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Coffee Conquered Sandy


Okay… A little off the current topic, which is reflecting upon Hurricane Sandy and how I can turn this crisis into a learning moment for my immature self.  I want to come back to how a coffee addict survived ten days without power and managed to drink her established amount of amazing coffee each morning  and throughout the day.

I’m currently using Keurig’s Single Serve Platinum brewer, but the best coffee comes from perked coffee from a gas stove.  Back in the old days, like Ed likes to say, coffee was not brewed, but made as a “decoction,” coffee grinds boiled at a low temperature, then strained out of the coffee.  I vividly remember my grandfather making his coffee in this way.  He just dumped the coffee into boiling water.  The cowboys made it this way, didn’t they?  Yeah, sure.  There was more coffee grinds at the bottom of the cup than I’d like to admit, but, if you didn’t move the cup too much, they stayed down.  Retro.  Anyway, I had a much more modern method.  I had my trusty Melitta coffee cone.  Simple, yet genius.  This is what it looks like:

And, this is how I was using it, with Melitta single serve #4 filters.  You can get white ones or the brown ones made out of recycled paper, which is what I use.  Just set it up like this and add just one coffee measure of grinds, which is like 2 tbs., more or less depending on your preference.  More for a stronger cup of coffee, also take into consideration the size cup you are using.  This one is a bit larger, so I use just a little bit more.  I always use more.. hee hee.  So, one coffee measure of coffee is good for a 6 oz. cup of delicious coffee.  Next step is to pour boiling water into the filter, then I stand there and stir the grinds.  As the water is going through the filter, I will continue to add more water, a little at a time.  I’m getting a craving just thinking about it and really wish it was morning, instead of 10:58pm.  Dunkin Dark made really, really good coffee for me.  I also really love good 100% Columbian coffee.  Maxwell House brand is the best choice for me right now, and the best price for my pocket.

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See how the grinds expand and settle on the vertical sides of the cone?  This is why I keep stirring the grinds, so that each grind stays in play all the while the water is passing through so as to get the most out of my grinds.  Sorry I didn’t stop to take a picture of the actual coffee.  I just couldn’t wait to drink it~!  Also, during the power outage we were prepared, we used powdered Coffeemate, plain.  So good… and this was a pointed terrible storm preparation that I made sure was secured before the storm.  We were sitting pretty, baby~!  We had our coffee.

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So, we’d sit there in the dark, sipping our piping hot coffee.

Unfortunately, we did not have cookies…. sigh.

K-Cup Problem Solved


Because I’m an Egg (Electronic Gadget Groupie), I have this urge to have the biggest and the baddest of devices out there.  I own Apple products, most beloved of them is my ipad.  When it comes to coffee, however, my most preferred brewing method is the old tyme way, perked.  I still believe there is nothing better out there than a perked-on-the-stove cup of coffee, timed just right.  I collected every pot my mother owned, from an electric Farberware 12 cupper, to her Pyrex 12 and 4 cupper.  Loved the Pyrex because it’s made of tempered glass and you can actually watch the water turn into coffee.  Totally amazing.  I used these pieces for 10 years and then, one by one, they started breaking down and in the case of the Pyrex, I broke the stem, where the basket sits on, while washing it in the sink… Yes, I am our own dishwasher.  I was crestfallen.  So this was right around the time that the Kuerig brewing system came into my life.  It was such a novelty that I had to have it.  I waited for Christmas and told myself that was my gift… or no.  I purchased it in April and told myself it was a birthday gift (June)… yeah, that’s the ticket.  Let me just say now that this was the worst possible decision I could make.

Problems abound.  The first and foremost, is that these cups are possibly the most expensive choice one could make when you think that decent coffee grinds to perk coffee cost roughly $6.-$8 or$10.00 per pound and a box of 12 or 18 k-cups just went up to $13.00.  You are able to perk a lot more coffee than the, at most, 18 single 6 oz. cups from the Kuerig.  Don’t get me wrong the convenience and the maintenance of the Kuerig machine is unbeatable in my opinion, after years of hand washing all parts of my coffee pots, sometimes multiple times per day… BUT it comes at a pretty hefty price.  A price I didn’t want to pay.  I believe the standard they are using per cup is the inflated Starbucks-type cup that runs, cheapest $2.00?, I’m guessing as it’s been a while since I’ve been there.  A pound of whole beans cost what, around $8.00?   I’d say that you could get more than four cups of coffee from that.   Anyhoo… As luck would have it, just as I literally had this machine packed up in its box and ready to be put into the basement, my darling DH comes home with like 3 boxes of k-cup coffee from the grocer.  “They were on sale,” he happily stated.  Okay.  Now I am confused.  This is the most fugal, yet obviously the most generous man I know, who went out and of his own volition, purchased more than one box of not particularly great, yet expensive coffee.  Oh well, I’m not going to complain, I thought.  So I proceeded to unpack the machine, saying goodbye to the extra counter space I just created, and made us two cups of coffee.  Since then it’s hit me that DH, who can’t boil water by himself, loves the Kuerig because he can make himself a cup of coffee in the morning without waiting for me to get up to do it…. YEAH.

Okay, so it’s been running like this.  We get the k-cups when they are on sale and I have a Melitta cone filter thing-a-ma-jig for grinds and boiled water.  My other problem with the k-cups is that most of the coffee flavored choices brew up too weak for my taste; and so, I’m limited to only getting bold coffee.  Recently, and getting to the crux of my post, my sister gifted me with a bunch of k-cups from a sampler she bought and of the flavors she didn’t like… and I’m not going to say no to free k-cups.  I got a bunch of Gingerbread and Golden French Toast flavors that smell great, but didn’t taste so great.  So, I got an idea.  I cut open the tops and emptied two cups of grinds into my Melitta filter, poured boiled water and waited for my coffee.  It was terrific!

So another big problem with these cups is the recycling, repurpose, reusing potential… 000, zero.  That is, up until now.  It’s only one way, but cool.  I refilled my cups with grinds, covered it with slip of aluminum foil and sealed it with masking tape.  Voila a k-cup ready to go.  I know that this type of recycling is not exactly a new idea, I’ve seen it around on the net, but using the grinds that would have normally made a weak cup of coffee and blending it with stronger grinds, with a different brewing system, just about made my day.  On second thought, you can also do this to used cups.  All you’d need to make sure to do is line up the hole on the bottom with the needle inside the cup basket in the machine.  I think the only draw back with this is that the filter on the inside might be ripped if you’re not careful when filling and manipulating it.

I digress….

The cup on the left is emptied and the cup on the right is upside down, showing that there is no hole, the cup in the middle is refilled with aluminum foil on top and sealed with masking tape.

I REALLY digressed posting the photo above, but I’ll get it right some day.  My idea was to show you the k-cups in three stages:  The top taken off and grinds vacated, the middle is a repurposed k-cup ready for use, and on the right one just showing that there was no hole on the bottom.  I thought it was important at the time… ugh.  I used Dunkin Donuts Dark and I must say it made an excellent cup of coffee.

As my last side note, I want to draw your attention to Michael Bobblehead.  I love the show The Office and scored this guy, brand new, in mint condition, for two bucks at the Cranford Townwide Garage Sale last month.  On the down side, I had also scored the Dwight Schrute Bobblehead supposedly in the same condition; but when I got it home, the neck was broken…. Oh the AGONY~!  I love the Dwight character more than the Micheal (sorry Michael), oh well.  Maybe I can fix it?  Not sure, this is a BOBBLE head for goodness sakes!  Anyway, Michael served his purpose while enjoying a cup of coffee.

Did I mention olives?  I’ll be posting about them after Thanksgiving as they are still cooking in their tightly packed jars in the whole left side of the bottom of my fridge….


Expresso & Coffee Guide

I’ve gotten pretty stagnant with my coffee choices lately, even as my coffee and spices post and the follow up to that, are still to this day being viewed.  I made a really bad decision, at a really bad time, to purchase a Keurig coffee brewer.  I give it a 100% rating for convenience, but it’s mighty expensive to keep the coffee flowing as compared to old fashion ground and perked coffee in a coffee pot, or coffee maker for that matter.  Anyway, just as I had packed up my brewer for storage to start perking my coffee, DH started bringing home the K-cups for the Keurig.  I had to literally unpack my Keurig that was sitting by the door to the basement.  This sudden interest from my husband was intriguing and it’s still going on today.  Intriguing because the guy is a pretty fugal fellow and this coffee is mega expensive, well, for us.  He insists that he only gets the ones on sale, but even the sale price is too expensive in my book.  I think he likes to be able to make fresh coffee all by himself in the morning as opposed to the instant that he had been drinking.  The man refuses to learn how to do anything in the kitchen… sad.  It must be in the man-genes.

I believe that people have been lured into thinking that $4.00 for a cup of coffee is pretty much the standard.  Think about it.  Even if a bag of express beans cost $8.00 or so, the amount of cups you can produce from that single bag is pretty significant amount.  I can’t quote numbers here but use your imagination.  People today, especially the young people, have no idea what a coffee pot is.  Am I being dramatic?  Maybe, but I’d be willing to bet that a majority of these kids have never had a perked cup of coffee, let alone brewed a pot of it.  So freaking SAD because there is no coffee better tasting than a properly perked cup of java.  Google yourself “perked coffee, perking coffee, old fashioned coffee… etc.” and you’ll start to get an idea.

So, one day he comes home with “Italian Roast”, which is expresso.  Now, while I am Italian and love expresso coffee, it must be served with Sambuca AND lemon slices or lemon juice.  Traditionally, at least in our house, it was either anise liquor OR a slice of lemon rind.  Once I combined these two flavors, I just could not have it any other way.  After I discovered dark Sambuca, THAT became my liquor of choice.  Well, this is a pickle.  I can’t have expresso in the morning with my breakfast, that’s just wrong.  Today I got the brilliant idea to gather up some expresso recipes for coffee drinks and found this page at Expresso & Coffee Guide.  The list is pretty long, and just keep scrolling down for recipes that have missing links (which is almost of them).  The recipes are written out at the bottom.

I’m sitting here right now enjoying some Italian Roast coffee as a mocha coffee something, made with my Keurig, honey, cocoa powder, nutmeg, and a tiny bit of sea salt.  Next I have to figure out a way to incorporate a caramel, but sugar-free then I can get rid of the honey.

Coffee Talk- Adding More Stuff to Java


     

I have been marveling at the traffic my posts about putting spices in coffee has been getting.  You people are amazing!

My coffee creativity has been a little stale lately, but today I realized that something I’ve been doing all along is really a good idea for hot/cold coffee drinks.  Think about it .  Think about the ingredients that go into your favorite Starbuck’s drink, or the coffee options available down at the 7-Eleven or Quick check.  Identify your most favorite ingredients, then just add them to your own coffee, preferably made strong so the coffee taste does not disappear under the flavored stuff.  There really is something extra attractive about walking into a convenience store and adding stuff to my coffee, on my own, as little or as much of whatever I choose.  That was the best idea ever for these stores.  I love and really miss WaWa’s.  I live in 7-eleven / Quik Check country.

Yesterday the hubster brought home Snicker’s ice cream.  Do you see where this is going?  Chocolate, caramel, a little crunchiness.  Well, today I had a bit of  left over cold coffee in my cup and didn’t feel like brewing more, so I whipped out that ice cream, added a bit of instant coffee and boiling water to my cup and popped it into the microwave for 44 seconds or so.  Ding!  Topped that off with some Snicker’s ice cream, instead of milk, and voila a special drink made at home, minimum inconvenience and it only took 44 seconds (or so).  An added plus is that the cream melts and creates a frothy topping onto which you can sprinkle nutmeg or cinnamon.  Yummy!  Okay, so just let your eyes wander over all the different flavors and brands of ice cream at the grocer’s.  Go farther and consider that some make homemade ice cream.  Do that on your own time, won’t you?  Then write back here and let me know what you come up with… I’d really love to try out your experiments!

Adding Spices To Coffee


I see that I came up on someone’s search that said, “adding spices to coffee”; so I decided to write a little about what I do in that area. Those search terms picked up my, “More Food” which was the post about my Asparagus and Corn Recipe.

First of all, the absolutely best coffee is, by far, perked! You younger whipper snappers will not even know what I’m talking about! It’s called “progress”. Alas, I also have a coffee maker because I need to be quick in the mornings with getting the coffee out and love the programming feature of the automatic drips. I started adding spices to coffee well before these specialized coffees came out in the supermarkets. My favorite is grating fresh nutmeg into either my cup or with the grinds in the basket, though I do others, as well.

Another little special thing I do is add honey in place of sugar. Before I get into this any further, I must state “DIABETICS BEWARE”. Using honey is just as bad as eating sugar right out of the sugar bowl. I read this book one time on back water medicine that talked a lot about remedies containing apple cider vinegar and honey. At that time, I was really turned off by white sugar, so it seemed natural for me to use honey. At first, the taste was strange to me, but I liked it. Another factor that affects taste is the kind of honey you buy. If you look on the label, you will see a little blurb about what type of flower the bees were getting their pollen from. I started with NJ Wildflower Honey from a particular place called “Cheesequake Farms”; but then I went to another place and got honey labeled the same way and the taste was far different. Also, you can see that different honeys have varying colors, or hues to them. The darker ones have a more intense flavor than the light ones… kind of logical. In the supermarkets the most you see is clover honey that is “okay”, but once you start being aware of the differences out there, you just might want to try others. I would suggest paying that extra money for what they sell on those farm produce stands.

Getting honey with a bit of cone in it is great, too. I read that chewing on the cone can relieve sinus symptoms. My nephew did corroborate on this after he tried it. Another consideration before consuming a lot of honey, as I had when drinking at least 3 cups of coffee a day at work, is that honey is a great bowel regulator, though consuming a lot of it might give you diarrhea. I started using honey as a bowel regulator. I mean, you will GO the very next day and it’s a normal, natural “GO”. Since I am in danger of getting diabetes, however, I have stopped using it like that. Keep in mind that honey is pure sugar, though, it’s predigested so the body does not have to work as hard digesting honey as it does for white sugar.  Ah, I remember a special person once telling me that honey was actually bee excrement!  Well, that might turn some people off, but not me.  If you look at it, technically, it IS excrement, but not in the sense that we know.  After all, honey is what bees feed to their babies developing in the egg chambers of their hives.  Special honey, called royal jelly is given to the eggs destined to be queens.

Another thing you can do with coffee is add a teaspoon of cocoa to it and get mocha. I was definitely doing this LONG before it came out commercially. I loved cocoa and wanted to blend the two and got a bit of heaven right there on my counter. Try adding a bit of orange extract to it… if not with the coffee, definitely put it in hot chocolate. Chocolate and orange a marriage made in heaven. I even have a basic hot chocolate recipe of my own doing for people wanting to get the perfect hot chocolate, but without the time or the incentive to stand at the stove, attending to a proper hot chocolate recipe.

In a mug, mix a tablespoon or so of baking cocoa, preferably dutch processed, and equal amount of powdered coffeemate. Emulsify with a bit of hot water. Once this is done, add in milk and sugar, stirring. Microwave until piping hot. Ta da! To really get that chocolaty flavor, add a teensy pinch of salt. This recipe leaves plenty of room for experimentation. Add a little bit of something here and there. I’ve also added a teaspoon of instant coffee for that mocha taste. Better get with it now and perfect your own special cup before the cold winter sets in. I have special gigantic mugs to accommodate my lust for chocolate… ah!

If you don’t have much imagination, but love to try different flavors, you might want to try out International Gourmet or Coffeemate liquid creamers. I love the current Pumpkin Spice that is out in both brands. Very expensive, however, and after I am finished with what I have, I will just add my own spices to get the same flavor. Plus, if you really like the coffeemate creamers, getting the plain one is almost a dollar cheaper than the flavored ones. Something I was doing for awhile was getting actual cream to lighten my coffee. That is a real treat for the holidays. I use the heavy cream to get that really creamy taste, while actually using less product.

Another thing I put in coffee is dark brown sugar. That is a flavorful kick if I ever tasted one. I suppose you can use light brown sugar, too, but remember, I always go for the “darkest” possible offering of a product. Brown sugar… or even molasses… Yes, I’ve used molasses and it’s another heavenly flavor for coffee. Have you ever tried mixing coffee and tea together in the same cup? Another nice change, but not for the squeamish. Nothing bad or bad tasting about it, it’s just the “thought of it” that would deter some people.

Yep, I’ve tried a lot of things in coffee, but never soy sauce!

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