While we only cupped one coffee this go-round, Redcab Brazil, it was complex enough that I was exhausted by the end of it. In fact, I could write an entire essay! Amazingly balanced and incredibly multi-layered, Redcab is a heavy flavor hitter of a coffee. The nose was one lovely experience after another, beginning with almonds, strawberries and cream, and cardamom. It progressed into lemon meringue pie with a toffee finale. The flavors grew, undulated, and changed from peanut brittle to currants to green figs with a hint of wheat grass and genmaicha tea and finished with a flourish of chocolate covered apricots. It may have been a character cavalcade, but because of the wonderful balance, it was less like a roller coaster experience and more like being grabbed by the hand and led through a toy store. I want to drink this coffee all day and collapse in a contented heap in the evening. It's glorious.
A week ago today, I was sitting at a table putting wristbands on ticket-holders for Downtown Grass Valley’s Foothills Celebration.
It was chaotic. It was loud. I had face time with hundreds of strangers. It was great.
It was wonderful to be surrounded by people who enjoy wine and enjoy talking about it. As we put on wristbands, I and my fellow volunteers talked about the glorious selection of wines that our area has to offer. I loved it!
Not only did I get to hang around and chat wine all afternoon, I also got to say hello to a lot of the local winemakers, vineyard, and winery owners. If Charles had been with me, it would have felt like a little slice of heaven.
It’s interesting to realize that I get along better with the winemakers and winery owners of this area better than I do with almost anyone else. Did I miss my calling? Of course, it’s the same for Charles, so did WE miss our calling?
After volunteer time, I got to wander around town with my own complimentary wine glass and food tickets. Food-wise the flavors that flew me way above the rest were the lovely sampling of goodies at Jim E’s Club 141. Wine-wise – well, that would be tough. I tried a lot of lovely wines. I sipped small amounts so as to avoid palette fatigue, but I sampled some lovely fare from Avanguardia, Montoliva, Lucchesi, and many others.
Maybe the most glorious thing of the whole day was knowing that even after the event, I still had access to all of those wonderful wines and fabulous foods. Now I just need to break it all down into more manageable time frames. And of course, blog about it here.
“What drives me to make our farm a farm of the future is the knowledge that I have no other choice but to try,” said Rebecca Hosking.
Hosking, a wildlife filmmaker, came home to Devon, England to take up the work on the family farm. During the last fuel crisis when costs skyrocketed, she realized that the only way she knew how to farm was not sustainable. Oil isn’t something that farmers are going to be able to rely upon for much longer, but how do you farm to feed the world without tractors, tillers, semi trucks, and jets? Oil is in every part of what we eat, be it in the farm equipment to plant and process to the transportation to the grocery store. When it comes to that fossil fuel dependence, the future of our food looks pretty bleak.
That bleak horizon sent Hosking on a journey of sustainability, and the things that she learned were fascinating. How about having a diverse pasture for your cows and sheep? One family, through a lot of attention to detail and hard work, discovered the diversity of grasses they needed to be able to pasture their livestock year-round without the supplement of alfalfa in the winter. Plus, that diversity created a root structure that was so strong, the pasture wasn’t destroyed by the traffic of livestock. Even more, their discovery of what made their pastures strong and healthy lead to one of the most revolutionary ideas in farming – no tilling! They likened it to taking the skin off of a human being, and their logic was as strong as the land on which they farmed.
The fascinating discoveries continued as she explored Permaculture farms. The biodiversity made the land healthier and lead to high food yields. Plus, it aided in thinking outside the box, such as in using trees as a fodder crop for livestock. Maybe even better, Permaculture farming is low maintenance and low on energy use, and you maintain a healthy, symbiotic relationship with the land. The one drawback to Permaculture is that you can’t grow cereal crops. However, nut crops can grow in this manner and can supply what humans get from cereals. With all of that wild land, though, how can you farm for more than just your family? Actually, and I thought this was wonderfully astounding, Permaculture can yield enough food for 10 people for every acre.
So while the way we do farming now can in no way, shape, or form be how we continue to farm – even in the near future – there are options. Our reliance on oil is a major issue, a scary one at that. But thanks to pioneers like Hosking, we may just have successful farms in the future. Let’s hope so, for all our sakes.
Barefoot coffee recently sent in two of their new coffees for BriarPatch's sampling pleasure. Hopefully, they'll be on the coffee bar really soon because these two Guatemalan options are dynamite!
Variety numero uno was Palo Blanco. Anise, milk chocolate, carnations, and a tease of sweet alfalfa on the nose were followed by the smooth and balanced flavors of navel oranges, bananas, and milk chocolate with a finish of dried mangoes.
The next cup, Edlyna, was also gorgeously balanced. Gingerbread, vanilla, leather, and peaches were chased by flavors of bing cherries, dried pineapple slices, and a dark chocolate finish.
I would be happy to spend all day drinking either of these coffees. They were both yummilicious!
There's something so fulfilling about making chicken stock. I feel so good about not wasting anything, and then I have a freezer full of additions to my cooking.
I enjoy the whole process, too. Since I work full time, I usually have to do the majority of my cooking in the evenings. So I'll bake the chicken one night, let it rest, and then it gets to hang out in the refrigerator overnight. (After I eat the oysters, of course.) Then the next evening, I do what is so elegantly called, "picking the carcass." Generally I'll keep enough meat for whatever I'm creating for dinner that night, (last night happened to be a chicken pizza) put the rest of the meat back in the fridge, and the bones, skin, and other various bits gets thrown in the pot along with whatever extra veggies are sitting around.
This is where some people get rather incensed with my process. There are die hard you-must-do-it-this-way-and-none-other stock makers out in the world. I feel it's about economizing, so I tend not to buy extra ingredients for something that costs me nothing but extra time. This go-around, I had fresh garlic, some extra carrots and celery from a previous dinner, and a collection of herbs. One time, I had a bunch of cilantro that I threw in the pot. It ended up tasting really good, but the stock had a green cast to it.
The stock bubbled nicely throughout our dinner and after. Once it was down to a nice level and color, I strained it into a large bowl using my metal colander. Then I strained it with a funnel and small strainer into small jars that went directly into the freezer. Most people like to wait for it to cool and skim off some of the fat, but you can do that with the frozen version too, and sometimes that little bit of extra flavor really adds to the dish, so when the mood strikes, I end up using the whole jar, including the top surface.
Finishing this task always leaves me feeling warm, fuzzy, and accomplished. Wouldn't it be nice if everything was so fulfilling?