Monday, November 7, 2011

Roasted coffee and other caffinated soutions

This summer the kids and I headed into Kansas City for a tour at The Roasterie and a stop at The Nelson to see the Water Lilies. It was a fantastic day. At the conclusion of The Roasterie tour, Henry asked aloud why we did not roast our own coffee. A very good question and after a couple of weeks of research we were in business. For the past 5 months, he and I have been roasted select green coffees from around the world to our own delight. We formed a brand name, Blunderbean Express, and with the help of my cousin created a logo. It has been a good bit of fun. Over the summer we had lots of time and sent sachets of the roasted beans to friends across the country. The school year has slowed this enterprise down a bit, but I get lots of questions about my equipment and source of beans so I figured I should create a post.

The roaster:
I use the Nesco roaster. I'm a firm believer in air roasting and this seems to be the best option on the market. It has drawbacks. The link in the previous sentence is to Tom's reviews at Sweet Maria's. I agree with most of what he has to say, but couldn't find a product that seemed better. I would have gladly paid more, but there just wasn't anything I liked better on the market. My unit was purchased in KC through The Roasterie with a couple pounds of green beans thrown in. I think Sweet Maria's offers a similar deal. The unit is also on Amazon. After about 10 pounds of roasting, I couldn't be happier. I don't expect it to last forever, but considering the price of green verses already roasted beans, it will pay for itself.

The beans:
I order ALL of my green beans from The Roasterie. Their Home Roasting section offers a fine selection. If one orders before 12:30 p.m. and spends more than $40, overnight shipping is included. Amanda, at the front desk, who helps with such things, is the bee's knees. A handwritten note comes with every box. There are other places to get unroasted beans, but I consider KC local and with free shipping the price can't be beat. Green beans have a six month shelf life so ordering 5 pounds at a time is not a big deal.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Quick tomato sauce

I picked up a few pounds of local heirloom tomatoes at the farmer's market this weekend. Olivia has been asking for pasta for a couple of days so I thought I'd make a fresh sauce with as many local ingredients as I could work in. I was please with the results. Sadly, I didn't get a photo until after the meal when I was putting away leftovers. It was pretty much THAT good.

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • small onion (I had white on hand, but might have preferred red)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • tomatoes (four large and a handful of cherry)
  • soy sauce
  • basil
  • pasta
  • cheese
I put the pan on medium heat and let a couple turns of olive oil heat while I chopped the onion and garlic. I add both to the hot pan and added salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. I found myself salting the dish each time I added ingredients. Next I chopped the four large tomatoes. I had two different varieties that needed used. Rough cut and a dice leaving seeds and juices on the cutting board. I added the tomatoes to the pan, stirred and salted. I had the idea to cut some cherry tomatoes in half along their equator and add them to the pan. For some reason at this point I was moved to add about two table spoons of soy sauce...I have no idea why, but it seemed to work. I also chopped five or six big basil leaves and added. The sauce was pretty juicy so I let it reduce for about 10 minutes while my water heated, checking and stirring often. Then I added my pasta to the water and added a bit more salt to the sauce. As the noodles finished I felt the urge to add another turn of oil to the sauce which had reduce quite a bit. I toyed with the notion of letting the sauce further reduce, but instead drained the noodles and added them to the pan. After stirring and letting the noodles take in some of the juice, I finely grated two ounces of hard cheese over the dish, removed from heat and covered while I finished some chicken breasts I served with the pasta. I haven't posted in about seven months and the dish moved me to do so...that is all the advertizement the dish needs in my mind. I'll be repeating all summer as the tomatoes continue to make their way from the fields to my table.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thai Basil Beef Jerky

Adam's friend, who looks a heck of a lot like Flo from those car insurance commercials, brought a packet of Thai Basil Beef Jerky back from San Fran over Christmas break. Adam shared a bit with me and I know that I could recreate this jerky. My dad does a pretty nice jerky, but his flavor is very basic. I tried my hand using my Excalibur food dehydrator. It was a really nice experiment. Here is the recipe.

Thai Basil Beef Jerky
1 cup fish sauce
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/3 cup brown sugar
15 gloves of garlic
14 Thai bird chilies
1 large bunch of Thai basil
5 lbs of thinly sliced top round

Combine everything except the meat in a blender and pulse until liquid. Poor mix into large pot and layer in slices of beef. Marinate for 48 hours. Dehydrate at 115 degrees until finished.

Enjoy with a Belgian ale.

Beers from Belgum

As I have done more reading about this new experience in beer, I've come to learn that my interest lies with the Belgian beers and not just tripels. Adam and I went to Grinders the other night and enjoyed a nice selection. One of the bottles was a sour ale, which really caught my attention. Back to the liquor store where I might sit down...$24.00 on a six back of beer. This experiment is not for the casual beer drinker. In college I'd regularly buy two thirty packs for a bit less. We sampled the four bottles pictured above. The Faro and Trappist Rochefort were delightful. The flemish sour was pretty good too, but not of the same caliber as the other two. The Carowl (sp) was a disappointment. It seemed very flat by comparison and lacking in depth and flavor. I'll seek out the Faro again and enjoy it as an after dinner beer.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I tripeled and can't get up

I have always written about food, but I think it is time I devote some of my energy towards the exploration of beer. I love beer. My tendencies have always leaned towards English nut ales, but as of late I've been sampling a few tripels. This summer, while bellied up to the bar and Grinders, one one of my favorite KC establishments, a buddy ordered a tripel and gave me a taste. Banana. It tasted like a beer flavored banana, or at least had a hint of the long, yellow fruit. More recently on a trip to Rock A Belly Deli, in Manhattan, Kansas, I sampled another tripel and was lost in the flavors, which finished on a sour note. Today I went to a couple liquor stores in Kansas City and purchased $75.00 worth of different tripels. Lets see what happens.

Tonight I'm sampling a bottle from the monks at St. Bernadus Abbey. Stay tuned for a reflection each of these bottles and those which I have not yet founds. If you have information or favorites, please send it along. If I'd finish my damned dissertation, I could get busy brewing some of my own...

P.S. It is totally okay to spend $16.00 on a four pack of this stuff because one beer has my head floating and two render me unable to drive.

To read more about what makes a tripel a tripel and why a non-monk can't brew a tripel, check out the Beer Advocate.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Stanley Mug

Before setting off on my camping/canoeing adventure last weekend, I needed to pick up a mug. I headed to Sunflower Bike Shop in Lawrence for that purpose. A knife, water proof matches and a hat were purchase during a conversation about biking the Katy Trail and I left the shop and rejoined Adam. I didn't think about the mug until he handed me a latte from Henry's. Luckily Henry's and Sunflower are on the same block. My return trip yielded the Stanley mug pictured above. Adam suggested the handle with carabiner style hook would be a pretty cool feature.

The mug was great on the trip. It handled my coffee well. Clipped to my pack. The lid screwed on tight. However, it wasn't until yesterday morning's experiment preparing Curried Beef with Mango that the mug's true potential was realized. I'm not a big fan of waste and using a large zip top back to prepare a meal and then be disposes of is not my favorite idea. Lots of the backpacking recipes I'm interested in require such a preparation. My thoughts have evolved to packing the meal in a much smaller sandwich sized bag and then preparing the meal in the mug. Maybe I'd need two mugs, but that seems far less wasteful in the long run. To test my theory breakfast was again made in the mug. Oatmeal inspired by a cashew, cranberry, dark chocolate trail mix we enjoyed on the trip.

Oatmeal with cranberries and dark chocolate
1/2 cup instant oats
1/6 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbls dark chocolate chips

Combine first five ingredients in the mug, cover with boiling water and lid to sit for 10ish minutes. Add chocolate chips and stir. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Camping Food: Curried beef with brown rice and mangos

Last weekend (Halloween 2010) my friend, Adam, and I embarked on a canoe trip down Delaware Creek into the Kansas River to Lawrence, Kansas. The two day trip was a true adventure with lots of wildlife including a lone coyote, bald eagle, and the elusive big, fat beaver. I took charge of cooking due to the fact I'd just receive a copy of One Pan Wonders, a nice little cookbook for backpackers. Two meals were prepared from the guide, both being light weight, simple to prepare and pretty tasty. Home prep was key. I'll discuss one meal today as I recreated it this morning in the comfort of my own kitchen.

Curried beef with brown rice and mango
1/2 cup instant brown rice
2 tbls dried mango, chopped fine
1 tbls beef jerky, chopped fine
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp group ginger

In the kitchen I put everything in my Stanley mug and covered with boiling water. Ten minutes later I had a nice mug of chewy, spicy goodness. While camping I packed all of the ingredients in a zip top bag. We ate this for breakfast and stuffed the bags of food in a beer coozie then added boiling water to the bag. The coozie provided stability while my Stanley mug held coffee. After 10 or so minutes we mushed the contents of the bag to mix and ate straight from the bag. Minimal mess. Minimal clean up. We were both happy.