Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Coffee Experiment and Other Things To Come

I've been thinking about this blog a lot in the past few days, and so I've come up with a number of things that I've decided I'm going to add to it, in addition to the recipes and descriptions of the quasi-gourmet cooking I do. Here's a list!

1. A Coffee Experiment
This gets its own bold title because I will probably do it in an ongoing fashion if I have success with it. I'll be bringing the science fair to what I already know about brewing coffee, using my French press as the equipment. If you aren't aware, brewing time and temperature greatly affect the flavor of the brew, even using the same beans and the same grind on those beans. Being unaware of this is a good sign that you either use a drip machine (which allows for no such experimentation in an easy way), don't drink much coffee, get your coffee out at places only, or follow "rules" way too closely and never screw something up (like setting a timer for your coffee). Basically, I'll grind some coffee, start making in my French press, and pour off about two ounces every thirty seconds or so until it's gone, starting at about 2 minutes. Then, I'll describe as well as I can how the flavor profile of that particular coffee changes. People all over the world will benefit (if you tell them about it by having them link to the relevant posts)! I'll get really jacked-up because I'm not spitting out my coffee. Everybody wins! (Interestingly, I've never done this myself, though I did come up with the idea on my own, but I told my brother about it. He seems to like it and has learned much from it.)

2. Coffee Reviews
Since I apparently drink a lot of coffee (two cups a day, sometimes, one cup or zero on other days... so, seriously, not that much) or am at least really attentive to what coffee I do drink, I'm going to do some reviews of the different kinds of coffee that I drink. I'm no professional taster, but I'm getting kind of snobby. I'll try to use real language to describe what I taste too. In so much as it varies, I'll do what I can to review different coffee roasters as well, though since I'm a fan of local stuff, that will be kind of limited.

3. (Mostly Local) Restaurant Reviews
I don't eat out at restaurants a lot and here's why: I frequently feel like I can make something better at home for cheaper without the shitty atmosphere that many restaurants pay consultants a lot of money to be able to provide. Also, I know what goes into my food when I make it at home, which is definitely not the case out at a restaurant. Still, I go out from time to time, mostly because I could use a break from cooking or need some new inspiration or because I'm out of groceries and find a restaurant more appealing than Kroger, which I usually have to go to after the restaurant. Anyway, my wife describes me as critical, which I amend to be "fairly critical," by which I mean "yeah, I'm critical, but I'm fair in my criticism because I know what I like and what I don't and am good at paying attention to things." I'll let you know what I think of places I eat, then you can make more informed decisions before you go to your favorite restaurant and order the exact same thing you always get just like you were going to before you read my thoughts on it.

4. "Iron Chef: College Apartment"
I might be committing copyright infringement by calling this feature "Iron Chef," and in using those words I mean no disrespect and do not intend to steal any of their business. Still, I learned to cook by watching the Food Network instead of doing my homework in college. Being in college, I lived in a college apartment, which was always poorly stocked. Being in a poorly stocked college apartment with the Food Network for a guide, I was able to cook up some rather tasty things by making very clever substitutions and by just making stuff up as I went along. That started the joke that if I was ever on Food TV, I'd have to be on a special episode of Iron Chef in which things were kind of reversed: instead of having a well-stocked pantry will all kinds of standard and gourmet items, the chefs would find themselves in a scantily stocked, poorly organized college apartment and would still have to perform. It would be called "Iron Chef: College Apartment" and would be a true testament to the cooks' abilities. This theme carries over for me a lot because I sometimes find grocery shopping to be a chore (see #3 above; note that once I'm there I take forever to shop and usually greatly enjoy my shopping experience). Sometimes I make planned-out things; often enough I'm still doing the college-apartment thing. I'll try to make a regular note of when I'm tossing stuff together with three parts inspiration, three parts luck, and one part suitable ingredients.

Look forward to these features and possibly others in the near future! In fact, watch for today's first installment of "Coffee Experiment" where I'll be commenting on the changes in the Ethiopian Longberry Harrar from our very own local Vienna Coffee Company.

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