What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever done with coffee? I mean other than accidentally putting a tablespoon or two into your soup because your container of instant coffee looked so much like your container of beef granules, and then the soup tasted funny and your entire family got no sleep that night. Don’t worry, it’s very human to do something like that and maybe you decided that you like coffee in your soup. It gets you thinking that maybe that thing scientists say about some of the best discoveries being accidental ones is true and you want to see what other unique things you can do with coffee.
…And you can reuse coffee filters too.
- Fertilizer: So you hate throwing out those spent coffee grounds when you’re done brewing your coffee. If you garden includes plants that thrive in highly acidic soil, like roses, fertilizing those plants with coffee grounds adds valuable nutrients like potassium and magnesium to your soil.
- Pest repellent: Ants hate coffee. So do mosquitoes, maggots, and the neighbor’s dog that keeps getting into your garden. This works for the same reason that roses love coffee: It has a high acid content that causes a smell that they dislike.
- Odor Absorber: Coffee might not be on the same level as baking soda, but it works as a decent way to eliminate odors in your refrigerator in a pinch. And it makes your fridge smell like coffee, which is way better than the odor coming from the bottom of some produce drawers. Am I right?
- Paint: You remember the last time you spilled some coffee and stained some papers. You can use that as an easy watercolor paint for kids who might have gotten sick of their ordinary watercolors or as a unique way to create your own dye for clothing and wood stain.
- Seasoning: Okay, you already know that coffee can make a unique flavoring for soup if you don’t overdo it. How about other things? Well, it makes a decent rub for steak if you mix it with other spices and let it marinate for a few hours. And, of course, I’ve never been able to get a decent tiramisu without coffee.
Chocolate Coffee Tiramisu
Chef Robert Del Grande’s Short Ribs
If you’re ever in Houston, see if you can find a restaurant called Cafe Annie, where Robert Del Grande serves this delicious recipe.
- 4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and ribs discarded
- 2 cups boiling-hot water
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped canned chipotle chilesin adobo plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 6 lb beef short ribs
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup brewed coffee
Preheat oven to 350° F. Soak chiles in a pan of hot water for 20 minutes (boiling hot actually works best). When water is a little bit bitter, it is suitable for braising; if it becomes unpleasantly bitter, it can be discarded. Puree chiles, onion, garlic, chipotles with sauce, maple syrup, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon salt. Use a couple of paper towels to pat the ribs dry. Sprinkle with pepper and remaining salt. Heat oil in a large skillet until warm but not smoking; brown ribs in batches, stirring frequently. Transfer to a roasting pan. Do not drain the skillet. Add puree to the skillet and cook on moderately low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 1/2 cup soaking liquid from earlier or an equivalent amount of plain water and the coffee and bring to a boil. Pour evenly over the ribs; it should come up to about halfway up the sides of the meat. Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and roast in preheated oven for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours until meat is very tender. This is very good when served with mashed potatoes and any leftovers you have actually seem to improve over the next couple of days if you keep it in the roasting pan, cover the surface with wax paper and cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil before putting it in the fridge.