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archive for caffeine

cold buzz

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Recipe: cold brew coffee

People, I am feeling it. I am feeling that excitement about spring and green things sprouting from the ground and sunshine warming my back in the mornings and bright afternoons and bird song riding gentle breezes that dance through open windows. Winter has been decent with a slightly above average snowpack. Higher sun angles and longer days mean we can look forward to crust cruising in the mornings, swooshing soft or slushy stuff in the afternoons, big spring snow storms, increased (avy) stabilization, and more backcountry fun.


bluebird backcountry day

skijor with the pups

celebrated 23 years of marriage with an early morning uphill ski

and we grabbed a surprise 13-inch powder day



I used to resent the loss of an hour as we adjusted to Daylight Saving, but I was pretty happy to shift ahead this weekend. It’s partly for the later sunsets and mostly because Neva has the annoying habit of waking before daybreak and standing next to the bed, moaning/growling at us until we get up and feed her or until she pukes. So we’ve gained a little more sleep time in the mornings for another month. It’s not that bad, because I’m a morning person. Jeremy isn’t so much of a morning person, but he gets up early because that’s the best time to get things done and because he has coffee. If there wasn’t coffee, I’m just not sure Jeremy would be a functional member of society.

Last summer when I was out foraging with Erin and Jay, we stopped for a snack break and Erin handed Jay a large Nalgene bottle of dark half-frozen liquid. “Is that coffee?” Yep, it was cold brew. Erin told me cold brew is easy to make and a lot cheaper than buying it. I would occasionally get Jeremy a bottle of cold brew coffee, but he rarely requested it – probably because it’s so spendy. I made a mental note to read up on it and to try making some.

There is good news with regard to making your own cold brew such that I can’t wrap my head around shelling out the bucks to buy it anymore. First off, you don’t need to use the fancy high end stuff like that fair trade, light roast, single-origin, unwashed Ethiopia bean. Save that for your extra special hot cuppa. The lighter, brighter, more acidic and floral notes of regular coffee don’t really come out in the cold brew process. Instead, you’ll hit the earthy, chocolatey, nutty characteristics of a darker roast. And it will be smoother since heat is required to extract the acidity you find in hot brewed coffee. I use Trader Joe’s Colombia Supremo medium roast whole beans. As for equipment, you can get away with a $14 coffee grinder, a $2 1-quart wide-mouth canning jar (or a few more bucks for a 2-quart wide-mouth jar), some coffee filters (or a nut milk bag), and a sieve. You could use a large plastic container, but glass doesn’t retain odors and I find it much easier to wash the oily residue off of glass.


coffee beans and water



Don’t grind your beans too fine because it makes for a murky final beverage and a lot more sediment. A quick few pulses work great in my Krups spice grinder and I process the beans in 1/4 cup batches. I’ve started following the general rule of thumb of about 1/4 cup of beans per cup of water, but the recipe below starts off a tad more conservatively. It’s all very forgiving. Scale the amount accordingly to accommodate your tastes and the volume of your brewing vessel. The grounds go into your jar with the water (I happily use cold tap water) and get stirred until there are no dry pockets floating about. I cover the mouth of the jar with a coffee filter and secure it with the canning lid ring (but not the actual lid). You can use a towel or cheesecloth, but I think the idea is to allow airflow without introducing undesired extras like floaty pet hairs.

coarse grind works best

stir with water until all grounds are wet

the grounds float at first, but will mostly sink with time

cover with a cloth or a coffee filter



**Jump for more butter**

happy weekend to you

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Recipe: this battle station is fully operational (coffee whiskey amaro cocktail)

Memorial Day weekend is here and that means the whole country is kicking off official SUMMER. Even though I am already starting to miss those powder days of winter, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t actually dislike summer at all. I just can’t stand summer in places where it’s hot and humid… but mostly hot. Mountain summers are magical and we’re starting to see it slowly unfold about now.


neva gets lots of walks to wear down her nails (and work on leash training)

i met an 8-week old golden retriever puppy on my trail run

colorful sunsets



Before I sign off for the weekend, I wanted to share a cocktail for which Jeremy recently fell head over heels. It all started when I was at Costco last year and spied a special on a six-pack of cold brew coffee. Jeremy never drinks ice coffee – he likes his coffee hot. Now, despite not drinking coffee at all, I’ve learned quite a bit about it because Jeremy and some of my friends are total coffee snobs. I’d heard about cold brew coffee and thought I’d get some for Jeremy. Why buy one to try when you can buy six to potentially hate? Oh Costco…

Turned out, Jeremy loved the cold brew coffee despite his misgivings. I started to see articles that served it in sparkling beverages, so we mixed a couple. Jeremy determined that was a waste of good cold brew. But then he began playing around with cocktails. The first one was awful, but the second was quite good.


rye whiskey, amaro, cold brew coffee, bitters, simple syrup, lemon



The Lucky Jack cold brew coffee has instructions on the bottle to pour hard. What the heck does “pour hard” mean? Apparently, it means to invert the bottle completely and let gravity and air displacement work to agitate the coffee and form a nice crema on top. It also makes the cold brew ever so slightly effervescent.

pour hard to activate bubbles

inverting the contents into a measuring cup

crema



**Jump for more butter**

magical

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Recipe: chocolate magic custard cake

There are a few things you learn about early season skiing after eleven seasons. The first is that you probably shouldn’t wax those skis just yet, because you’ll likely hit a few (or a lot) of rocks. If you were a good and proper ski fanatic, you waxed those babies at the end of last season so they wouldn’t dry out over the summer. You can wax them properly after a good base has been established. The second is that you haven’t actually forgotten how to ski after one summer. This weekend we took Neva out for her first ski tour. The very first one was more like a trial run because Jeremy was on skis and I hiked/jogged alongside the two of them just in case there were issues. It can be really difficult to manage a first timer dog while you are moving on skis. When Kaweah was a puppy, she kept attacking the ski tips (she didn’t realize they were connected to our feet) and standing on the skis when the snow was deep, and then running in front of us and sometimes stopping when we skied downhill. Even as an adult, Kaweah didn’t quite register the whole “keep clear of the metal edges” thing.


neva keeps pace with jeremy

noodling along

having a blast



You probably already know that we are not the sorts who fly by the seat of our pants. We put a lot of thought into Neva’s first ski. We wanted to make sure she had fun, but we also had to guarantee that she would be safe. We took Neva up a forest service road so there would be plenty of room for her to maneuver about without getting tangled up in the skis on a narrow trail (or driving Jeremy into a tree). She absolutely had to be on a leash. That girl is always looking off into the woods and we know why. On the two occasions we have let her off leash, she bolted deep into the forest tracking the scent of every wild animal she could pick up, completely ignoring our calls.

Well, Neva was GREAT on her first tour. She avoided the skis, but kept pace like it was no big deal (this is one of the reasons we’ve been doing a lot of leash work with her on trails). She didn’t tangle up the leash much and was incredibly sweet and happy. The next morning, we went on a right proper ski tour with Erin, Banjo, and our fatter skis. The snow and the weather were amazing for early season. And while Neva did pull a little on the climb (she was VERY excited), she was really well-behaved. Neva had fun hanging with Banjo, who loaned her two of his spare booties when her back paws got balled with some ice. We wondered how she would do skiing out, because when we run, she sometimes gets excited and jumps up to bite our pants. Jeremy and I took turns skiing out with her and she was PERFECT! I posted a video of it on my Instagram. I think Neva is going to be a great little ski dog.


climbing up in the morning

skiing with dogs = best thing ever



The third thing that I apparently haven’t learned about early season skiing for two years in a row, is to remember to switch my skis to tour mode on the uphill climb. I felt I was struggling to keep up with Jeremy’s pace on the way up and chalked it up to being out of ski shape. But when we turned around to ski out, I bent over to lock my bindings into ski mode and noticed they were already there. Doh! I did this exact same thing on my first ski tour last year. It was funny, and I laughed. But my quads and butt were not in the mood for laughing. Still, it felt heavenly to be gliding on snow again. It was doubly so because our little pup seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

Perhaps if more people discovered how amazing it is to ski in the backcountry, winter wouldn’t get such a bad rap. For the folks who hate winter, I think you’re doing it wrong. After a good and exhilarating workout, it’s nice to come home and reward yourself with some delicious calories. I usually opt for something savory, but Jeremy almost always makes a beeline for the latest sweet thing on the counter or in the refrigerator. This weekend, we had chocolate cake – but this was special chocolate cake. This was chocolate magic custard cake. I think it was all the rage a few years ago, but I was too distracted with Kaweah’s geriatric care to try it out. I bookmarked the recipe from Todd and Diane’s blog a while ago, and dug it up just last week.


cocoa, melted butter, flour, espresso, white vinegar, eggs, milk, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract

warm the milk and separate the eggs

whisk the flour and cocoa together

whip the egg whites to stiff peaks



**Jump for more butter**