Saturday, October 27, 2012

Nothing but Flowers.

In North Fitzroy on the window of a vacant commercial/industrial building.

For those of you not quite old enough to know what this is in reference to, here's David Byrne from Talking Heads.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Ermahgerd I'm in Aida!"

Lately I've taken to looking at the faces of each individual in large group photos. It has proved rewarding/hilarious. In the Opera Australia printed program is the following group shot from Aida where everyone looks serious...

Ermahgerd I'm in Aida!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dandelion root coffee tips

Previously my housemate F, and I went to CERES open day back in July where I enjoyed a dandelion latte at the cafe. It has a pleasant earthy, nutty taste. After that it seemed worthwhile to try making my own dandelion coffee.  I dug up about a bucket's worth of weed, trimmed them back using poultry shears and washed them as throughly as I could, chopped, roasted and food processed them into a coffee like powder. The washing part of the process is the most labour intensive.

Among the countless roots we handled there was this little guy who deserved a close up and is the main reason why you get to read this at all. Other tutorials are sufficient, though after writing this I realise they don't give you exactly the same tips about cleaning. What started out as context for a picture post has become a partial instructional piece.


We had a two person working bee* collecting all of the dandelion we could find to make dandelion coffee. We had decided to reseed the 'lawn' so harvesting dandelion was a byproduct of that process. We made several batches of coffee and found it was slightly less onerous doing it between us. However F no longer finds the smell of it appetising and has not drunk any of it as coffee. More on that later.

After about six or so batches within a week this is what I found to be the best way to clean the roots:

  • Agitating the roots in a bucket of water gives limited results. A sieve or mesh and a hose - over a bucket if you want to collect the water - worked a lot better and used less water.
  • Trim away all trace of stalk and greenery using poultry shears. They're good for fine snipping and wet objects.
  • Wash them in the kitchensink, immersing them in a bowl of water - wear rubber gloves because you're going to be there a while. Use a butterknife to gouge out any fiddly cruddy bits.

I popped online to read a few tutorials and slapped it together based on more than one set of instructions. You could say I followed this one, however this one seems to have some goods ideas that I might try if I/we ever do it again. We used a granite mortar and pestle to grind the later batches for a more even grind and less to clean up. The roasted roots caused some slight scratching to the food processor bowl and discolouration so processing before roasting might be worth exploring. Note that 250F is about 121C ie a cool oven. I made the mistake of thinking that the instructions mentioning 250 degrees in more than one instructional were in celsius and over roasted my first batch. The coffee beverage from that was fine but an unappetising grey!

One bucket - about 10 litres - of untrimmed roots yields about a quarter of a cup of coffee grounds at best. I make dandelion coffee by running it through my stove top coffee pot using similar amounts as I would for regular coffee grounds. It's lovely sweetened with honey. Limit yourself to one cup though because although it's caffiene free, like coffee it can still have a diuretic and a laxative effect.

F made a rum infusion and served it at our party on the weekend in a cocktail. She took a quarter of a cup of dandelion root grounds and infused it for about 3 weeks in a 700ml bottle of light rum. She then strained it using muslin. We came up with the idea of serving it with a melon balled scoop of vanilla icecream in a shot sized glass as a sort of affogato. It was delicious and our guests seemed to enjoy it. This infusion cocktail is recommended only for recreational purposes in responsible amounts - other sites mention similar alcohol infusions for medicinal use by the spoonful.

F writes: 'White rum. 4 shots infusion, 3 shots milk, 1 shot honey water. Shake with ice, put little ice-cream balls in 8 glasses, pour over. Honey water = honey:water 1:1'

*Can it still be called that if it's just two of you?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012