Since I’m not drinking this year, I haven’t been making beer. But I still like to make food things, so I’ve been teaching myself how to bake bread and roast coffee beans.
So the thing about making beer is that it really isn’t that difficult. Brooklyn Brew Shop says If you can make oatmeal, you can make beer, and it is entirely true. If you can just follow a recipe, you can turn malted barley, water, hops, and yeast into beer.
The thing about baking bread is that there’s a little more intuition to it than making beer, but not much. It’s incredibly satisfying to mix up flour, water, salt, and yeast by hand, fold the dough, let it rise, shape it into loaves, and bake it. There are all sorts of different types of bread to make, but that basic combination is pretty easy to understand. Like brewing, if you can follow directions, you can turn those things into bread.
Roasting coffee, though, is much more difficult to perfect. I’m using a smart roaster (the Behmor 1600+) that controls the delicate parts of the process, including the heat curve, the speed of the turning drum that holds the beans, and the cooling process. But roasting coffee isn’t something where you put the beans in, push some buttons, and wait until PRESTO you have roasted coffee beans. There’s a steep and complex learning curve (at least there was for me) and a very small margin of error. In my experience, when I’m roasting 1/4 pound to 1/2 pound of beans, there’s anywhere from 15 to 45 seconds of intense terror that I have to watch very closely, because in that tiny window of time, I’ll either end up with something decent or a complete a pile of fail. Unlike beer, which can sometimes end up not as hoppy or malty as I wanted, but still be drinkable, or bread, which may not rise as much as I wanted but still makes a nice tartine, if the coffee beans are off, they pretty much have to go into the trash. I mean, unless you’re really into wet cardboard.
So it was kind of a big deal for me recently when I had acquired enough data to feel like I knew what I was doing, and could reasonably expect the raw beans I put into the roaster to come out tasting like something I wanted to drink and share with others. (I didn’t mention that roasting coffee beans provides an opportunity for lots of notes, just like brewing and baking does, and it’s essential to do that if you want to get anywhere close to mastering it).
Anyway, I decided to offer some beans in the secret store, and the first batch came out yesterday. It’s pretty much exactly how I wanted it to come out, and I’m proud of myself, so I put some pictures from the roast on the other side of the jump, along with some notes on the process.
I’m roasting some more today, and my house smells great. There’s also some pure levain sourdough bulk fermenting, that I’ll shape and proof in about an hour or so. The kitchen at Castle Wheaton is getting all kinds of action today.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the publication of A Game of Thrones, Random House has created three boxes in partnership with author George R. R. Martin and HBO—and we want to send you a Limited Edition box!
The boxes contain collectibles, exclusive items, and a special, illustrated edition of A Game of Thrones, the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin’s internationally bestselling fantasy series. This edition is not available in stores and includes an alternate cover and a full-color insert of illustrations. The Limited Edition box contains:
Exclusive book: Collectible 20th anniversary illustrated edition of A Game of Thrones bound in eco-trim fiber, featuring gilded edged paper, color illustrations, color endpaper maps, and ribbon marker
Exclusive HBO Game of Thrones t-shirt, featuring map of Westeros and sigils (size large)
Exclusive reproduction of Robert Baratheon’s Will from the HBO series
Living Language Dothraki online course
Iron Coin of the Faceless Man from Shire Post Mint
Dead Man Set of coins from Westeros (previously unreleased) from Shire Post Mint
A Game of Thrones: The Card Game with exclusive Daenerys as Khaleesi card from Fantasy Flight
Holiday sigil shield lights from Kurt Adler
Exclusive Lord Commander Jon Snow and Queen Daenerys miniatures from Dark Sword Miniatures
Exclusive Maester’s journal from Insight Editions
Exclusive silk map of King’s Landing (2 feet x 3 feet)
Exclusive keepsake printed box with GRRM insignia, individually numbered
If you absolutely need one of these right now, you can get 15% off the box price with the code TOR15. Order here!
Comment in the post to enter!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 12:00 PM Eastern Time (ET) on December 3rd. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on December 7th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
Just so you know why I've been quiet lately, it's because this book-shaped object is now on its way to the copy editor for publication in late June/early July next year (assuming we survive that long.)
The UK edition is going to be published by Orbit, as usual, and that's their cover on the left (or above, depending on your browser). But in the United States, the series is now moving to Tor.com Publishing; so there's a whole new cover design coming. (To be clear: earlier books will remain with Ace, but "The Delirium Brief" and subsequent novels will come from Tor.)
It's coming out in late Jannuary ... and I'm going to have a lot more to say about Empire Games very soon! (In the meantime here are the UK Kindle edition and the US Kindle edition. NB: if you pre-ordered the UK hardcover, you probably want to cancel that order and try again. Tor UK made a late decision to switch the book to trade paperback, so existing pre-orders for the now non-existent UK hardback have probably vanished into limbo: on the bright side, their trade paperback edition should match the Merchant Princes omnibuses in size. The US hardcover is still A Thing.)
And now you know why I've been kind of quiet for the past few months. It's not just the insanely depressing news environment for 2016 (about which I'll have something else to say, when I've finally digested the indigestible implications); I've been gearing up to produce two books a year for the next few years, I've had to rewrite half a Laundry novel (because Brexit ruined the original plot of The Delirium Brief), and as I move to new publishing arrangements I'm busy working on my Next Big Thing, a space opera titled Ghost Engine which is only tenuously related to anything I've written before (hint: Palimpsest, only for intergalactic expansion over the next million years).
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an authoritarian war criminal who is part of the worldwide surge of trumpist leaders and hopefuls, including Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte; Hungary's Viktor Orbán; Russia's Vladimir Putin; South Korea's Park Geun-hye; France's Marine Le Pen; the UK's Nigel Farage, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and others -- bound together by xenophobia, a lack of transparency, violent suppression of opposition, and savvy use of the internet.
Yesterday, Wesley Clark Jr -- son of retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark -- met with North Dakota law enforcement officials on behalf of the 2,100 members of the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock group, who have pledged to come to the conflict site and build barracks to shelter the water defenders fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Inventor and guest writer Andris Lagsdin shares his story of how one light bulb moment at work led to Baking Steel pizza dough and one of the the best pizza crusts you’ll ever make. A unique combination of interests and skills led to the birth of the Baking Steel. And, in my humble opinion, pizza […]