Eat the enemy! Invasive species pesto 

Step 1: Go on a slow walk through the woods with your friends and your club mascot. Bring along a plant connoisseur if you can (lucky us, we have Ross Whitehead!) and learn all about edible plants of the Mid Atlantic while you stroll. If you’re planning to forage, avoid places where there may be pollutants (like roadsides) – some contaminants could be taken up by plants.

Step 2: Pick some delicious invasive species for your pesto: mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris), garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), and wild onion (Allium vineale).

Step 3: Pour yourselves some homebrews and blend your harvest with olive oil, toasted walnuts, and parmesan cheese (optional additions: lemon juice, salt and pepper).

Step 4: EAT THE ENEMY! Preferably on a sunny rooftop in very flattering light. Thanks to Ross for taking us through this journey!

Cup o’ Joe: Founders Breakfast Stout Clone


This brew was one of our favorites! We thought it would be great with savory waffles, but we drank it all before we got a chance to test our hypothesis.

Modified from this recipe.

Brew Method: Extract
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 5 gallons

Original Gravity: 1.092
Final Gravity: 1.020
ABV: 9.45%

1 lb – Flaked oats
1 lb – Chocolate malt
12 oz – Roast barley malt
9 oz – Dibittered black malt
7 oz – Crystal malt (120)

6.6 lb – Liquid Malt Extract – Breiss light, unhopped
1.7 lb – Dry Malt Extract – Light

1 oz – Nugget Pellets
1 oz – Willamette Pellets

4 oz – Sumatran coffee
2.5 oz – semi-sweet chocolate chips
1.5 oz – unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp – Irish Moss

White Labs – American Ale #WLP001



1. Steep grains @ 155-160 for 30 minutes in 3 gallons of water
2. Remove grains and rinse with hot water
3. Add LME and DME and bring to a boil. Set timer for 60 min
4. At start of boil, add 1 oz nugget hops and start timer for 60 min
5. With 30 min left on the boil, add 0.5 oz willamette hops
6. At 15 min, add irish moss and wort chiller
7. At 0 min (flameout), add 0.5 oz willamette hops, 2 oz coffee, and all chocolate
8. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature
9. Transfer wort to primary fermenter and top up with water to 5 gallons.
10. Add yeast and swirl to incorporate and aerate
11. Ferment in primary for 7-14 days
12. Rack to secondary fermenter and add 2 oz coffee
13. After 7-14 days, prime and bottle
14. Bottle condition 2-3 weeks and enjoy!


Guava Belgian Pale Ale

IMG_20160330_192621Tonight we’re brewing our third batch of this beer, a favorite recipe created and led by Cesar.

Brew Method: Extract
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 5 gallons

Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.012
ABV: 5.25%

10 oz – Carapils
10 oz – Honey Malt

4 lb – Dry Malt Extract – Pilsen Light
1 lb – Dry Malt Extract – Wheat Breiss

1 oz – Belma Pellets
1 oz – Citra Pellets

1 oz – Bitter Orange Peel (dried)
1.5 g – Paradise Seeds
1 lb – Peeled Fresh Guava, in 1″ chunks
1 tsp – Irish Moss
2 lb – Frozen Guava Pulp (for secondary)

White Labs – Monastery Ale Yeast #WLP500


1. Steep grains @ 155-160 for 30 minutes in 3 gallons of water
2. Remove grains and add DME
3. Bring to boil and set timer for 60 minutes
4. With 15 minutes left, add irish moss and wort chiller
5. At 10 min, add fresh guava
6. At 7 min, add belma and citra hops
7. At 5 min, add seeds of paradise and orange peel
8. At 0 min, remove from heat and transfer wort to primary fermenter
9. Top up with water to 5 gallons.
10. Cool to pitching temp and add yeast
11. Ferment in primary for 7-14 days
12. Rack to secondary fermenter and add guava pulp
13. After 7-14 days, prime and bottle
14. Bottle condition 2-3 weeks and enjoy!

The easiest and most delicious bread recipe


This bread has accompanied many a brew club gathering. It’s simple to make and delicious every time, and it has beer in it!

Almost No-Knead Bread

Modified from Cook’s Illustrated 2008.

Makes 1 large round loaf


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature (I usually end up using a little less, or a little more flour to get the right dough consistency)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored beer (Budweiser is fine and so is an IPA or pretty much anything)
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • Chopped herbs (optional)



1. Whisk flour, salt, and yeast together in large bowl (and herbs, if using). Mix water, lager, and vinegar together and add to the flour mixture. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. If it’s really sticky, add a little more flour (otherwise it will be still delicious but kind of flat). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours (or if you’re in a rush, you can let it rise in the oven with the light on for about 4 hours and it’ll still be tasty. Just make sure the oven doesn’t get too hot – you might want to turn the light off after an hour or so depending on how hot your oven light is).

2. Line a large bowl (about the size of your dutch oven or a little smaller) with parchment paper. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead 10 to 15 times (or knead in the bowl). Shape dough into ball and place it into the parchment-lined bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. About 30 min before the bread is done rising, put the empty dutch oven (lid on) into the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. When it’s preheated, turn the temp down to 425. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one or two slits along top of dough. Pick up the dough by lifting the parchment overhang and lower it into the Dutch oven. Put lid on and bake bread for 30 minutes.

4. Remove lid and continue to bake (still at 425) until loaf is deep brown and registers 210 degrees (15 minutes works for me, but it could be different with a different oven). Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and try to let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into loaf.



Behind the scenes: Harvard faculty search

Many of us in YCC work in academia and/or are on the hunt for jobs, and the selection process for these jobs can be mired in mystery. This article gives insight into the search for tenure-track faculty in science – what search committees are looking for, how they narrow down the huge pool of qualified candidates, and how they try to combat implicit biases against women and minorities in their application reviews. A great read that has sparked a lot of conversation in the scientific community!

Our faculty search so far

Edible Wild Mushroom Hunting


The intrepid mushroom hunting crew

Last Sunday, our resident mycologist, Cesar, led us on an expedition to find edible wild mushrooms at Patuxent Wildlife Refuge. Following cool fall temperatures and a recent rainfall, the conditions were favorable for a successful hunt, and we were not disappointed. We found a lot of mushrooms, but only the ones deemed safe with extreme confidence by Cesar and his trusty field guides found their way into our basket and, later, our tasting extravaganza.

Turkey tails! Much excitement when we found the real deal after seeing about a million false turkey tails.

Turkey tails! Much excitement when we found the real deal after seeing about a million false turkey tails.


Bolete! Very cool-looking; not very delicious-tasting.

Hen of the Woods! But tragically past its prime.

Hen of the Woods! But tragically past its prime.

Puffballs for all!

Puffballs for all!

The day's harvest

The day’s harvest

Tonight at brew club, we wanted to compare the flavor of each of the mushrooms, so we prepared them the same way – sauteed with lightly salted butter and garlic. Some were more popular than others, with Lion’s Mane (also known as the bearded tooth fungus) winning out as the favorite. Each mushroom had a unique taste and texture, and we agreed that some of the more earthy flavors might be better in soup or incorporated into some sort of sauce. After we tasted all of the the mushrooms in pure buttery goodness, Cesar made a delicious concoction with leftover puffballs and boletes involving sundried tomato pesto, sour cream, and thyme. Super delicious on fresh bread!

Taste testing our harvest

Taste testing our harvest

Taste testing

We also brewed a tea out of one of our most exciting finds, a Reishi mushroom. These are well-known for their medicinal uses (anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory…the list goes on), and have many names: mushroom of immortality, ten thousand year mushroom, herb of spiritual potency, and the divine fungus, to name a few. We sliced the mushroom thinly, dried it for about 2 hours in a 200°F oven, and boiled in water for about 2 hours. The tea was bitter, but somehow we all really enjoyed the flavor. We added lemon juice to one batch but most of us preferred the plain tea. If we are lucky enough to find a Reishi mushroom again, we might try it with ginger, honey, and lemon.

From forest to the Liz K mug

From forest to mug

We’re hooked on mushroom hunting and highly recommend it as a delightful fall and spring activity. Before eating anything you harvest, it is very important to be 100% confident in your identification! Make sure you do lots of research on the most easy-to-identify edible mushrooms, have field guides with you, and if at all possible have an experienced mushroom-hunter check your IDs. Stay safe and have fun!

“There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.”

YCC’s harvest, 10/11/2015:

  • Puffball (Calvatia sp. or Lycoperdon sp.)
  • Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor)
  • Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus)
  • Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
  • Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
  • Bolete (Boletus sp.)
  • Red Russula (Russula sp.)
  • Deer mushroom (Pluteus cervinus)

Homemade Tonic Water

We love beer a lot, but we also love a good cocktail now and then.

Last week, we made homemade tonic water concentrate, so we’ll be able to cruise through the rest of the summer with the classiest of G&T’s. We used David Lebovitz’s recipe, with a couple of modifications. I’m sure the original recipe is stellar, and with these changes we still got a super delicious result.

We mixed about 1:1:1 gin: tonic: sparkling water and added a wedge of lime and maybe a few sliced cucumbers. We also cheated and tried it out after 1 day of steeping instead of 2…no regrets.


To accompany the G&T’s, we suggest Dumm’s pizza.

Tonic Water Concentrate
Makes about 1 quart (1l)

Adapted by David Lebovitz from Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor

There is plenty of wiggle room in this recipe – feel free to change up the spice mix or use a different blend of citrus fruits. Use organic citrus fruits if possible, and wash the surfaces well. We used less lemongrass (about 1/4 as much), a little more cardamom, and powdered chinchona bark instead of chopped, and it turned out great.

To make the simple syrup, bring 1 1/4 cup (250g) of sugar to a boil with 1 cup (250ml) of water, stirring frequently, for one minute, until the sugar is completely dissolved.

To use this tonic water, mix it 1:1 (in equal parts) with sparkling water or club soda.

  • 1 quart (1l) water
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 2 1/2 ounces (75g) chopped lemongrass (use the bottom 2/3rds of the stalks, trimming off the root end first)
  • 3 tablespoons (33g) citric acid
  • 1/4 cup (22g) chopped chinchona bark
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 5 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
  • 2 small star anise
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) simple syrup (see headnote)

1. Pour the water into a medium-sized nonreactive saucepan. Add the zest from the grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime. (You can remove it with a sharp vegetable peeler, in strips, or with a citrus zester.) Halve, then juice the citrus fruits and add the juice to the saucepan.

2. Add the lemongrass, citric acid, chinchona bark, allspice, cardamom, star anise, salt, and black peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid, leaving it slightly askew, and let it simmer gently for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and cool to room temperature.

3. Pour into a container, such as a large screw-top jar, and chill for 2 days in the refrigerator, shaking it gently a couple of times a day.

4. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer, preferably into a large measuring cup (which will make the next step easier). Discard the spices, lemongrass, bark, and citrus peels. Strain the mixture again, this time through a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth, muslin, or a coffee filter. (If using a coffee filter, it’ll remove most traces of the spice powder but it’ll take a bit of time, so be patient.)

5. Add the sugar syrup, then pour into clean bottles or screw-top jars and refrigerate until ready to use. (We accidentally added the simple syrup during the initial boil and it didn’t seem to cause any problems)

To use the tonic water: Pour off the tonic water, avoiding disturbing any bark and spice sediment that might settle into the bottom of the bottle or jar, then add an equal amount of sparkling water to obtain the quantity that you need. Or just go halvsies with sparkling water as you mix your cocktails.

Storage: The tonic water can be kept for several months in the refrigerator. Don’t tighten the lid as the tonic water can ferment a bit and you want any air to be able to escape.


*this recipe is Joni-approved*


We’ve made several batches of sauerkraut in YCC, and this method works well for us:

1. Wash all utensils and cabbage (and any other veggies you want to use!)

2. Slice cabbage/veggies into thin strips (We use a mandoline)


3. Weigh sliced cabbage, place into a large bowl, and add ~1.5 tsp of salt per pound of cabbage.

4. Squish and squeeze the cabbage and salt with clean hands until enough liquid has been released to keep most of the cabbage submerged (5-10 minutes).

IMG_20140319_174144286 IMG_20140319_182250974

5. Add whatever your heart desires – we have made it with nothing but cabbage, salt, and garlic (delicious), but last time we made 3 varieties:

– Caraway and juniper berries (traditional German)

– Dill seed

– Chopped jicama, basil, lime juice, and cayenne pepper (sounds strange, but this is our favorite)

6. Pack into glass jars (or food-safe plastic containers or a fermenting crock if you want to get fancy) using a wooden spoon. Top off with salted water if there isn’t enough liquid to cover the cabbage.

7. Weigh down the cabbage to keep it submerged. There are a lot of ways to do this (jars, parsnips, bags of rocks, etc) – we use plastic sandwich bags filled with water.

8. Place the jars in some sort of container to catch any spillover from active fermentation (we use pie plates), and leave at room temperature for 4-6 weeks, or until you like the taste of the kraut.


9. The day after you make the kraut, remove the plastic bag weights and top off the jars with olive oil. This will allow CO2 produced through fermentation to escape but will prevent contamination from the outside air. Cap the jars loosely and leave at room temperature for 4-6 weeks, or until you are happy with the taste of the kraut.

10. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy on sausages, hot dogs, eggs, rueben sliders, or pulled chicken sangwiches!