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A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

GREEN BEANS AND WOODEN SPOONS

For those of you that have been with me for the past 6 years, you know how important that morning cup of coffee is to me. We’ve shared trail reports over that “get ‘er dun” first cup for a LONG time. I know that I told you a couple of weeks ago when I found out I had a large hiatal hernia that I was going to do the healthy thing and cut back on my morning coffee consumption (and morning IS the only time I drink coffee). I DID cut back and I didn’t notice any difference except saving some money! So, Juan Valdez’s future is still safe and he doesn’t have to rename his donkey (after all, he DID name it after me!)

I also told you that I have started roasting and grinding my own beans (I bought an inexpensive grinder for about $22…I figured that was better than using my teeth). I haven’t actually done the math yet but I’m not really sure if I am any better off, money wise, by purchasing green beans and roasting them or just buying already roasted beans from the local store. TRUE, I can combine beans and make my own blend(s) if I do it myself. So there is that advantage (and a tasty one it is). But, on the other hand, when you have to heat your oven to 500° for 8-10 minutes and the price of propane is hovering around $1.85 per gallon….makes ya wonder. Those 8-10 minutes doesn’t take into account that you need to PREHEAT it to 500° before putting your beans in the oven. Then there is the awful, burnt popcorn smell that comes with roasting those beans. That smell lingers for many, many hours (days if you can’t open the windows!). I am getting smarter though; when I decide to roast beans I remove the smoke alarms (I believe my first roasting set off alarms 1/16th of a mile away), light scented candles and if the weather permits, open some windows. The odor still clings to the curtains. After you pull this HOT, HOT pan from the oven, you need to try to get all those little hot beans into a METAL colander. I currently use a pizza pan (the type with the little holes all over the bottom) to roast the beans on. The pizza pan is about 18” in diameter…the colander is not. With the help from my ever thinking hubby, Dan, we fashioned a “chute” out of a large piece of cardboard to put at one end (does a round object have an end???) of the pizza pan and the smaller end of the chute into the METAL colander. This IS a two person project, which should take place over a METAL sink. If you notice I am stressing METAL a LOT…500° beans would tend to melt just about anything. Once you manage to get all those beans into the colander, then it is wise to take the colander and a wooden spoon OUTSIDE (don’t forget the pot holders!) and stir it up! There will be a LOT of chaff which you most likely do not want floating around in your house, so GO OUTSIDE. (It would be MY luck that some of the chaff would find its way to my scented candle and burn the house down. I would not need a math degree to figure out THAT would be more expensive than just buying already roasted beans!).

Once outside, you just need to take that wooden spoon and stir and stir and stir those beans. You will be amazed at the amount of chaff that comes off the beans. You will be amazed how cold 28° can feel if you forgot your mittens. You will be amazed at the looks you get at people driving by…well, maybe not so much amazed as embarrassed. How does one explain standing on your deck in the dead of winter, metal colander and potholder in one hand, …you get the picture. When the beans have cooled sufficiently and you have managed to get most of the chaff off, then it is safe to go back inside (don’t forget to put the smoke alarms back in place!). You will want to let the beans “rest” for at least 4 hours before grinding them. I like to let mine rest overnight to make sure there isn’t any moisture on them (especially from being out in a snowstorm) before putting them in a tightly sealed container.

(You may wonder why I am doing this during the winter months. WHO WOULD WANT TO HEAT THEIR OVEN TO 500° IN THE SUMMER MONTHS? I KNOW that I will purchase already roasted beans during the summer months.)

There is nothing like the smell of freshly ground coffee unless it is the taste! And you CAN purchase decaf green coffee beans too! I’ve been told that the decaf beans actually make a better cup of coffee than the decaf canned coffee you can buy in the store! Now, if there was just a way to get that awful burned popcorn smell outta here……

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