Modernist Cuisine Beer Cheese Mac + Cheese

I love to tell people about sodium citrate, a chemical that is similar to what the inventors of Velveeta used to keep their cheese from separating into fats and proteins. It works great for creating nacho cheese and cheese sauce at home using a few ounces of cheese, a bit of water, and some sodium citrate.

You can easily find the recipe on the Modernist Cuisine Website. I cobbled together the advice of a few different recipes to create what, effectively, tasted like beer cheese. If you want to recreate out creation follow the recipe below:

Modernist Beer Cheese:



  • 265 g Dunkelweiss beer
  • 11 g Sodium Citrate
  • 285g (10 oz)  of Vermont Sharp Cheddar (I ended up using 11.5 oz)
  • 2 cups cooked macaroni (or whatever pasta you prefer)



  1. Combine sodium citrate and beer into a pot, whisking to dissolve, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Add cheese slowly to simmering liquid, blending with an immersion blender (or just whisk really hard, like I did)
  3. Mix cheese sauce with macaroni/pasta

The beer is really the key difference here, the added flavor contributed by the dunkelweiss gives a distinct beer-cheese flavor that adds to the sharp cheddar flavor of undiluted cheddar cheese (we may try adding some mozzarella next time to thing the flavor a bit, it got intense). We also discussed adding garlic and roasted onions and peppers. In addition, Rebecca has promised to make some spent grain bread to go along with it (so we can mop up the extra).

If you have problems with the emulsion refer to the original recipe (linked above) and look at the tips section.

KAMM Regional Training (Region III @NKAPC)

KAMM_LOGO(2)Yesterday I attended a training put on by the Kentucky Association of Mitigation Managers at the NKAPC (Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission). The training was a basic introduction to Flood Management and Mitigation and the changes coming to Kentucky (and the nation) under the Biggert Waters reform passed last year. Every time I read “Biggert Waters” I always think “bigger waters” instead. Sort of a funny coincidence given the connection with flooding, though the changes being made are no laughing matter.

The first ‘session’ covered Flood Plain Management and discussed the basics of flooding, how we find flood plains, and other terminology. As well as federal, state, and local agency contexts, regulations, and KRS.

The second ‘session’ covered the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Biggert Waters Act changes (KAMM hosts a PDF of the presentation). Specifically section 205 and 207, which hold many of the more controversial changes. For those of you unfamiliar with the Biggert Waters Act, it was a reform to the NFIP that eliminated many of the existing subsidies for those being insured in or near a flood plain as well as how flood plains are determined. This will effectively create ghost towns in some parts of Kentucky and the US as many homeowners could be forced to abandon their properties due to the increased cost of insurance.

The final session covered mitigation and grants as well as introducing the new CHAMPS tool. CHAMPS, or Commonwealth Hazard Assessment & Mitigation Planning System), “a tool used by local, regional, and state managers, planners, and responders to build community resiliency through a streamlined and standardized process for planning, assessments, and funding of projects.” Already, I’ve heard positive feedback from my co-worker that handles hazard mitigation that this system is fantastic. If you’re interested in learning about CHAMPS (see here to find out if you’re the target audience), the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management is hosting training on CHAMPS. More information about where and when they will be having these trainings is available on the KYEM website.

Brewing, Spent Grain Bread, and Dog Treats

Starting the Kolsch boil.
Starting the Kolsch boil.

Yesterday Rebecca and I went over to ‘Nesbitt Farms’ (her dad’s house) to brew the first of our two wedding beers (Kleinen Keisel’s Kolsch). It went surprisingly well but for a hiccup with the cooling of the wort. Turns out snow insulates as expected. Because the hose lines were shut off we could not use our immersion chiller and ended up having to rely on circulating water around the carboy in our brew pot and even that required that the wort be cool enough that we could transfer to the carboy. All said and done we were brewing from 4:00 p to 1:00 a on Saturday.

Kolsch Ferment
The Kolsch, in its final resting place for the next few weeks.


The Kolsch as of noon today.
The Kolsch as of noon today.

Today Rebecca is making bread from the spent grains of the Kolsch. She’s been using this recipe for almost a year and a half now. The results vary widely by the type of grain used, but the recipe itself is great. We found it somewhere on the internet and have since lost the source. If you’re interested in trying it to, here’s the recipe we use:

Spent Grain Bread


  • 2 cups spent grain, milled or used whole
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil


  1. Mill grains in food processor
  2. Mix yeast, water, honey and oil and let sit for 5 minutes in a warm spot (~70 F)
  3. In a large bowl, mix grains, flour and salt with hands–should feel like wet sand.
  4. Make a well and pour in liquid ingredients and mix until completely hydrated but not sticky
  5. Oil bowl, cover, and let rise until two times original volume is achieved (~90 minutes), punch down and transfer to 9 in. loaf pan.
  6. Cover and let rise again 90 min to 2 hrs.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 350 and bake 50 min. Internal temp should be between 190 and 200 F
Rebecca prepping the spent grain bread dough
Rebecca prepping the spent grain bread dough

Dog Treats

After Rebecca finishes her bread, I’ll be trying out a spent grain dog treat recipe I found here. I’d like to skip the flour, so I may try to replace or remove the flour the next time I make them. But for now I’ll be using the recipe as it is written. I’ll be using the last bag of grains from the Midwest Godfather Stout. The grains are dark and have a nice chocolate aroma without actually having any chocolate in them. Honestly, with a bit of sugar these might be a nice sort of biscuit for people too.

I’ll add pictures and and modifications I make to the recipe here when I’m finished.

Spent Grain Dog Treats Recipe

  • 4 cups spent grains
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter

Mix spent grains and flour (my grains were wet so this made a sort of paste), mix peanut butter and eggs into the dry-ish mixture.

Spread on oiled baking sheet, score into 1in x 1in squares using a pizza cutter or knife, and cook for 30 min on 350 F. Check the pan for doneness and, if done, drop the temperature to 170 and let them dehydrate (mine took 6 hours). If you’re in a hurry you could probably up the temperature and check them more frequently.

Westell Ultraline Series 3: How do I use my own router with Fioptics?

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to networking. I took a some CISCO classes in highschool and ended up really enjoying it. Because of that I often don’t like or don’t want the equipment that my ISP tries to provided me with.

That was the case with Fioptic’s Westell Ultraline Series 3 (WUS3). It uses a VDSL connection to connect multiple units in our condo building to the internet. I really wanted to start using my Asus N600 router as my primary LAN/Wi-Fi, but the WUS3 has a built-in router too. Rather than messing around with bridging the WUS3 into a modem only, I ended up using the DMZ host function to expose my ASUS to the internet.

If you’re reading this you’ve likely had the same problem (the bridge interface is a pain and doesn’t really work). In that case follow my instructions and hopefully you can not waste your Saturday evening trying to get your network setup the way you want it.

1. Enable the DMZ Host on the WUS3 via the homepage by clicking Firewall>DMZ Host and setting the DMZ to the address you’ll give the router (I used, the next logical increment after the WUS3’s IP).

2. Connect the Router’s WAN port to the any of the 4 ethernet ports on the switch of the WUS3.

3. Connect to the router and use the configuration or internet wizard to tell the Router to use the static IP we set as the DMZ host.

4. Check the connections and you should be on your way.

Update (2/11/2014):

After consulting this thread and failing to get bridge, I reset the Westell one more time. This time I did the following and it worked!

1. click on my network

2. click on connections

3. click on WAN

4. go to bridging

5. bridge the WAN and ethernet (I’m a bit foggy here, if you try the same let me know what you did here so I can have a more complete description)

6. you’ll be prompted about changes to br0 and bridging WAN

7. that should be it, my router plugged into an ethernet port on the Westell’s built in switch got a DHCP address from the ISP.

Bonus: I left the wi-fi active (and out of the bridge) so I can still access the Westell even though it is currently in bridge mode.

Which Android ODB-II is better? Dash v. Automatic

Update: 8/16/2015; A lot had changed in the past year and a half. I’m using Automatic daily now. Automatic has, I believe, a revision of its ODB-II dongle now with more features. Dash now has a page for picking an ODB-II adapter, making it easier to get started with Dash.

Prices for a quality ODB-II adapter are <$75, but the proprietary nature of hardware singularity with Automatic certainly makes a case for the increased cost.

I have not kept up to date with API/Integration, but I saw some information about using IFTTT with Automatic, this is one of the main reasons I use Automatic now. I have two spreadsheets on GoogleDocs that I run analytics on using the information passed over by Automatic.

I’m lucky enough to be doing the Android beta for both Automatic and Dash. I’ve tested out Dash since October and Automatic since Christmas. Automatic is still in beta for Android while Dash has seen a formal release to the Google Play Store.

First what do Dash and Automatic do? Both apps support the use of a ODB-II bluetooth dongle in for your car to gather information from your car’s computer. That means things like acceleration, braking, speed, and MPG. The apps take this information with GPS data to come up with some pretty interesting information about one’s driving habits (and they attempt to get you to change your habits).

One benefit of Dash, off the bat, is that I’ve been able to use the dongle I purchased to use for Dash with other apps. In the case of Automatic, I haven’t found any apps that could connect to it. Dash’s recommended dongle is $80 while other dongles are as low as $10. I use the $24 BAFX ODB2 Scan Tool. Automatic requires a $99 dongle (though I got mine for $69 due to pre-ordering). Dash appears to have a lower cost to entry versus Automatic.

In order to give you a better idea about how each app works and displays information the next two sections will go over screen shots and detail the features of each app.


The Automatic app obviously takes some design cues from Apple with its colors and use of white and gray. The home screen shows a weekly stats for driving. The app totals fuel costs, miles driven, hours driven, average MPG, and a driving score. Users can flip through previous weeks using the navigation in this part of the interface. Below this is a map that shows where your car is parked (or the last place you got GPS signal). The final third of the interface is a scroll-able log of each trip taken that week with information about miles drive, gas cost, hard brakes, rapid accelerations, and minutes over 70 mph.

The dongle uses audio cues to alert the driver if they hard brake, rapidly accelerate, or drive above 70 mph. The cues are nice, but often fail in the snow as a hard break and/or rapid acceleration are generally ‘detected’ whenever traction is lost.  Driving into work during the snow storm this week led me to a beep for a rapid acceleration when I got stuck in some snow and my wheels lost their grip. I got another beep when I braked lightly but lost traction, telling me I hard braked. Most of the time snow issues like these won’t be a concern.

The 70 mph driving beeps are annoying. Although it would be nice to drive under 70 mph sometimes, the heavy traffic of I-75 outside of 275 doesn’t give me a whole lot of options when the speed limit is 70 mph anyway. I wish there was a feature to turn it off.

The Automatic app currently lacks a number of features compared to the iOS version, but its really reliable and has been a joy to use.


The Dash app reminds me of and Cal, using transparency, large blurred out images, and simple white icons to communicate information. Much of the design has changed since early versions of the beta app. Users of Dash setup their app by creating a garage that informs their profile. The profile  includes the type of car, your name and location, and bumper stickers. Bumper stickers are a unique form of achievements given out for hitting certain metrics. It’s a bit less direct than Automatic’s alarms but I certainly felt more positive about trying to get a bumper sticker v. being alerted (yelled at?) by a dongle. Dash’s driving alerts can be switched off. Similarly the leader board serves as a form of competition and peer pressure to keep one’s score up.

Dash also lets users find their car, dropping a pin at the last known GPS point. It also allows users to search for gas and the price of gas around them.


Automatic is obviously in early beta. It’s a shadow of its iPhone counterpart. But it’s getting better steadily and once all the features are implemented, it will be a formidable product for those who want a hassle free experience. Overall the proprietary dongle and app seem to work flawlessly without much effort.

Dash is a bit more like what I’m used to on Android. Rough around the edges at times but works well and with relatively few issues. I sometimes have issues with connectivity between the dongle and my phone, but those have been limited in number. The developers have been responsive to my problems or I was able to correct it with a simple reboot and pull & plug of the dongle. Dash is much more feature complete at this point. All advertised features work as expected.

For my daily commute I’ll be using Dash, at least for the time being. The ability to use the BAFX for Torque Pro and Dash gives me a bit more utility versus the relatively basic Automatic app. As I said before, this should change in the future and Automatic is still the hands down winner for simplicity.