Cast Iron & Kona Beans

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green coffee beans

It was 6:30 a.m., and I hated the world. I pulled my strawberry shortcake sleeping bag over my head.  All I wanted was 5 more minutes of sleep. Instead,  I was rudely awakened by my father singing at the bottom of the stairs. It was his  morning wake-up song.  “Nothing could be finer than eating at Daddy’s Diner in the morning.” My eyes were nothing but slits as I stumbled down the stairs, shuffling  toward the kitchen. I bellied up to the table and reached for the warm cup of love.  I was six years old.

My love affair with coffee began as a child with a simple percolator pot.  During my hung over 20’s, I graduated to the drip style coffee maker and cheap pre-ground coffee. At some point, my coffee maker took a shit, and I was too broke to buy a new one.  So I resorted to boiling the ground coffee in water over the stove and pouring it through a paper towel.  I was in my 30’s when I discovered the French Press Pot, and that’s when my whole world changed. I bought specialty coffees, whole beans and a grinder. My latest craze has become roasting my own coffee beans.

It’s true. My name is Nomadic Chef,  but you can call me Chef and I am not just addicted to coffee. I’m  at the mercy of coffee.

Buying pre-roasted specialty coffees can be expensive ranging from $6.00-$20.00 per pound. I’m  working toward sliming down the cost of more expensive purchases in life.  Frugality is the new PC term for being  a cheap ass.  I did some research on roasting beans and  found a  deal on Amazon– 5lbs of coffee for $22.00.  What the hell,  that should leave me plenty of room for fuck-ups.  I read that many people have had success with roasting coffee beans in a popcorn air popper.   But what they don’t tell you is that you need an older model popcorn popper, because the newer ones have a built in sensor that shuts the heating element down when it reaches a certain temperature so that it doesn’t catch fire. It took me 6 hrs to roast my first batch of dark roast coffee with the Stir Crazy Popcorn popper. When I brewed my first batch of java it tasted like weeds.  I attempted the same method one more time with the same result. Discouraged, I decided to try out my old friend, the cast iron pan, and I’ve been roasting ever since.

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Benefits of home roasting:

  • You control the roast of your beans.
  • Cost savings.
  • Guaranteed freshness.
  • Definitely the cool kid on the block.

Things you’ll need:

  • High sided cast iron pan or cast iron dutch oven.
  • Wooden spoon or high temp rubber scraper.
  • 1lb green coffee beans of your choice.

Method:

Pre heat your cast iron pan on low for about 5 minutes.

Add the 1 pound of green coffee beans to the pan spreading them out evenly with the wooden spoon.

Stir them occassionally so they roast evenly. After a few minutes the beans will begin to pop and the outer shell will shed off this is the first pop.

Continue stirring until beans become the color of your selected roast of coffee.It usually takes me about 25 to 30 minutes reach dark roast. A good rule of thumb is the save some beans from a previous roast you purchased to compare to the beans your roasting until you get the hang of it.

Once the beans are roasted dump them out on a cookie sheet, spread evenly and let cool 24 to 72 hours before grinding to allow the coffee to de-gas and be at an optimal flavor. Grinding too early can result in a metallic tasting brew.

Store your beans in an air tight container for up to 3 months.

Ratings:

It took  me a few trial runs before I actually achieved  the roast I enjoy. The little effort it took was well worth the satisfactin of drinking my own brew. Cost savings is another bonus. My house hold goes through about 2lbs of coffee a week at an average cost of $7.00 per lb and $56.00/month. Roasting my own the green beans cost $20.00 for 5lbs. That is a monthly overall cost of $32.00 and savings of $24.00/month.

 

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Dirty Little Secret

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We all have that dirty little secret.  You know that one deep down that you don’t want anyone else to know. It becomes your obsession, your mission, and you must gain fulfillment. So you slip away in the quiet moments when no one is watching to get  your fix. Oh the rush! The joy!, This is soon followed by  guilt, frustration and shame. Yes, friends I am an addict. I am addicted to achieving stain-free laundry, and doing it frugally is the ultimate high.

For the last 5 years, I have been experimenting with different homemade laundry soap recipes.  I was curious mostly because of allergies, but also I became more aware of all the unnecessary chemicals I was exposing myself to.  I tweaked the recipe until  I had  a laundry soap with effective c leaning power, low cost, usability on all wash cycles, and most importantly one that was hypoallergenic. Nobody likes to itch.

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Homemade laundry soap has its benefits:

  • You can choose whether or not you want soap heavy in fragrance without paying a higher price for natural soap.
  • It’s less likely to irritate sensitive skin.
  • Cost savings especially for larger families.
  • You can avoid unnecessary dyes and phosphates found in most detergents.
  • Not animal tested.
  • Eco friendly and biodegradable.
  • Clothes last longer.

Simple ingredients:

Borax- Is an active cleaner stain and smell remover.

Arm & Hammer Laundry Booster- Has color saving properties it also brightens lights & whites.

Fels naptha or Zote- Stain remover laundry cleaner and scent  buy an extra bar and use it to pre-treat stained clothes before washing.( Side note: You can use any bar soap in its place but I’ve found wash wise it works the best.)

Scented Essential Oil- Optional for added fragrance.

Things you’ll need:

  • 2-Large empty clean and washed laundry soap bottles.
  • 1-3 -gallon bucket.
  • 1.5 -gallon cooking pot.
  • An Emersion blender.
  • A box grater.
  • A large funnel.

 

Recipe: (Beginner level,  Easy)

1 cup- Borax

1 cup –Arm & Hammer Laundry Booster

1 bar-Fels Naptha or soap of choice

20 drops -essential oil (optional)

Method

  • Measure 1 cup borax and 1 cup laundry booster add to cooking pot. Along with 1 gallon of tap water and 1 bar of grated soap.
  • Heat on low until bar soap is melted. Stirring occasionally making sure there is no sediment on the bottom that could stick and burn.
  • Once mixture has completely dissolved add essential oil (optional) then carefully pour hot mixture into 3 gallon bucket. Be sure to use proper safety precautions when handling hot objects.
  • Once poured, fill the bucket with cold or warm water to 2.5 gallon mark.
  • Let sit for 24 hrs the soap will become very thick and goopy. Use the emersion blender mix the soap until it becomes smooth and pourable.
  • Pour into containers using the funnel and your soap is ready to use.

 

 


Ratings:

Over all this recipe works well! The only flaw I’ve found is sometimes when you wash in cold water it leaves some white residue, but this doesn’t happen often usually in the winter months.  If you have issues with static cling and want to go the natural route for fabric softener, try adding ¼ cup of white vinegar to your fabric softener dispenser. This soap is a huge price savings at $1.01 per 96 load bottle compared to other commercial natural soaps which range from$ 10.00-$20.00 per bottle. This just goes to show a little bit of work can save you a whole lot of money. So the next time you get dirty, you can feel good about it.

 

Well, Smell My Pits!

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Purposeful living to me means making more time for myself and family by doing things from scratch.  This saves money and allows me to limit my family’s exposure to unnecessary chemicals.  I’ve been using the aluminum-free, “hippie” deodorants for the past 10 years. But the cost of natural convenience has skyrocketed. I fully believe and support local businesses whenever possible, but I have to draw the line at $11.50 per stick.  So I’ve been stashing our used, empty deodorant applicators, so that I could fill them with homemade concoction. I did my research, looked at many different recipes and created one of my own.

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The ingredients are simple:

  •  Baking soda- The baking soda absorbs moisture
  •  Starch- Helps harden and bind the mixture you can use (Corn Starch, Tapioca Starch or Arrow Root).
  •  Coconut oil-The ingredient that allows everything to mix together and offers anti-microbial properties.
  • Beeswax- Acts as a binder to ensure the stick won’t melt in warmer weather.
  •  Essential oil that kills bacteria- This is what will kill the stink. You can use Tea Tree, Lavender, Lemongrass, Thyme, or Geranium essential oils.
  •  Essential oil for the fragrance- Whatever you want to smell like for the next few months.
  •  1 empty and clean deodorant stick applicator.
  •  Newspaper/Parchment: To cover your working area. Beeswax is difficult to clean up once it dries.

Recipe: ( Beginner Level, Easy)

  •  ¼ cup baking soda
  •  ¼ cup Tapioca starch
  •  3 T coconut oil
  •  1T Bees Wax
  •  5 Drops Tea Tree oil
  •  5 Drops Nag Champa

Method:

  •  Clean and dry applicator bottle, make sure you put it back together making sure the inside plunger is in the farthest down position.
  •  Combine Coconut oil and Bees Wax in a microwave safe container heat until melted.
  •  In another bowl mix the dry ingredients.
  •  Add your essential oils to the melted  coconut oil/bees wax mixture.
  •  Combine your oil with dry ingredients using a whisk to mix quickly.
  •  Once mixture is combined work quickly to pour into empty deodorant container. If mixture sets up before you can get it into the applicator you can put it in manually but use a knife to work around the stick to release air bubbles.
  •  DO NOT OVER FILL! If you over fill you can’t get the cap off.
  •  Let it cure for 24 hours before use.

Ratings: I thought this recipe was really easy and fun. I am really satisfied with the results, stink factor and budget friendly at $1.97/stick a cost savings of $9.53 from my last purchase of Pit Paste at the health food store.

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