Spruce and Ginger Beer from Scratch to Toast a HUGE Giveaway from Mortimer Snodgrass

Yes…Mortimer Snodgrass! I can’t help but giggle every time I read the name. I also cannot help snicker at every other item I pick up in this unique gift store in beautiful Old Montreal; their inventory is so cool, funky, unusual and yet practical. Mortimer Snodgrass, the store, is 10 years old this year and the owners decided to celebrate with a BIG BANG on Cheap Ethnic Eatz. You do not want to miss out on this giveaway, it is so awesome!

I’ll tell you more about this store, the contest and where the name came from in a bit at the bottom of this post. But first I want to share my latest cooky kitchen experiments: Homemade Spruce and Jamaican Ginger Beers. These 2 unique beverages are perfect for toasting a quirky store’s 10th birthday.

Don’t let the word beer throw you off, these are non-alcoholic but fizzy soft drinks. The idea for the Spruce beer was a light bulb moment after my Mastic Ice Cream post when I compared Mastic’s flavor to Spruce Beer…which apparently not a lot of people were familiar with. Yep I found an online recipe on the Daring Kitchens forum by Audax Artifex.

And yes I made my own extract. I went to my park and identified a Spruce. See I took a pic from my balcony to show you the conifer in question! How do you know you have a Spruce conifer? If the twig carries its needles singly and the actual needle has four sides and, thus, rolls easily between your fingers, it’s a Spruce. Pine needles cluster and Firs have 2 sided flat needles. This beer is not as overpowering as the fake flavored one you by in stores.

Ξ Spruce Beer Ξ

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of baker’s yeast, in powder form
  • 40 grams of outer twigs of spruce fir
  • 1 tablespoon of hops
  • a 2-litre soda bottle with a screw cap, thoroughly cleaned and completely dry inside

Directions

  1. Using a funnel, pour the sugar into the bottle and then pour in the yeast. The yeast must be ground for best result, I whizzed mine in a coffee grinder. If you skip this step your soft drink will be less bubbly. Shake bottle well to mix.
  2. Make you extract by bringing to a boil your spruce fir twigs and hops in 500ml of water and simmer to reduce until you have 1 tablespoon of extract remaining, if it is very sticky even better.
  3. Again with funnel, pour in beer extract and then fill bottle half full with water from tap.
  4. Remove funnel and swirl contents in bottle until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Fill bottle with water until there is approximately a one inch gap at the top and screw cover on tightly.
  6. Let bottle sit at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours or until the bottle feels hard. The gas has expanded.
  7. Store in refrigerator and chill thoroughly. Loosen cap VERY VERY SLOWLY allow gas to escape and avoid liquid fizzing over.

 

Normal Ginger Ale makes me nauseous. I hate the stuff. Not sure if it is the taste or an associated memory of my mom giving me flat ginger ale when I was in bed for a week with a major flu. But one day I bought a can of Jamaican Ginger Beer, there was a rooster on the can. The very spicy and intense ginger taste totally caught me off guard, I was hooked. I found this recipe on The personal blog of Giles Paterson. It is fabulous, strain the ginger out if you like before serving but I like having a little bit in there to chew.

Ξ Jamaican Ginger Beer Ξ

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of baker’s yeast, in powder form
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoons of grated ginger
  • 1 lemon
  • a 2-litre soda bottle with a screw cap, thoroughly cleaned and completely dry inside

Directions

  1. Using a funnel, pour the sugar into the bottle and then pour in the yeast. The yeast must be ground for best result, I whizzed mine in a coffee grinder. If you skip this step your soft drink will be less bubbly. Shake bottle well to mix.
  2. Extract the juice from one lemon. Mix the grated ginger and lemon juice together in a cup.
  3. Again with funnel, pour in ginger/lemon mixture and then fill bottle half full with water from tap.
  4. Remove funnel and swirl contents in bottle until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Fill bottle with water until there is approximately a one inch gap at the top and screw cover on tightly.
  6. Let bottle sit at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours or until the bottle feels hard. The gas has expanded.
  7. Store in refrigerator and chill thoroughly. Loosen cap VERY VERY SLOWLY allow gas to escape and avoid liquid fizzing over.

A few important notes for both recipes: a) if the pressure builds too much your bottle could explode. Place the bottle in the fridge overnight as this halts the yeast and stops the bottle exploding; b) you will notice that the basic procedures for making the sodas are identical so go ahead and experiment with flavors; c) no the ginger beer is neither radioactive nor does it glow in the dark as the pictures lead to believe; d) yes is will be carbonated almost like a soft drink…the natural way; e) until you really get the hang of opening it without making a huge mess….open your bottles outside. Trust me on this one !!!!!

Welcome to Mortimer Snodgrass! Located at 56 Notre-Dame W you will find a gem of a store when you need to buy a gift for a friend or a party….and you will leave getting a couple of extra items for yourself. They have a bit of everything: accessories, pets , balloons, spa beauty products, kids, decor, toys, office and an impressive kitchen area. The outside is adorable with Old Montreal charm, the entrance great you with a larger then life mosaic store logo..I believe made out of Jelly Beans. And the name, where did they come up with Mortimer Snodgrass?

Mortimer is the owner’s 11 year old rescued mutt. There is yellow lab in there and the rest is for anyone to guess! He is the store mascot and when he was younger he came to work every day greeting customers. Explaining Snodgrass is a whole other ball game, literally. One of the owners is a huge baseball fan and he knew of a little known baseball player named Chappy Snodgrass who played for Baltimore Orioles in 1901. Mortimer Snodgrass, it works!

Can you guess what purpose in the  kitchen my whale has? No hints we’ll see in a bit. The inside has a loft industrial feel a bit, but not in a modern exaggerated way. It’s really the shell of the store. The store’s colors are a nice pale blue with a calm orange. This is the store where you will find that unusual item you cannot find anywhere else: the ice mold to make those ice vodka shot glasses, a guitar shape silicone spatula, a blood red bath gel in a drip bag like you would see in the hospital, a cool pet treat for your pouch, fun and educational toys for kids no one else will have, neoprene designer lunch bags. And on and on and on!

I got to take a few items home to to play, oops cook, with. The first is the whale can opener. Yep the irony of opening a can of tuna with a whale that will be served to my cats…too funny. Amazing can opener by the way, made by Kuhm Rikon from Switzerland. I also got a very fashionable extra-long protective oven mitt made by Built, you know the kind that won’t still burn you threw like a cheap mitt. And finally the coolest dish brush dude ever. Dirty dishes watch out cause I will rock on while scrubbing you. Fun, quirky and all practical!I bet you would love to get you hands on some of these cool things.

Well you can! Because I am hosting with Mortimer Snodgrass the coolest giveaway ever. OK maybe not ever but close. We will be giving away not 1 but 2 gift baskets full of fun kitchen items. I was actually asked to come into the store and pick the prize packages myself for you guys. That was so fun! Each package has a retail value of $50 and there is more: each package comes with a $25 gift certificate which can be used online if you are not in Montreal. Each prize is worth $75 and the contest is open to EVERYONE worldwide! Let me show you what I picked:

Gift basket #1 includes a home sprouting kit made up of an Ancient Eastern Blend with fenugreek, lentils, kamut and adzuki beans sprouts. Next is a yellow lady citrus reamer. Lastly a set of chili shaped plastic ice cube – just pop them from the freezer to your glass, wash after and freeze again. Don’t forget the $25 gift certificate also included!

Gift basket #2 includes a grown your own edible flowers kit (marigolds) . Next is Sud Green the coolest dish brush dude around, just like the one I got too . Also we have a nifty “pull tab lid” that will keep your warm drinks warm and you cool one refreshing. Lastly this prize includes a ‘saw’ perfect for cutting up limes and lemons to add to your drink or food, and the handle also doubles as a bottle opener. Don’t forget the $25 gift certificate also included!

So do you want to win one of these baskets? Are they not awesome? Here is what you have to do to enter the contest:

– Leave a comment about my ‘ramblings’ in the post, just to make sure you read it and  did not just look at the pictures!

Many ways to get extra entries…

– Tweet Two 75$ Gift BasketsGiveaway with @mortsnodgrass & @cethniceatz http://t.co/PYit9iXj
– Follow Mortimer Snodgrass on Facebook, come back and tell me you did
– Follow Cheap Ethnic Eatz on Facebook, come back and tell me you did
– Follow Mortimer Snodgrass on Twitter, come back and tell me you did
– Follow Cheap Ethnic Eatz on Twitter, come back and tell me you did
– Download the Cheap Ethnic Eatz Mobile App, come back and tell me you did

You have till October 15th 2011, 23h59 EST to enter.

And of course the 2 winners will be picked randomly. What I will do is I’ll give the owners the total number of entries and ask them to give me 2 random numbers. Let’s get everyone involved. GOOD LUCK!

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