Monthly Archives: March 2012

That’s good coffee

I have had my Bodum Bistro grinder and Aeropress for a few weeks now, and the cups of coffee produced by them still amaze me. Compared to my earlier brewing, it is probably these two facts that make the biggest difference:

  • I store the coffee as whole, roasted beans and grind them just before brewing.
  • I use more coffee per cup – it’s a bit more expensive but definitely worth it.

So how does this weird Aeropress thing work? 🙂

My recipe for a good cup of coffee:

1. Put 500-600 mL of water into an electric kettle and turn it on.
2. Put two scoops of whole-bean, roasted coffee into your grinder and grind them on (almost) the espresso setting.

3. Insert the piston in the tube, turn it upside down and use the funnel to pour the coffee into the Aeropress.

4. When the water boils, pour 100-200 mL of it into a cup in order to pre-heat it.
5. Wait for one minute such that the temperature of the water in the kettle drops slightly.
6. While waiting, put a filter into the cap and wet it such that it sticks.
7. Fill the Aeropress 80-90 % with water and stir 20 times (for approx ten seconds). Top it off with more water.
8. Put on the cap and wait for 1-2 minutes. You can use the time to rinse the funnel and the grinder’s container.
9. Pour out the pre-heating water such you have an empty, warm cup.
10. Turn the Aeropress around and place it on the cup.

11. Slowly push the piston down – make it take 30-40 seconds.

That’s good coffee 🙂

See also

Double pedal and evil riffs

I regularly listen to ChroniX Aggression, which is a great radio station and a great source of new metal. During the last two or three months I have discovered eight awesome bands which I would like to recommend. A little help to metal newcomers: If you like well-known metal bands such as Rammstein, Metallica, KoЯn or Slipknot, you will probably like one or more of these bands. To a great extent, they have in common that most of their songs feature insane drumming, evil guitar solos and a mix of growling and clear singing. The songs are typically a bit noisy but still pack an underlying melody. In the following table I have compiled some facts from the bands’ Wikipedia articles.

__

As I Lay Dying

Origin: San Diego, California, USA
Genres: Metalcore,
Genres: melodic death metal,
Genres: thrash metal
Active: 2000 – present

__

Hatebreed

Origin: Wallingford, Connecticut, USA
Genres: Hardcore punk, metalcore
Active: 1994 – present

Bullet for My Valentine

Origin: Bridgend, Wales, UK
Genres: Heavy metal, metalcore,
Genres: thrash metal
Active: 1998 – present

In This Moment

Origin: North Hollywood, California, USA
Genres: Metalcore, post-hardcore,
Genres: alternative metal,
Genres: alternative rock, hard rock
Active: 2005 – present

Dagoba

Origin: Marseille, France
Genres: Groove metal, metalcore,
Genres: industrial metal,
Genres: progressive metal,
Genres: death metal
Active: 2000 – present

SOiL

Origin: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Genres: Alternative metal,
Genres: groove metal, hard rock,
Genres: heavy metal, nu metal,
Genres: post-grunge
Active: 1997 – present

DevilDriver

Origin: Santa Barbara, California,
Origin: USA
Genres: Groove metal,
Genres: melodic death metal
Active: 2002 – present

Sub Dub Micromachine

Origin: Berlin, Germany
Genres: Nu metal,
Genres: Neue Deutsche Härte
Active: 2000 – present

For each band I have found my favorite song on YouTube, of course influenced by the fluctuating quality of YouTube’s videos and the fact that sometimes my favorite isn’t on YouTube at all. I link to extra, also great, songs below each video. If you like one of the bands, remember to try out Grooveshark and Spotify. In many cases, these two services offer full albums and better quality than YouTube.

Do not just believe me when I claim that these bands are awesome – go ahead and listen for yourself! 🙂

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLd6h5td8G4]

See also:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHgFJEJgUrg]

See also:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOkxIa4Srfc]

See also:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlRtG9ls3Ig]

See also:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj0UnN7jW1k]

See also:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPVjJU5LjKI]

See also:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFc-2aNZ6VY]

See also:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLOegMSEaqU]

See also:

Coffee from scratch

I present to you my next step up the coffee gear ladder:

After a few weeks of research I’ve purchased an Aerobie AeroPress coffee brewer and a Bodum Bistro coffee grinder. Regarding the grinder, I must admit that I picked the somewhat repulsive color due to a significant saving – approx 35% off. The color looks faded and sad on the packaging, but I find the grinder’s actual color refreshing. Needless to say, I’m more interested in its grinding capabilities. The AeroPress was recommended to me by two colleagues at work, and after tasting a brew from one of their presses my doubts vanished. Assessing the quality of coffee is all about your frame of reference, so it is impossible for me to guarantee that an AeroPress will impress you too. I can only give the simple statement that the coffee I brew using my AeroPress definitely tastes better than what I used to brew using my French press. The Bodum Bistro grinder was recommended to me by a friend, and I also read a number of reviews online. As my first grinder, it’s probably a good choice. Reviewers seem to agree on the label “good value for the price”. It’s a burr grinder, not a simple blender type grinder, so I should be off to a flying start.

Using green (raw) coffee beans, my oven, my grinder and my AeroPress, I’m now able to make a fantastic cup of coffee “from scratch” 😀

Last night I roasted 150 grams of the sort “Costa Rica, Strictly High Grown, Blue Mountain”:

They were roasted for 13 minutes at 230 °C, which was undoubtedly 1-2 minutes too long. They degassed during the night and were ready for use today – some roasting guides mention a degassing time of 24-48 hours, but with all my new gear I was of course impatient. My first cup of the day was actually brewed at work, as I brought the AeroPress and the beans along with me, but here is a couple of brewing pictures from my home:

The AeroPress reminds me of the quote “Honestly! It’s not mine!” from Austin Powers 😉 Do not miss the introductory part

The place Sigfreds Kaffebar in Århus demonstrates the AeroPress elegantly in this video:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp_bN8T7jUk]

Turkey, lentils and cabbage

Actually, I don’t want to make a big fuzz out of this one. My mind is filled with other things than cooking these days. The ingredients were already bought, however, so I was forced to spend some hours in the kitchen. It would be a crime to let the vegetables go bad. Luckily, preparing meat and vegetables in large quantities lets you think stuff through, thereby improving mental health. God damned hippie crap, as Eric Cartman would say.

I like to cook, but from Monday to Friday, I typically don’t have the time. In reality, of course, I have 86400 seconds per day just like anybody else (if you ignore leap seconds). Time is not something you have, time is something you prioritize. My solution is to cook a huge meal in the weekend, divide it into a number of servings and store them in my freezer and refrigerator. Due to the freezer, I don’t have to eat the same type of meal for many days in a row.

The dish of the day is pot roasted, spicy turkey breast, green lentils, steamed cauliflower and steamed broccoli. The dish is perfect in many ways: high in protein, high in fiber, high in vitamins, low in energy density (high fullness factor) and low in fat. It shouldn’t surprise you that I designed the dish using nutrition data for the ingredients and a worksheet. The amount of oil used for the initial roast of the meat is, however, hard to estimate. In hindsight, I should have used my non-stick frying pan rather than my 11 liter soup pot. Oh well…

Enjoy the food porn below. Place your mouse on a picture for a brief moment to get its caption.

There is not much point in dragging you through a detailed recipe. The only hard part about today’s dish is its size. The vegetables are steamed, the lentils are boiled, and the meat is pot roasted. What you should take away is that the raw meat should rest for a while in your refrigerator, after you have rubbed spices into it. The spices will not be very effective, if you just cook the meat right away. Another simple trick is to reuse water in the cooking process. I started out with two liters of water, which was initially used to steam the vegetables. It was then used to boil the lentils, which means that the lentils sucked the tasty, vitamin-rich cabbage water. Finally, the remaining water was used to pot roast the meat. The meat was of course initially browned in small batches at high temperature before being left to simmer for half an hour. A final trick is to use a mortar and pestle rather than a mill to ground the pepper. Do not use preground pepper. Ever.

My attempt to calculate the energy distribution in the dish:

__ Ingredient __ Weight __ Protein __ Carbs __ Fat __ Energy

Turkey breast 1,800 g 414.0 g 1.8 g 23.4 g 7,832 kJ
Lentils 900 g 234.0 g 540.0 g 18.0 g 13,292 kJ
Cauliflower 2,315 g 46.3 g 115.8 g 7.0 g 2,421 kJ
Broccoli 1,608 g 48.2 g 104.5 g 6.4 g 2,287 kJ
Garlic 61 g 3.9 g 20.2 g 0.3 g 408 kJ
Canola oil 30 g 0.0 g 0.0 g 30.0 g 1,130 kJ

Total 746.4 g 782.3 g 85.1 g 27,370 kJ
Energy distribution 43.4 % 45.5 % 11.1 %

Almost all of the ingredients were bought on sale. The total cost was 193.50 DKK, which means that the cost of one serving was only 21.50 DKK (approx 3.80 USD). Due to the low cost, buying season vegetables and cooking in large quantities should especially appeal to students. At least it frees up more money for beers 🙂

Hungover – for once

For the first time in more than a year I visited the bar in my old dorm last night and this morning. It’s still an awesome bar – with awesome bartenders, visitors, beer selection and music 🙂

I haven’t really had a hangover for a long time. This is of course due to my newfound, unhealthy level of healthy living 😛 Today, however, I have a hangover and it started out pretty heavy this “morning” at around 10 AM when I woke on the couch in my living room… Apparently, I decided to leave the bag of chips – which I desperately bought on my way home – somewhere in my old dorm and instead eat oatmeal and yogurt as a night snack. Now I’m even sort of healthy when I’m drunk… Damn. Or should I be happy about this? After all, it has taken a long time to change my habits to this degree. I am actually able to say no to chips, consistently.

While I have been writing this post, coffee has been brewing and the hangover has started to fade away. The sun warms my shoulders and relatively loud metal music fills my apartment. I’m listening to some bands that are still new on my radar – As I Lay Dying, Bullet for My Valentine, Dagoba, DevilDriver, Hatebreed, In This Moment, SOiL and Sub Dub Micromachine. It’s going to be a nice day.

Fragrant apartment

My apartment smells really nice this evening, as I roasted coffee beans yesterday and baked my second no-knead bread just a couple of hours ago. Yes, I know – I roast in my oven, and the roasting process itself doesn’t smell nice. It mostly smells burned. The roasted beans, however, deliver a nice coffee smell, while they rest uncovered in the kitchen overnight. I roasted 150 grams of the sort “Columbia, Supremo, Papayan” at 230 °C for 13 minutes. A trick to blow away (most of) the shells is to place the beans in a deep baking pan, go outside and blow with a can of compressed air.

Rather than using the bread recipe in the previously mentioned Politiken article, I went with this recipe at the Danish food site kvalimad.dk. I substituted a quarter of the wheat flour with oatmeal. The dough was much wetter than the dough for my first no-knead bread. In addition, it kept its humidity, as I covered it properly with plastic wrapping this time. I used a dishcloth for the first bread, which was a mistake.

I have added a ovenproof casserole to my wishlist, but for now I use a loaf pan and another pan to cover it.

The bread is cooling down and I cannot wait…

Lovely crisp on the outside and with a fluffy inside:

No-knead, extra crusty bread

Friday afternoon I randomly came across a journalistic nightmare in the Danish newspaper Politiken titled “Jims Laheys perfekte brød”. The article mentions a Jims Lahey in its heading, without ever telling us who this person is. The introduction tells us that the bread is Italian, but the fact box tells us that its nationality is American. After a little research, I learned that the person’s real name is Jim Lahey, and that he is the owner of the Sullivan St Bakery in New York. His interest for art and natural beauty (what?) originally brought him to Italy, but he became interested in Italian bread instead. Today his mission – just like many other bakers and bakeries – is to bring Italian breads to America. To correct Politiken: the baker’s name is Jim Lahey, he is an American, he invented a simple, no-knead bread in his bakery in New York, and the bread is inspired by Italian breads.

The recipe for Jim’s bread is given in the article Baking the perfect loaf of bread at home. The Politiken article reproduces this recipe to a large extent. In spite of my initial negativity, I decided to try Jim’s recipe. It sounded easy, I had the ingredients ready, and for some time I’ve wanted to make a no-knead bread. No-knead means that the bread rises for a very long time instead of being subjected to kneading. In contrast to dough that should be kneaded, dough for no-knead breads is quite wet. The extra crusty part of this post’s title comes from the fact that the bread was baked in a covered vessel. Okay, back on track! Friday evening I stirred a tiny piece of yeast (the size of two green peas) into 300 grams of water, added 8 grams of salt, stirred some more and then added 300 grams of wheat flour and 100 grams of oatmeal. The ingredients are mixed for 30 seconds or so, until all of the flour and oatmeal has met the water. You end up with something like this:

Plastic wrap the bowl and let the dough rise for 12-18 hours at room temperature. I covered the bowl with a discloth, which I cannot recommend, as the dough’s humidity isn’t preserved. My dough actually rised for approx 20 hours, which didn’t turn out to be a problem. When the time has passed, take the dough out of the bowl on a table with some wheat flour. Fold it a couple of times at different angles – it’s almost like 30 seconds of kneading. Put it back into the bowl and let it rise for an additional two hours. When an hour and a half has passed, find a pot in which the bread fits and which can withstand to be baked at high temperature in an oven. Put the pot and its lid into your oven and set it on 250 °C. When the dough is done rising for the second time, i.e. approx 30 minutes later, put the dough into the hot pot, put on its lid and put it into the oven. Set the oven on 230 °C. Bake the bread at this setting for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake it for an additional 15 minutes. Let it cool down for an hour before cutting/eating. I didn’t have a suitable pot, but a loaf pan and another pan to cover it worked like a charm – a trick which is hereby passed on.

My friend and work colleague Georg Sluyerman visited me on Saturday to check out my new apartment and to go on a 10 km run with me on the bicycle paths in Aalborg Øst. This coincided with my bread experiment, and we ended up enjoying the freshly baked bread with cheese and with a Danish specialty called “Dyrlægens natmad”. The specialty is a combination of liver pate, salted meat, red onion rings and jelly. All of it was of course accompanied by very tasty beer from the breweries Bryggeriet Refsvindinge and Thisted Bryghus.

Of course, when you let Georg near electronics, he takes them apart 🙂

Update

For my Danish readers I can recommend the following video by Max Møller Rasmussen, the food hacker behind kvalimad.dk, where he shows how easy it is to put together a nice no-knead bread:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaCN7gpvYfE]

It is evident that my cooking skills can be improved upon 🙂

Permanent job

Today my three-month trail period at my new workplace ended, which means that I now have a so-called permanent job. Digging into the details, it only means that I must be notified three months before I get fired. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that 🙂

The milestone was celebrated with healthy-named cakes from a nearby bakery – apple pie with cream and banana roll. Only healthy-named, not actually healthy… Of course, you get a favorable energy to money ratio.

I am very happy to be a part of Netic – smart, geeky and inspiring colleagues, interesting and challenging tasks, almost no confinement to a specific area of system administration, freedom with responsibility, cutting edge technology, things happen fast, responsive and technically skilled leadership. Looking at it in the other direction, I think my skills – and probably my personality too – are a good match for what is required. It is a relatively small company with relatively large projects. There are no competing departments – everyone chimes in with good advice in order to achieve the best solutions. You feel you’re a part of something good.