A bit late: The semi-sloppy cold-brew showdown

Earlier this summer, in favour of not procrastinating any more than I had so far, I thought I'd make a challenge for myself, with a clear deadline; 24 hours. So I did it! I kept that deadline! But... that was seven weeks ago and I've been dragging out writing this post anyways... Let's just move on and do it even though all you basic bishes (me) out there are already planning your pumpkin spices lattes. *stares at pumpkin in garden*

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Intro to a probably way too long post about coffee

In the rather singular event that any of you, my dear readers, would be this interested in coffee and its chilled companion that you actually get through all of this text (I'm not getting paid by the word, sometimes I'm just like this, sorry), I will let it be known that I appreciate the attention and I would like to inform you that I did this for you.

Yes. Not for me, not for the two other coffee-guzzlers in my household. Especially and assuredly not for my lazy side that wanted to find a better way of sifting the magical brew for a week's worth of always ready coffee. I did it for you. Accusing me of having a personal interest in how to get away easier with the quite tedious assignment of sifting five liters of coffee through paper filters that jam extraordinarily fast would be unfair. Are you calling me lazy because I do not want to spend three and a half hours every week slobbering with coffee grounds all over the kitchen? Do you not want me to be happy?!


Cold-brew the right way?

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Because I'm trash-fancy like that, so far I've made my cold-brew coffee with regular brew coffee. We all know, (okay, just us who have googled it a little too much perhaps), that apart from all the other minutiae about water temperature etc, the coffee nerds think you should use a coarser ground coffee to steep your energy tincture the proper way.

One of my main gripes with this method has so far been 1; that going to a coffee retailer in Sweden to buy a coarser ground coffee would cost my non-existent first born plus taxes per half a pound of coffee and that 2; If I were to buy whole beans, I would have to grind the beans myself and this means that I probably would have to buy a burr grinder that would scream at me furiously during use, to then break after a few months, leaving me with a useless appliance as a sad reminder of today's capitalist consumer-driven market.

But wait!

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Cue; The manual grinder. No electricity used. No bits to fall helplessly apart after doing what the appliance is actually made to do. It's just two pieces of metal with a lever and a box underneath. I wished for one for Christmas. I can grind coffee in it and heaps of other stuff. Like.. spices. And a crayon or two. Great! Now that I had one of those, I could TRY GRINDING A COARSER GRIND MYSELF! Cue life-supporting experiments, ya'll!

So I did try and grind the coffee needed for a liter of coffee in that little box with the lever. It took hours. Literally hours. I watched the entire Godzilla movie from 2014 and got like.. a third of what I needed. Doesn't bode well for the convenience of that method...

You've made cold-brew for years without a fancier grind. What gives?

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A MESS!

The problem with my regular method is... sifting regular ground cold coffee through paper filters, is a real bummer. And I mean a real bummer. It’s nothing like hot coffee happily running through the filters into the pot, offering itself to your longing palate. It takes hours, changing filters and messing around with different containers. "But why not just settle with the more permeable built-in filter that you have on your coffee maker then, Ellet?" you say. Because I happily tried that and it lets a lot more silt through and it affects the taste. *waves gourmet palate hand* Having properly sifted cold brew versus kind of sloppy, silty cold brew, makes a world of a difference with the actual taste of the coffee and when you make it, you're stuck with that batch for like eight days. It's like if I allow the silt to tag along into the fridge, it corrupts the spirit of the coffee. Like hanging out with someone that has a little grudge against you, and you low-key can tell. It just ruins the good mood, man.

Why not iced coffee, that's so much easier!

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From what I understand, most people drink iced coffee, aka hot brewed coffee chilled over ice, milk or whatever. When I made my first round of iced coffee in 2014, trembling with the few little fucks I had left to give about surviving the blistering summer heat, I had to drench that shit in sugar and milk to make it passable at all. I couldn't understand why people were going wild about that bitter reminder that we're all are born into suffering. I clearly remember it to this day. That morning included 29C/85F winds already when I got up at 8 AM and then I had to fight a blackbird that had fallen down our chimney and gotten caught in our fireplace and get it out without hurting or killing the bird, or me, in the process. When I returned to the coffee making and sampled the ghastly concoction, I remember giving up and going back to bed for a few more hours. It was that bad.

A few weeks later I followed the cold-brew rabbit hole deeper and made my first round of the real stuff.

I made it from regular brewing coffee steeped overnight in the fridge and it tasted lovely! Mixed with milk and a dose of sweetened condensed milk, it was now a staple in my summertime household!


"Yeah yeah, but after all this, is coarse grind cold-brew worth sacrificing my first-born for? I mean, I've raised that kid for ten years now and that investment isn't ditched easily”

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So, I decided to actually find out and set up a sampling fest that I forced three companions to try with me.

  • Regular ground coffee ratio 1:5 coffee/water, 12 hours.

  • Coarser ground coffee, ratio 1:5 coffee/water, 24 hours.

  • Coarser ground coffee, ratio 1:10 coffee/water in case I want to drink it just like it is (you usually cut the concentrate 50/50 with milk/etc), for 24 hours.

I had earlier made coffee 1:5, coarse grind, and steeped that for 12 hours and found that it didn't suit my fancy. It tasted like I would imagine the ocean tasting when you're keen for a real fine cold glass of water. Therefore I opted for the 24 hour-steep for the coarser ones in my spectacularly professional taste test.

Result: Both the coarser ground samples tasted more like hot coffee, but with a bitterness that the 12-hour regular grind coffee didn't have.

The unanimous result;

All four of us that tested the different samples preferred the regular-ground brewing coffee,
steeped for a mere 12 hours.

And there we have it!

Somewhat happy that I don't need to get a burr grinder that will scream and break on me, and somewhat sad that I have to keep on sifting that shit through paper filters, I will continue making my cold brew with regular coffee maker-coffee. And I will sift it. For hours. And hours. And it's gonna be worth it.

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Yes. We have an entire shelf with just condiments. I know.

A hint of sunshine before we go: A potential method that I realised though; Keep pouring that coffee into the filter as long as you have something to pour and don't let it settle because it will jam. When I tried this, it brought a little more silt into the end coffee than I wanted, but I managed to filter a lot more before it seemed to jam! Pray for me peeps, pray for me.

*staring at the decimated amount of coffee in the fridge*
*stares at me in the mirror*
*stares at the other two consumers in the household*
*sweat breaks*

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The jelly maker

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I had a short bout with jelly years ago, bravely stepping into the ongoing bird-feast that was our rowan berry trees, fighting off the feathery party while trying to get ahold of two pounds of rowan berries before the birds ate them all in a delirious six day-long noisy binge that started shortly before the crack of dawn and kept going until the dark settled itself over the plains of Västergötland, Sweden.

I also made jalapeno jelly once, being lured in by the thought of devouring it with crackers and brie. While the jelly itself tasted lovely, according to the one who ate it, the process of boiling jalapenos together with sugar and vinegar for an hour made my then-husband flee our home two hours early for work because he couldn't stand the smell of rotting sports socks. I bravely stood my ground only because I'd already started the whole thing, I couldn't just give up in the middle of it even though I really, really, really wanted to.

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So yeah it smelled equally bad this time. But it tastes good!

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Rowan trees before the feasting

Now, rowan berries grow on trees and get eaten by birds at such a rate that their oncoming doom doesn't bother me really, but lately, I've found myself staring out of my window onto three shrubs lighting up in red, feeling the angst of having edible stuff go bad on me. Between our residential garden and the cottage's, we have six shrubs of red currants, and three with black currants, all intensely yeildy.

On top of that, we were three brave souls who tried BBQing and tasting three of the 60 Padron chilies we've been growing, and all three BURNED OUR FACES OFF. "One in ten is hot so beware!" my ass! I'm no stranger to heat, but those little green fuckers packed a punch. My gums stung for 10 minutes afterward. Clearly not edible as is or even with cream cheese, we had to do something else with them. We have jalapenos maturing too. Everything at once!

Now, I know that this is the way it works. No yield, nothing, nope, not yet, not quite, OKAY NOW ALL THE THINGS. That knowledge didn't stop me from becoming overcome with edibles and not having a real clue what to make out of them. A bunch of sweet cherries ended up in the freezer, and a bag of red currants joined them.

So what the hell do we do now?

Well, we make jelly. Lots of it. Lots and lots of it.

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I mean, my 98% vegetarian stature knows that currant jellies go best with a roast, potatoes and a creamy sauce, but I'm doing it anyway. Firstly because it's necessary not to spoil everything out in the garden, and secondly because making jelly is SO. MUCH. FUN.

I can't explain it. Pick berries for hours, unknowingly stick your hands into spider's nests and have to brush off earwigs, boil the berries and then juice the mess and then tip two pounds of sugar into the juice and let it boil, skim endlessly and make all these awkward steps of sterilizing jars and making sure there's a vacuum in said jars and hope it's not all gonna spoil because you're terrible at sterilizing stuff as a newbie, having sticky jelly everywhere and your socks stick to the kitchen floor in the same spot for days because sugar is terrible to drop on the floor but then just look at the jars of semi-clear jelly (because I can't help myself but to squeeze the pulp, hee hee) and feel so content with your doing. Like you've been working magic when it's all mostly just you doing the same thing as any housewife like, ever.

Even A, who spent a traumatizing amount of time picking berries from the very same bushes as a teenager on the demand of his mother, willingly joined in and reflected on the soothing, therapeutic nature of the activity.

So we're making jelly. Red currant jelly, black currant jelly, rowan berry jelly, jalapeno, and padron chili jelly, you name it. When the time is right, I'm even gonna make champagne jelly because I've wanted to try it out for so long! And glögg jelly for that Christmassy trifle. And cola jelly! And... If you don’t hear from me again, I’m stuck to the kitchen floor.

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What I've eaten lately

Yeah, so I needed an excuse to post images of food because I like posting pictures of food even though I'm in no way unique nor really creative or even cook very much, and... well I'm doing it okay? Okay! Good!

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If you love garlic and haven’t tried grilling and smoking garlic in a little olive oil on the BBQ, DO IT NOW. I’ll wait. SO good.

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We tried the white version of our favourite bubbly, Haute Couture rosé. The blanc is meh. The pink is so good, and apparently suits a surprising amount of people’s tastes (source: Going around offering it to 40 people and most gladly accepted refills)!

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BBQ with halloumi and fancy sea salt in a little ceramic pot my mom made in 1972 crowns the food table.

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I tried out my chocolate molds while I made whole coffee beans covered in 70% dark chocolate for the person in the household that doesn’t bathe in cold brew every day, aka my partner. They’re quite nice but leave a serious coffee breath, beware!

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I also made my favourite… bun… cake? Swedish buttercake. It’s like seriously moist cinnamon rolls with cardamom, filled with vanilla cream. Recipe here, in Swedish. I’m sure you can translate it if it tickles your fancy.

Considering how much I love eating, I should cook more. Maybe I should cook more. Hmm.

Okay, so I made oat bars

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You know how you just suddenly crave oats? No? Okay…

Ahem.

Well, you know how you just loathe everyday cooking and you’ve promised your boyfriend that you won’t eat any candy but you want to and realize that there’s a solution to both your problems? A magical way of circumferencing that big block of candy-denial that is the man that keeps on showing up at your apartment when you’re trying to claw open the chocolate bar in the fridge while trying to find like rocks that are the same weight as chocolate to put into the chocolate packaging for the quick little Indiana Jones-swap in case your he checks your fridge for looting?

Okay, good, now you’re with me!

The step following your clever solution-step is googling “granola bars”. A lot. Because people put the weirdest shit in these, man. Like more butter than oats? Milk? Honey, syrup, sugar AND brown sugar? Seriously? I’m cutting candy so I can avoid diabetes, man. DRIED CRANBERRIES? What are we, savages?

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So when you finally find a recipe that’s like doable with some alterations, it’s half past ten in the evening and you just sort of roll off of the couch and make your dullest late-Saturday-night shopping ever, consisting of seeds, dried prunes and white chocolate. It could mislead you to believe that I don’t have a very exciting life.

Okay, so I don’t. There’s nothing wrong with that!

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After all that strain to rush to the store, I unloaded everything in the kitchen and promptly went to bed, slept for eight hours, and then drank coffee for four hours before I ventured towards the bags of dry things loitering on my stove top. The making of my oat bars were of enough urgency to make me go biking for an hour a Saturday evening… obviously.

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As Toby, who was eliminated in the first episode of season 4 of Great British Bake Off said; “And I have grrrrrated my thumb”. Here in the north, we always sacrifice a smidgeon of blood to make the cooking fulfilling for all parts.

Then about three hours of roasting oats, pouring things into bowls, humming hesitantly, doubting my purpose in life, going through dabs of all forms of sugar in my household, melting chocolate and chopping prunes ensued. What? I complain about cranberries and then use PRUNES? I’m half-Finnish, dude. One of the classic Finnish desserts is a dark brown sludge that exactly resembles sticky chocolate pudding but is merely WHEAT boiled until dead and then you pour a tad of full fat cream on it and remember the olden lands full of bark and darkness. Prunes are true joy, I tell you!

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Raspberry and white chocolate, probably the most popular of the three kinds.

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Prunes and dark chocolate. Gloriously Finnish.

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Chocolate and orange, I totally winged it because there are NO RECIPES on chocolate and orange oat bars that doesn’t contain stupid stuff like bananas or orange concentrate. I pressed one orange’s juices and zested two, that was more than enough to flavour it!

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The oat bars were tried and tested and approved by me and my gastronomical support that approves of everything I cook because that means he doesn’t have to. I still got a ton in the fridge; they’re supposed to last for like two weeks if kept cold. They are indeed a little… healthy tasting inspite of the chocolate and sticky sugaryness that keeps the oats somewhat from falling all over your clothes when you try and eat them, but all in all, they’re a great treat!


Here are the recipes I read and altered after my own silly tastes. The first one is the base for the prune and orange ones, the second is the raspberry and white chocolate one.

Best Dang Granola Bars Ever
Chewy Raspberry Apple Granola Bars (altough I used lemon curd instead of apple sauce because I didn’t have any apple sauce but I did have lemon curd. I’m fancy like that.)

DIY Glögg

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The winds have finally turned. The sweaty, fumbling hands of summer, eagerly trying to get at the little remains of any part of this country’s sweet tender flesh that wasn’t on the brink of bursting into flames seem to finally have released its hunt for us.

Luckily, the slight shivering grip that summer holds on the few remaining survivors, making it unreasonably warm in spite of it being September, isn’t enough to stifle my joy as we’re heading into my favorite part of the year: Autumn, to be followed by Christmas. With the Christmassy scent that wafts through my residence every year in September, I better enjoy it; otherwise it’d just be a massive buzz kill.

Because you see, my fellow internetters, every year when autumn rolls around, I make my own glögg. Of course, the recipe itself isn’t at all unique nor lovingly made by my grandmother’s grandmother to be passed down unto me with a low whisper; “Take care of this piece of history and pass it on to future generations”. No, it was just posted as a classic in a local newspaper in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. I found it while googling. There’s a meaningful back story for ya.

Anyways, in Sweden it’s called glögg, with its internationally more classy cousins glühwein, mulled wine and vin chaud. This version of glögg my friends, is the epitome of rural folksy drunkenness. Taste wise, it’s up there in the fancy lounges, but during the making of it, it’s certainly an ugly duckling.

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In short, all you need are spices, a watered down kind of beverage called “weak drink” (yes, whatever prejudice you have in mind is about correct), potatoes to give that real folky kind of feel, the disgusting wreckages of grapes also known as raisins, sugar and yeast. Sounds delish, right? Now dump all of that together in a classy as fuck plastic bucket (food grade of course) that’s left to ferment at the warmest coziest spot of your dwelling and in four weeks’ time, you’ll be plastered stiff by this magical, red-brownish mishmash of everything that’s enjoyable in Christmas times except for saffron. Don’t worry; I’m sure you can add that later on anyways.

Now, this recipe is quite simple, and I will list it, but I firstly I need to talk about the “weak drink”. The name is pure Swedish-English translation and it’s kind of like... It’s like if you would drink half a can of actual beer and then leave it out overnight, having the classic Swedish night rain fill up the can with water and expel all forms of alcohol in it. I would imagine it tasting pretty close to the weak drink. So I mean, you Americans out there can just choose your regular beer. BOOM!

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Okay, so now we all know how to MAKE it. But how does it look? Unfortunately, I have to inform you that it is an ugly mess during construction. Your friends will shy away when they see it. You will be thinking “What have I done?”. The only person who won’t actively shy away from the hot, fermentation-fizzy freak of a bucket is that one relative you have who eats just about anything.

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Example of how you could try classying it up a little, because adding a wooden box adds that air of craftmanship. The saying “Lipstick on a pig” could fit here.

But don’t worry. When it’s all said and done, and it’s been left to its own devices for four to six weeks, you ladle off the floaty bits and then punish it by putting it in below freezing temperatures for a while in order for all the swimming bits to sink to the bottom. Then you just hose the clear, beautifully scented glögg into bottles, careful not to get the bottom sludge along, and in tightly shut bottles, it’ll keep for up to three years!

HOME MADE GLÖGG, RECIPE!

Original recipe here.

5 liters of weak drink (watered down beer-ish tasting alcohol free fizzy drink)

5 sliced potatoes

50 grams of fresh yeast for sweet doughs

15 grams of whole cloves

20 grams of cardamom seeds

5 cm’s of fresh ginger, shaved and divided in four pieces

1 cinnamon stick

300-500 grams of raisins

2.5 kilos of sugar

3 dried bits of bitter orange peel (the original recipe is without this)

Mix it all in a ten liter bucket, put saran wrap with poked aeration holes over the top, let sit for 4-6 weeks. If your house is cold, find the warmest spot. I found that under 17C/62F, the fermentation goes into hibernation and we don’t want that!

Clarify with cold or whatever method you like to use. Siphon the cleared glögg without getting the bottom silt with you. Heat up and drink! The Swedish style is with almonds and raisins dropped into it.

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A warning has to go out; if you drink as much as you like of it, the picture above will be a true representation of how you feel, and… see. So, it’s for grown ups to enjoy only. You’ll notice that when you sniff it for the first time and your false lashes pops right off of your face when meeting the warm, surprisingly alcoholic winds of your home made glögg.

Cheers!

A readily slow weekend

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A little Sunday-soused on the red wine I forced out of a leftover bag-in-box from my birthday party, I pulled out the last tray of Finnish Christmas stars out of the oven and put them on the stove. I looked around the kitchen at the post-baking mess and thanked the technology lords for the entity called “a dishwashing machine”.

Now it’s sloshing happily out there in the kitchen while cleaning up my mess with a gentle hand after my, if I may say so myself, quite successful attempt to get my shit together and do some Christmas baking instead of just lying on the couch watching Bones. I realized that I could watch Bones in the kitchen anyway, I have a laptop!

This weekend I’ve only left the apartment in the name of errands, a nice contrast to the previous five weekends that just somehow sort of ended with the spontaneous social consumption of alcoholic beverages and visits at the local meat market, also called “the bar”.

In an Instagram competition, I recently won a book made for singles, “The handbook for singles on the brink of a nervous breakdown (SE)”. Entertained, I’ve reached page 245 but in direct contrast to the quote on the front page “Recognition is total, buy it!” I can conclude that I can in no way identify with the author of the book. The closest thing I can relate is that we’d passed our 30th birthday before we exclaimed “YOLO!” for the first time. The book tells a story very similar Sex and the City and that kind of single life is drastically different to my everyday grind as a single person in my 30’s.

The nearest I’ve been to lumber down cobbled big city streets in stiletto heels, eating fancy dinners at restaurants with French sounding names then drinking a glass of fancy red at Riche while flirting with gorgeous single men, is when V and I celebrated my birthday last year by getting drunk on bubbly at home with my mom and then going to McDonalds in order to keep the worst of the intoxication at bay. Later on, we realized that the place we’d picked for the evening only contained 18-year olds and I’m not quite ready to be a cougar yet.

Hastily we went to a place that takes an entrance fee and I immediately got chatted up be a 40-year old, kind of hot, math teacher. Ah, better. That was a year ago.

But soon it’s Christmas. The season for doing stupid things. Let’s see what happens this year.