Friday, January 25, 2013

Home Coffee Roasting 2.0

After, before and last night's roast

OK, I'm getting a little better at this. After the first try, I switched from using a metal colander/pasta strainer, wooden spoon and the stove top to using a small sauce pan, whisk and my camp stove and I'm getting much better results. The past two nights' roasts have been great. I'm very happy with the results.

I turn the stove on a higher heat level, let the pan warm up, measure out my beans in my cooling colander and then pour them in once it's had a chance to warm up. I whisk the beans constantly until they are roasted evenly and then pour them into a small metal colander to cool. Stirring frequently there, as well to cool them and blow away the husks.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Prodigal Canoe Returns

The Prodigal Canoe has returned.

Actually, there's nothing extravagant about this canoe. I bought it for $50 about six years ago. And the only reckless thing about it was me giving it away about two years later.

The summer I bought The Viking Ship (nick-named, due to it's 17'x36" size), my wife and I paddled it enough that it earned it's keep. But when I got the wooden boat building bug, I handed it off to make room. Also, we were expecting a baby and I didn't see a whole lot of canoeing in our immediate future and figured it would get more use on someone else's car roof.

James River/Springfield Lake

James River/Springfield Lake

Finley River

Finley River

Mermaid on the bow - James River/Springfield Lake

Finley River

James River/Springfield Lake

A lot has changed in our lives since I gave it away. We now have a four-year-old, the ol' yella' hound in the pics has gone to the great tennis ball fetching grounds in the sky and I've become a little handier at making noise in the garage.

Bringing the canoe back home should allow me to get the family out on some slower moving local rivers this spring and maybe do some long lake passages if I rig it for rowing like I'm kicking around. But, first order of business, epoxy patch the leaks.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Home Roasted Coffee

I need another hobby like I need another hole in my head, but here I am attempting another obscure interest. I bought two pounds of green coffee beans from the Sweet Maria's website and they arrived on Monday. Last night I had my first very smokey roasting experience.

Green coffee that I received in the mail yesterday.

I ordered one pound of Kenyan and one pound of Costa Rican. The small batch I roasted last night was of the Kenyan. It came out a little on the dark roast side, I need to stop the roast just prior to where I think it needs to be. The beans continue to roast after you pull them from the flame.

First batch of home roasted coffee

What I used to roast them was a metal pasta strainer, a wooden spoon and my gas stove top. I don't recommend doing this inside like I did. It produced a lot of smoke. Next time I'll be using my camp stove in the garage and maybe a small pan and whisk, stirring constantly. Hoping to get this down well enough to attempt on camping, canoeing, kayaking and sailing trips.

The verdict on the dark roasted stuff was good. My wife and I enjoyed a cup straight off the stove last night and this morning after the beans had some time to vent a bit. Once I get the process down better, I hope to get a more even roast and an idea of where exactly to stop the process for optimum taste.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Piney Creek Wilderness (Photo Intensive)

This past weekend, my friends Brian D., Darren G. and I camped out in Cape Fair, Missouri and day-hiked Piney Creek Wilderness, close to Shell Knob. My dog Maggie and Darren's dog Ida joined in the fun.

Friday, on the way down, we stopped for some health food at E's Inn in Republic, Missouri. Can't start a camping weekend on an empty stomach.

Stopped at E's Inn on the way out of town.

We got down to Brian's church friend's property in Cape Fair about 7:30-8pm. Got a fire going and relaxed a bit. Here I am playing with my new Mora camp toy... I mean knife.

New Mora camp knife

Breakfast Saturday morning.

Darren, Brian and I

Newly built camp box in action

Then time to hit the trail, about 15-20 minutes drive from camp.

trail marker

starting out

Hiking a ridge

Mossy tree

rough trail

Honeylocust tree Hawthorne

The dogs had a blast. Ida (white) and Maggie (black).

Ida and Maggie

Piney Creek creek

Checking out ice formations along the creek.

Darren and Ida


Ice formations

Me, Darren and Brian

The creek emptied out onto a dry area of lake bed. Since Table Rock Lake was down quite a bit, it left an open stretch of frozen muddy bog land.

creek/lake bed


Darren and Brian


I couldn't get a decent shot of the two bald eagles overhead, but I did manage to capture the daytime moon over the hillside.

Moon over the hillside

Darrena and Brian

Creek on a receded lakebed

Lunch, lakeside.

Me and Brian

Me, Brian and Darren

Not quite "leave no trace", but...

Left for the next to discover

Lots of muscle shells in the area.

Muscle shell

Darren, high and dry, me, not quite so much. The ground was only solid in the shade. I found that out the hard way.

Darren, high and dry

My muddy feet

Old chairs, a possible eagle nest and a horseshoe in a hawthorne tree.


Possible eagle nest. We was two flying nearby.

Thrown shoe

I got to test out my iPhone's macro lens attachment a bit.

Pine needles

Small rattling bell-shaped seeds

Grain of some kind

Not sure what this is

Berries, probably poisonous, since they were still available. The trail in the lowlands was pretty nice, but really went vertical on the way out. We followed the Lake Trail down, then the Firetower Trail out.




The wee Maggie

Darren and dogs


Just before the trail's end, we came across some possible homestead or other building remnants. What looked like a cistern or cellar.


Leftover from a homestead


Darren and the firetower,under the moon.

Firetower and the moon


Piney Creek Signage

Then back to camp and dinner. I broke out some homebrew cider and Brian heated up beef barley stew he made earlier in the week. We sat around the Caveman TV BS-ing.

Homebrew cider and caveman TV

Beef barley soup

Caveman TV

Up Sunday morning for some relaxing fireside and breakfast. Since we were so close to town, we took our time breaking camp and getting around.

There's a dog in there somewhere

There she is!


in camp

Sunday brunch


All-in-all, a great trip. Nothing too difficult, but we're all in our 40's now and two of us have desk jobs. Just happy to be outside. I know I was tired and nearly useless when I got home and the dog spent the rest of the day like this, curled on the couch.

Maggie, crashed on the couch when we got home. Dog-tired.

Thanks again to Brian D. and Darren G. (and Ida dog) for heading off the woods, once again. We've been doing this for almost or about 15 years. Hopefully we'll be doing it for another 15.