Saturday, December 17, 2011

Living the good life

Hey everyone and hope the holidays are treating you well.  The transition from fall to winter here in Idaho has been a good one and the skiing and ice climbing have been fantastic.  We have been heading across the Canadian border to a nearby backcountry skiing area, which has had excellent early season snow.  As far as the ice climbing goes, we have mainly been climbing on some of the local ice flows like copper falls, and up the Yaak river.
BC Skiing
Instead of posting a new blog about a recipe, supplement or new found disease research I decided to post something about the hear and now.  A reminder to get outside and see the sites.  Laugh with friends and family.  Do something other than think and dwell on the disease you have! 

I remember the days when I was sick and felt like hiding inside, away from others.  To a point I think we all need time to ourselves to process what is going on inside our bodies and mind, yet be cautious about letting who you are slip away during this time.
Getting out and doing the things you love, even when you feel like crap is important.  It reminds us that the disease is only part of the picture and not the artist drawing it.  That playing, working, or being around other people is a time to forget, even for just a minute or two, that you are sick.
Ice Climbing
Diseases like UC and Crohns can follow a roller-coaster cycle that at times can weigh heavily on your mind.  We can get bogged down in looking for that quick fix that never seems to help or become obsessed with worry while waiting for that next flare up.  I feel that all of these responses are normal but many of them are not good for our disease or our overall health.  As time goes on I have taken an increased approach to living with what life throws at me and trying to not worry about the future, and therefore things I cannot change.  Accept that your disease may always play a small part in who your are ,what you eat, and how you feel.  Accept it but don't let it dictate your goals and dreams.  Be the change you want to happen.
Climbing in the Sierra's, CA
I decided against my own emotions as well as others to participate in many adventures when I was sick with UC.  I went rock climbing, ice climbing, and hiking while feeling like crap, and taking lots of um??, craps.  These forays outside my comfort zone were not easy and took a lot of commitment and will, along with an ability to show I was vulnerable to those around me.  Taking these "time outs" from UC gave me freedom from my daily reality and showed me that yes, I am who I am, and no disease can take that from me.  This strong will is only built stronger when you start to see improvements from lifestyle changes like the SCD.  My mind was strong and ready for a change, and along with the SCD my body was too. 
Take care of yourself.  Be yourself.  Follow your heart and sometimes not your gut.

Till next time,


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hard Cider

A cold SCD legal beverage that's not wine and fills the void of beer? Yes, please!

For over 4 years I never really thought about trying hard cider and instead drank wine and dreamed about one day drinking beer again. Then, one day I saw an article about artisan hard cider breweries in a magazine and was inspired to look further into seeing if the stuff was SCD legal. I looked up the info Here:
Next, after seeing that legal cider could be found, I went on the task of finding it. I first went to the local big grocery store and came home empty handed. The store only had one variety of hard cider and it was StrongBow, which had dextrose and other illegal ingredients. What now, give up? No way! I then went to a small natural foods/health food store and was happy to find these varieties of SCD legal hard ciders. The varieties I found are located here with links for pictures, contact info, etc: J.K.'s Scrupy, Tieton Cider Works, Wyder's, Crispin Cider, and Fox Barrel Cider. Now, I cannot fully verify all of the cider company's ingredients beyond their labels but I did email Tieton because they had no ingredients labeled and they confirmed that there was no added sugars, sorbates, etc. just apple cider and yeast. Also, you need to always read the labels as some varieties contain added sugar, while another variety under the same brand does not. Always check!
I have found that my gut has reacted very favorably to all of the ciders, and I find that I have less negative feelings with cider, as compared with dry wine.

Now on the negative side, the above ciders are costly, with the average twelve ounce bottle costing over two dollars. This is why I ended up trying to brew my own hard cider with varying degrees of success. To this date I have brewed four ciders of different composition and ingredients. The first was a straight cider with nothing added. This turned out pretty bad and was given away. The next one was with the same juice but with 16oz of honey added to the fermentation (recipe below).  The other two were experiments using apple juice concentrate and another using less honey (12oz).  I will report back on these varieties once they are ready to try.
The second cider I made using 16oz of honey turned out very good, almost an apple wine due to the high alcohol content. The below recipe for this honey cider is below.

The basics of homemade hard cider:  *Great hard cider resources at:
-at least 2 one gallon glass jugs (Carlo Rossi wine jugs work well as does glass gallon jugs of apple juice)
-1 package champagne yeast or ale yeast
-1 gallon apple cider with no additives or preservatives (local source, whole foods brand, Knudsen, etc.)
-honey to increase fermentation and for carbonation at bottling time
-about 4 feet of clear plastic tubing for siphoning the cider
-1 airlock and plastic cork with hole for airlock
-1 bottle filling wand 

-Sterilize all of your equipment with a sterilizing solution from a brew store or bleach if needed last resort.  This includes:  Gallon jug to ferment, airlock, plastic stopper, plastic tubing, and any mixing tools like spoons.
-Bring one gallon of the preservative free and pasteurized cider to room temp about 70 degrees. (if not pasteurized, most recommend lightly heating for 40 minutes or so to kill wild bacteria.  Do not boil!)
-Lightly heat a cup or two of the cider with 16 oz honey then add into the gallon fermenting jug along with rest of cider.
-Add half of your yeast packet to a cup filled with a 1/4 cup luke warm water.  Let stand 15 minutes then stir yeast to fully incorporate. Next, add the yeast slurry to your cider that is in the fermenting jug and give a light shake to dissolve and add some oxygen to the mix.
-Attach the cork and airlock, then fill the airlock with water to the appropriate manufactures line.
-Now place your gallon jug of goodness in a dark, warm (60-70 F) place that has fairly consistent temperature with little fluctuations (I place mine in a laundry room that has its own door).
-Within 24 hours your airlock should start bubbling and there should be visible bubbles within the jug.  This is the yeast eating the available sugar and converting it to alcohol.    
-I then usually wait about 2 weeks for the fermentation to die down then I transfer via the plastic hose the cider from one jug to another sanitized jug, leaving behind all of the dead yeast and sediment that settles on the bottom.  From here ferment the cider for another 3 weeks until you see very few, to no bubbles rising within the jug.

Bottling time!
-Add 1/8 cup of honey, mixed with a cup or two of warm cider,  to a new, clean, sanitized gallon jug, then siphon the juice into this container to get the cider of of the sediment again, and mix in the priming honey.
-After the cider is mixed with the priming honey in the new jug, use your bottling wand and plastic hose to transfer the cider to bottles then cap the bottles.
-Move the bottles to a cool, dark place and let them sit for at least two weeks before trying.  Try the ciders again after about a month to make sure there is not to much carbonation happening, and if there is put all the cider in the fridge and leave it there until you drink it.