Some of the most frequent kinds of questions ManMade receives are inquiries like, "I just graduated college and finally have a real income and I'd like to start investing in some long-lasting goods..." or "my fiancée's birthday is coming up, and I'd like to buy him something every guy should have..." In 2013, I've been giving my take on those essential items, offering a new collection of ten each season: winter,spring, summer, and fall. Some of these you might already own, some of these you might need to upgrade to a quality version, and most of these apply to women and households too. Please let me know what you think, and what you'd add or take away in the comments below.
It's that time of year when we reach into the back of the pantry, and dust off that old standby: the slow cooker. During summer, it goes mostly untouched while we build flaming fires of charcoal or crunch fresh full-sun produce, but as the weather gets crisp and we long for something simmered, there's nothing better.
When we were kids, my sister and I rarely fought...unless it was the holiday season, and there were bottles of sparkling grape juice or apple cider to be slurped! We weren't allowed much soda, so the chance to celebrate the season with something fizzy was always a treat, and cause for fisticuffs!
The leaves have fallen, and the season of margaritas and Tom Collinses and anything with tonic water is now hibernating until spring brings its thaw. Now? Now is the time for settling into the season of warmth and spices. And, most importantly...whiskey.
Once you've made your way through ManMade's picks for our favorite fall beers, it's time to turn to something even more season specific: pumpkin beer. These seasonals are brewed "in all sorts of ways--using raw, roasted, macerated, or juiced pumpkins, and sometimes with pumpkin extract or flavoring added post-production."
And, then, the most important question: how do they taste?
I'll say it: fall is the best season for beer. That magical time of mid-September, October, November, and December where brewers get to uncorked their months of work and see what time has wrought. It's when beer tastes its most beer-y: bitter, spiced, and oh-so-aromatic.
On a recent visit to Minneapolis/St. Paul, I finally got a chance to try the elusive and much touted SweeTango apple, a few blocks of where it was first, um, invented? at the University of Minnesota agricultural campus.
And? It was good; I liked it. Some parts I liked a whole lot. The texture was very unique, and it had a nice balance of sweet and tart. If they were sold in my local market, I'd probably buy some.
With temperatures cooling down, it's time to put the sandals and sneakers away an opt for something better suited for the season: boots. A quality pair of boots should be a staple in anyone's closet. They can be dressed up, dressed down, worn inside and outside, keep your feet warm, provide ankle and insole support, and most importanly, help you look sharp and manly at the same time.
Whether you've had your scarf and sweater ready to roll for weeks as you gear up for apple picking time, or are still trying to squeeze in a couple more days of shorts, sandals, and blockbuster watching, you can't deny it: fall fell this week. The world, as you look out the window, just looks different than it did two weeks ago. Really. Look outside. Right now. See?
A few weeks ago, I posted about my research into brewing hard apple cider at home and on the cheap. I continued to look into it, and promptly made a batch that just finished maturing. I tried the first bottle earlier this week...and, it's really good.
I used champagne yeast, which cost 74¢ and a $4.50 gallon of local, preservative-free apple cider, for which I got nearly a gallon of homemade hard cider. Lowballing it, I got 110oz for $5.25. Compare that to $8.99 (on sale) for a six-pack of Woodchuck (72 oz total) at my local grocery store.
Whether or not the autumn chill has hit your town yet, it will soon, and friends, we need to be prepared. And for my money, nothing tastes like fall like toasty pumpkin seeds... and apple cider. Whether warm and mulled with spices for everyone or fermented with crisp carbonation for adults, it's just plain wonderful.
And we think it'd be great to make it at home...easily. Some folks are lucky enough to own cider presses, but, thankfully, that's not the only way to get the job done.
For those with a bevy of actual apples, this Instructable shows you how to press them using a simple 2x4 structure and a car jack. (You can also use an electric juicer.) For the rest of us, it's perfectly acceptable to start with pasteurized cider from your local orchard or farmer's market.