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I finally bought a domain and have another blog!

Well, I decided that I love blogging so much that I set up a real blog on my own domain. I’ll update this one for a while, but please point your browsers to my better, MUCH prettier blog at http://www.theironbuzz.com . Thanks for being awesome readers, I hope you keep reading me in the future.

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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

El Chris starts a business

I know. I’m terrible. I had a successful giveaway on the blog and then quit writing. I. Am. Awful. But really, guys, I can explain!

It’s been extra busy around my house. Halo 4 was recently released and it takes HUGE amounts of time to convince my friends to let me come over and play it. Mr ‘Hoda finally relented, so one night we went out and got steak and played Halo. It was totally killer.

In my other spare time, I sat in my garage, often times with some liquid encouragement. Alone. Inhaling smoke. But it wasn’t just any old smoke. It was caffeinated smoke. Cooking smoke.

It was ROASTING smoke.

I got it in my head that I could roast coffee and make a living. Back in April, a very kind client of mine taught me how to make yogurt and how to roast coffee. I got my hands on an old Home Innovations fluid bed roaster that works pretty much just like a popcorn popper. Roasting coffee in that was satisfying, making coffee with bright flavor and nice happy smells, but at 3 ounces per 15 minute roast, a pound of coffee took over an hour. Something had to give.

I made a half-joking (but hopelessly serious) plea on Facebook, asking for money to buy a new roaster. I was going to need $820 just for a new, higher-capacity roaster, plus several hundred more for a bulk bag of green coffee beans. Business fees, license fees, bag fees, supply fees… I would need a few thousand dollars to make this work.

Enter two angels: Mr Book and Mr White. Mr White sent me enough to cover my LLC registration fees. Someone had walked into his life previously and done the same, so I hope I can pass this on some day soon. Mr Book asked what I needed and ultimately funded all the hardware I would need. Holy crap, this was going to HAPPEN.

I got the idea to run this as a way to support my Boy Scouts and other youth leadership initiatives in the Twin Cities. The YMCA has WONDERFUL leadership camps that kids in the inner city can’t afford, but with a scholarship from me they can. My low-income scouting district can get some much needed funds from this as well. Once I thought of this, Good Turn Coffee was born.

At this point, I started to get a little spooked. I tried to talk myself out of doing this. Here are some reasons I felt that I shouldn’t be a professional coffee roaster:

I’m not skinny.

I don’t have tattoos.

I don’t know how to make a website.

I listen to music that most people have probably heard of.

My coffee maker is a Mr Coffee.

I never worked as a barista.

Once I killed a guy with my boot.

I don’t wear glasses.

I don’t live or work in a cool neighborhood.

I don’t have an iPad.

I have a heart condition which probably means I should take it easy on the caffeine.

I’m up against some serious pressure here. I might screw everything up, bankrupt myself, and destroy my life and my marriage.

On the other hand, here are some reasons why I SHOULD roast coffee:

I’m using some of the profits to support inner-city kids want to learn how to be leaders.

I know how to roast coffee in a cast iron skillet over a fire.

I can make espresso using 4 different types of electronic and non-electronic processes.

I can make an iced non-fat sugar-free triple caramel macchiato that will reduce a Starbucks barista to tears.

I can kill a guy with my boot.

I can roast coffee blindfolded and know exactly how the roast came out.

I can taste the difference between Folgers, Maxwell House, and my coffee.

I can make Swedish egg coffee better than your grandparents AND your church basement ladies.

As you can see, I have some SERIOUS qualifications. I also have drive, a love for underprivileged, awkward kids who want to make something of themselves, and a desire to have a job where I can make a difference. Looks like I’m getting a chance to make it all happen and make it BIG.

To buy my coffee, you can paypal me your order! Send it to paypal@goodturncoffee.com. It’s $16 for a full pound of delicious coffee, or $10 for a half pound. Shipping is $6 more dollars. Website is coming soon!

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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On the people we pretend not to see.

I work for the people we all pretend not to see. Most of my clients have pretty severe, obvious disabilities and the looks that people give (or try painfully and obviously hard NOT to give) are constant. The stares are very rarely hurtful, but the “I’m pretending to look at something else just over your shoulder but it’s not you” look. That’s the one that hurts. It’s never even directed at me. It hurts for the people I care about. It hurts because they’re PEOPLE.

Since I work in their homes, often times I’m in the worst of the bad neighborhoods. Public housing sure is a popular whipping post for America, but it sure is terrible. The streets around those areas are quieter than you might think, but they’re always off of a road that intersects another road and on those corners are men and women with signs saying “Anything helps.” On those corners is where I always get frozen in a terrible place between charity and stone-heartedness. Essentially, I have two sides battling inside me when I see a Person on the Corner.

Side A

Are there no workhouses?

Side A is the cynical jerk inside me. Side A whispers icily “They’re just standing there holding a sign. There’s really nothing better they could be doing?”  I know firsthand how extraordinarily difficult it is to get disconnected from state benefits once someone is enrolled. I know how easy it is to get assistance if you’re a parent. I know that you probably can’t afford that Louis Vuitton purse and those Juicy pants if you’re as destitute as you claim to be. I know that many homeless people are not THAT much overweight. Side A tells me “No, keep your money, at least you know where it’s going.”

I already give to the United Way through both my employers. We donate at church. We bring canned food to food drives and we financially support several local food shelves. Isn’t that enough? Can’t somebody else take it from here?

Side B

I should help. I shouldn’t judge. I should take them at their word and give them some money to get food and feed their kids. The only reason I’m in my nice new car and not standing in his place is dumb luck. There are over 90 verses in The Bible about giving to the poor. The Quran similarly tells its readers that good followers give a set portion of their income to the poor. What I can’t find, however, is what to do about The People on the Corners.

One thing that The Patient Wife and I are starting to do is make care bags to hand out in lieu of cash. In each bag, we will put:

  • Razors
  • Tampons
  • Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Gift cards to grocery stores
  • Pamphlets directing them to the homeless outreach at our church
  • An MRE (meal ready to eat) where you only need to add a little bit of water to get a hot, nutritious meal
  • A small blanket
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental Floss
  • Shampoo
  • Granola bars

That stare I mentioned before? I’m man enough and ashamed to admit that I do that stare to the People on the Corners. I look through them, as if eye contact would commit me to an awkward, inconvenient interaction. I may glance at their sign, but if they see me looking, then they may smile and wave. If they smile and wave and I wave back, they may come to my window for money, forcing me to stammer out “Oh, I don’t carry cash. Sorry.” While it’s true that I don’t, I always feel like a tool saying it.

Am I just supposed to take them at their word? Is there a biblical definition of “poor”? Is there a formula I should be following?

What do YOU do when you encounter The People on the Corners?

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

How to make coffee that doesn’t suck: Swedish Egg Coffee

So, it turns out this is all wrong. The instructions were wrong. I re-wrote the instructions, and they’re posted on my REAL blog. Check out my new, awesome blog at http://www.theironbuzz.com/ Trust me, it’s way better.

Swedish egg coffee is one of my favorite brewing methods. It makes an extra-mellow, non-bitter cup of coffee and can be scaled up to huge amounts of coffee for huge amounts of people. It’s a fantastic way to tantalize kids and adults at Scout camp, which I did this weekend, and it’s a great way to make coffee for people who don’t like bitter coffee. It’s a strong flavor for those who like strong coffee, but not so strong that you need milk to tone it down.

According to legend, Swedish Egg Coffee was a recipe carried “on the boat” from Sweden to America back in the late 1800’s. Coffee filters didn’t exist like they do today, so your option for coffee was percolator coffee, which is bitter and acidic and generally pretty awful. Definitely not appropriate fare for us culinarily timid Swedes. Enter egg coffee.

It’s wicked easy. In fact, it’s probably the easiest coffee I’ve ever made. You can make it on a stove, you can make it on a fire. You can make it in a teapot or in a cup or in a coffee can. I used a percolator pot for the sake of convenience and made it over a camp stove at Scout camp this weekend. It took about twelve minutes.

  1. Get a pot, preferably one of those aluminum pots with a spout on it, but really anything will do. Fill it with water, but keep track of how much water you use.
  2. Do one or two tablespoons of coarse-ground (like a percolator grind) coffee per 6 ounces of water in the pot, depending how strong you like it. Just dump the coffee into the water.
  3. Boil for 5-10 minutes.
  4. At the end of the 5-10 minutes, give the pot a solid stir and get it swirling. Turn off the heat.
  5. While it’s still swirling, crack a single egg and dump the whole thing, shell and all, into the water. Use one egg for every ten cups of liquid.
  6. Filter through a French Press or coffee filter or your teeth or whatever.

Not only does the egg solidify around most of the grounds, it neutralizes most of the bitterness and acidity so you get a REALLY mellow cup of coffee. It’s an old immigrant trick and a lot of the Minnesota Lutheran churches still make it. As far as smooth, mellow coffee goes, it’s about as good as it gets.

I’ll warn you, the leftovers in the bottom of the pot look awful. Here’s a picture I took of the remnants at camp this weekend. It’s just boiled egg and coffee, but it still looks terrible.

Looks like dead birds in an oil spill but man oh man, is it delicious.

If you make some, let me know how it turns out!

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

El Chris sees a bridge

Today I went to a park that was underneath a bridge that is actually two bridges. These are the pictures and you’re going to like them.

There was a rock under the bridge. The rock was neat.

Suddenly, a solar panel!

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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

I’m a big boy

Tonight, I blogged, paid my car insurance, signed up for a biblical Greek course, and signed up for the men’s bible study at church. Now validate me before I go to sleep. No seriously. Give me praise for doing several mundane things in a row. Do it in the comments. Haha, said do it. Dirty.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

A puzzle

Once you see it, you’ll know why I didn’t hire him. I was a cruel manager.
 
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Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Uncategorized