Sunday, April 27, 2014

Meeting Alan Adler - My Rockstar Moment at SCAA 2014

For the last two days, I've been wandering the Washington State Convention Center enjoying the sights, smells and tastes of the Specialty Coffee Association of America's 2014 Event.  The entire spectrum of specialty coffee is represented here, from growers to roasters, cafes to food processing and packaging companies, repair parts to purveyors of tea. But I ran into Alan Adler, the inventor and designer of the Aeropress coffee maker.

I was first introduced to Alan's products when I got an Aerobie for Christmas during my childhood. If you're not familiar with the Aerobie, it was a bright orange, unique ring shaped frisbee that could be easily thrown long distances.

Fast forward to a few years ago, and I got more and more into coffee. While I really love espresso, I've always been interested in how I can get excellent coffee while hiking, another one of my passions. While learning about different methods to make coffee, I read about the Aeropress in online forums.  I'll admit, I was a bit of a skeptic that something as simple as that could make great coffee.

Fast forward a few more years, when I had stopped telecommuting and worked in an office in downtown Seattle (read: no longer working at home with my espresso machine), I was getting fed up with the coffee provided in the work kitchen. Yeah, even though I work in the coffee mecca of the Northwest and have more than 5 excellent cafe's within blocks of my workplace, the coffee in the office just wasn't very good.

One of my co-workers had an Aeropress and he made me a cup of coffee one day. He was deliberate about it, carefully measuring the water temperature, brew time and the amount of water. And the little plastic plunger coffee maker really did make excellent coffee.

I was hooked. A low price, easily portable coffee maker that makes great coffee.  Thoughts of fresh brewed coffee while backpacking were going through my head and I bought one. I make coffee almost every work day with my Aeropress and bring it home with me on the weekends. I've even found the cafe that will sell beans and grind them for me.

So, back to SCAA 2014. When I was walking through the Expo Hall, I was totally excited to see Alan Adler at the Aeropress booth. I even got my wife to snap our picture while I was having my geek out, meeting a rock star moment.

While chatting with Alan, he shared that his preferred Aeropress brew method was straight up, which is neat because all of the people of I know use the inverted method.  He also keeps the brew time to a minimum. I'm going to have to try the straight up technique next time.

He wouldn't share what his next big thing was, but he did assure me that there were ideas on the burners!

Who are the rock stars that you'd want to meet that reveal what kind of a geek you are?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Alone with a bunch of Strawberries

My wife is attending the Disney Social Media Mom's conference this week; she left on Wednesday. The youngest two kids are on spring break and at Disneyland too, and on Friday, their brother joined them.

Heather went to Costco on Monday and bought a big container of strawberries, so its just me and a bunch of strawberries that need to be eaten before they spoil. Usually, in our house of five, with snacks and school lunches, the strawberries would just disappear.  But with only two of us for half of the week, our consumption rate slowed significantly.

But I came up with a simple and quick way to make a strawberry smoothie!

I don't like watered down drinks and so a smoothie with ice just isn't as smooth, but sliced strawberries freeze quickly and provide that cold iciness and a banana provides the smoothness.

They don't look it from this picture, but those are frozen strawberries. I cored them and then sliced them, just before we sat down and they froze while we ate dinner.  The banana was in the freezer too, but they take a little longer to freeze - at least it was cold when I threw it in the blender.

I used some almond milk for liquid, but coconut milk would probably be a good choice too. Or if you're feeling really like clean eating, make your own almond milk.

Quick Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Makes about 2 16 ounce glasses

2 good handfuls of strawberries
1 banana
dash of vanilla extract
about 1 cup almond milk


  1. Wash, core and slice the strawberries. Arrange on a plate and put in the freezer.
  2. Put a banana in the freezer.
  3. Let them freeze for 15 - 30 minutes.
  4. Once you're ready, scrape the strawberries into your blender. 
  5. Peel and slice the banana in 1/2" slices into the blender.
  6. Add a dash of vanilla extract and about 1 cup of almond milk.
  7. Blend until smooth.
  8. Divide the smoothie among your glasses and enjoy!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Leftover egg whites? Make meringues and coconut macaroons!

Earlier in the week, my wife made mayonnaise from scratch and we had leftover egg whites. A bunch of them.  When we had left over egg whites before, one of my friends on Facebook suggested that I make meringues.  So, some quick Google searches led me to Elana's Pantry where I found both a meringue recipe and a coconut macaroon recipe. Her website has lots of gluten free, grain free, dairy free and paleo recipes, so its a great resource for my cooking adventures.

Both recipes are easy to make only require a few ingredients. The macaroons were quick to make and quick to bake. I'm an early riser, so they were prepared and baked before everybody else was awake.  My idea was to make them for dessert tonight.

While they were cooling on the counter, the rest of my family started to wake up. "I only made 10 macaroons, that's two for each of us for dessert.  If you eat them before, then there are less for you for dessert."

It's 5pm as I write this and four macaroons have been eaten, one of them even for breakfast.

It was kind of awesome because I made new friends on the internet today and inspired me to make the meringues too.
We traded some tweets, shared the links to Elana's pantry and after CrossFit, I made meringues too.  They're easy to make, egg whites and maple syrup, but they take two hours to bake, and then an hour to cool.

They're in the oven and I've already been asked twice by the kids if they really take two hours to bake. Hopefully, this will turn out well and help teach the kids patience and that paleo desserts can be good. With the kids on spring break, they usually turn their idleness into cookie baking. Like octupling  the cookie recipe.  Maybe my treats can satisfy them for a bit.

Heather kept thinking I was making French macarons with all the egg white beating I was doing.  Those take a little more work, but I might try this recipe sometime when I'm feeling a little more ambitious in my cooking!

So there's still an hour to go on the meringues. I think I'm going to go drizzle chocolate on the coconut macaroons!  I hope you had a good weekend!