19 for 2019: #4 Making Mojo Happen

Of the 27 items that live on my Mojo List currently, I can say with satisfaction that 5 have been completed in part or in full, and they fall broadly into two categories–coffee and cooking/baking, or just food to simplify. I’m sure you’ll see the patterns here.


My husband and I, paused for a selfie in front of a brown background under gold Mylar balloon letters spelling out “COFFEE“.

Three things on this list revolve around that elixir of the gods that many of us must ritualistically consume each morning for full and proper functioning–coffee. Two of these three items, I really accomplished in one–attending the San Francisco Coffee Festival, held this year at Fort Mason, and coffee tasting, which is primarily what one goes there to do. My husband and I eagerly waited in line to enter for the afternoon session and did our best to travel each and every aisle, stopping to sample the wares of as many of the vendors as possible–hitting all of them is, in my estimation, an Olympic-level endeavor. Virgin Airlines had a cocktail bar I wanted to hit last; alas, they shut down before we got there. I stopped briefly to listen in on a panel of local coffee industry movers and shakers talk about the future outlook for the coffee business. The panel included Eileen Hassi Rinaldi, Founder of Ritual Coffee Roasters, who I got to see on a great panel of Female Entrepreneurs at the San Francisco Public Library recently and is just generally a badass. Also on the panel was a representative from Boot Coffee, I think it was Campus Director Marcus Young. What caught my attention here is that their corner of the market is not significantly as a roastary or cafe–they are a center of barista and coffee culture education–a resource I’ve been on the lookout for. Alas, they are in far off San Rafael, so while I may not make it out there for classes, they’ve given me a lead in what to look for closer to home and they also have some online learning I may look into.

A representative from Mr. Black siphons off herbal infused boozy concoction for mixture into coffee liqueur.

We tasted a delightful coffee liqueur, courtesy of Mr. Black. Brewed through some kind of steam-punk contraption that infused it with orange and rosemary. Elsewhere, we sampled coffee mixed with cherry soda, espresso poured over ice cream, tons of straight brews, a few teas, and all manner of related snacks and nibbles, and apparently oat milk is all the non-dairy rage.

The third and also coffee-related item, was the goal of learning to roast, which has been checked off, at least at a basic level–on a recent day off, I began searching YouTube for beginner guidance, opened up the jar of green beans I purchased at our local Indian market, hauled out one of our trusty cast iron skillets–I want to go basic old school before I get fancy, and roasted my first, and so far only batch of coffee.

I erred on the side of a medium roast even though I prefer a darker one, both because tasting notes are clearer in a medium roast, and because I’m still learning to distinguish first and second crack, not in the video, because once they started cracking, I put down the video in favor of paying attention. I allowed the beans to off gas overnight, then stored them in an airtight container until the weekend, when the husband and I slow down for coffee at home. The beans are of mysterious origin, likely from India, and possibly dreaded Robusta beans, but I’m learning, so who cares? When I get my roasting skills a bit more developed, then I’ll invest confidently in some quality beans. For now, I’ve got my roasting start. Next phase will be playing with different roasting methods and darkness of roast.

In other food-related news…

Attending classes at 18 Reasons appeared on the Mojo list, which I did just once–a class back in January on using leftovers, which I was really excited to take because using leftovers is like a secret superpower of mine and I really just wanted to do some reconnaissance to see how someone else would teach it and if there was something new I could add to my arsenal–and of course, there was. I wouldn’t have thought, if repurposing cooked meat into dumplings, to be sure to include a little fat to keep them from drying out, I made a pretty tasty grated cheese topping alternative by grating stale bread and sautéing in butter and seasonings, and I successfully made my first and only French omelet. I was signed up for a similar class recently, though it got rescheduled into next year, so just the one class this year. My relationship with this organization is otherwise bolstered by the partnership I maintain with them in my professional capacity, bringing them in to host a semi-regular cooking series at the LightHouse San Francisco, giving a testimonial at a recent fundraiser about the importance of this partnership, and doing a little volunteering for them on my own time. They are a great organization doing meaningful work in the area of food education.

I also had this lingering idea to vring a baking class into my program portfolio at work for quite some time now and thanks to a great volunteer, it’s finally become a reality. Katie’s Kitchen takes over the LightHouse training kitchen one Saturday a month and tackles a delicious baked good–baklava kicked things off in August, coconut almond cookies in September, apricot thumbprint cookies in October, and pumpkin bars in November, so, yeah, check. That baking class idea is working pretty well.

Tomorrow,some reflection on navel gazing.

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