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Posts posted by BeJam

  1. I just opened a bottle of rioja that wasn't as bright as the last bottle I'd opened. In fact I couldn't drink it anymore after the second glass. Instead of freezing it for some future cyrogenic use, I want to make vinegar with it. I've recently searched the net for recipes but have not found one that doesn't require me to purchase something.

    I was told by the old guy at the wine makers shop in Detroit that all I have to do is mix equal parts wine and vinegar and, if the wine doesn't need diluting, simply wait for three weeks for the mother to grow and then I'll have vinegar for life if I keep it fed. I tried this a month ago with some big jug wine that had gone bad. It didn't turn to vinegar and stunk up the kitchen.

    Anyone make there own or have a simple recipe?

  2. I've heard of chocolate being used in chili before but, like you, assumed it would be unsweetened.  I can kind of see it, since in Mexican cooking chocolate is found moles and other savory dishes.

    I generally add brown sugar to sweeten spicy chili and have added cocoa powder before too. I can almost see chocolate chips, bittersweet not milk. As a kid, I used to love spaghetti day at home because after school I would spread a little of my mom's sauce on a chocolate chip cookie. There too, it was that sweet little burst that played so well with the acid.

  3. The dishwasher's great for thawing bacon in the package. I also saw a recipe once for a braised dish cooked on a car's exhaust manifold over a three hour trip. Also had lots of aluminum foil but you had to stop every hour to rotate. Then there's blast furance coffee, similar in concept to Turkish coffee at least in the brewing method, but with a very very different source of heat.

  4. Jelly, Jelly, Jelly. Well, Jam actually.

    Then put on a cracker with cream cheese or glaze a pork roast. Eat it with lamb or prime rib. Put it over some parmesan or bleu cheese.

  5. I'd suggest going to a restaurant supply store on the Bowery and picking up some cheap Forschner or Dexter-Russell knives. They won't be quite as nice as expensive knives, but they're a pretty good value for the money, and likely better than whatever your mom has now.

    I'd vote for the Dexter-Russell too. They're cheap and OK. I've had one for 10 years and really sliced my finger open one day so its capable of holding a sharp edge. Although I don't use it much any more, I hang onto it for guests.

    Dexter-Russell knives

  6. More humid weather needs a slightly more coarse ground coffee for perfect shots, I suspect if you set your grinder slightly finer on clear/dry days you'll get the same quality espresso you get on overcast/humid days now.

    As I made my way downstairs this morning for nice espresso, I remembered this thread and was wondering why a coarser grind on humid days? It's a perfect day here in Dearborn, but the crema's been a little thin lately.

    I also wonder that maybe bad weather makes espresso and coffee just taste better because the day is so crappy and good coffee is just the right thing to have, like having a good bowl of soup on cold day in November.

  7. That is great news. I love the Forman grill, but I often don't bother with it because cleaning it is such a pain in the butt. So the new one is now on my wish list.


    I don't think I'd want to put a non-stick surface in the dishwasher for fear of scratches. However on a recent visit to Bed Bath Beyond I found some George Forman Grill Sponges for $5. They're two-sided (soft/scrub) and grooved to fit between the grill ridges. I don't have a forman, but I think they should work just as well on the krups. They're not listed on the BBB website but I found them here:

    foreman sponges'

    Until now, I'd been using a soft brush to get into the rather tight valleys of the krups, then, because there's no drip tray, I had to flush it out with a low pressure from the hose to not get water into any electrical parts. I guess I'll still have to do the last part.

  8. I've got the Krups and am pretty happy with it. I use it for sandwiches, meats, vegetables, and quick nachos/pita chips. I recently discovered I can make toast on it too if I don't butter/oil the bread before putting it on.

    My only complaints: 1. There is no on/off switch on my model. It's on when I plug it in and you have to pull the plug to turn it off. 2. There is no thermostat. Its full power all the time. This is not a real complaint because I have not needed a lower setting. 3. It seems to take a long time to heat up and can cool quickly if you put a large piece of meat on it. Otherwise I love it. The hinged top is great but a little stiff and will sometimes squirt a big sandwich out if you don't hold it down (with a towel or heat pad) until it "grabs." My mother has the Villaware (I think). It has a thermostat and drip spout, ala George Forman, that allows grease to run out. I personally think the Forman spout and grill angle allow too much flavor to drain away as well.

  9. Huh, so far there's only been one mention of moonshine

    I have to add too, that no City Council members in the North ever offered me a drink out of the trunk of their car at a public reception starting with the phrase, "Hey boys come 'or here for a bit." It seems that every one I worked with in Shelby County, south of B'ham, AL had still out back. Its only illegal if you sell it.

  10. First hot pepper jelly: Eastern BC at a closed dude ranch in the mountains served by a retired restaurateur from Alberta.

    Lived in Birmingham, AL for five+ years: Never saw it there although I did see an onion/galic jelly which I found confusing.

    First time I made it: Used local Jalapenos and developed stomach ulcers because I ate too much.

    Now: this summer am growing my own jalapeno and cayenne peppers and will make separate green and red jellies.

  11. My only suggestion at this point would be to agitate the brew as little as possible and note if anything settles in the bottom of the decanter after a couple of hours.

    Good luck and please pass on your results.

  12. Sounds like mold and it most likely came from the sludge. I'm surprised to see it appear after only five days. Was either of the batched originally brewed at room temp or left out at room temp for a fair amount of time after brewing? E have a little superauto espresso machine at work that is used for making cafe cream's and Americano's. The pucks of leftover coffee grounds in the waste bin start developing mold after about two days at room temp. The amount of particulate in the French press and paper filter coffee might have been enough to allow mold to develop.

    Both brews were made at room temp by sitting out over night. The next morning they all went into the fridge. It looks like the sludge and white particulate both came out of solution during the five days between brewing and attempted drinking. I didn't look like mold (although I can't really say what mold looks like). The white stuff looked more like curdled milk or the matter that always finds its way into my carmel sauce. It was suspended in the coffee itself and not in the sludge. The sludge looks like very fine coffee grounds, but I used a burr grinder which is usually pretty good at normalizing grind size.

  13. I don't think this fully counts but for dinner parties I usually go with the espresso pods because of the speed of preparation and ease of switching between caf/decaf. I like the Starbucks pods mostly because they are individually packaged and stay fresh for a surprisingly long time despite the expiration date.

    I'm not a big patron of my local Starbucks partially because I've been locked into the FrancisFrancis/Illy plan for the last 12 months (I'm now free!!!--well, I will be as soon as I finish the 10 or so remaining cans), so the S/bx act of kindness may not be correlated to my spending or even the familiarity of my face.

    Twice now, I've gone in and tried to buy a package of regular and a package of Decaf pods. When I took them to the counter, I pointed out that the packages were expired and asked if they had any fresh ones. Both times the answer was no and they just gave me the pods-no charge. I felt a little guilty because I knew they were OK, but the manager insisted and did not accept any money.

    I guess I could count Illy too: they automatically cancelled my membership after the year was up.

  14. Follow up note:

    I mixed the coffees brewed in the french press and mason jars and put them in the fridge while I drank the Toddy-brewed first. Yesterday I opened the combined brew and found a sludge in the bottom of the jar and a whitish particulate suspended throughout. Wholly unappealing and down the drain went $15 of coffee. Does anyone know what that might have been? It was clean when I combined them.

  15. I have maintained for a while that B-F's claims about letting people know that Woodford Reserve is not made at Labrot & Graham is bogus.

    I have to disagree. At least on my visit a couple of years ago, the tour guide made it very clear that the bourbon being sold was not distilled there and was a select batch of Old Forester. He even created some anticipation for when the first site-made barrels would be tapped. I wonder, however, as L&G began to market at the Kentucky Derby, etc... that policies changed to imply a greater heritage.

    My belated choices:

    1. Woodford Reserve

    2. Bookers

    3. Wild Turkey, 80

    4. MM

  16. Notes on an attempt to cold brew w/o a Toddy

    I am an avid Toddy brewer but I want to find a way to cold brew coffee away from home. I also have a slight aversion to the bulk of the plastic Toddy tub and the need for special filters. I assume that if the Toddy process is based on Latin American traditions, I should be able to replicate the results without special equipment. I decided to try to cold-brew coffee in a French press, which is unused 23.75 hours each day, and a wide-mouth mason jar, and compare the results with the Toddy.

    The Toddy is a plastic tub with a thick, tight-fitting, carpet-like filter disk and rubber stopper in the bottom. Water is poured over coffee and allowed to steep for 10-12 hours. With the stopper pulled, the highly concentrated coffee slowly drains into a carafe. The concentrate is then mixed/diluted with hot water for regular coffee, water and ice for a cold cup, or milk and sugar syrup and a little vanilla for an iced latte. While I find the hot coffee weak and lacking teeth, the cold drinks are smooth and silky without any bitter acid taste.

    For the experiment, I used the same coffee proportions and brewing method described by Toddy, except I halved the amounts. I put a ¼ pound of Illy medium roast, medium grind coffee in the bottom of each, then poured one cup of cold water over the grounds. I gave each a little swirl to make sure all of the grounds were wet. After five minutes I added 1 and ¼ more cups of cold water and let the three units sit on the counter overnight.

    The next morning I drained the Toddy into its carafe by pulling the stopper. It took about 15 minutes. I plunged the French press, which was surprisingly stiff, and decanted the concentrate in just a few minutes. For the mason jar, I placed two paper filters over the open top, screwed the lid ring down, and inverted the jar over a funnel into a second jar. (In the interest of full disclosure, the paper filters were in the vicinity of ten years old.) Nothing happened. The grounds completely stopped up the paper. I then took off the double layer and replaced it with a single sheet. I little coffee flowed through, but not much before it stopped too. I then took the ring off and poured the whole mess into a gold-cone filter and finished it draining in about fifteen minutes.

    I was a little surprised with the results. I expected each to taste the same anticipating that the Toddy was bit of a gimmick. It was not. Both the French press and mason jar coffees had some of the bitterness of hot-brewed coffee poured over ice--although not nearly as much. The Toddy was smooth and silky. There was also a noticeable amount of sludge in the bottom of the mason jar brewed carafe but none in either the Toddy or French press.

    Outside of the filtering method, the main difference between the Toddy and the French press and mason jar is the amount of agitation the brew experienced during decanting. The grounds in the Toddy were relatively undisturbed while the French press grounds were pressed and inverted. The mason jar grounds, however, were vigorously disturbed being inverted twice and dumped into a cone filter. Ultimately, in a side by side tasting, the French press and mason jar were nearly identical, thus even minor agitation must disrupt the filter process.

    The Toddy filter clearly worked better than the paper filters/gold cone and had similar “no-sludge” results as the colander-like French press. This was a bit of a surprise too; I expected the paper filters to work better and more grounds in the FP.

    The grounds themselves must be filtering some of the acids, other compounds, and finer grounds in the coffee before the concentrate flows through the Toddy filter (which must replicate the same action). The gold cone must be more porous than the FP or serious agitation must really stir up fine particles. Next time I will try to use the FP but pour very slowly and NOT plunge the grounds. For now, I suppose I’ll have to order more Toddy filters.

  17. Please use a good quality coffee. The Toddy will set you back @ 24 bucks. Spend 6 or 7 bucks on a decent coffee. Grind it between.slightly coarse to percolate. As "snowangel" said, pour the coffee in the gizmo, pour in @ 9 - 10 cups cold water, let sit overnight, drain into carafe. You've got 32 oz. of fresh hi quality coffee concentrate. Double volume with 32 oz. water.

    I've used a Toddy for years think it makes an exceptional cup of cold coffee. It is less good for hot drinks though. They claim adding three parts hot water to one part coffee concentrate is as good as any regularly brewed cup. But the process takes out too much of the acid and leaves the coffee without much bite, or as a friend of mine from NC says, "crunch."

    The key to the Toddy, says the manufacturer, is the filter which is about a half inch thick and three inches round and fairly stiff. It fits in the bottom of plastic tub that has a small rubber-stopper held reservoir below. After 12 hours of steeping, the stopper is pulled and, over the course of 15 minutes, the coffee drains into the carafe. It works great in any cold drink and I agree, that good coffee is a requirement. The vanilla tip is a good one too. There are hints of cocoa in the cold brew and the vanilla really brings them out.

    I am curious though how a cold-brew would turn out by placing the same proportions of coffee and water in a Mason Jar, steeping it, then using a couple of regular coffee filters under the lind ring and draining it. I'll test it next time I C-B.

  18. Oh, you mean Coffee Mate

    How long does Coffee Mate last? I bought a bottle after I'd been drinking coffee black for five years and had forgot that other people, like my boss at the time, didn't. I was mildly repremanded for not having a little milk or even a little powder for guests at my home. That was about seven years ago. I still have it and I don't think I've even broken the wax paper seal on the top. Should I serve it with Twinkies?

  19. Doesn't anybody recall the Blue Laws in Texas? You gotta wait till 6 p.m. on Sunday, people were not so holy, the law told them...give me a break...the people who made money on Sundays were those that bought some cases and bottles Saturday night!

    Maybe sunday was the day to recover. When I spent a summer there in the 90s, there were still drive up liquor stores that sold drinks to go in plastic cups with straws and single beers in little paper bags. Everyone in the car could have an open drink except the driver. In fact the office I was working in had several bottles of single malt in bottom desk drawers for regularly scheduled 3:30 afternoon meetings. Come to think of it I've got a story about an city councilman in Alabama named Jimmy Dean (no joke) and the bottles of clear liquid he kept in his trunk.

    By the way, Brunos in B'ham, Alabama has an upscale sister called Vincents resplete with its own sommelier and great produce. On the flip side of the scale, in addition to the filthy Winn Dixie and Piggly Wiggly, there was Western Market. Western meats were regulary expired and its produce looked like it was trucked in from California on the back of a pick up over a month before. But they had smaller stores (a great convenience) and sold single pieces of cake and generally had a good beer selection.

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