appalachian wood-fired coffee-roasting accounts

From The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1984):

“I’ve parched a many a pound of green coffee. That used to be my job when I was eight or ten years old. Mama would fly into that kitchen at about four o’clock and call me out to parch the coffee. I didn’t have a stove to parch it on, either; I did it on the fireplace. I put my coffee beans in a pan and got me some coals out and put them on the hearth. I’d take a spoon and stir that coffee around and around until it turned brown. It’s pretty easy done, but if you burned your coffee or scorched it a little it wasn’t no good. Then I’d cool it down, put it in that old coffee grinder and grind her up. Put it in the pot, and you’ve got some of the strongest coffee. If I had it today I’d like it better, but I wouldn’t like that extra work.”

and

“My mother had a large pan that covered the bottom of the wood stove. It fit down in there. She’d put her coffee beans on that pan and put it in the oven. You couldn’t have your stove too hot. You wanted to parch the coffee slow. She’d open the stove and take the pan out and stir the coffee around. Then she’d put it back in. When the beans got brown like you’ve seen the coffee beans you buy in the store, they were ready to take out and grind. She had a grinder on the kitchen wall.”

These the accounts of Gladys Nichols and Blanche Harkins, respectively.

If an eight or ten year old can do it on a fireplace, why aren’t you roasting your own beans? I’m not sure exactly why I’m so evangelical about this. It’s a little strange. I believe I have made so far three or four converts. Good for them! Meanwhile I’ve also made a minute revision to my minute home oven coffee roasting method, given in full below:

Throw a handful of beans in the oven at 500′,
give them a shake when they start to pop,
take them out when they look done,
cover, let cool, and blow off the chaff (outside).

Takes about fifteen minutes, smoke’s not too bad for small batches.


orange peels in the soup

I’ve had a little glee in spicing things with orange peels this winter. Braises, soups and sauces—adds a welcome brightness to many of the heavy things we like to eat in winter. I’ve been taking them out before serving, but I’m coming around to that not being necessary. They soak up flavor nicely, and I’ve gotten used to eating them in marmalade. Cut them nicely.