Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Jul. 13, 2013 - 12:10 p.m.

A Fowl Brew


The jig is up.

I originally posted the following little ditty almost 3 years ago to a food forum. I didn't make it into a Dangerspouse entry because NewWifey(tm) reads this thing and, well, you'll see why:

"I got up early this morning and decided to finally make a batch of stock from all the carcasses and trimmings that have been threatening to explode out of my freezer since Thanksgiving.

Most of the time when I make stock I just strain it through a fine sieve and call it a day. No cheesecloth, no egg fine, no hassle. I don't make clear soups all that often, so small particulates don't matter. Besides, the word "rustic" is a compliment, right?

But every once in a while I do want to make a double-consomme or somesuch, and this was one of those times (New Years Eve party). So I got down on my hands and knees and rummaged through the bottom drawer where we keep things that only get used once every Halley's Comet, like lardon needles and a duck press, and my cheesecloth.

But...the cheesecloth bag was empty! I could have sworn - oh wait, now I remember. The last time I strained something through cheesecloth I used the last of the bolt and put the empty bag back thinking "this empty bag will remind me to buy more". However, putting a reminder bag in a drawer I only open once every 6 months turned out to be a bad strategy.

So, no cheesecloth. And I really wanted this stock to be very clear. Even my finest sieve was too coarse.

I could have done the old "line a fine sieve with coffee filters" trick, but frankly I hate doing that. It's sloppy and takes for-freakin-ever to drip through.

Then it hit me: how about running the stock through the coffee maker? I'd just put an empty filter in the basket, and it should be quicker than letting it drip through a lined sieve into a bowl.


Well actually...right! It worked pretty damn well. First I cleaned the machine thoroughly with several vinegar/water runs, then filled the water reservoir with stock, then let 'er rip. Twice I stopped the flow to change filters, and it did take longer to pass through than thin coffee liquid, but otherwise it was hassle-free. And it produced very clear stock!

All this, by the way, took place while NewWifey(tm) was still snoozing in bed (I got up at around 5am, which is "sleeping in" for me).

Once the entire batch of stock had been filtered I ran it through the machine again for added clarity. Then I cleaned the machine.

Or so I thought.

At around 11 NewWifey(tm) shuffled into the kitchen and brewed herself a fresh pot of Peet's "House Blend". She'd been given a 5-pound bag as a Christmas gift from a friend.

I was cleaning up at the sink.

The coffee machine beeped, NewWifey(tm) poured herself a cup, and she wordlessly retreated to the computer room for a half hour session of Farmville. She isn't good for anything else until the caffeine kicks in, and I know not to intrude during that time or I risk disembowelment.

10 minutes later she walked back into the kitchen.

"Have you tried this Peet's coffee yet?"

"No, not yet. Why?"

"I don't think I'm going to make any more of it. It's got a funny flavor. Almost like...gravy."


Anyone know how to really, really clean an automatic coffee maker?"


Ok, so that was the desperate plea I left at the forum 3 years ago. I got back suggestions ranging from "mix up a solution of borax and 7-Up and run it through a few times" to "just man up and tell her what you did" (yeah, right), to "go out and buy the exact same model then pull a switcheroo" to "'accidentally' drop it off your roof".

I decided to do none of them.

I ended up doing what I always do: nothing.

And it worked. Again!

Long story short, here's what happened: NewWifey(tm) got used to chicken flavored coffee. Not just "got used to" it, but loved it. Loved it to the point where every couple of months she would start complaining that there must be something wrong with the machine, or our latest batch of beans, because "it doesn't taste right...not as strong or something....".

At that point I would make another batch of stock, and all was right with her breakfast world again.

NewWifey(tm), by the way, primarily only drinks coffee at home, and in the mornings. The few times we've gone away and had breakfast coffee somewhere else, she always scoffs at the "ignorant peasants" who apparently only know how to brew weak swill. "What do they use for coffee beans" she says, "brown crayons?"

But finally, sadly, this past Thursday our faithful Cuisinart 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker / Stock Clarifier bit the dust. A spark, a quick whiff of ozone, and she was gone.

NewWifey(tm), who needs coffee to breathe, went into panic mode. I'm guessing she probably didn't even stop to put shoes on before jumping in the car and flogging it all the way to WalMart for a new caffeine defibrillator.

When I came home from work it was sitting on the counter, all gleaming and new. Another Cuisinart 12-Cup Programmable, looking pretty much the same as the old one other than some updated styling.

The caraffe was about a quarter filled with coffee.

"So how is it?" I asked her.

She thought a moment. "I don't know. It seems to make pretty week coffee, and the flavor's kinda off. I bet I got a defective one. Stupid WalMart - I'm going back down there right now and exchanging it for one that works!"

And she stuffed the machine back in the box, grabbed the receipt and the bag of Peet's, and headed for the door.

"Honey, why are you taking the Peete's?"

"Because I'm going to make them brew a batch with the new one before I bring it home. And if that one tastes funny, they're gonna KEEP opening boxes and brewing batches til they find one that works right!"

"Uh, honey, sit down a sec...."

And I 'fessed up. Told her the entire story, from the initial stock-making experiment to the ongoing deception of brewing more stock whenever the flavor started to dilute.

She sat in shock through the whole thing.

When I was all done she stood up, grabbed her car keys, and headed to the door again.

"Where are you going?" I said. "I told you, it's not the machine."

"I'm going to buy a fucking chicken!" she said, and slammed the door behind her.



Have a good weekend, kids. I'm off to have a cup of tea. I dunno, I've just never really developed a taste for coffee.



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