Since the end of 2013 I have had the concept of daily ritual on my mind. Call them habits, routine, or otherwise, the more fixed, the closer these get to what I would consider ritual. The internet provides a formal definition that works as well as any. A ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Choose the definition you prefer and follow along.

I have always thought myself their creature. Good and bad, routine provides definition and structure. They provide outline. Over the next few months I intend to share a series of posts on the topic of ritual. Specifically my own, focusing on those that are more or less fully defined. Some I am sure will seem banal. Others may surprise. In the end I hope they will persuade you to consider your own daily rituals in new light.

Here is the first.

In September 2011 I wrote about giving up coffee for the umpteenth time. In that post I wrote that I have an on again, off again, relationship with coffee. After our son Henrik was born Linda and I took a three month leave from work. We both went back to work afterwards, which left us with a childcare decision to make. Linda and I both work from home, which made what we now call “child care in three shifts” possible. I start work at 6:00 AM. Linda watches Henrik in the morning. Child care comes in mid morning and stays until 3:00 PM when I get off work. I watch Henrik. Linda gets off work at 5:00 PM. Rinse and repeat.

I wanted a way to drink one strong cup of coffee a day, but no more. I wanted that cup to be fantastic, but at the same time be too much work to even want to make a second cup. Here is what I came up with.

(1) Water. 16 ounces. Microwave 3 Minutes.

I heat the water in the microwave 180 degrees. I use a Pyrex 2 Cup. This dude is the a very handy utilititarian for lots of small jobs.

pyrex

(2) Beans. 32 grams. 5 Minutes.

I figured out real quick that the most important aspect of great coffee is great beans. I tried a few different grocery brands that were okay. Then I found a local source of freshly roasted beans at Crate Coffee. I dropped by the shop one afternoon, had a half hour conversation with the owner Jeff about my current process, and bought a pound of beans. I try to buy my beans every other Friday. Jeff buys his beans from a local Phoenix roaster who roasts the beans on Wednesdays. That is about as good as one can hope to get.

3152399890_8c35a17297 Photo by ed_needs_a_bicycle

Note: How do I get 32 grams? Weigh your beans with a food scale, mister.

Food Scale

A word on bean grinding. This is where the five minutes fits in. Linda gave me a ceramic hand grinder for Christmas. This adds a few extra minutes to the ritual but is well worth it. The ceramic burr takes only a few minutes but gives you mostly perfect “grounds symmetry”. Not sure that is an actual term or not.

(3) Steeping the Grounds. AeroPress. 4 Minutes.

This gets its own section a part from step two because there are so many methods. With this I have been experimenting. Started with the French Press and have now moved to the AeroPress. I have experimented with both at the same time. It took me a few weeks but this is my current process. I pour the water slowly over the grinds in the AeroPress chamber. I then stir the mixture with a spoon. I then put the stopper in the chamber to create a vacuum and let the mix steep four minutes. I then press into a coffee cup. Here is a video of Gwilym Davies showing you how he does it.

AeroPress

(4) 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil, 1/2 tsp Butter. ~1 Minute.

If you like cream, go for it. For my taste, this mixture of oils is better. I start with a refined coconut oil, not the unrefined stuff, which quite expectedly tastes a bit too much like coconut to me.

While my water is heating, I measure the oils into a Magic Bullet cup. When the water is ready, I pour a few ounces into the cup to start to melt the oils. When the coffee is done steeping I pour the coffee it the Magic Bullet cup and buzz it up for five seconds, pour the finished product back into the coffee mug, and enjoy.

magic bullet

Just one cup. Now you know how. Now you know why. Give it a try and let me know how things turn out won’t you?

Owen

Fresno Pepper Ketchup

March 27, 2013

I posted a recipe on Facebook a few weeks ago with the idea that, while I wasn’t really the type of guy to do that, it was too good not to share. I have been making a lot of homemade sauces lately and, well, I guess I really am that guy, because here I go again. My latest conception. I call it Fresno Pepper Ketchup. Tastes great on pork chops.

Mix the following ingredients in a small mixer and blend. Personally I use the Magic Bullet.

1 Medium Fresno Pepper (cut the top off but put in the rest, seeds and all)
1 TB EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 TB Tomato Paste
1/2 TB Bragg Liquid Amino Acid (Soy Sauce Substitute)
1/2 TB Balsamic Vinaigrette
Pinch of Salt and Pepper

Fresno peppers

Buzz that up and there you have it. If you are careful not to leave a lot of mix in the jar you can get two servings. Enjoy!