fact is, Stauffer, expert coffee roaster and owner of ROWSTER New American Coffee, was describing his popular Burundi roast, and doing so with such delicious-sounding descriptors that all within ear-shot began to salivate like Pavlov’s dog.

    Stauffer’s enthusiasm for good, let’s call it craft coffee, is matched only by Stephen Curtis’, sitting vice-president of Rowster and barista extraordinaire. One small-batch, custom roast at a time, these two are doing for coffee what others have been doing for craft beer for the last twenty-five years: reminding us that drinking and eating too need not be purely utilitarian activities, but can (and should?) be moments of complete transcendence and, for some, the culmination of years of study, obsession, and fervent attention to detail. Like the brewers at Founders, the bakers at Nantucket, the chefs at Winchester and Vivant, like any number of craft-anything pioneers across the city, state, and country, the guys at Rowster are hell-bent on achieving mastery in their chosen field, which, in this case – and lucky for us – just happens to be coffee.

    Lucky too that Rowster moved recently from their original back-room location on Cherry into a spacious storefront in the up-and-coming Wealthy St. business district. It used to be you could only buy Rowster coffee by the pound for at-home consumption. Now, thanks to the new larger space, you can enjoy it by the cup as well. Just be sure to have a few extra minutes when you go. Rowster sets out no self-serve carafes to expedite service, nor do they have an honor jar for customers who don’t have time to wait. These things, though sensible, even appreciated in other coffee houses, would be completely out of place at Rowster, where each cup of coffee is brewed individually, to-order, and not until the customer asks for it. The decision to put quality above all else, including convenience, might sound like utter sacrilege to those who subscribe to the prevailing fast-food sensibilities of our time, but Stauffer and Curtis would have it no other way.

    The single-cup, “clever coffee” brewing system employed by Rowster has several advantages. Nothing if not efficient, it delivers just about the smoothest, most well-balanced coffee you can find. It also ensures quality by virtue of freshness. (Like most things, coffee degrades the longer it sits around, not a problem at Rowster.) Again, the goal is not speed, but rather the enjoyment of delicate, naturally fruity flavor compounds otherwise locked within the coffee grounds. By catering exclusively to taste Rowster stays true to their governing philosophy: done correctly, a good cup coffee can (and should) be so much more than merely a vehicle for caffeine or sugar. It can be a culinary experience no less thought-provoking than a rare Belgian beer, yet no less accessible than, well, a cup of good coffee.

    This philosophy informs not just their brewing process, but the roasting operation as well. Instead of over-manipulating the raw or “green” coffee bean to achieve some pre-determined end, Rowster uses the tools available to highlight and tease out the implicit character of the bean itself. It’s their opinion that exceptional coffee, like good wine, comes from careful production practices, sure, but more so from terroir – that is, the environmental factors in which the bean was grown. The region, the variety, the processing, the weather, these variables matter as much if not more than what Stauffer and Curtis can do on roasting day. In a sense, the guys do their best simply to get out of the way, letting the natural complexity and potential of the bean lead them where it will.

    This is not to say they don’t have their own style. In the same way a microbrewery or winery or even a restaurant strives to establish a defining or overarching flavor profile, Rowster too strives to cultivate a unique identity across every roast in their bullpen. Their coffee, no matter the variety, tends to be on the lighter side, bright with sparkling acidity; this as opposed to the heavy-bodied, chewy coffees available from other roasters, which are no better or worse, just different. Stauffer likes to think of his roasts as “over-achievers”, coffee that pleases with balance and subtlety rather than boldness and brutish intensity.

    In any case, it’s coffee worth checking out, by the pound or by the cup, both options are available. Espresso, cappuccino, and other drinks are available as well. ROWSTER New American Coffee is located at 632 Wealthy Street SE, two blocks west of Eastern.



     The real star of the show

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    A tribute to a beer-loving golden retriever

    By Steve Siciliano

    I was finishing an order when Barb called.

    “Cody’s not good,” she said.

    “I know.”

    “He’s bleeding pretty badly.”

    “I know.”

    That morning at home I had watched Cody, our golden retriever, licking his paw while he lay on the tile floor next to the back door and it was then that I knew it was time. The more he licked the more the tumor on the lower jaw inside his mouth bled. Two weeks before, Dr. Chudy had removed a similar tumor but in those two weeks another had grown. “I’m quite sure it’s cancer,” he told us after the surgery. “We’ll just have to see what happens.” When I left for the store that morning, all the fur on Cody’s left side was red.

    I knew it was time but I was hoping that Barb was going to tell me that she was able to once again stop the bleeding. When I got home she was crying. “Do you think I should feed him before you go?” she asked.


    I had to lift Cody into the back of the Blazer. That had nothing to do with the cancer. He was just too old to jump that high anymore. In two weeks he would have been fourteen.

    While I drove I thought about snippets from Cody Joe’s life—about the time he busted through the screen door trying to get at a squirrel, about the time we came home and found shredded books on the floor of the living room, how he would pick my socks up off the floor and proudly present them to me as if they were birds, how he loved the water, how he loved retrieving tennis balls, how he loved chasing squirrels up the back yard walnut trees, how he would follow me from one room to another and lay at my feet, and how during backyard store parties he would walk around tipping over glasses, lapping beer from the ground with the same enthusiasm of any life-long beer geek. Like the rest of us, Cody Joe loved his beer.

    In one of the private rooms in the clinic I sat on the thick carpeted floor with Cody’s head in my lap. I caressed his head while the tumor bled on my hand and arm. While we waited I thought about the first time I had to do this, almost thirty years ago. I thought about Winston, an English setter, standing on a cold examination table. I was shocked at how fast the pentobarbital worked, and I tried holding up Winston's collapsing, dying body. I wasn’t going to let that happen to Cody.

    I had my cry on the way home. It was a good cry. Cody was gone but I still had his memory.

    Later that evening Barb and I went to Founders. We sat at the bar and somehow it felt good to be surrounded by people. It felt good to be sitting in a familiar place, surrounded by familiar faces, drinking a good beer, every so often talking softly to each other about Cody. A familiar pub is a good place to sit when you’re happy, but it’s also a good place to sit silently in sorrow.

    When we left the sun was just dipping below the horizon

    “Beautiful sky,” I said.

    “It is,” Barb replied.

    I looked at the rays of light reflecting off the crimson clouds. “Maybe Cody’s out there somewhere,” I said.

    Barb put her hand on my arm. “Maybe he is.”

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    The Adventures of Harry Wintson - Part 4

    Today yet another offering from local private eye, Harry Winston. First-time readers might want to have a look at Mr. Winston's previous installments, found here, here, and here. Long-time readers rest assured, there's more from Harry on the way.  

    I told Charles Brewster, the young man I had met at Founder’s and whose case I took because I felt sorry for him, that I would meet him that evening at Beason’s. I had told Samantha Lowe to meet me at seven so I told Brewster to come by about six. I don’t have an office so I conduct a lot of business at Beason’s. It’s a tired bar in the middle of dying factories and boarded up warehouses just north of Bridge Street. It’s rarely busy there and the rough clientele, mostly a shot and a beer crowd, have learned to leave me alone. According to Jimmie it was busy once. That was when the factories were running three shifts. Up front by the door there’s one of those old teller windows where Jimmie used to cash paychecks. He likes telling the story about the time someone tried to rob him and he blew the guy away with a shotgun.

    I meet with clients in a U-shaped booth with ripped leather seats that is tucked into an alcove next to the front windows. Jimmie doesn’t let anybody sit there but me and if somebody does sit there, whether I’m in the bar or not, Jimmie tells them to move. If someone gives him shit about moving, Jimmie just walks away and comes back with a sawed off pool cue.

    After Charles Brewster sat down I pushed a manila envelope across the table and watched his face while he studied the photographs I had taken of his pretty wife and a handsome, well-dressed man. In one of the pictures his wife and that man were holding hands in a fancy restaurant. In another they were doing things in a parked car. In yet another they were leaving a motel room. When Brewster was done looking at the pictures he put his head in his hands and cried. That’s why I don’t like taking those cases.

    I looked at the neon Stroh’s clock above the bar and thought about having a beer. Jimmie keeps Two Hearted in one of the coolers behind the bar just for me. I really wanted a Two Hearted but I also wanted to clear my mind so I told Jimmie to make a pot of tea. The tea too he keeps around just for me. While I sipped the tea I smoked my pipe and stared out the front window. I wondered what Brewster was going to do and I hoped that whatever it was wasn’t going to be stupid. “I’m going to kill the son-of-bitch,” he said after he stopped crying. “Don’t be stupid,” I told him. “I’m going to kill them both,” he said. “No you’re not,” I told him. While I knew that Brewster wasn’t the type of man who could kill someone I thought that he was quite capable of roughing up a woman. I also thought it was a distinct possibility that he might fire a bullet into his brain. Some men just do crazy things when a woman betrays them. I know that for a fact. While I was thinking about somebody finding Brewster with a bullet in his head I saw a black Lexus pull up and park and I knew the woman who got out of that car was Samantha Lowe. I told Brewster it was time for him to leave.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Not just beer, wine geeks too

    By Steve Siciliano

    Long before I understood IBUs, Belgian quads, or the difference between ales and lagers, I developed a fascination for wine. That fascination eventually matured into love; but my first exposure to a premium wine, a German white that I happened to arbitrarily pluck off a shelf while in college, was akin to a fuzzy cheeked, virginal teenager having a serendipitous encounter with an older woman—the experience was exciting, a bit intimidating, stimulating, a little overwhelming, and I just wasn’t quite sure how to do things right.

    I was fortunate that the wine I haphazardly chose contained a little sweetness—lucky because if I had happened instead to have picked out a huge, dry, tannic red for my first blind leap into the world of wine my virginal palate, which up to that point only had experience with Boone’s Farm (wine’s equivalent of a giggly school girl), might have been shocked beyond reparation. I don’t remember much about that wine besides the fact that I was intrigued by the experience—intrigued not only by the complex flavors and aromas of the wine itself, but also by its other, non-sensory elements. I remember gazing at the unfamiliar words on the high-sloped, amber bottle wondering about the grapes that produced that wine, what they looked like, where they were grown, and what alchemy it was that turned those grapes into that alluring, straw-colored liquid.

    Over the subsequent years I continued to be fascinated by wine but whenever I approached it I did so with a degree of trepidation. One day I brought home an armload of books from a used bookstore and began an extensive, exploratory journey through the world of wine. I traveled first around France and devoured information about the big, long-lasting wines of Bordeaux, the velvety smooth reds and the crisp, flinty whites of Burgundy, the beefy, inky Rhones and the delicate whites of Alsace and the Loire Valley. I stepped briefly in Champagne, crossed over the border to Germany, moved on to Greece and Italy, and ended that journey in the hills of Spain and Portugal. One thick, oversized book had enticing colored photographs and I was transported to impressive chateaus surrounded by acres of vineyards. I studied gnarled vines poking up through gravelly soil, gazed at huge wooden barrels resting in arched stone cellars, floated over Burgundy’s gentle slopes and looked down on the impossibly steep vineyards of Germany. I got lost on the wide plains and in the rolling hills of Italy.

    Shortly after returning from that journey I spent the night with a Beringer’s Knights Valley cabernet sauvignon. Unlike the inexperienced young man who was intimidated by a semi-sweet white, the knowledge and experience I had gained allowed me to know exactly what to do with that dry, tannic red. I knew how to approach it, how to appreciate it, how to gaze at its physical beauty and how to breathe in its complex aromas. That was the night I fell in love with wine.

    That love was one of the reasons I sold the neighborhood convenience store I owned at the time. It was a good store, but I knew if I were to stock premium wine there the bottles would have only gathered dust; and because I had fallen in love with wine I wanted to sell it.

    Because of the number of beer related posts that appear in The Buzz, regular readers may have the impression that the only alcoholic beverage that we at Siciliano’s are passionate about is beer. While beer put us on the map, we still love talking about wine and we love selling it. Future Buzz posts about this alluring, fascinating and complex beverage will prove this.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Recipe: No-knead bread with hard red winter wheat

    Friends, colleagues, foodies, enthusiasts, and craft-anything obsessives:

    Our apologies if it seems bread- & baking-focused posts have lately taken hostage of the Buzz. We're excited to share our new products, is all, and when we get excited about something, we have a tendency to obsess. (Can you blame us?)

    At any rate, today we have for you a recipe, a very simple one, but one also guaranteed to produce some of the most extraordinary bread you've ever seen or tasted. It's a rustic bread, close to but not quite ciabatta, and includes a small percentage of fresh-milled whole wheat to give it a somewhat heartier taste and aroma. Give it a chance and we think that you too, like us, will be hooked.

    First things first, this recipe is based on the famous no-knead method of baking, discussed at length in a previous Buzz post found here. No time for reading? Then this video here will be enough to get you started, though we still recommend you read the longer post if/when time allows -- there are tips and additional videos included that make the already easy process even easier. On to the recipe...

    All non-water ingredients are now for sale at Siciliano's.

    • 12-oz (340g) natural premium white flour
    • 4 oz. (115g) fresh-milled hard red winter wheat
    • 12 oz (340g) Water
    • 2 teaspoons (10-11g) purified sea salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon (1g) Saf-Instant yeast

    For directions, again, please refer to the No-knead Buzz post here or to this helpful video here. For an even wheatier experience, try increasing the amount of fresh-milled hard red wheat flour from 4 oz to 5 or even 6 oz. Just be sure to decrease the amount of white flour accordingly. And a final note, when you mill down the wheat berries, do yourself a favor and smell the fresh-ground flour -- you'll be shocked by the pungent, almost fruity aromas that are completely absent from any pre-ground.

    More recipes to follow!

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    The mill at Siciliano's - now open for business!

    Today we're pleased to announce that Siciliano's flour mill is officially open for business...with a few caveats. The mill's current home (next to the honey pot) is a temporary one; once we finish construction on the new wing we will move milling operations to their permanent location, about 30 feet to the west.

    Also, since our fancy new bins have yet to arrive, we've temporarily stored all grain and flour in regular old brew pails. Not the prettiest display, but for the time being, they get the job done.

    Why the rush? After staring for a week at a pile of 25- and 50-lb bags of pure potential (i.e. wheat berries, rye berries, etc), we figured, hey, why not get this stuff out of the warehouse and onto the floor so people can start experimenting with it. That's what I've been doing. Even as I write I'm thoroughly enveloped by the aroma of fresh-baked bread wafting in from the kitchen -- why should I have all the fun?

    Find  photos from bake-day at the end of this post. First, here's a list of product now for sale at Siciliano's, with prices included.

    • Organic flax seeds - $1.79/lb
    • Organic sesame seeds - $4.69/lb
    • Caraway seeds - $3.49/lb
    • Organic 7-grain cereal - $1.99/lb (soak overnight, add to bread, contributes wonderful flavor, texture, and nutrition)
    • Organic steel-cut oats - $1.69/lb (soak & add to bread, or use to make "real" oatmeal - you'll never go back to instant!)
    • Organic brown basmati rice - $1.99/lb
    • Organic rye berries - $0.79/lb
    • Organic spelt berries - $1.99/lb
    • Organic wheat berries, "Bronze Chief" - $1.09/lb (hard red spring wheat, great for bread)
    • Organic wheat berries, "Prairie Gold" - $1.09/lb (hard white spring wheat, great for bread, lighter in color than the red)
    • Wheat berries, hard red winter - $0.89/lb (intense wheat aroma & flavor)
    • Organic soft white heat berries - $0.99/lb (grind fine, use for pastries, cakes, and cookies)
    • Organic wheat bran - $0.79/lb
    • Organic 6-grain flour - $1.39/lb (wheat, rye, barley, corn, millet, buckwheat)
    • Purified, free range, cage-free sea salt - $0.79/lb
    • Organic cane juice sugar crystals - $2.19/lb
    • Wheat Montana natural premium white flour - $0.99/lb (unbleached, unbromated, great for bread and pizza)
    • "Prairie Gold" whole wheat flour - $1.09/lb
    • Saf-instant yeast - $0.39/oz or 5.29/lb
    • Natural parchment paper - $4.89

    Please note that this list is only a beginning -- if you would really, really, really like to see us carry something not posted here, come make your case in person. We're apt to be convinced.

    Happy baking everyone!

    Loyal customer Brad Emerson showing off his first flour purchase, our first flour sale

    Temporary bulk bins

    Have a slice or four

    Bake-day: results

    Sourdough: 60% fresh-milled flour, 40% natural premium white

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    Siciliano's Homebrew Party - Official Announcement

    Attention all brewers!

    Siciliano's is now accepting reservations for the 8th Annual Homebrew Party. Details below in that most efficient of all communicators, the bullet-point list.

    • Date: Saturday May 14th, 2011.
    • Time: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
    • Location: Townsend Park, Cannonsburg, MI (near Rockford).
    • Cost: $35 per person, payable in advance at Siciliano's or by phone (616-453-9674).
    • Entertainment: local blues legend, Jimmie Stagger.
    • Reason: to celebrate and share each other's homebrew, to meet and mingle with fellow homebrewers; to pass out awards to homebrew competition medal-winners and Best in Show.
    • Fine print: Attendance by reservation only; price of admission includes dinner, entertainment, and gifts; reservations are limited -- get yours today! 

    We're pleased to announce also that we've locked in the line-up for this year's homebrew seminars, to be held the night before the party (Friday, May 13th) at the Fraternal Order of Police (formerly Ten Bells) on Alpine Avenue. Cost to attend the seminar is $5/person, cash only, payable at the door. Line-up will include:

    • Steve Haystead, owner of Bardic Wells Meadery (and provider of our bulk honey), to discuss bee-keeping as a hobby.
    • Jeff Carlson, award-winning cider maker, to discuss the art of fermenting apples.
    • Siciliano's staffer Doug Dorda to discuss the myriad effects of different yeasts on beer.
    • Buzz editor Chris Siciliano to discuss Siciliano's new bread & baking department, recipes.
    • Jason Spaulding, owner of Vivant, and Jacob Derylo, the brewer at Vivant, to discuss, well, Vivant, their beers and mission.
    • A representative (TBD) from Sam Adams to discuss their small batch series.
    • Representatives from Michigan Hop Alliance to discuss Michigan hops.

    Please direct all questions to Siciliano's staff (616-453-9674). Hope to see you there!