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Everything posted by emannths

  1. Have you ever actually measured the temperature of water "just off the boil?" For me, it stays at about 210F for a long time--it's a terrible way to get ~201F water with my setup. If someone's got a budget of $250, a thermometer is an excellent use of money. Will it make or break the coffee? Probably not. But 1) it eliminates a major variable, as Zachary points out, and 2) you can use it all over the kitchen. I get more use out of my thermapen than any other appliance in my kitchen other than the stove and the microwave. I break it out every time I cook any non-braised meat, and any time I make coffee or tea. And you can now get decent thermocouple models for $40 or less. Can you make coffee without it? Yeah, and not owning one or not having the budget for one shouldn't stop you from making your own coffee. But IMO the benefit is huge relative to the cost. I'd agree that maybe a gram scale is unnecessary--you can pretty consistently measure water and beans by volume. It may be hard to be accurate, but you can be pretty precise and repeatable, especially with larger volumes. If OP prefers DD/diner coffee, loaded up with cream and sugar, there's no need for this sort of sophistication. Preground coffee from the grocery store and Mr Coffee will replicate that just fine. But you probably don't need to ask eGullet or CoffeeGeek for help with that. One thing that should probably come out of this is that it's fairly cheap to switch from french press to pourover to moka, or add a thermometer, scale, electric kettle, etc. You wind up with a lot more sunk cost if you decide to upgrade your grinder. Therefore, it's probably best to put most of your startup budget into the grinder. It's also the place with the strongest price:performance correlation.
  2. emannths

    The Chew

    Ruth Bourdain was not impressed.
  3. Sure, but I think part of the point MC is trying to make with that sentence is that there are no food safety concerns specific to pork that would dictate a higher cooking temperature. Since the risk of eating "undercooked" (i.e., unpasteurized) pork and, say, beef are similar, it's not rational to cook pork to a higher temperature than beef due to safety concerns.
  4. Just fyi, Google Translate has very accurate pronunciations of just about anything. Just type in your word, make sure the language is of origin is set correctly, and click the speaker button.
  5. I love the vegetable peeler "trick" for mangoes. I use it all the time.
  6. If I were starting up on a budget, here's how I'd do it. I'd buy a hand-cranked conical burr grinder like Hario's Skerton or Mini Mill ($35-40). I think this is probably worth the premium over a blade grinder ($20), and worth the savings over an inexpensive motorized model (minimum $90). The physical effort is also probably worth because of quality increases over either cheap flat burr grinders ($35-60+) or preground coffee. The only reason I'd do something else is if you're planning on making coffee for a crowd (in which case grinding by hand might take too long). Since it's sounds like you're planning to brew mostly for yourself, this should work find. I'd also buy an accurate thermometer, if you don't already have one. Depending on your stove, your kettle, how much water you're heating, and other factors, guidelines about how fast water cools can be woefully inaccurate. Since water temperature makes a huge impact in how coffee tastes, this is really an essential tool. Plus, you can use it all around the kitchen, so don't think of it as a coffee-only purchase. There are plenty of worthy options for brewing equipment, almost all of which are $25 or less: french press, pourover, aeropress, etc. French press will give you a heavy, full-bodied cup, with the option to make multiple cups at once. Pourovers, which make a clean, lighter-bodied cup, come in two varieties: restricted opening ones, like the Melitta, and unrestricted openings, like Hario and Chemex. The former gives the brewer less control, which limits both the peaks and valleys of coffee quality. With a little practice, the Hario/Chemex brewers can make extraordinary coffee, but since the brewer is in control of the flow rate, making underwhelming coffee is also possible. Most of the pourover methods work best when brewing only a couple cups at a time. The aeropress is a unique one-cup brewer that makes coffee that's maybe a bit like an Americano (watered down espresso, which isn't a bad thing). If you like espresso drinks at the coffee shop, it may be worth consideration; it gets a lot of love. All of these methods take some technique and have different quirks in terms of how much attention the need, how fast they are, how much coffee they make, etc. Take a look around, and watch some demo videos to get a feel for what it's like to use each of them. If you're going to drink a few cups over the course of the morning, you might want to get a stainless steel thermos to store the hot coffee. As far as beans go, if you can find a good local roaster (local does not always guarantee good), that's probably the best option. Most local roasters will also be able to offer tips on equipment, brewing technique, and bean selection. Buy your beans fresh (within a week of roasting), and store them in an airtight container. Mail-order is find too. Feel free to buy a couple pounds at a time. When they arrive, put all but one of the bags in the freezer. By storing coffee still sealed in the bags, you'll avoid the commonly cited pitfalls of freezer storage (condensation, flavor pickup) and the freezer will keep the coffee fresh, allowing you to buy 2+ lbs at once (don't believe me? Read this). Just allow the beans to come to room temperature before opening a new bag to avoid condensation. Keep the in-use coffee in an airtight container (not just in it's bag with a clip on it). The "best" coffee these days goes for something in the ballpark of $17-22+ per pound. You don't have to spend that much, but you can use it as a guide--I probably wouldn't spend less than $13/lb or so, but I haven't really explored the offerings in that range. (Fwiw, I use a Capresso Infinity grinder and a french press, with beans (~$20/lb) from Barismo here in Arlington MA. I make about 28oz of coffee each morning for about $0.70 per 12oz cup.)
  7. WRT Southern Tier's Pumking: If you're looking for a beer that screams PUMPKIN, this is it. I've only had it once, on tap, and my impression was that it was particularly well-crafted in its balance. Many beers like it don't balance the spices with sweetness or pumpkin, IMO, which make them taste a little...hollow? Pumking, like Southern Tier's Blackwater series of flavored stouts, tastes exactly like what the label advertises. I suspect a good part of this is because ST seems to have no qualms about brewing beers that end up very sweet, which makes pumpkin taste like pumpkin (instead of just spices), chocolate taste like chocolate (instead of coffee or indistict "roasty"), and creme brulee taste like a freakin' creme brulee. The Blackwater beers are generally too sweet for my taste, but a 12oz pour of Pumking each autumn feels just right. For the relatively low $$ (~$7/22oz) that it commands, I say give it a shot.
  8. I haven't tried Sixpoint's Bengali Tiger, but I do love their Righteous [Rye] Ale. I find it fairly unique--it's got plenty of hops (falls somewhere between an APA and and IPA, with plenty of aroma), and the rye gives the malt a very interesting character. Normally I like the malt in my hoppy beers to stay out of the way (put that sack of crystal malt down, east coast brewers!), but the spicy rye flavor gives a nice compliment to the hops without muddying up the flavor or making it sweet.
  9. That still doesn't explain why the time increments aren't monotonically increasing or decreasing. It's more than just the labels.
  10. Well, or just buy bacalhau. Squid and octopus freeze well, as do shrimp. I bet that frozen clams would work just fine in a pasta dish. Mackerel braised in miso and ginger would probably work just fine with frozen mackerel. Salmon may be ubiquitous, but that doesn't mean it's not tasty.
  11. Looks like the approximations crossover when the thickness is between 5cm and 6cm--all the 5cm times are shorter for the slab, and all the 6cm times are shorter for the cylinder. I'd say the slab times are all probably "correct," and the MC model is broken for thin cylinders. I too would be interested in how the MC team came up with such wonky numbers for thin cylinders. Another oddity: take a look at the cylinder times for a delta of 65F. If you look at how much additional time is required per additional centimeter of meat you get this: 3cm --> 4cm: 41min 4cm --> 5cm: 44min 5cm --> 6cm: 35min Huh? At the very least, those numbers should be monotonically increasing or decreasing. There's something seriously wrong with that table.
  12. I've been using the Chambord model for years; it's also got an all-metal shaft/filter assembly. I've broken a couple carafes, but I stick to glass because it doesn't scratch or hold onto oils like plastic. I'd consider one of the stainless steel models simply for anti-breakage purposes, but since I preheat the carafe and my thermos by microwaving a carafe of water, I need a microwaveable carafe. I also like to decant the coffee without plunging, and the transparent carafe helps me see the coffee and grounds as I'm decanting. I don't like that the Chambord model feels fairly unstable since it has only four points of contact with the ground, but I've never actually broken a carafe while it was in the holder, so it may be an unfounded worry.
  13. Sigma--I'll take a gander, but I don't have a copy of MC, and I find your description of the various dimensions a little hard to parse. Can you post a visual aide with the dimensions labeled (either a scan of the MC page or one you draw yourself)?
  14. I'd vote for any wheat beer from Germany (e.g., Weihenstaphaner, Paulaner, Franziskaner), or any American wheat beer that bills itself as a hefeweizen/hefeweiss (tons of these, especially this time of year; Sierra Nevada's Kellerweiss should be readily available and relatively inexpensive). I'd avoid witbiers (e.g., Hoegarden, Allagash White, Blue Moon) on the first go, as they tend to have some tartness and added spices that may not fit in as well. I'd also steer clear of darker (dunkel) wheat beers simply for aesthetic reasons. TL;DR Get a German-style hefeweiss, or German or American origin.
  15. A winner is you. How could I forget those onigiri wrappers (which we have here in the US too--we just don't have many places that sell onigiri)?
  16. emannths

    Marks of a bad cook

    Pots and pans made of thin metal, all nonstick (even the "stockpot"), and all in weird sizes or aspect ratios. A set of stamped, micro-serrated "nev-R-dull" knives that all seem to be about the same size. Easy-access areas in the kitchen dedicated mostly to condiments and miscellany as opposed to oils, vinegars, spices, and salts. Edit: Though I should add that these tend to be signs of a non-cook rather than a bad cook. In fact, I don't think I can think of someone I know who likes to cook that I would call a bad cook. I guess it's a self-selecting process.
  17. How about the one-way degassing valves on bags of freshly roasted coffee?
  18. emannths

    Color-changing Food

    Looks like you have to add acid to the current incarnation. It looks like they're still working on the color-changes-when-you-blow-on-it one. Here's a more direct link. It'll take some good ideas to elevate this from a gimmick. Not that a gimmick isn't fun every now and then... :-) If you like this idea, here's an excerpt from an article about natural pH indicators (paywall req'd):
  19. Yep, these are the questions to ask. Most modern brewing methods are approximately equivalent in the objective quality of the coffee they brew, given good ingredients and a skilled operator. The coffee each produces has a different character to it, but it's hard to say that one method is objectively superior to another. Wholemeal Crank, Bodum makes presses at least as small at 4-4oz cups, which in practice will yield about 12-14oz of coffee. But there's no reason you couldn't buy a larger press to allow you to make larger batches and simply fill it less to make smaller batches (I do this all the time). For me, in practice, making French press coffee takes about 10 minutes of undivided attention (preheating the carafe, heating the water, grinding the beans, stirring the grounds midway through the 4 minute brew, decanting the coffee), which may make it a little less appealing than other methods while entertaining. Pourover works well for single cups, and if your mother really wants to go coffee-geek on it, she can spring for a Hario cone, but there's some technique needed to get the most out of it. For someone that doesn't drink coffee (and thus won't have the best, freshest beans and the motivation to develop her technique), it's probably not worth it if she's already got pourover gear. Most non-Hario pourover equipment tends to limit the amount of control you have over some aspects of the brewing, which is a problem if you're striving for the best cup, but isn't an issue if you're not going to exercise the control that the Hario gives you. Another alternative is the Aeropress [Amazon link]. It gets lots of love, it's fast, it's easy, and it's good for single cup brewing.
  20. Hey ScoopKW--can you "can condition" beer? I have to imagine the answer is yes, but while there are plenty of beers with labels touting "bottle-conditioned," I don't think I've ever seen a can proclaiming its contents to be "can-conditioned." Are there any other process limitations with can? And how does the pressure rating compare to 12oz crown caps and corked and caged 750ml bottles? Would a brewer ever run up against a ceiling when making a highly-carbonated beer?
  21. emannths

    Stable foam?

    You're missing a surfactant to stabilize the air-water interface. This why lecithin is used. Adding anything that stabilizes emulsions would probably do the trick: pure lecithin, egg yolks, mustard powder, etc.
  22. Oh, hello french press thread! Chris, I too use a thermapen. I measure the temperature off the heat (I remove the kettle to a spare burner and measure it there). I've considered buying one of the electric kettles that has setpoints of 1deg F, but I'm too nervous to drop $50-70 on one only to find out that they were being overly optimistic with their precision. While I'm here, I figured I'd share two related techniques that I think really improved my FP coffee. The first is the "break and skim" technique, where you break the crust of floating grounds at the top of the press, allowing most to sink to the bottom, and then skim off the remaining foam. It turns out that this foam contains a lot of the fines, and skimming it really cleans up the taste of the resulting coffee and reduces the amount of fines in the cup. The second technique, which is related, is to treat the press much like a cupping cup, where the grounds are simply allowed to settle to the bottom and the coffee decanted off the top. In a french press, this is accomplished by breaking the crust and allowing the grounds to settle, skimming, and then not plunging the filter into the coffee. You then decant the coffee slowly through the filter into your cup or thermos, leaving the pile of grounds in the bottom of the press. Doing this again helps to clean up the cup by not stirring up the grounds, and allowing them to ask as their own filter, trapping the smaller particles. I'm not sure how well these techniques work with blade grinders--I use a Capresso Infinity, which may be better at minimizing fines than a blade grinder. But I'd encourage your to give it a shot and see if you notice any difference. I thought the difference was huge. Here's where I learned this stuff: James Hoffman's French Press Technique (more info and discussion in some of his subsequent posts) "Cupping-style" French Press technique
  23. I visited the Dusseldorf area for a couple days on business a couple years ago. For drinking, I used this site as a guide. He's got info on Dusseldorf and other cities. I hit Uerige, Schluessel, Schumacher, and Fuechschen. If the weather is nice, you can drink your altbier outside (I was there in October, and even though it was cool out, everyone was outside, which was nice). I got an enormous and delicious boiled pig's hock (swinehaxen) at Fuechschen (though I might get the roasted version that was on the chalkboard specials next time). I also had a pretty good Italian meal at La Riva in Krefeld, though I can't compare it to much else in the area.
  24. emannths

    Sour Beer

    For more on the process and development of sour beers, you might want to peruse Michael Tonsmeire's blog. It's a pretty neat look at the process, and I think it helps give some context for a) how sours are made and b) why they tend to be expensive (short answer: time and unpredictability). There's also a very interesting interview with Ron Jeffries (the head of Jolly Pumpkin) on the Can You Brew It podcast where he discusses how they use barrels, blending, and aging to create the flavor profiles they're looking for. One style that's not mentioned here is the Berlinerweiss, a sour, low abv wheat beer (though today's Germans add syrup to it). There are also some sour porters out there. Lindeman's is mentioned by a number of commenters. Aside from the Cuvee Rene, none are really worth bothering with if you're looking for a proper example of the style (they're sweetened prior to bottling, among other adulterations). To the many excellent suggestions, I'll add Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge, a Flanders that nicely sour with lots of funkiness in the nose. I've seen it popping up on tap with increasing frequency.
  25. Another Good Eats fan here. More than anything, I think AB prodded me to think of cooking like any other task--choose the best tool and technique for the job, and always assume there's a way to do it until proven otherwise. It also really did the job of transforming mundane, taken-for-granted foods into good eats. I never would have made something like the coconut cake that he made, but he convinced me that it was something that you could really improve beyond the standard diner/grocery store item. Of course, the show certainly had it's faults. I think the strangest was AB's alternating between sometimes adhering strictly to traditional ingredients/recipes and sometimes taking huge liberties with them, often within the same show and without acknowledging it. And don't even start to bring up error-ridden homebrew episode...
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