How to Roast Your Own Coffee in a Stovetop Popcorn Maker

Thanks to the Institute for Domestic Technology, I learned roast my own coffee at home in a Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper. It’s a simple, if smokey, process.

You heat up the popper on your stove top over a medium/high heat and dump in 10 ounces of green coffee beans. The beans we used were ordered from Sweet Maria’s who carry a wide selection of high-end beans at inexpensive prices.

The only trick with the Whirley-Pop coffee roasting method is adjusting the stove burner. You’re shooting for “first crack,” the point when the beans pop kind of like popcorn. at around the 6 minute mark. Mine took a little bit longer on the first attempt, but after a few roasting sessions I’m sure I’d get the right burner setting. After first crack the beans quiet down for a few minutes. The next thing you’re listening for is the “second crack.” As soon as those beans start making noise again you dump them on a cookie tray to cool down. That’s really all there is to it. Sweet Maria’s has a pdf sheet with more detailed Whirley-Pop instructions as well as a review of other home roasting methods.

Our instructor at the Institute class, Ian Riley, suggested storing the beans at room temperature in a reusable valve bag (freshly roasted coffee beans out-gas CO2).

Unlike many home “artisinal” food methods (we probably need to retire the “a” word), home coffee roasting saves money and you get a much better product than store bought coffee.

Of course quitting coffee would also save money but you’ll have to ask Mrs. Root Simple about that one–I’m an addict.

If you’re in the LA area, you can take Ian Riley’s home coffee roasting class at the Institute for Domestic Technology. I also teach a no-knead bread class at the institute as part of Foodcrafting 101.

Picture Sundays: A Car Exhaust Powered Pressure Cooker

From the June 1930 issue of Modern Mechanics:

Automatic Food Cooker Runs by Exhaust Heat of Car
Meals can literally be cooked on the run through the use of the automatic cooker shown in the photo above. The cooker is mounted on the rear bumper of the motor tourist’s car and an extension from the exhaust pipe connected up with it, as shown in the insert. The cooker contains a steam pressure kettle which is heated by the hot exhaust gases. An hour’s drive is quite sufficient to thoroughly cook meats and vegetables. Total weight of the unit is so slight that running qualities of the car remain quite unaffected. Motor tours are much more pleasant when one is assured of a well-prepared meal at the end of the trip.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Master Food Preservers for the tip on this oddball bit of history.

Saturday Linkages: Cave Living, Chocolate Sourdough, Persian Marmalade and Much More . . .

@ericmiller built the native pollinator house from Making It and tweeted the result!

Farine: Chocolate and Currant Sourdough recipe

The American who quit money to live in a cave:

A Place for Old Chickens, Outside the Pot

Persian Marmalade History

Homemade Yogurt in Mason Jars

Via @Rational Survivor: Introduction to Permaculture – 40 hours of Free video lectures

Government tries to shut down paleo diet blogger

Logical fallacies poster:

Japanify: How to Make Biwashu (Loquat Liqueur) « Umamimart:

These, and more linkages, are from the Root Simple twitter feed.

Of Stickers and Boomers

Wendell Berry, photo by Guy Mendes

A suggestion for your weekend: Make time to settle into your favorite chair with a cup of tea, or a nice glass of wine and listen to “It All Turns on Affection” a lecture by the great Wendell Berry. This is the 2012 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, delivered at the Kennedy Center just this week.

Now, I’ll admit that this lecture is more than an hour long–which is why I suggested the refreshment and a comfortable chair. An hour is a lot to ask of our attention days, especially an hour spent watching an elderly gentleman speak slowly at a podium in front of a truly uninspired backdrop. Where are the kittens and baby sloths? you might ask along the way, if your internet video viewing habits are like mine. Best not to think of it as a video. Think of it as a radio program, settle down to listen and you will be truly and deeply rewarded.

I had trouble embedding the video, but you can view it on its NEH page. Berry comes on stage at about the 11:00 mark.

Or, if you prefer, you can read it here. I’m reading it now after my listen, and am just beginning to absorb the finer points.

This lecture is a call for us to rediscover our affection for the land. A plea for us to be stickers instead of boomers. That is, people who tend the land and honor its history and its stories instead of boomers who despoil our limited resources and move on, without thought, as if there will always be more to wealth to wring from nature, no matter what we do.

Of course, Berry is an advocate of the small farmer (as we all should be) and his remarks have much to do with farmland, and his family’s history as farmers, but I don’t think us urban and suburbanites should think his plea has nothing to do with us.  I think we can develop strong affection for our little yards. We can nurture the soil and teeming life there, making our commitment to all the plants and creatures in our care. We can also develop strong affection for and commitment to our communities and neighborhoods. If we do not have land of our own, we can care for that which we are temporarily living on, and we can fight for and nurture public land.

Wherever we are, we are on the land. And whoever we are, we are of the land.

A few quotes from the lecture:

–Economy in its original—and, I think, its proper—sense refers to household management. By extension, it refers to the husbanding of all the goods by which we live. An authentic economy, if we had one, would define and make, on the terms of thrift and affection, our connections to nature and to one another.  

–That we live now in an economy that is not sustainable is not the fault only of a few mongers of power and heavy equipment. We all are implicated. We all, in the course of our daily economic life, consent to it, whether or not we approve of it. This is because of the increasing abstraction and unconsciousness of our connection to our economic sources in the land, the land-communities, and the land-use economies. 

–As many hunters, farmers, ecologists, and poets have understood, Nature (and here we capitalize her name) is the impartial mother of all creatures, unpredictable, never entirely revealed, not my mother or your mother, but nonetheless our mother. If we are observant and respectful of her, she gives good instruction. As Albert Howard, Wes Jackson, and others have carefully understood, she can give us the right patterns and standards for agriculture. If we ignore or offend her, she enforces her will with punishment. She is always trying to tell us that we are not so superior or independent or alone or autonomous as we may think.