Weblog

This is my web log, or "blog". I'm not much of a blogger (yet, anyway), so don't expect to post frequently. I'm also not using blogging software, so there's a bit of extra overhead to posting stuff and don't have an RSS feed for the moment. Mainly this is an archive of "diary" type entries, as distinguished from the less time-specific stuff in my writing section.

Vanilla Extract Tasting 2

About a year ago I did a vanilla extract tasting to test out different types of vanilla beans, as well as compare commercial to homemade. To refine the quality of homemade extracts, I wanted to test out how different alcohols affected the flavour of the final extract. So I prepared four extracts using the same beans and proportions, with the alcohol solvents being bourbon, Calvados (apple brandy), rum, and vodka.

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Cryoconcentrating Cider

Cider slushie

I decided to try making ice cider this year. Ice cider is a sweet apple wine made from concentrated apple cider that allows more alcohol production than normal cider, along with residual sweetness after fermentation. Normal cider is about 10% sugar, and this has to be concentrated to at least 30% sugar to make ice cider. The defining feature of ice cider is that it is concentrated by partial freezing, causing ice crystals to form, and the sugars are forced into the remaining unfrozen portion.

Lisbon Tourism

Santa Justa Elevator (base)

I visited Lisbon, Portugal last week for the W3C annual meeting, and scheduled a couple days after the meeting to look around. Marc and Erin arranged to come down from Glasgow to meet me, though Erin was unable to in the end so it was me and Marc having a good catch-up and sending Erin cruel messages about the fun we were having. The work week had been intense with a couple really late nights, so I was really ready to hit the town.

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UK vacation

View from the B&B window in Oban

I just returned from my apparently usual February trip to the UK to catch up with friends since business travel has taken me their way less. I visited Erin and Marc in Glasgow and we traveled to Islay and Oban, then went to London to visit Colin and Anthony. These trips get packed in with adventures to report, which I’ll do by categor rather than chronologically.

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Vanilla Extract tasting

I've been making homemade vanilla extract for a few years now. I like being able to choose the type of vanilla beans and control the production profile. There is some hope that homemade is better than commercial, and in general one expects it to be cheaper. But when adding up the cost of mail ordering bulk vanilla beans (still a lot cheaper than buying one at a time at the store) and buying the alcohol, it doesn't come out cheaper than a quality commercial extract.

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Holiday Letter 2015

Landscape outside Yoichi distillery

2015 was mostly more of the same with no big news, but brought minor improvements to my focus and energy. The weight I lost last year came back, and I haven't wanted to deny myself baking in order to lose it again. I did a little cross country skiing in the winter, and kept the running up once the snows cleared, resuming weekly trail running and building long runs back up to 18 km distance. The hot summer knocked me back though, so for the rest of the year I tried to maintain a minimal base. I still go to the gym with an expensive personal trainer, so my overall health has been good.

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