July 24, 2013

A Guide: Camp Coffee

A Guide: Camp Coffee There are few things as ritualistic as coffee. People who love coffee have to have it the same way everyday, prepared like a religious ceremony.

The problem is that when you're away from your normal environment the coffee goes to shit or you have to resort to some place like Starbucks.

clockwise from left: Corvus Woodcraft x Steelhead Fine Goods camp stool;
 Snow Peak Titanium Mini Solo pot; Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium stove; 
Porlex JP-30 burr grinder; Aeropress; Snow Peak Ti-Double M300 stacking mug; 
and Corvus Woodcraft cutting board

But with an Aeropress, a little preparation, and care you can have outstanding coffee at camp or even at home. Yep, it's really that good. Here's what you'll need:

  • Aeropress
  • Manual burr grinder, like the Porlex JP-30
  • Stove and fuel
  • Pot or kettle
  • Mug
  • Coffee
  • Some sort of stirrer
  1. Boil water and run some water through the paper filter.
  2. Grind about 4 tablespoons of beans (you're camping, no need to be that precise) slightly finer than you would drip coffee. Assemble the Aeropress in the inverted manner and fill the chamber with grounds, which should come up to about the "3" mark (see Fig. 1).
  3. When the water comes to to a low boil fill the Aeropress chamber to the "1" (see Fig. 2), stir, and let it steep for about 30 seconds.
  4. Flip and press into a mug. The whole press time should be about 25 seconds.
  5. Add equal parts hot water and adjust from there.

And try it without sugar or cream. Because there is such a short extraction time with the Aeropress, it's a cup with very low acidity, so you won't notice the bite normally associated with drip coffee and you'll end up tasting much more of all those descriptors you hear when people talk about good coffee.


May 26, 2013

Visiting: Corvus Woodcraft

Corvus Woodcraft is the creation of my friend, Nitin. Out of his garage I've seen cutting boards, dressers, and tables emerge.

A while back I visited and got some shots of him at work. Enjoy.

NOTE: Click on any of the images to make them larger and enter the slideshow mode.

By the way, if you're interested to see the final product, another friend of mine was able to capture it in its full, technicolor glory.

Photo courtesy Corvus Woodcraft.

May 24, 2013

Railcar's Type 3 Classic Apron

Railcar Fine Goods, based in Arcadia, California, has put out some great stuff and their Type 3 Classic Apron is no different.

Railcar Type 3 Classic Apron. Photo: Railcar Fine Goods
If you recognize that pocket, it's because it's based on the iconic Levi's Type III denim jacket.

Levi's Type III jacket. Photo: Unionmade Goods
Add to it the 12 ounce Cone Mills denim and adjustable leather straps and you have one fine looking apron that will age more gracefully than Sean Connery. And possibly best of all, it's made in-house by a crew of five and not contracted out. (It's true, I've seen their shop firsthand.)

Now who will be the first to make denim boxer briefs I've always wanted?

April 9, 2013

My Belt from Steelhead Fine Goods

I recently got my belt and key lanyard from Allan (a.k.a. Steelhead Fine Goods) and I have to say, these things are gorgeous. Well, let's back up and let me say this: it's less about how gorgeous they look now and more about how they'll look a year from now.

Truthfully, natural vegetable tanned leather looks kind of boring to me; I've always liked medium colored leather because of the way it looks so 'lived in.' But there are very few materials that wear in as beautifully as leather. It darkens with age, gets scratched and then absorbs oils, and cracks in the areas of most use.

Beauty through usage.

And so goes the idea of this belt. The more I wear it, the more it will become mine. Soaking up skin oils where I might place my hands when I'm standing akimbo or where my hips scrape against a door jamb. The belt and lanyard are blank canvases.

But they're f*cking beautiful canvases.

The copper rivets on either side of the belt keeper are a discrete but elegant touch. It might never be seen by most people but it's kind of like lacy underwear on a woman--though she's got something over them, she just feels sexier wearing them instead of the white cotton alternative.

I love the lanyard so far, too. Despite initially thinking it was too long I changed my mind when I went to unlock the door and realized I could reach the lock without ever removing the key cluster. Function wins over form.

I'll be sure to keep you posted on how it wears in but at first glance I could not be happier.

Related: Visiting: Steelhead Fine Goods

March 28, 2013

NorthernGRADE Los Angeles

There are going to be some great, local brands at NorthernGRADE Los Angeles. Image and more info here.

March 25, 2013

Visiting: Steelhead Fine Goods

My friend Allan is the owner of Steelhead Fine Goods, a quality, bespoke leathergoods company based in Santa Barbara, California. So it's fitting that he's named his company after the ocean-going form of rainbow trout. Steelhead.

Once upon a time, you could name any river or stream in Southern California, and these beautiful fish were probably known to swim up it from the Pacific Ocean and spawn in their place of birth. But the damming of rivers, pollution, and over-fishing have left the steelhead a rare sight in the past few decades.

Steelhead Fine Goods, like its namesake, is rare breed. 

I had the chance to visit his shop recently during Allan's downtime, chat, and take some photos. Check out the photos here:

Just like conservationists are wont to bring back the magnificent steelhead, Allan is looking to breathe new life into a once dying craft. 

I'm not going to lie, I was taken by the smell of leather and the prospect of some nice leatherware. So after leaving his shop, I placed an order for a leather belt. I mean, it's good to support independent craftspeople, right? Oh, and you can check out more of Allan's work on his Tumblr

February 27, 2013

Throwing a Beefsteak

I don't know how the beefsteak banquet fell out of fashion but it sure as hell needs to make a comeback. After all, how could a menu of steak and beer be wrong? So, on a not-so-warm Saturday evening a handful of friends gathered to make an honest attempt to bring it back.

An early 1900s beefsteak. Note the simple menu.

For those of you who aren't aware of what a beefsteak entails, I suggest reading "All You Can Hold for Five Bucks," an (amazingly sexist) article from a 1939 issue of The New Yorker. Quite simply, the beefsteak is, "slices of ripened steaks, double lamb chops, kidneys, and beer by the pitcher [...] Knives, forks, napkins, and tablecloths never had been permitted."

Oh, and one other rule: no women.

I'm not going to lie, though, at the onset of this event, I'd been thinking about throwing sides in, maybe even a salad or other chlorophyll-based sustenance. But a cooler head prevailed and a friend convinced us to throw a genuine beefsteak. Thank you, Scott.

Then as osso buco and round tip hit the red oak wood fire with its aroma and smoke wafting into our faces, we drank beer from mason jars and discussed welding, woodworking, and various other things that we thought would make us appear manly.

The night's success could be seen on our aprons, wiping steak juices from off our fingers, catching beer spills, and, in my case, wiping blood from a cut tongue on whatever white section of poly-cotton we could find. This is definitely something we'll be doing again. Just maybe with a sober photographer on hand...