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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Chef Life

arnieandkaren

Being a Chef is about living for the nights that the window is so full of tickets that the Executive Chef is wrapping them around her arm as she goes.  Meanwhile everyone is prepping on the fly, the menu becomes 86d, and there’s a line of customers out the door.  Afterward, all the kitchen staff are high fiving each other on smoke break, talking about how awesome it was that they just got their asses handed to them.

Four times a year, it’s about writing the new menu while drinking, smoking, and looking at food magazines trying to reinvent the wheel.

It’s about never eating the same thing twice, and always being the food critic.

Too often, it’s about the entire kitchen staff drinking root beer, because everyone drank too much the night before, and promising to themselves, that they’re not going to do it again. But they do. Somehow they can’t get enough of each other, even though they spend 12 hours bumping dicks in a cramped kitchen.

Occasionally, it’s about really slicing your finger wide open, and knowing that you need stitches. But instead of going to the hospital, you tape it up, put on a glove, and get back to work.  Because you haven’t got time for that shit, there’s no one to cover your shift, and you won’t pass a drug test anyway.

Most of the time, it’s about that shit that you just can’t make up. Like showing up for your morning shift at the restaurant, and finding a gigantic anatomically correct cow sculpture in the middle of the dining area, because  the owner thought it would be a good idea to do tequila and mayonnaise shots with his friends and steal  the sculpture of a rich heiress. Before you prep for your shift, the owner expects you to help him return it.

Once in a while, it’s about sitting down with an elderly lady who you cook for everyday at her senior living community, and eating Christmas dinner with her, because she has no one.

But sometimes it’s about saying, Fuck it.

***

I found  myself  off on medical leave for 4 months for reconstructive foot surgery.  One foot at a time. A total of 4 weeks of bedrest.  And life just slowed down.

That’s when I realized that I had brand new snow shoes in the closet that I never used.  Shiny moped with 30 miles on it. Mandolin silent in its case.  A hippy van that never left the driveway. A retro camping trailer up north that sat empty.   Dogs that were ignored. Wife that was missed. Dual income no kids, and no time to enjoy life.

I haven’t got it figured out yet, but I’m learning. Do I really need to make X amount of dollars in order to live or to be happy? I’ve started to ask myself,  Is this something  I need or just something I want? It’s about waking up and realizing that may be I’m doing some things just because  they’re convenient , and not because it’s best way to do things. Chefs cook these amazing  dishes while at work, but at home, they’re eating microwaved pizza rolls and poptarts.  Not because it tastes good or because it’s good for them, but because they have no time, energy, or passion left once they get home. If I make more time, I can do it myself or find a creative, thrifty way to fix something.

This blog is about balance in life and passion for food. It’s about slow food and slow living. Scaling down, living on less, and enjoying more.