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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**

sustainability

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Recipe: oat milk rice pudding

I’ve noticed a shift in my attitude toward food the last few years. Instead of enjoying it, I began to resent the thinking about, making, shooting, and even the consumption of food. That’s when I recognized my blog was no longer my way to document the recipes I liked, but rather the recipes I felt an obligation to post. It’s a stupid mindset: anticipating what others will like. That’s a formula for unhappiness. That’s not for me.

Around the same time, I let a number of nagging physical injuries pile up to the point where being active seemed to further damage my body than help it. I had had enough. It was high time I got my shit in order and put health first – both mental and physical – and that takes time. I’m using a combination of yoga, ice, ibuprofen, stretches, rest, physical therapy, and exercise to get myself back on track. Just in time for sliding season.


backcountry ski touring

resorts are opening more terrain each day

getting pups out to play in the snow

the first skijor of the season



Thanksgiving skiing is usually full of new aches and soreness when the season kicks off, but we hit the ground running (or skiing) early this year with those October storms and some indoor training. Instead of the traditional big turkey dinner carb bomb, we kept dinner normal and loaded our week with lots of outdoor exercise. I felt better about life, about myself. I just felt better. I can sustain this.

a little turkey, cheese, apple, dog treat indulgence for the pups

naptime after running around outside



Part of feeling better was that I had stopped eating dairy. You know how chocolate is that thing many people can’t resist? I can’t resist dairy. Well, I can resist milk – I’m not a fan of milk. But I love those delightful treats that come from milk and cream like custard, ice cream, mousse, pastry cream, whipped cream, caramel, pudding. It used to be the gastrointestinal distress was worth the gamble, but it’s not. It really isn’t.

Then a few months ago there was a brief discussion of alternative “milks” on public radio. Someone said they liked oat milk the best. I’m the person who regards food fads with great skepticism until they are no longer fads. I’m that person who discovers this awesome new thing years after everyone else has. So that’s me with oat milk. I merely wanted a non-dairy option for cold milk tea. I loved it. Then I wondered if I could make rice pudding with oat milk. And I did.


arborio rice, vanilla bean, oat milk, salt, sugar, cinnamon stick



As far as I can tell, the oat milk (or almond milk – I haven’t tried it, but people list the two as interchangeable) can be a 1:1 substitution for regular milk. I chose arborio rice because I like starchy short grain rice for pudding. You can use long grain, medium grain, brown, sushi, jasmine. I’m not sure about sweet rice or black rice, but you get the general idea. The method is pretty straightforward: keep it on a low simmer for over an hour (up to 90 minutes) and stir often.

bring the oat milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a low simmer

add the rice and sugar and simmer until the rice is tender



**Jump for more butter**

we return to our regularly scheduled program

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Recipe: peach pâte de fruits

People refer to September as if it is actual fall, but the reality is that only the last week of September is officially fall. Sure, we can feel that precious cooldown overnight in the mountains as August winds down and September steps up. Still, the daytime highs are HIGH and sadly breaking new records. Those of us loyal to seasons outside of Burn-Your-Face-Off-Hot summer are ready to move on from bug bites, sunblock, and waking at 5:00 am to beat the sun. Children’s laughs echo from the schoolyard. Morning frost crunches underfoot in the high country. Time to resume our non-summer schedule. I hope you all had a great summer. We sure did.


variety and abundance

yuki inspects one day’s haul of porcini

a morning spent foraging chanterelles

adventures with wingus and dingus

happy pups (that’s yuki’s happy face, same as all of her faces)

beating the heat on an alpine lake



In summer, Colorado relies heavily on monsoonal moisture coming from the southwest to stoke our mountain thunderstorms and deliver rain. Prolonged absence of precipitation means the flowers begin to wilt, the mushrooms shrivel up and disappear, berries stall or die, and the threat of wildfire rears its ugly head. August was awfully dry in contrast to the start of the season, but this past weekend we were able to catch some wild berries, the last of the alpine wildflowers, and even hints of the golden glory that will soon wash over our beloved aspen forests.

thimbleberries

there’s always that one tree who has to start early

yuki on her labor day hike

resting above treeline in the flowers



It’s time. It’s time. I’ve spent several weeks this summer foraging, cleaning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating, and pickling wild mushrooms, but now we are getting down to brass tacks. Time to can tomatoes, freeze corn, roast and freeze green chiles, forage late summer goodies (if any are to be had), and of course, freeze peach pie filling. I used to make peach jam every summer from luscious Colorado Palisade peaches until I realized I am not much of a jam person. Gifter? Yes! Consumer? Not so much. But peach pie in January is pure magic – hence the freezing of (a lot of) peach pie filling.

Last week, I had a dental appointment and wanted to bring a homemade sweet to the office. I know, who brings sweets to their dentist? I wanted something that could be easily shared, but my dentist is vegan and gluten-free. You may be asking where I find these people, but when you live near Boulder, Colorado, you get very used to these culinary obstacle courses. Peaches are happening now, so why not peach pâte de fruits? I adapted my strawberry pâte de fruits recipe by reducing the sugar and pectin, bumping up the lemon, and omitting the butter. I know there are a variety of pectins out there that behave differently from brand to brand, so I’m using Certo brand liquid pectin here. I haven’t invested brain cycles into how you convert between liquid and powder pectin, but it’s on that long to-do list of mine.


sugar, lemon, peaches, pectin (not pictured: pinch of salt)

peel, pit, and chop the peaches; juice the lemon

purée the peaches until smooth



**Jump for more butter**