Making grape wine at home

I’ve read so many resources on making wine at home over the years. Wine making can be extremely confusing as on the one hand we find Westerners making wine in a laboratory kind of setting with grape crushers, de-stemmers, presses, hydrometers, racking canes, clarifiers, carboys, sanitizing chemicals like sodium metabisulphide and fancy equipment designed for wine making.

On the other hand you have those elderly French and Italian gentlemen who have learned these skills from their fathers when they were around and who have been making wine regularly for as long as they can remember. In spite of not using any of the above, (except for the grape crushers and pressers which are required due to the large volume of grapes they process) their wine comes out as per their expectations. I’ve also see them drink a bit of the juice to quench their thirst and pour the remainder back or suck on a pipe used for racking the wine without any ill effects of oral bacteria on their wines.  Continue reading Making grape wine at home

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The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

I’ve been fascinated by the chir pine Pinus roxburghii (Pinus longifolia) for quite some time and realised that I haven’t yet put down a post on it. I’ve marvelled at its beauty both at Sattal and also Mussoorie in Uttarakhand, India.  Unfortunately it is sad to see villagers set whole slopes of the forest on fire which is taken up by the layer of dry pine needles covering the mountain slopes. The villagers do it so that grass would grow again on the ground between the trees for them to take home back to their cattle. It is also suspected that the land mafia does this to deliberately deforest areas in connivance with the authorities which they can then encroach upon and sell. This is easy to do as the pine is rich in resin and catches fire easily even when wet. Continue reading The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

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Using a banneton to bake bread

In my previous post on How to bake your own wholewheat bread, I have not told you the whole story of my my bread experiments. The goal was to get the loaf done right, and the only way to figure out where I was going wrong with sourdough was to go back to the basics and use easier instant yeast. Once the output confirmed that my techniques and timings were right, I went back to my struggle with sourdough. Continue reading Using a banneton to bake bread

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Home made whole wheat bread

This has to be one of my longest experiments ever, partly due to me getting the baking bug only in the winters. The first two were disastrous failures and the end product could have been the choice of weapon used by Cain to kill Abel. The first one, used -wait for it… Champagne yeast and placed in a pressure cooker which doubled as an oven. It was pretty cold too -around 2 deg C in Delhi and the bread never rose. If I had saved the baked bread it could have replaced a brick in my garden wall back home. Continue reading Home made whole wheat bread

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Experiments with sugarcane wine

Long story and experimentation, that’s what this post is all about. I’ve always made wines from fruit or rice, never from fruit juice…. and then I saw this post from a survival blog which said, “What do you do with all your stashed away emergency supplies as they near their expiry dates? Use them up of course. And how would you use up the gallons of so called “natural” tetra packed grape juice? You add sugar and turn it into wine! ” Continue reading Experiments with sugarcane wine

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Seasoning a clay pot

The pot you see in the featured image above is a “factory pot”. Yes that is what it is called in Tulu to distinguish it from the locally available thin pots. The thick pot is manufactured in factories probably in Kerala and needs no seasoning and is at least two times as thick as locally available pots turned on a potters wheel. The pores in the pot do need to be sealed before using it to cook though. Since it was the only pot I had, I decided to use it for this tutorial on seasoning pots. The local pots are a pale muddy brown while the factory manufactured pots are brick red… probably added color. Continue reading Seasoning a clay pot

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The quest for natural hair dye

To dye, or not to dye. Most people have to deal with this question sooner or later. Although I am quite comfortable with my greying hair, it can sometimes get awkward when everyone around you colors their hair. It probably depends on your culture, but honestly, hanging out with friends who are your age or older but who look younger than you with respect to hair color is a bit difficult -especially if you are still single. Your friends too wouldn’t like to look like they are hanging out with the uncle. Continue reading The quest for natural hair dye

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