Homemade cornflakes, DIY coffee beans, real hot dogs, slow-fermented miso, crystallized ginger. All made at home without any fancy equipment. And these are just a handful of the projects in the book!
Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It is Karen Solomon's follow-up book to her widely popular Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, and it doesn't disappoint.
Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It takes our DIY home-cooking projects to the next level. There are recipes for pantry staples in here that never in our wildest dreams did we imagine could be made at home without lots of special equipment or fancy techniques. That cornflake breakfast cereal is the perfect example. Homemade chipotles en adobo is another.
Solomon breaks these projects down into their most basic parts, explaining each step or cooking concept clearly and patiently. Something like roasting coffee beans can seem overwhelming to the uninitiated, but Solomon cuts to the chase with easy instructions requiring only a dutch oven and a hot stove. Her recipe head notes often make me laugh out loud and set the tone for the project ahead. (Example: "Go out right now and make friends with people who have a lemon tree. Be nice to them.")
The book has a good mix of projects, too. In addition to the kinds of basic pantry staples already mentioned, we get recipes for Smoke and Chocolate Spice Rub, Plum Catsup, English Muffins, Crunchy Lentil Snacks, and Strawberry Black Pepper Syrup. Whatever your mood, however much time you have, there's guaranteed to be a project here to fit the bill.
This is an excellent book and resource for those of us who've been bitten by the DIY bug. You'll make these recipes again and again, and you'll thank yourself every time.
• Find It! Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It And Other Kitchen Projects by Karen Solomon, $17 on Amazon
Time commitment : about 20 minutes
If you are serious about/obsessed with roasting your own coffee, numerous manufacturers are standing by to take your money for hardcore roasting machinery. Also - much like bong building - coffee roasting seems to lend itself to home hardware hobbyists: look no further than your local laptop to find people hacking popcorn makers and more ("Dude, let me show you my new vacuum cleaner-powered coffee roaster. It's AWESOME!"). For those of you who just want to test the waters and keep it simple, I am happy to report that you need nothing more than a heavy pan, green coffee beans, and a wooden spoon. Oh, and an exhaust fan: coffee is a spitting, steam-producing dragon in the kitchen, and good ventilation is an absolute must. If you can't find green beans at your local health food store, buy them online from SweetMarias.com, CoffeeStoreHouse.com, or a host of other retailers.
8 ounces green coffee beans
Place a large metal bowl in the freezer to chill. Activate your kitchen's best ventilation: open windows and doors, turn on fans—whatever you have. This is a must!
I recommend using an uncovered Dutch oven with a heavy bottom for roasting your beans: the high sides will help reduce the mess from the popping coffee hulls. However, if you don't have one, a cast-iron or other heavy skillet will suffice.
Place the beans in the cold pan, put the pan over medium heat, and start stirring with a sturdy wooden spoon. You will need to stir constantly throughout the entire roasting process: you are trying to keep the heat as even as possible among all of the beans throughout the roast.
After about 5 minutes, the beans will begin to crack and smoke. About 10 minutes more, and the beans will be turning chestnut in color: a very light roast. Ten to fifteen minutes beyond that (30 minutes total), and you'll have a dark, nearly black roast. If you like a medium roast, you'll stop somewhere in the middle. Note that you need to take the beans off the heat a little bit before they turn the color you like: they will continue to roast a little after you stop the cooking process.
Once the beans are just a shade lighter than the color you desire, take them off the heat. They will continue to color slightly until you pour them into the chilled bowl and stir constantly for about 3 minutes. Rotate the bowl to cool down the beans quickly and evenly. Then pour the beans into a colander, place the colander over the bowl, and stir for another minute or so to sift out the flyaway hulls.
Your coffee is ready to be ground and brewed as usual, though it will be much better if you wait until the next day to grind it.
How to Store It The roasted, cooled whole beans can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, and the coffee will be at its best, for up to 2 weeks.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Reprinted with permission from Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It And Other Kitchen Projects by Karen Solomon, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.; Photo credit: Angie Cao © 2011)