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Features for Distinguished Handcrafters

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Finely Handcrafted
since 1996

Volume 1, Issue 1
May 2006

In this Month's Issue:
(Quick click each link)

The Stuff of Poetry - Mead Recipe for Amaretto Crème Cordial Monthly Food Recipe


The Stuff of Poetry – Mead
by Paul Rinehart

People have been drinking fermented beverages since the dawn of civilization. At first, the production of alcohol may have been accidental. Over time, it became an art.
Mead is a beverage made from fermented honey. This very drink was the founding father of wine and beer. A purist might just stick to just the simplest recipe of honey, water, and yeast, but some people, like myself, add a few additional ingredients to compliment the main ingredient. 

My first introduction to mead was on my birthday. I prepared a medieval feast, each ingredient carefully chosen to be historically accurate or at least as accurate as it could be. A friend of mine brought along mead made by a brewery also known for brewing Tej, an Ethiopian honey wine. It was a welcome accompaniment to the sweet and savory flavors of the various medieval dishes.

I acquired a taste for mead while in Denmark. I was attending a folk school, and two of our favored activities were singing and drinking. A local liquor store carried mead in a ceramic bottle. The label depicted two Vikings, who seemed rather happy enjoying their brew out of horns. My friends and I started having little parties we appropriately dubbed “Viking Giggle Fest.”

After school ended, I returned home. I yearned to make mead. I had been brewing for years, but most of these experiments ended in failure. This time around I was determined to make something drinkable. My first batch was rather scaled down. I boiled honey in water, let it cool to room temperature, added yeast, and set it aside to ferment for two weeks. I wanted to try it, so after the two weeks were up, I decided to try it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t wonderful either. It showed signs of carbonation, its bubbles gently tickled my palate. The taste was a little watered down, but I was working off of a theory and not off of a recipe.

The next time I brewed I was prepared. I went out and got a basic brewing kit. I used more honey this time and also decided to use a few additives and clarifying agents such as gelatin, hops, lavender, and rose hip. I used champagne yeast instead of bread yeast for better flavor. This brew fermented for two weeks, I then aged it for two more, bottled it, and left it to age on a rack for about two more months. The end result was something wonderful, and I gave my grandfather a taste. He had been an avid amateur vintner, so he knew a thing or two about how wine should taste. A tear came to his eye, and I could tell he was proud that I had been successful.

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Paul Rinehart is a classically trained chef and is the founder of Online Cooking 


Recipe for Amaretto Crème Cordials
by Frank Holes, Sr.

This easy to create kitchen cordial will give you a nice alternative to a traditional Amaretto.    
Recipe for Amaretto cream liqueur:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 250 ml bottle of Amaretto essence

1 cup vodka

1 quart half-n-half

couple of drops of red food coloring

water to fill to 1 gallon

Heat water in microwave container (I like to use a measuring cup) for two minutes.  Slowly add sugar and fully dissolve, stirring often.  Place in the fridge to completely cool for ten to fifteen minutes. 

Pour sugar mixture into a large 1-2 gallon pitcher.  While stirring, add in the essence and vodka.  Be sure to rinse the essence bottle and get out every drop.  Stir in the creamer until thoroughly mixed.  Add cold water and stir well until mixture reaches one gallon.  Tint with red food coloring until you are satisfied with the color.

Check the taste.  You may want to add more vodka depending on the strength of the drink.  Be sure to only add 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well and checking the taste each time. 

Using a funnel, pour into a good glass bottle and seal.  We use the recappable beer bottles, similar to Grolsch bottles.  You can get these in green, brown, clear, and other colors, and in various sizes.  We like to use the big 28 oz cobalt blue bottles for gifts.  And you can make your own labels for these bottles too. 

It is very important to keep these bottles refrigerated, as the mix contains a dairy product.  Also shake the bottle thoroughly before serving, as sometimes a bit of separation will occur.  Be sure to shake before presenting a gift bottle as any separation will be seen through the bottle.

Amaretto cream makes a great after-dinner drink.  Use small cordial glasses or brandy snifters.  Always shake the bottle well before pouring.  It is great in hot coffee, and even in hot cocoa.  You can serve it with a dessert course, and even brunch.  We've even found it is great over vanilla ice cream in a large glass, like a float. 

What brands should you buy?  Since everything is homogenously mixed, don't worry about going with premium sugar or vodka.  The vodka will add virtually no taste, and is primarily used for the alcohol, so I'd go cheap on that.  If you can find a good amaretto coffee creamer, you can substitue it for the half-n-half.

This homemade recipe can provide you an excellent product for less than $10 per bottle.  And once your initial investment of equipment (bottles, funnel, bottle brush for cleaning) has been made, you only need to replace ingredients.  This will reduce you costs further. 

There are a number of great suppliers for cordial essences.  We've tried several different brands, and they are all very similar with positive results.  We recommend buying locally if you have that option, and mail order if necessary. 


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Frank Holes, Sr. is the Vice President of Griswold Mountain Brewing Company and a distinguished crafter of homemade champagne and cordials. 


Recipe of the Month:

Pan-Fried Scallops


Pan-Fried Scallops
Yield: 4 servings

This is a very simple and yet elegant dinner.  Try substituting your own homemade white wine in the recipe.

1 1/2 lb Sea scallops, rinsed
1/2 c Bread crumbs
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Pepper
1/8 tsp Paprika
1/2 c Butter
2 c Rice, cooked
1/4 c White wine
Cooking Directions:
1. Mix bread crumbs, salt, pepper and paprika. Roll scallops thoroughly in bread crumb mixture.

2. In a large skillet, heat butter till frothy. Add scallops and sauté till lightly browned.

3. Gently remove scallops from skillet and arrange on bed of rice. Add wine to butter in skillet; Boil gently while stirring for 1 minute. Pour over scallops. 

Remember when cooking with wine to always use a wine suitable for drinking at your table.  


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