A portrait of my child, each week in 2014. {Halfway!}

Since we moved into our home, we knew we needed to finish off the roof of the garage. Last week the builder came and installed the railings. Along with the tiles, our the garage roof now makes a lovely huge veranda! Even though it is winter now, and the sun sets far too early, we have been enjoying sitting out there, especially when the wind drops. On Sunday evening, Dad braai’d a spatchcock chicken, while Mom did some crochet. You LOVE the new railings because you can hang onto them and practice standing! (Mom loves the new railings because it means you won’t fall off the roof!)

7.5 months old.

Joining in with Jodie at Practicing Simplicity

John’s {Alcoholic} Ginger Beer

I shared a few photos on Instagram of John’s ginger beer and there were quite a lot of questions so I asked John to share the recipe and method. If you have never brewed anything before, here is a good introduction: How to Brew. Ginger beer is an extract brew, so you only really have to read section one. Enjoy!

Ginger, lemon zest & spices. You can put these all in a muslin bag to prevent bits from ending up in the finished bottles.

A few notes first: When brewing, everything that comes into contact with your brew MUST be sanitized. We rinse our fermenter, stirring spoons, thermometer, and etc with a solution of iodophor*, but any non-chlorine (including hyperchlorate) no-rinse sanitizer will work. If you don’t have a fancy fermenter, a simple bucket, sealed with clingflim will work. Poke a tiny hole (sanitize the pin!) in the plastic to allow it to vent.
When we first made this recipe, we ended up with a very potent (>9%!) alcoholic brew. However, it was very dry so in order to drink it it I mixed it with Sprite. This time around, we’ve tweaked the recipe to hopefully give a less alcoholic (~4 or 5%?) but sweeter product which can be drunk as is. Both versions are given below, with the {updated} version in curly brackets. The method is the same for both, only ingredient proportions differ.
Alcoholic Ginger Beer {Updated}
  • 1-2kg ginger roots {2kg}
  • 4 lemons (zest and juice)
  • 2 limes (zest and juice)
  • 300g sultanas {We didn’t bother with sultanas}
  • 1 packet brewing yeast
  • 1 TBS Nutmeg {2 TBS ground Nutmeg}
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon {2 TBS ground Cinnamon}
  • 1 tsb cloves {1TBS ground cloves}
  • 2 kg white sugar {1 kg white sugar}
  • 500 g brown sugar {No brown sugar}
  • 200g honey {No honey}
  • 0g treacle sugar {500g treacle sugar}
  • Sterile water to top up to 25L – we use rainwater or spring water that has been filtered, boiled and allowed to cool. Municipal tap water must be treated with campden** tablets to remove the chlorine/chloramine.
  • 0g lactose {500g lactose*} – This is optional, we will used it to sweeten after fermentation as the yeast does not process lactose sugar. 
  1. Grate or chop ginger (we use the slicer attachment in my Kenwood)
  2. Zest and juice lemons and limes.
  3. In a large pot bring ~5L of water to the boil
  4. Add ginger, spices lemon and lime (zest and juice) to the water, simmer for 5 min
  5. Add sugars to pot. If needed, move ginger solids to sanitized fermenter to make space in the pot
  6. Boil for 5-30 min, depending on patience. {Minimum is 5 min of rapid boil to kill bacteria and wild yeast}.
  7. Cool pot as rapidly as possible. An ice-bath is ideal. Once cooling starts sanitation is vital!
  8. Empty pot into sanitized fermenter, add sultanas (optional)
  9. Add sterile water to bring total volume to 25L.
  10. Check the temperature with a sanitized thermometer. When temperature is between 16-22C, add yeast. Put the (sanitized) lid on and shake fermenter to aerate. Aeration must be done when temp is below 30 degrees.
  11. Seal fermenter with clingfilm or set up the airlock and put the fermenter out of direct sunlight and allow to ferment. A container with an airlock will easily allow your to hear when fermentation has started in your brew because CO2 will start bubbling through it. The fermenter should stay in an environment of between 16-22C. Too cool and the yeast will hibernate and you won’t get fermentation, too warm and you start getting funny flavours produced. Fermentation should start within 12-24hours. If not, add more yeast and stir with sanitized spoon.
  12. When fermentation is finished*** it’ll stop bubbling off CO2. Alternatively, sanitize your hands and dip a small sanitizer jug into the brew and taste it (do not pour this taster back into your fermenter). If fermentation is ongoing, it’ll have a very slight fizz, like a flat soft-drink (think flat Coke). If fermentation is complete, you won’t notice any fizz, it will be completely flat (like a Coke forgotten uncapped for a few days!). If you don’t have an airlock container, I would check within 24 hours to make sure fermentation has begun.
  13. IMPORTANT: If fermentation is not complete before bottling, bottles will explode! This is somwhat inconvenient.
  14. Sterilize your bottles and caps* and prime with a sugar solution  (see more on priming here). The priming will create a tiny bit of CO2 in the bottle to create the fizz. Tap off your brew via the built in tap or you can use a sterilized length of clear plastic tubing and sterile hands. Store bottle in a dark cool place and allow to condition for at least 2 weeks before drinking.

Our fermenter. Note the S-shaped airlock on top.


*You can get lactose,iodophor and new caps from The Beer Lab (Cape Town) or Tradger (Jhb). We re-use regular beer bottles (NOT screw tops-they are the wrong shape) and we buy new caps. You can also buy the capping device from either of the two links above. However, regular plastic coke bottles with a screw on lid will work just as well.

(The Beer Keg gave appalling service so stay away from them!)

**Camden tablets = sodium metabisulphate. Should be available at your local pharmacy.

***The best way to check is with a hydrometer, but this is an expensive piece of kit. If the hydrometer reading is stable below 1010 for 48 hours, fermentation is done.


A portrait of my child each week in 2014

Still trying so hard to crawl. You entertained yourself for a long time on the floor in the kitchen. The warm winter sun casting a lovely sunbeam across the floor. Mom snuck away to grab the big camera while you babbled happily to yourself.

7 Months Old

Joining in with Jodie at Practicing Simplicity.


A portrait of my child, each week in 2014

You have been doing this half-way to crawling pose for a about 2 weeks now. You will rock forward, one leg tucked under you, the other straight out behind you…and there you get stuck. If you do manage to un-tuck your leg, your little arms give way and you flop onto your tummy. You are pretty good at twisting around to reach for whatever it is you want but you do get frustrated when the object of your desires (cat, blocks, yogurt tub, Mom) is juuuust out of reach!

30 weeks old (7 months)

Joining in with Jodie at Practicing SImplicity

Catching Up

Lest you think it’s all baby all the time round here (it totally is) here are a few other things I’ve been up to;

Crocheted two baby blankets for two friends who are both having little girls. About to start a third for another little girl due in September. I also managed a coffee-cosy for out Bodum plunger. I want to make a few more (Christmas gifts!) and hopefully make up a pattern.

I’m also planning a blanket for Little Man, just saving up for the yarn!

We replaced our grotty horrible electric hob for a gas one. Love it!

Nicked the bagged up grass cuttings (and later leaf cuttings) from the side of the road after the municipality’s crew had been through. Out compost heap and my veggie bed got a nice boost from that!

Collected several trailer loads of topsoil from someone in town doing building work. Finished one garden bed and filled in low spots on the lawn. Planted some peas and sweetpeas and some herbs. Hope it’s not too cold.

I’ve been trying to stick to a routine through the day. Getting a certain list of tasks done so I don’t feel so totally disorganised. Simple things like tidying away Little Man’s toys, forcing myself to shower before bed (instead of trying to squeeze it in in the mornings). Simple things. It’s a start.

I’ve been enjoying the winter light…

…winter sunsets…

…birthday flowers from Mom & Dad…

…some updates to the house… (more later!)

Complete with kitty footprints in the wet concrete…silly kitties!

How about you?