So I may have mentioned my grandma, Oma is how I call my dad's mom. Well, as you all know I'm visiting down Texas way and Oma's staying with my folks a bit, just so happens to be while I'm here too. Cool. She's got all these great stories from the old days. The kind of stories that will probably bore you when you're a real young little fucker that thinks stories from "back in the day" should be banned, but now that I'm starting to see that, hey, this life thing doesn't really last forever so maybe start doing something with it, these stories suddenly become a little more interesting. Wow that was a long sentence. I'm gonna take a little break.
Okay I'm back. So, one day she's telling me how they used to bake coffee when she was a little girl. They'd actually go to the market and buy green beans there and bake them at home, maybe a couple times a week. I'm thinking, really?! But I guess it makes some sense. I mean, people need their coffee and I'd have to imagine that roasteries weren't strewn about the globe back then like they are today like so much sand on a beach. So she's telling me about it, how they'd have to stir it constantly. Watch closely. Keep stirring. So much stirring. More about stirring. And then, the coup de grace, they'd add butter at the end. Yes, that's right. Butter.
So it got me thinking. I've got beans. Green beans. I've got time. We've got the cast iron "wok" and a burner outside. Why not?? Let's do it! So she says, sure no problem. She's all about cooking, this grandmother. Loves to cook. She's getting a little on in age, but still wants to cook whenever she can. And she's got stories! Stories about cooking. Recipes. She's always telling me how to make this or that. How to watch it and taste it. How other people make some things that she still, STILL!, wants to learn how to make. So she's all about the cooking. Let me know if I didn't make that point clear enough.
I break out the wok. The beans, I measure them out. One pound exactly. Costa Rica. The wooden spoon, very important. The burner. Well, Oma said it's important that we use hardwood charcoal in an open fire. I guess a turkey fryer with a gas burner will be good enough today. See here:
So we get started. Did I mention about the stirring? Holy crap there was some stirring involved! First it looks like this:
After some stirring:
The whole time she keeps picking a bean or two out of the pot and tosses it in her mouth, tasting them. "To what point are you going to bake them, Oma?" "Until it cracks just right". Of course. A real cook. I think she also burns cookbooks for added warmth in the winter. Oh, you wanted to see a picture of her at work? Here you are, kiddo:
Finally, we come to an ending point. By this time maybe 25 minutes have passed. Also the first crack has occurred. If you're not sure what that is, well, I'll leave that for another time. Essentially, for us modern folk, it's a standard we use to help determine how far along the beans are in terms of roast depth. But not for Oma. She's practically deaf anyway, so what's it matter. She's going on taste and sight, so eff the sound. Second crack has not happened but she feels that it's time to pull the heat. Hey, no one said quit stirring though. Now it's time for the butter. About a tablespoon, but then again, who's measuring? We're working with an artist, not a scientist.
"What's the butter for, Oma?" I timidly ask. "So it tastes good," with an implied "dumbass". Of course.
A little more stirring (naturally), the heat's gone, the butter's melted and well integrated. And then. voila, we're done. Put the spoon down and massage out your arm a bit. You have 14 ounces of coffee. Ready to be served.
Thank you Oma. That was awesome!!