Monthly Archives: June 2011

Camarillo State Mental Hospital

This is how I prefer to spend my weekends. Nothing like a little trespassing to liven up the day!
Camarillo State Mental Hospital (Now known as California State University: Channel Islands).
All of these pictures were taken at the South Quad, where the school hasn’t quite gotten around to fixing things up, or the buildings have been deemed unstable.
This mental institution opened in 1936 and housed mentally ill and disabled people up until 1997. This is a look inside one of the many, many bedrooms that housed anywhere from 2-6 patients. In a lot of the buildings, there are still tattered curtains hanging on the windows.
Above many of the patients’ rooms, there are alarms and lights that designated when the door to the room was locked.

Now, there are tons of windows that have been shattered either due to the elements of nature, or due to the rocks and beer cans thrown through them.

This old courtyard has been completely engulfed in grasses and weeds. Sigh, I’m in love! LOVE LOVE LOVE abandoned buildings and cities. The history that lived here is fascinating!

Everywhere I walked, something else stood out, begging to be seen and photographed.

If you’re interested in some of the history, there are tons of great links HERE and HERE and HERE.

Any abandoned buildings or towns in your area? I’m thinking I need to take a road trip!

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Homemade Almond Milk

I’ve been posting and enjoying LOTS of brews lately, so I decided it was time to switch it up.

Recently, my household has switched over from soy milk to almond and coconut milk. After finding three pounds of almonds for sale at Costco for only $9.99 (GEEZ I love that place), I decided that it was time to take the plunge and make my own, guar gum-free almond milk.

I based my recipe off of THIS website, but simplified it times a zillion.
First, I soaked 2 cups of raw almonds in 4 cups of distilled water.
Before…
Eight hours after. They recommend soaking it 4-12 hours. I was planning on doing the bare minimum, but simply forgot that they were sitting there on the counter.
After 4-12 hours, put the entire concoction (I used the water I soaked the almonds in to get as many of the nutrients as possible) into a high-powered blender and blend until creamy.
Like that. Yeah. Afterwards, pour the almond smoothie through a cheesecloth (which I had on hand thanks to my homebrewing hobby) and squeeze the bag until dry.
This is the first run-through. I didn’t plan ahead and realized that taking pictures with gritty almond meal-covered hands wasn’t a smart idea for the health of my camera…
Spread the leftover almond meal on a baking sheet covered with foil and bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about half an hour until dry, then let cool and store in a glass jar or canister.¬† You can use this leftover almond meal as flour or crumbly topping to an apple cobbler, or for other brilliant and delicious dishes. I’m planning on a fruit cobbler myself…
Since I used a MUCH smaller amount of water than they recommend, I put half of the strained almond milk into a small jar to use for creamer for coffee in the mornings. With the rest of the almond milk, I re-cheeseclothed (it’s better to strain it twice to get rid of any potential grainy bits) it into a large jar, then filled the rest of the jar with more distilled water to dilute it into more of a “milk” consistency.

It’s not very scientific, or precise, but from what I’ve tasted, it seems to be delicious. I’ll let you know for sure tomorrow, once I’ve poured myself a gigantic mug of coffee using the new creamer!

On a side note, here’s what distracted me from my soaking almonds – While packing up some boxes, I found these:
My expired “licence” that my brother gave to me when I first learned how to ride a bike. It expired 7-8-95. I should probably get that renewed… “Basic and advanced bike maneuvers” are important skills to have nowadays…
My art: 1995. I really don’t think I need any more words for this.

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Rabbit’s Foot Meadery

On Friday, I headed up north to Sunnyvale in the San Jose area for another show. We arrived around 4pm, with plenty of daylight left to go explore the area. Since I am a food/brew research-aholic, I’d already found the place to explore, just minutes from the hotel.
Rabbit’s Foot Meadery. Ora and I arrived at this unassuming building, wedged in the middle of a business district, and parked our gigantic van on the street (the parking lot is quite dainty). I didn’t get a picture of the building or entrance, so let me paint you a picture with words: Once we found the tinted glass door, we walked into a cozy, inviting space. The tasting room consists of a long bar, one slightly tattered fabric chair in the corner and a dartboard hanging unnoticed on the wall. Seeing that it was Friday night, the place was relatively full, and had the slightly stale smell of sweat and sugar. Not the most appealing, but that’s what you get for visiting an extremely popular local brewery on a Friday night.

We stepped up to the bar, hung our purses on the handy hooks that were hiding underneath, and were greeted by Mark, the friendly and knowledgeable Australian wearing a Utilikilt. He is my hero.
Although he was incredibly busy, Mark immediately started us off with a tasting, free of charge. All of their products, except for the port, is made onsite.
First was the original Sweet Mead. Mead is a honey wine made from water, fresh honey and yeast. It’s possibly the easiest “brew” that you can make: Heat some water, add honey and stir, then reduce it to 70-75 degrees, pitch the yeast and wait. I’m tempted to get a mini carboy just to give it a try!
After we tasted the sweet mead and the raspberry mead, Mark moved on to the Melia – an ice wine. This and the sweet mead were my personal favorites. They taste light and flowery, not syrupy sweet like I expected. The raspberry mead was a little too acidic for my taste. Apparently, I’m a purist.
We moved on to the ciders next. Pear and raspberry were the ciders on tap, and while I absolutely LOVE their black cherry cider that I’ve tried from BevMo (the one place they distribute to in my area), the pear and raspberry tasted very light and almost bland.
BEER! We tried four of their beers on tap.
First was their Biere De Miele. This is a VERY  light golden ale that has honey added to the boil in addition to the malts. A good beer, but as I said before, VERY light.
The Honey Red came next. I wouldn’t quite call this a RED persay, but it had quite a bit more malty flavor and a hint of more hops. My personal favorite was their Diabhal (not pictured thanks to blur) – a Belgian-style ale made with rock candy. We liked it so much that we ordered a full glass post-tasting. After that came their stout (also not pictured)- a rich, full-bodied stout that tasted very toasty and full of coffee.
Finally – the Chocolate Raspberry Love. This port is POTENT. I could actually smell and taste the chocolate coming through the alcohol. I don’t have much experience with ports, but this one was very tasty. More than this taster would have been too sweet and overpowering to handle.

I came home with a bottle of their original Sweet Mead to share. Well, MAYBE I’ll share it… It’s pretty freakin’ good…

A BIG thank you to Mark for being so willing to answer all of my questions about the process, history and brewery!

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Grimm Brothers Brewhouse

Back to the Colorado recap!
We visited Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland, Colorado.
This quaint little brewhouse opened in July 2010. They’re located in a small business park that you would pass by if you didn’t know it was there. That is the best part – you have to really love beer to know it’s there, so it’s not a place where people go to get trashed. This is for the true beer enthusiasts.
We got two flights to sample all of the brews. Unfortunately, the hops only increased my coughing, so I couldn’t fully appreciate the deliciousness of this true German-style beer.
All their beers are named after, you guessed it, Grimm Brothers fairy tales (which are a lot more ominous than the happy Disney versions). They were hand-labeling bottles (which had the most amazing artwork) for distribution when we got there.
It was a toss-up between Little Red Cap and Master Thief for my favorite… You know me though, I always fall hard for a good amber!
We got to check out the brewery in back where they were brewing up another batch. Nothing smells better than a working brewery!

I’m excited to go back HEALTHY and be able to fully appreciate these beers! For now, I sit back and wait for them to start distributing to California. Or ask someone to FedEx me a few bottles…

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Saying Goodbye

I had to say goodbye to my baby boy today. My eighteen year-old baby boy.
I got him on Christmas when I was six years old, and creatively named him Tiger. He never responded to that name – his real name was, “kitty, kitty, kitty…”
He was a little punk as a kitten.
But he mellowed out with age.
And became the laziest, sweetest cat I’ve ever known.
Excepting a few hissy fits.

I miss my little boy. Rest in peace, love.

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Odell’s Small Batch Revival!

AKA Colorado: Part IV!

Best. Day. EVER! Odell Brewing in Fort Collins held their 3rd annual Small Batch Revival (formerly known as Small Batch Beer Festival), where they brew small batches of DOZENS of types of beer. Once that stuff is gone, it’s gone, which I sadly found out as I got to the front of the line just in time to watch them erase their only honey amber from the board. Sniff.
Luckily, they had plenty more to choose from. This is one of three boards – all the same length. Heaven.
The festival was PACKED! They gave out over 5,000 wristbands this year! It was beautifully overcast and cool, and the rain kept mostly at bay despite a few drops that fell into my beer.
It’s okay, though. My beer(s) still tasted awesome! I first got the Magnum Hopus (delicious!), and then the Full Blown IPA (also delicious!). In between I got to sip the Coconut Milk Porter, which I am currently OBSESSED with! I don’t generally go for porters when there is an IPA or amber around, but this one may have converted me. I’m thinking maybe a winter brew may be in the works?
As I said before, the Revival was PACKED! Tons of people – elderly folks, TONS of babies, TONS of dudes with beards (I think almost every single homebrewer I’ve come across has/had a beard at some point) and exactly two girls who were wearing heels. Everyone else was in comfortable shoes.

Reason 1,295,032 I love Colorado – I’m allergic to heels.
The merchandise table! I wanted one of everything! My mom and dad generously bought me an IPA sweatshirt that I am wearing at this moment with pride!
I was too busy repping my favorite Ladyface Ale sweatshirt to put it on at that moment, but it kept my arm nice and warm. As did my awesome arm warmers. The picture above is my bro and sister-in-law (The Vegans) highlighting some of the brewing processes of the ale I was sipping. At least I think that’s what we were talking about. I was a little fuzzy at that point…
The press in their high and mighty spot! Normally, I’d be jealous, but I was in the midst of beer and many, many beer enthusiasts – right where I wanted to be!
They asked that everyone bike to the event, but as you can see, quite a few decided that the weather wasn’t quite right for that…
As soon as I got back home to Cali, I pulled my bike out, tuned it up, and I’m ready to jump back on! Or I will be, just as soon as this pesky virus goes away.

I’m getting rid of it with spicy Tom Kha Gai and beer. I’m pretty sure that’s the cure…

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