Home Brews- Bath Tub Gin

Two easy home brewed gin recipes-

So I was looking for recipes that called for juniper berries and found several for “bath tub” gin. Fairly simple- mash up some juniper berries pour some vodka over them and let them sit overnight. Then add whatever botanicals you want the next day, let them infuse a few hours more then filter and serve. I looked up which herbs went into my personal favorite gin- Bombay Sapphire- and decide to try an experimental batch with those and a second batch that would be lighter, sweeter and more floral.

For Batch #1 I went with a combo of juniper berries, almonds, orris root, lemon peel, green cardamom and cassia cinnamon. And since I don’t have angelica root I used a combination of some celery seed, bay leaves and gum mastic (which smells like angelica- trust me). And for a little extra zip I added a piece of galangal root.

For Batch #2 i wanted something more floral and perfumey so started with juniper berries and added linden flowers, German chamomile, rosebuds, frankincense (which has like an intense woodsy, floral scent with citrus notes and has a resinous piney flavor), orange peel and orris root. Orris root comes from the Dalmatian iris plant. the root is then slowly dried and aged for 2-5 years to develop a strong floral scent similar to iris – the raw root doesn’t have much scent or flavor. It imparts a perfumey scent and a violet-like taste to the gin.

I placed the mashed up berries in two different mason jars, along with the orris root, mastic and frankincense and in batch #2’s jar I added the chamomile and linden flowers. I poured a high proof vodka over the herbs and resins, sealed up jars and placed them in a sunny window to let them stew for 24 hours. I think that was a bit to long as the scent- and flavor- were a little overwhelming. I also probably shouldn’t have put the orris root in so early as even the few pieces I added came out very strongly in the brew. Otherwise they smelled and tasted about right. I then added the remaining herbs and spices, resealed the jars and let them marinate overnight. The next day I strained and filtered both batches. They were a bit darker  (batch #2 came out about the color of a brown ale) and a little more bitter than the commercial blends I’ve tasted but still fairly close.

Batch #1- while a bit piney- was actually pretty good once diluted (and chilled) with lots of ice. Batch #2 was really bitter but a little honey and some ice to cool and water it down turned it into a refreshing, bittersweet liqueur.

Liquor Recipes- Amber Gin

*This home brewed gin tastes (and smells) very much like Bombay Sapphire and can be used in cocktails like true distilled gin or served on the rocks. If served with ice or tonic water this translucent liquor will turn cloudy like ouzo.

*The juniper berries should be fairly fresh and plump- similar to a raisin- not hard and crunchy. They should have a piney, cedar wood like scent and a sweet, fruity and spicy flavor. They should not be bitter or taste like turpentine. You can use almond meal in place of whole or slivered almonds.

*If you can’t get angelica root a combination of ¼ tsp celery seed, 2 bay leaves and a slice of galangal comes pretty close to it.

  • 1 1/2 cups vodka (80 or 100 proof)
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries, raw almonds
  • 1 tsp granulated dried lemon peel
  • 1 tsp each whole coriander seed and angelica root
  • ½ tsp orris root, whole or minced
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 3” stick cassia cinnamon
  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. In a mortar and pestle mash up the juniper berries and almonds. Add to the jar along with the lemon peel.
  3. Shake the jar vigorously and place it in a cool dark place. Then let it sit for 8-12 hours.
  4. In a mortar and pestle coarsely crush the coriander, angelica, orris, cardamom and cinnamon. Add these spices to the jar.
  5. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar back in a cool, dark location and let stew for 24 hours or so. Shake the jar every few hours.
  6. After 24 hours the liquor should have developed a lovely rich, amber coloration. Open the jar and smell the brew- you should note the sweet piney juniper scent first against a spicy, floral background. Taste the liqueur to see if it has the desired level of sweetness. It should have a little bite from the alcohol and orris root but it should not burn like moonshine or be unpalatably bitter.
  7. Decant and strain the liquor -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a rich, translucent amber- it should not be cloudy. Place liquor in a bottle or jar (preferably dark glass) and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.

Liqueur Recipes- Gin Blossom Liqueur

*This gin-based liqueur can be used in cocktails like true distilled gin or served on the rocks. If served with ice or tonic water this translucent liquor will turn cloudy like ouzo.

*The juniper berries should be fairly fresh and plump- similar to a raisin- not hard and crunchy. They should have a piney, cedar wood like scent and a sweet, fruity and spicy flavor. They should not be bitter or taste like turpentine.

*If you can’t get Mushaad grade frankincense any high quality omani or Yemeni franckincense will do. Mushaad frankincense has an intense perfume-like scent –similar to violets with hints of balsam and citrus. The flavor is floral, piney and somewhat bitter.

  • 1 1/2 cups vodka (80 or 100 proof)
  • 1 tbsp each juniper berries, linden flowers and German chamomile
  • ½ tsp Mushaad grade frankincense
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp granulated dried sweet orange peel
  • 1 tsp each whole coriander seed, orris root, whole or minced, and rose buds or petals
  • ½ tsp lavender buds
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 3” sticks Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1-3 tbsp honey (or to taste), preferably clover or linden
  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. In a mortar and pestle mash up the juniper berries and frankincense. Add to the jar along with the linden, chamomile, bay leaves and orange peel.
  3. Shake the jar vigorously and place it in a cool dark place. Then let it sit for 8-12 hours.
  4. In a mortar and pestle coarsely crush the coriander, rose, orris, lavender, cardamom and cinnamon. Add these to the jar.
  5. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar back in a cool, dark location and let stew for 24 hours or so. Shake the jar every few hours.
  6. After 24 hours the liquor should have developed a dark brown coloration- about like coco cola. Open the jar and smell the brew- you should note the sweet piney juniper scent first against a perfumey, floral background. Add the honey- a tbsp at first. Let the honey dissolve and then taste the liqueur and see if it is sweet enough. It should be bittersweet but not so bitter that you couldn’t drink it on the rocks. After adding any additional honey (if needed) reseal the jar and let sit another 8 hours or so.
  7. Decant and strain the liquor -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a dark translucent amber- about like a brown glass bottle- and not cloudy. Place liquor in a bottle or jar (preferably dark glass) and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.

Back in the game

So after a couple months hiatus I managed to have a very productive weekend of sculpting-

Luminaries, vases and napkin holders made from a light brown stoneware clay

In this batch I have made a variety of kitchen implements and vessels with a new stoneware clay that should come out a dark beige color. *If* they survive I’m thinking I’ll coat them with a distressed layer of warm white glaze and over top that with a clear layer which should give the appearance of antique ironstone pottery.

Two spoon rests and a soap dish.

This pieces in this collection, like most of my work, has a very organic look to it. The spoon rests and napkin holders look vaguely like seashells.

The napkin holders remind me of ancient brachiopod fossils.

My favorites from this batch are the luminaries which resemble primitive sea sponges-

A trio of very organic looking luminaries.

I really hope the luminaries survive as they were very time consuming to make. Each little hole in them is a potential starting point for cracks. With any luck these pieces will survive the slow drying process over the next couple weeks and then it will be time to glaze them.

 

Just in time for Fall

I have a fresh batch of leaf-shaped spoon rests and soap dishes in all the hues of Autumn-

Stoneware Red Oak Leaf Spoon Rest with Autumn Scarlet Finish 01 Alas-only one of the Red Oak leaf shaped dishes survived- but the finish on it is perfect.

Stoneware White Oak Leaf Spoon Rest with Autumn Scarlet Finish 01 I love how the Temmoku underglaze interacted with the Satin Matte Red Glaze.The mottled effect is almost a dead ringer for real fallen oak leaves.

Stoneware Sugar Maple Leaf Spoon Rest with Autumn Gold Finish 01 Most of the Sugar Maple trees in the woods behind my parent’s house turn a pale gold mottled with brown and orange similar to the finish on these dishes.

Leaf shaped ceramic spoon rests in all the hues of Autumn from The Farmhouse Atelier 01 Ceramic leaf shaped dishes in shades of Autumn Scarlet, Gold and Celadon Green mottled with brown.

Ceramic Napkin Holders

Fresh out of the kiln- a batch of very organic-looking napkin holders made from porcelain and stoneware clay:

Stoneware Napkin Holder by MJ Seal with Chartreuse Finish 01 The bright acid-green coloration of the Chartreuse Finish is not exaggerated.

Stoneware Napkin Holder by MJ Seal with Celadon Green Finish 01 The shapes of these napkin holders reminds me of coralline algae. I love how the Celadon Green glaze on this piece turned out.

Napkin Holders by MJ Seal The green and blue coloration of these pieces mesh well with their leafy, coral-like forms.

Porcelain Leaves

Another batch of leaf-shaped porcelain spoon rests and soap dishes are glazed and out of the kiln-

porcelain leaf shaped soap dishes and spoon rests by mj seal
On this batch of leaves I applied two layers of Nutmeg to the backs and sides; three layers of Yellow glaze to the top surfaces and a thin layer of Temmoku to the back, sides and top edges. The result was this interesting cheesecake like finish.
porcelain sassafras leaf shaped soap dish by mj seal
I coated the back and sides of this Sassafras leaf shaped dish with two layers of Nutmeg glaze. On the top surface I applied three layers of Seaweed. Then a applied a thin glaze of Temmoku along the top edges, sides and back. The final result was strangely retro and psychedelic.
red oak leaf spoon rest made from porcelain by mj seal
The coral red glaze on this Red Oak leaf shaped soap dish came out very intense. The effect is nice especially along the edges where I applied a bit of Temmoku- but could use a little tweaking.
porcelain chestnut oak leaf spoon rest by mj seal
On this Chestnut Oak leaf shaped spoon rest I applied a this glaze of Temmoku over two layers of nutmeg- which created this rich, bronzed brown finish.

Valley landscape XIII

Abandoned field with cedars around midafternoon on a hot, hazy day with slightly overcast skies-

A Shenandoah valley landscape painted by MJ seal
“Shenandoah Valley Landscape XIII”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on canvas board, 7″ X 5″. C. 2016

Valley landscape XII

An abandoned field overlooking distant mountains at midday in warm, dry weather- maybe early summer.

A Shenandoah valley landscape painting by MJ seal
“Shenandoah Valley Landscape XII”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on canvas board, 6″ X 4″. C. 2016

Mountain and fields

Mountain and rolling fields on a partly cloudy day perhaps in early summer-

Landscape painting by MJ seal
“Mountain and fields”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on canvas,approx. 10″ X 8″. C. 2016

Looking north from my apartment at sunrise

My memory of the view from my bedroom’s north facing window at sunrise two days ago-

Landscape at sunrise painted by MJ seal
“Looking north at sunrise”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on canvas, Approx. 11″ X 14″. C. 2016

Silhouetted landscape at sunset

A fiery sunset evolved from two rectangular blotches of paint on a piece of scrap canvas-

A fiery sunset in this painting on canvas
“Silhouetted landscape at sunset”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on canvas, Approx. 8″ X 10″. C. 2016