Category Archives: Food and Drink

Morning Coffee

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The Saturday routine: Sleep in, walk up to a local cafe for coffee and scones, check in on the chicken coop in the garden at the local middle school, sit for a while in a sunny spot and maybe read a little bit of the paper, throw and/or kick the ball for The Dog, then go home.

Once we’re back in the door, it’s time for more coffee. Fill the kettle, heat the water, grind the beans, rinse out and warm up the carafe, put a filter into the filter cone, dump the ground coffee into the cone. If I’m on top of things, I’ll turn off the heat under the kettle before it quite gets to a boil. I excavate a little pit in the center of the dry grounds before pouring the first hot water in–just enough to wet the grounds. After things have steamed off for maybe 15 seconds or so–I won’t go into the “why” of all this, because I’m not sure whether I’m dealing with culinary science of kitchen superstition–then I thoroughly wet the grounds. Between five and ten minutes later, depending on how much I’m making, I’ll have a pot of coffee to dispense.

I had taken the camera out this morning to shoot with the new macro lens. I noticed the bubbles both in the filter as a I started to brew the coffee and in the cups when I poured the first of the finished brew. What got my attention in the images was the reflection of the kitchen skylight on the surface of the bubbles. In the filter, the bubbles show an iridescent sheen–I’m guessing from the oil in the coffee; that iridescence is mostly absent from the filtered brew, but you notice that many of the bubbles seem to have a second, mirror image of the skylight reflection.

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Coffee

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I have my coffee in the morning with a little half-and-half in it. I’ll almost always drink more than a cup. I’ll almost always leave a cup with maybe an inch of coffee in the bottom. I’ll walked away and forget it as I get ready to walk the dog or begin my very roundabout preparationsto leave for work. I’ll throw the cold coffee in the sink, rinse it away, and put the cup in the dishwasher. But occasionally, before I do that, I’ll notice a pattern on the cold coffee’s surface. The fat I’ve poured into the liquid (mostly fat, anyway), has arrayed itself into something of a star shape or maybe a coffee flower — spokes radiating from a center. I feel certain that someone in some physics lab somewhere (or maybe someplace more humble, like a high school chemistry class) has explained this. I guess I need to go find that someone.

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Road Blog: Mendocino Vineyard

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Back home in Berkeley tonight. But at noontime today, we stopped on our way south at Toulouse, a vineyard and winery along Highway 128 in Mendocino County. We went into the tasting room and bought some wine, then walked up through the vineyards briefly. One bird note: We see robins down here, of course. They’re everywhere, right? But up at Toulouse today, their presence was a little more than we see around the city. hundreds if not thousands of robins filled trees around the harvested vineyards. Checking one Mendocino birding site, the county seems to be a major wintering locale for American robins (Turdus migratorius; yes, “Turdus”; it’s Latin for “thrush”; you know there’s a whole story about why it’s called “robin,” but some of us can’t stay up all night to tell it).

A general explanation for the robin swarm around the vineyards comes from Cornell’s Birds of North America: “The diet of the robin is … highly variable, changing from primarily soft invertebrates, especially earthworms, in spring and summer, to primarily fruit in autumn and winter. During the nonbreeding season, large flocks of hundreds or thousands of immature and adult birds migrate to lower elevations and latitudes, where they form roosting aggregations from which they track sources of berries.” Cornell also notes that the robin is a relatively recent arrival in much of California west of the Sierra foothills, not pushing into other parts of the state until irrigation and well-watered lawns (and thus a richer supply of earthworms near the surface) made it possible for the bird to extend its range. And one more note from that Mendocino County site: robins (and some other abundant songbirds) are favored prey of some raptors (peregrine falcons and sharp-shinned hawks, among others).

The sound of the birds near the vineyard was remarkable enough I recorded some audio and will try to post that later.

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Filed under Current Affairs, Food and Drink, Science, Travel

Road Blog: Mendocino Vineyard

toulouse120411.jpg

Back home in Berkeley tonight. But at noontime today, we stopped on our way south at Toulouse, a vineyard and winery along Highway 128 in Mendocino County. We went into the tasting room and bought some wine, then walked up through the vineyards briefly. One bird note: We see robins down here, of course. They’re everywhere, right? But up at Toulouse today, their presence was a little more than we see around the city. hundreds if not thousands of robins filled trees around the harvested vineyards. Checking one Mendocino birding site, the county seems to be a major wintering locale for American robins (Turdus migratorius; yes, “Turdus”; it’s Latin for “thrush”; you know there’s a whole story about why it’s called “robin,” but some of us can’t stay up all night to tell it).

A general explanation for the robin swarm around the vineyards comes from Cornell’s Birds of North America: “The diet of the robin is … highly variable, changing from primarily soft invertebrates, especially earthworms, in spring and summer, to primarily fruit in autumn and winter. During the nonbreeding season, large flocks of hundreds or thousands of immature and adult birds migrate to lower elevations and latitudes, where they form roosting aggregations from which they track sources of berries.” Cornell also notes that the robin is a relatively recent arrival in much of California west of the Sierra foothills, not pushing into other parts of the state until irrigation and well-watered lawns (and thus a richer supply of earthworms near the surface) made it possible for the bird to extend its range. And one more note from that Mendocino County site: robins (and some other abundant songbirds) are favored prey of some raptors (peregrine falcons and sharp-shinned hawks, among others).

The sound of the birds near the vineyard was remarkable enough I recorded some audio and will try to post that later.

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Filed under Current Affairs, Food and Drink, Science, Travel