the Classroom

a place for food, craft and gatherings

I love the prospect of getting my work area organized, and jumping in full bore to the task at hand. Whether it be making dinner, starting a new batch of bread dough, or finally making some progress on my new business project, I like the “getting ready to do some work” process. But no matter how ready I think I am, and how prepared I am to FOCUS, I’m am so easily distracted. For example, today. I had the not-so-ambitious plan of working on a section of my business plan in between putting together a quiche for dinner, all while the kids nap. Simple, really. Start the dough, research for 30 minutes while dough chills. Roll out dough, type while crust blind bakes in oven. Mix quiche filling, fill and bake and continue typing. All was set in place: spotify station playing over bluetooth speaker, pitcher of ice water and glass at hand, all ingredients on counter, laptop plugged in and notes by my side. Then I looked at a blog. For like a second. And I found this. Oh well, there went the plan.

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It has been a few days, and my cold brew coffee has been patiently sitting in the fridge, awaiting step two. (To back up, the cold brew was made by steeping 1 part coarsely ground beans to 4.5 parts water at room temperature for about 12 hours. Strain the beans, chill. More info can be found here).

This morning I took out the necessary ingredients and got going. Since I haven’t been able to find an actual recipe for fermented coffee, I’m trying out the same method as making water kefir. For this first trial batch, I put 2 cups of cold brew coffee into a jar and added 1 tablespoon each sugar and water kefir grains. That’s it. Now I wait 48 hours to strain the kefir grains out of the coffee and start a second fermentation to add fizz. The grains can saved and used again and again, much like a sourdough starter or kamboucha scoby.

Each step of this process is quite simple, and takes only a few minutes of actual hands on time, with the majority of time spent waiting for a jar to do it’s magic while sitting on your counter. I’ll report back in 2 days.

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After deciding to start a blog, I knew it would be a struggle to find the time, and drive, to write on a regular basis. Clearly, I was correct in thinking that this project would a difficult one for me (see date of last post: October 2014!). Kids, work, cooking, biking, running, and just enjoying the day-to-day, have found their way to the top of my priority list lately. However, I’m back, and determined to be more committed this time around. With ten days left in the month of July, I am setting a goal of working on a new kitchen experiment, and reporting on the results, before August begins.

This project was inspired by a visit to Verve Coffee Roasting in Santa Cruz, CA in May. They had something called fermented coffee on tap, and it was amazing. A bubbly, complex, not so sweet beverage that brought out all of the interesting flavors in coffee that tend to get lost when your usual drink is a 12 oz latte (that’s my morning cup in the photo). Unsure of the method, I started poking around online to see if their were recipes already out there. Not really. There was an article about the partnership formed by Dr Keffir and Verve to create this drink, but no real instructions or recipe. But, I saw the first clue: it’s closer to keffir than to kamboucha.  Armed with a packet of water keffir grains and some coffee beans, I’m going to put the laptop away and start making some cold brew coffee. See you in a few days.

 

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Last week, I taught a canning class with my good friend, Erin Simmons of Tasty and Sons. We held our class in the kitchen of The Art Institute of Portland and a group of nine eager students joined us. For our first class, we tackled pickled carrots and a salted caramel sauce.

 

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After some basics on canning, Erin helped everyone get started by filling the sanitized jars with herbs, spices, garlic and their prepared carrots. Next, they topped off the jars with pickling brine and processed the jars in boiling water for ten minutes.

Once the pickles were done, I explained the how-to’s of caramel, and got the groups started with some sugar, cream and salted butter at the stoves. We had lots of snacks and drinks on hand, and a decorating station covered with labels, ribbons and pretty tags to beautify the jars of pickles and caramel.  Everyone went home with 9 or 10 jars and some new tips and ideas for making their own goods at home. We can’t wait for our next class!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



A few months ago, a colleague told me about the Deep Plate Challenge. Essentially, professional chefs sign up to be sent a new plate each month in exchange for a high quality photo of one of their culinary creations on the plate. The photos are presented on Deep Plate’s blog to serve as a source of inspiration for fellow chefs and culinary students, and perhaps as advertising for the sponsors. I received my first “plate” today and have been at work making the various components that will comprise my first dish.DSC_5876

I use the word plate loosely here, as this month’s vessel is actually a glass version of an ice cream cone. And no, it’s not made for a giant, those are mini cones next to the glass cone.

I’ve been wanting to make a roasted squash ice cream for a while, and now that it’s officially fall, I went for it. To complete the dish, I made some meringue cookies with caramelized white chocolate shards, and poached some diced Granny Smith apples in a vanilla syrup. A small pour of salted bourbon caramel finished it off.

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Last weekend we took the kids to a small orchard. The orchard wasn’t only small in acreage, but more importantly, in the size of the trees. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such perfect, toddler height apple trees. The littles were in heaven. They filled up their baskets and buckets with Jonagolds, Fujis, Honeycrisps and Galas. Hazel pulled her little sister in the wagon. They took nibbles of many apples (promptly saying “yums!” and putting them back in the basket, only to nibble on a fresh apple). The rain held off and we left with over 40 lbs of apples. It was a good day. Now, to make pie filling, applesauce, muffins, and whatever else I can muster before every single apple has a toddler sized nibble missing from it.

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