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Monday, August 4, 2014

At the Grind: Meat & Coffee

Ok, so here's the deal with summertime in Pullman the second time around: It. is. Boring! Especially when our friends are on vacation and Rob's lab is closed and the gym is closed and shouldn't I be at a beach somewhere? (Answer: Yes, yes I should, but we are out of vacation time. Thanks a lot, wedding!)

It was nice back in May when all the college kids moved out off campus and left about 100 of us townies behind. Driving through frat row from work to school, I saw bro-hugs while Mom waited in the car, and couches being loaded into pickup trucks much too small for them and had these weird pangs of envy-disgust where I wanted to be those kids heading out of there but ugh! That couch looks so dirty and did they really just sit on that all year.

As usual, we've taken solace in the kitchen. There are lots of new toys to keep us occupied, and I think our new favorite is the meat grinder attachment. (Thanks a lot, wedding!)

We used this thing to grind up the chuck for burgers, and then again to make some killer sausage with a pork loin about the size of Rob's torso. We baked half of it for slicin' in the new meat slicer and ground up the rest with apples and garlic. 

It's fun to get the mise-en-place all set up before you push it through the first round. Who ever said you shouldn't watch them make the sausage?

Anyway, from what I understand about meat grinding, you're supposed to be a purist for the first two rounds, then you add on the salt and herbs after that. 

We like to make a mix of patties and meatballs, keep some refrigerated and freeze the rest. It's nice to have on hand for things like a quick pasta dish. Like this quick and easy spaghetti adapted from Cooking Light! (Can they just hire me to make their recipes better already?) See the original, not-as-good recipe here

Spaghetti with Parsley & Basil Pesto and Homemade Sausage

  • 1 lb spaghetti 
  • As much garlic-apple sausage that looks right
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and coarsely chopped
  • About 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Handful of basil leaves 
  • Lemon juice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add pasta to pan, and cook 8 minutes or until almost al dente. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Discard the remaining cooking liquid.
  2. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add Italian sausage to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan, reserving drippings; drain on paper towels. Add garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add pasta to pan; cook 1 minute, tossing to combine. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine about 2 tablespoons cheese (I just put in a whole hunk), parsley and basil leaves in a food processor; process until finely ground. With motor running, add remaining 1/4 cup cooking liquid, olive oil and lemon juice; process until smooth. Add parsley mixture and salt to pasta; toss well to coat. Divide pasta mixture evenly among 4 shallow bowls; top evenly with sausage. Serve with grated Parmesan.

Okay, so here's the other thing I'm working at perfecting, and I'm sorry about the double entendre title but its TRUE I'm fiddling with coffee these days. 

It's been in the 100s here every day and too hot for hot coffee anymore. Plus, it gets nasty in the thermos after awhile. So I've turned to cold brewing.

There are a few different variations online but you know how it pisses me off when recipes require strange measurements for a normal French press or weird filtering equipment. What's the point of these recipes? Why are we bothering to brew 1 cup of coffee overnight? It doesn't make sense.

On the other hand, I think it is important to use high-quality ingredients. Get good coffee and use cold, filtered water. It matters.

Here's what I've come up with:

Cold Brew Coffee in a Regular French Press Without Dumb Filtering Equipment

  • 2/3 cup freshly ground coffee
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 small can condensed milk
  • Almond milk


Grind up 2/3 cups of your favorite coffee. Cover with cold water. Let it sit at room temperature overnight.

Push down and pour the goods into a container. Save enough to fill ice cub tray about halfway. Finish the cubes with regular water. Trust me!! Now your iced coffee won't get too watery and it won't make you too jittery. 

Do this a few more times, if you can. You'll want to stock up.

Add a few spoonfuls of the condensed milk. I'm guessing the entire container would be good if you had maybe a gallon of coffee. Use a little at a time and shake it up. The coffee should be lightly brown and chocolatey looking.

Fill a reusable cup (you care about the environment, right?) with the half-coffee ice you made. Top with 3/4 of the condensed milk coffee and finish with enough almond milk to drape around the coffee luxuriously before you mix it together with your metal straw. Because you care about the environment! You said so.


It also tastes really good in Mason jars on the go. Perhaps on a Sunday going rock climbing at the Snake River? Because all those college kids will be back before ya know it, ruining it for the rest of us.

Dang lousy kids. 

I hope they get a better couch this year.

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