Why? Because coffee goes with everything. Well, everything I like anyway. It goes with chocolate, you can rub it on ribs. You can drink it hot or cold. In fact, one of my favorite cigars is Java by Drew Estate, coffee and mocha infused with nuances of mint and vanilla. If coffee had a fashion equivalent, it would be your favorite threadbare jeans, your simple black dress, your ballet flats. In short, coffee is timeless.
With summer approaching, I’ve recently been enjoying my cold brewed coffee, made from beans procured from Bootstrap Joe Coffeeworks, an independent Bay Area based roasting business co-founded by two of my favorite people on earth, Jason and Glen. Along with their college friend Nico, these three are on a quest to make “Great coffee for working people.” Great coffee indeed, I’ve used their Sumatra Blend in my Coffee Spice ‘Rubbed for Your Pleasure’ Baby Back Ribs—recipe coming soon. Those of you special enough to have partaken of these ribs can vouch for how awesome, rich and complex they taste, in no small part due to the coffee rub I used.
Anywhoo, cold brewed coffee is one of those things you hear about and go ‘yea, right’ because you think it’s not really a thing. Were she alive today, my grey haired Lola Emilia in all her old Pinay wisdom would be rolling her eyes at the mere mention of this cold brewed nonsense, whilst savoring every last drop of a steaming hot cup of Taster’s Choice flavored with Coffee Mate. But cold brewed coffee is in fact a thing that’s so simple to make, all you need are basic ingredients: good quality coffee beans from Bootstrap Joe Coffeeworks, water and time.
Adapted from: Food 52 Magical Coffee
2/3 cup coarsely ground Bootstrap Joe Coffeeworks coffee
3 cups water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons dark brown or turbinado sugar
1/4 cup hand torn mint leaves
- In a jar, stir together all ingredients
- Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours
- Strain coffee over filter covered strainer
- Pour strained coffee over ice and add cream, milk or coconut milk to taste
- Let your eyes roll back momentarily in your head and enjoy
**For the sake of transparency, I do get something from Bootstrap Joe Coffeeworks in exchange for this post: fashion advice from Glen and Hayes Valley restaurant recommendations from Jason. And a lifetime supply of cousin love.
I heard once that money doesn’t necessarily buy you happiness but it does buy you options. My habits with money, like food, are driven by really poor impulse control and the fact that I liked having lots of options. If I had to pick between two pairs of Cole Haan shoes, I wouldn’t. I would just buy both. If I had to pick between a vacation to New York, Hawaii and Disneyland, I didn’t. We just did all three. I don’t know why I never connected the two–eating and spending–have become mindless activities that I tended to overindulge in. I never stopped to think about what I put in my mouth or what I took out of my wallet.
Last year, I got smart about my eating habits and level of exercise. It’s not completely hardwired yet as both remain works in progress that I suspect will need all my commitment and will power for the rest of my life. I am OK with this. I am a mother in my mid 40s and will just be peeking into retirement while my son is still finishing high school, so the math is not lost on me.
Health is indeed wealth, but then so is money. So this year, we are beginning to get smart about spending habits. Another epiphany for me is how emotion is so deeply connected to money. Last year, we celebrated my birthday by seeing Rent and followed it with a decadent dinner at Wayfare Tavern. That was roughly a $400 birthday celebration. Both experiences were memorable and in my mind filled me with such joy that it was well worth the cost. I have no regrets about that expense. The problem was, every memorable experience last year was more expensive than the one before it and its importance, diminished because it was one of many.
So I write this post, as I do with the rest of this blog, to share a lesson. It’s not a comfortable exercise and I am keenly aware that this particular post might be an overshare. But if I can at least see my thoughts on paper, it will serve as a touchstone for the rest of this financial planning journey that we have just started on. Remember how I said several posts ago that my new love, my favorite find of 2017 was cauliflower rice? My other new love is mint.com. I will have ID bracelets made to celebrate our union. Mint.com is a web based, free personal finance software that allows you to basically manage and watch your money. It is the kind of thing that makes my little OCD heart sing. It’s easy to use and the best thing about it is how visual and compelling the data is presented so I can make smarter choices about how I spend money.
So this year for my birthday, my husband and I spent a happy morning cooking and baking. Afterwards we grabbed some coffee and shared a pastry at the nearby Philz coffee right before we picked up our son from a sleepover to watch the Super Bowl at our friends’ house. This is now one of my favorite memories–we laughed a lot, the Eagles beat the Pats and the whole thing cost us all of 15$.
I just had to stop by and once again profess my love and allegiance to my sous vide, Joule. Tonight, I cooked chicken breasts. Actually, last night, I threw them in a bag with some salt, pepper and a couple of lemon slices, sous vide them for about an hour and refrigerated the breasts over night. Tonight I browned said breasts in a cast iron skillet, about 6 minutes per side, squeezed some lemon juice and olive oil on them and here I am post dinner–blogging with a belly full of salad made of chicken, pine nuts and avocados and some goat milk feta cheese we procured from our recent visit to Maui’s Surfing Goat Dairy.
I was so excited that after years of overcooked dry chicken breasts–so much so that I now only cook thighs–I had to come here and share my excitement. Over moist, juicy chicken breasts.
Last night, we sous vide some pork chops and again, my Joule did not disappoint. We had just returned from vacation and there was nothing in the freezer I was interested in except for some pork chops I’d frozen weeks ago and seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary. Into the Joule they went and the result was a perfectly moist, cooked pork chop. Again, so much excitement after years of dry, inedible pork chops–I gotta go lie down.
Sous vide is:
A. An appliance you don’t think you need
B. A word you can’t pronounce
C. French for ‘boil in a bag’
D. All of the above
My friend Rose introduced me to the sous vide, pronounced soo-veed, and as I suspected, it’s essentially a snooty way of saying ‘boil in a bag’. Said sample came with a pork chop she made using the sous vide method and I was hooked. Rose’s pork chops were perfectly cooked, tender and juicy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cooked pork chops that were beautifully brown and done on the outside but raw, leathery and tasteless on the inside. (A Kardashian analogy leaps to mind.)
There are a couple out in the market but the sous vide I decided on is the Joule because Rose once said, “Joule love it. Joule be pleased by how good your food turns out.” I totally made that up. That never happened because Rose is far too awesome to use silly puns.
The best thing about Joule is how fool proof and reliable it is. I have cooked at least a dozen or so ribeyes this way and they have turned out perfectly each and every time. I have also cooked chicken thighs and results, same. The only thing I’m not crazy about is how there is no status indicator on the Joule itself, you need to look at your mobile device to check your food’s progress. But that small inconvenience is a first world problem that you can overlook.
No detailed recipes here because Joule is probably smarter than you and me. All I do is tell Joule how thick the ribeye is, whether it’s frozen or thawed and how done I want that steak. Joule does the rest.
- Marinate your ribeye
- Place in a vacuum sealed bag or gallon resealable Glad bags
- Immerse your vacuum sealed bag in a container tall enough to fully submerge your bag.
- If you’re using resealable bags, clip it to the side of your container to make sure no water seeps in
- Program your Joule and sous vide to desired doneness.
- Brown steak in a cast iron skillet or pan to give it that seared and crispy outside
- Enjoy your perfectly cooked, tender steak.
When I moved out of my parents’ home and into my own apartment about 10 minutes away–it was more of a statement than anything else–I bought my first cookbook LaBelle Cuisine and attempted the buffalo wings. I forgot to tell my then lactose intolerant boyfriend Pru that it was coated in butter and Tabasco sauce and so he spent many hours realizing that fact in the bathroom. I was remorseful. My second attempt was the homemade BBQ sauce because of my love for all things sweet and fatty at the time, many years and 50 pounds ago. My love for cooking was born and I never looked back. My still lactose intolerant husband Pru happily participates as guinea pig who gives feedback and comments freely on improvements needed.
Today, I collect cookbooks more for the beautiful, colorful pictorials and the sweet smell of a newly cracked book and tactile sensation of flipping actual pages–all things missing from Googling recipes.
This awesome BBQ sauce is adapted from Miss Labelle’s version and my introduction to the wonder that is liquid smoke.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon hot red pepper sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
For the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, hot pepper sauce, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, stirring often to avoid scorching, for 15 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the liquid smoke. Use immediately or cool completely, cover and refrigerate.
*Note: I’ve been known to use and keep a bottle in my fridge for months, though the recipe originally indicates to keep for 5 days. No one has been the wiser.
So this doesn’t look like much.
But I guarantee you that it’s the simplest thing you’ll make and probably one of the more delicious meals you’ll cook up in your dinner in 15-minutes or less repertoire.
I sampled my first garlic noodles at PPQ Dungeness Island and I was wowed by the perfect combination of sweet and savory and I could swear there was probably some crab fat embedded in there, it tasted so rich and creamy. It was served alongside roasted garlic crab and both were so good, my eyes rolled back momentarily in my head. A family sized serving will run about 7-8$. Think I made mine for $2 since I had all the ingredients on hand, except for the fresh noodles.
Incidentally, my preferred brand is Golden World as they most closely approximate the ones I’ve had at PPQ.
You’ll have to reach into your inner Asian or go to the nearest Ranch 99 to procure some fish sauce, oyster sauce and Maggi seasoning. Or most well stocked Safeways and Albertson’s carry them in their ethnic aisle. Look away from the jarred pig ears.
And that thing that didn’t start out as much, turns into:
Roasted Garlic and Crab Noodles
Furikake Salmon and Garlic Noodles
- 1 lb bag of Gold World noodles
- 3/4 stick of butter’
- 6 cloves of minced garlic (or more if you prefer a more intense garlicky taste)
- 4-5 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoons of garlic power
- 1 tablespoon of Maggi seasoning
- 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
- Parmesan or Pecorino Romano grated
Boil noodles according to directions. Saute garlic in butter, careful not to burn, for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients so flavors meld, for about 10 minutes on low heat. Toss garlic butter mixture in hot noodles and serve immediately.
I love food trucks. I love me some good food. But I’m over paying $9 for a burrito and $5 for a creme brulee served in a cup the size of a muffin. I’m done. I know. I know. Said creme brulee would go for twice that in a restaurant. But guess what? Calling it Off the Grid and making me eat my food while sitting in a parking lot of Scareamonte mall on hard plastic chairs that stagger at the weight of my considerable arse in the cold summer that is Daly City–I’m thinking $5 is a tad overpriced.
Enter: keepingiteel.com, a blog dedicated to recreating recipes one food truck at a time! Or maybe one casual dining recipe at a time. Or maybe I’m just jealous of all the food pics my Asian peeps post and I will google the menu and break down each of the elements of that recipe and figure it out here.
Meanwhile, enjoy a preview of the Vietnamese Eggroll…