Rants and Raves

More Coffee Beans For You To Try

I listed a number of places to order coffee from a previous post.

Here are some more places for you to try some beans:

Beans from Mr. Espresso – I also like the Triestino Blend. Love the packaging and the stylish scooter gentleman.

Ordering Coffee in the Time of Covid

I mentioned online that I’ve been trying to order coffee beans lately instead of roasting my own like I usually do. I’ve been trying to support some local businesses and I’ve listed some of them out for you here. This list is by no means exhaustive, I just thought it may be useful.

I’ll try to add more soon.

SF Specific

Others I like:

Supper Club Updates

I wrote in this post last year that I was starting a Supper Club. I did and it’s been going well. I decided I would start posting notes from our gatherings- recipes, book ideas, notes on wine and random Kenny thoughts.

But what’s the background on the supper club? What’s going on and how is it organized? 

The background is that I miss having a regular meetup with my friends. I used to do a 1st Friday Happy Hour. The girlfriend also has a regular girl’s dinner with her crew and I thought I could do something similar. I also go to, organize or host irregular wine tastings (even a CDP that I’ve written about before). Basically I wanted to get something back on the books, but with some differences.

Why didn’t I just organize another happy hour? I have a ton of wine and I like sharing it. Other friends are in the same boat. The other thing was that we usually liked the post-happy hour dinner part of the evening more than we did the happy hour part. I knew I was already leaning towards a food gathering.

Why didn’t I just copy Girlfriend’s monthly dinner idea? They rotate to a different restaurant each month and it seems easy/convenient. And it works for them.

It’s because I love dining out, but I hate dining out in groups of 6 or more. I’m particular like that. It could be done, but I thought I’d take a different approach. I’d rather have a smaller group and be able to actually talk to people. 

What about the wine tastings? We’re usually pretty organized about the wine tastings- eg themes, blind tastings, etc. I thought this could work, but make them less rules based about the wine. Something less formal. But I knew that we could easily fold the wine into the food event. 

The other background piece is that yes, I’m still obsessed with the Basque Supper Clubs. The Basques have clubhouses.  There is no way in hell I can buy a clubhouse with a communal kitchen (hell, I can’t even buy a normal house).  

Hosting on its own could be a problem. [We have a small table in the kitchen but it’s usually holding groceries and I don’t know when I ate there last]. Most nights Girlfriend and I eat in the living room. But we can make it work. Living in a small SF apartment requires adjustments. But it can work. 

So here’s what we’ve been doing and you can do the same with your group (or not). 

  1. We get a date on the calendar as quickly as possible. Try to offer multiple dates. If you’re doing this on your own, don’t get worried if people can’t make it to the event on the night that was picked. Not everyone will be able to make it.
  2. We pick a theme. Last month it was Soups, Stews, and Chili. We pick a theme for the next month during dinner. Next month’s theme is Balls
  3. We email each other what dish we’ll be making as the event gets closer so we’re not all bringing the same thing. 
  4. If possible, rotate hosts. This isn’t a requirement if you start a Txoko, but it’s been working for us. Some friends have space for grills and others don’t. We make it work.
  5. We’re much more loosey goosey on the wine “rules” so people are more likely to bring a variety of things to share.
  6. Don’t be afraid to skip a month if it doesn’t work out. Sometimes everyone is busy.

So if you’re interested try and organize something. It doesn’t have to be regular. But break bread with your friends. 


Some Thoughts on the InstantPot

My brother gave us an Instantpot for a gift a few weeks ago and I’ve been cooking with it almost non-stop. Since I’d been talking about it in person I thought I’d gather some opinions and post them since you’ve asked me.

The first thing I need to write is that it is actually called Instant Pot. I’ve been saying INSTA Pot this whole time. It wasn’t until I was carrying the box home on the bus and had the logo in my face that I realized I was saying it wrong.

I wasn’t sure I’d like the Instantpot, but overall I’m pretty pleased with it. I wasn’t sure I’d like it because the owners seem to come off like they’re in a cult on Facebook and on YouTube. And to be honest, a lot of videos or posts online come off as if the writers or cooks don’t know the basics about cooking or recipes. I’m not a chef or anything, but I have a decent understanding of cooking basics. I’ve seen recipes where the protein isn’t sautéed or seared first, etc..


Another reason that I din’t think I’d like it because I don’t really use Slow Cookers ever. I’m not the type of person toleave tonight’s dinner in a slow cooker and then head out to work. When I have needed or used a slow cooker, I’ve been around the apartment. I’ve made queso or chili or beans or some dish here and there but it was ready within a few hours. And just like with beans, I’d just as easily use the dutch oven on or in the stove instead of using a slow cooker.

But I can see the versatility with the InstantPot. And that’s due to it’s pressure cooking features. I’m old enough to have tried the old pressure cookers and not liked them. With the IP- it’s much easier to pressurize.

Anyway, here are some unorganized thoughts:

When you first use an IP, follow recipes and write down what you did and what happened. The reason I mention this is due to LIQUIDS. You can’t run an IP “dry” so almost all recipes require some liquid.

“So what?” you say? Well, one of the first things you’ll try to make is something like chili, beans, a pot roast or a stew. If you’re used to making chili or beans on the stove, you know you can control the liquid content pretty easily.

Chili’s too thick? Add some liquid. Beans too liquidy? Take the lid off for a while.

When you use an IP and it’s pressurized, the lid’s on. You can’t tell what’s going on and adjust until the cooking program is done, the IP has de-pressurized, and you take the lid off. You have to wait to make adjustments.

The first few times I’ve used the IP I made the following mistakes. They were easily correctable and not technically mistakes but you get the idea:

  • chili that wasn’t as thick as I was used to
  • a lentil/sausage stew that was a bit more soupy than stew-y
  • a pot roast that had a bunch of liquid in the pot, not a gravy-style sauce
  • ribs sitting in liquid when they were done

So if you’ve read this far you’re saying so what, just adjust the recipes. You’re right- I did make adjustments and have gotten much better at using the IP. I wrote down what went wrong and made adjustments to the recipes.

This brings me to the other the main thing that I noticed when I first started using the IP: The recipes that I originally got ideas from all had TIMES in the titles.

If or when you get an IP you’ll be in a rush to cook dinner tonight. You’ll download a recipe called 20 Minute Chili! or 40 Minute Pot Roast! and you’ll be thinking, oh perfect, I’ll be ready to watch Netflix and eat dinner in 30 minutes.

This is BS for one reason: people use time in the titles which refer to the actual pressurized cooking time. This does not include the time to pressurize the IP (pre-pressure?).

So if you remember anything from this post just remember this part- it takes time for the IP to come up to pressure.

The great thing is my fancy LED IP actually tells me what’s going on and where it is in the process. Pay attention to yours if you can.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Let’s say the recipe is called 15 Minute Chili. It’s not 15 Minute of total time. You won’t be eating in 15 minutes.

Here are the likely steps (note, this isn’t something I tried, just an illustration):

1. use the saute feature and saute the meat, and then onions. Likely time 20 minutes (and the IP has an awesome sauté feature)
2. drain the fat, add whatever it is to the pot you want: seasonings, beans, crushed tomatoes, some beer* and it takes you 3 minutes to do this
*don’t forget what I wrote above about liquids above
3. close the lid and hit 15 minutes – because it’s 15 minute Chili right?
–=the timer doesn’t start here yet=–
4. the IP starts warming up and pressurizing – let’s say 5-10 minutes. [we’re at 20+3+5 if I’m being generous]
5. The IP is pressurized, the timer starts and says 15 on it.

NOW the 15 minutes starts counting down.

6. The timer finishes (20+3+5+15=43 so far) and if you leave the IP alone it will slowly start to depressurize. But you’re in a hurry because you’ve been here for almost 45 minutes and thought you’d be eating 30 minutes ago so you hit the release valve
7. The depressurizing starts. This can take more than 5 minutes depending on how much you have in the IP – again, we’re at 50+ minutes here

You may be thinking “so what, I’ve made chili in almost an hour and that’s still less than if I used the dutch oven on the stove. In fact I walked off at step 3 and watched TV for a while. I don’t really do that when I’m using the stove.”

Well, I agree with you- my point is be wary of the time in the titles and in the recipes. It’s not as Instant as people make it sound.

Have questions or comments? Leave them below and I’ll answer them.

The Food of a Younger Land – interesting read

The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II AmericaThe Food of a Younger Land: The WPA’s Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America by Mark Kurlansky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People should read the intro to learn about the WPA Writer’s Program and how ambitious this project was and what the author did to get the most of the original writing organized and published. It’s also important to learn how regional our cooking used to be. I’ve been skipping around with the chapters and have been pretty engaged.

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