Search Results for “coffee ”

August 29, 2018

A Love Affair With Coffee

Are you having a love affair with coffee? I love the smell of coffee. I always have. Years before I liked drinking it, I wanted to pour it over my head every time I smelled that scrumptious aroma. Today, you can drive me up to a Starbucks® window and the instant coffee wafts past my nose, I feel my shoulders relax and my gut calm. I probably sigh out loud.

I don’t know why coffee has such a strong effect on me or why it feels comforting. No one in my family regularly drank coffee. It took me years to learn to enjoy it. From 100% freeze-dried Taster’s Choice® instant to my current favorite, whole bean Jim’s Organic Sweet Love Blend, it’s been a journey.
coffee press
Like everything else, coffee drinkers have their preferences. A few years ago, I went to a presentation on coffee at the Gilcrease Museum. During the tasting portion, I learned I am not a coffee purist. I am not willing to spend a full two minutes pouring boiling water over barely ground beans roasted so lightly they taste like…well, let’s just say they’re not to my taste.

I understand that very dark roasts can mostly taste like charred beans, but for some people that can be as delicious as the charred edges of steak cooked on a charcoal grill. One local roaster promoted a particular coffee to me by touting its high acidity. The problem with that is, I prefer a very smooth mellow flavor. If high acid comes with a bite at the end, I don’t like it.

Perhaps my favorite bag of coffee ever arrived from Costa Rica with a friend who had been traveling. Every drop I made from that bag superseded any coffee that came before or since. I’ve tried other Costa Rican coffees, but can’t seem to replicate that experience.

For the past few months I’ve been on a quest to find a new satisfying roast. I had been grabbing less expensive, already ground bags until I realized the simple pleasure of a really delicious cup of joe can set the tone for my whole day. I want every day to be the best possible, so I had to begin with better ingredients.

After experiments with several Starbucks, Peet’s, Wicked Joe, Equal Exchange, and Black Rifle flavors, I grabbed a bag of Jim’s Organic in a small health food store in my hometown. That one bag led to an online order that arrived this week. In addition to the Sweet Love Blend, I’m trying Costa Rican Hacienda La Amistad, Sumatra French Roast, and 2 Souls Dark Roast. They were all ordered as whole beans. Of course I couldn’t see the them online, but in the store I look for dark beans that glisten with aromatic oils.
coffee beans
I grind the beans for about 15 seconds and place them in a ceramic French press. I’ve owned a variety of coffee brewing machines over the years including one that shot sparks into the room when I wasn’t even using it. None of them have lasted for more than a couple of years and none of them produced a better cup of coffee than a $7 glass French press purchased from a restaurant supply store.

The ceramic press is a new purchase. So far, I like it. It keeps the coffee hot longer than my previous glass press. This press filled with Sweet Love Blend is good enough to extend my love affair with coffee.

A former boyfriend recently said he was always impressed that I could make such a good cup of coffee at home. My thought bubble was saying, “How would you know? You drink it with so much cream and sweetener, you can’t even taste the coffee”. (Former boyfriends always give me thought bubbles.)

Given the popularity of frappumacchiatocino drinks, I sometimes wonder how many people enjoy the taste of coffee. All that sugary stuff inside or on top certainly masks its flavor. On the flip side, a little cream can make a moderately bad, bitter cup palatable. Perhaps previous experience with an unpleasant aftertaste leads to a cream & sugar habit.

Then there are those who like coffee flavor, but want to fortify it as a breakfast substitute or an after workout replenisher. I have friends who swear by bullet coffee. It’s not my thing, but I recently saw a recipe for bullet coffee that looked delicious. In addition to butter, it included cacao, cinnamon, coconut oil, dates, and pink Himalayan sea salt.

I’m pretty sure health benefits are not the final consideration for most dedicated coffee drinkers. How could they be? One week, coffee causes cancer and increases the risk of heart disease. The next week, the antioxidants prevent dementia, type II diabetes, and Parkinson’s and make us live longer. The research is conflicting at best.

Recent research indicates that we need to figure out how long it takes our body to metabolize coffee to determine whether it will increase our mortality risk. And how exactly do we do that?

Since there’s no way to know the exact risk or benefit, it seems like the best thing to do is listen to my body. Obviously, it’s good to feel calmed and comforted. It’s not good to consume so much caffeine that I feel jittery. A couple of large black cups in the morning and I am set for the day. On rare occasions, I might enjoy a cup with cream in the evening if I have dessert. More than that would be too much of a good thing.

If I were to wax philosophical, I’m following the tenet that moderation is best in coffee as in all things…other than love. You can never have, or give, too much love!

https://gilcrease.org/

https://newsok.com/article/5340388/gilcrease-museum-preview-celebrates-debut-of-helmerich-center-for-american-research

https://www.jimsorganiccoffee.com/shop/

https://www.blackriflecoffee.com/

https://dceg.cancer.gov/news-events/research-news-highlights/2018/coffee-mortality-genetic-variation

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/coffee-and-health/faq-20058339

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=coffee+


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

July 26, 2016

Gluten Intolerant? Beware Dandelion Coffee.

coffeeGluten Intolerant? Beware Dandelion Coffee. Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but my dad believed dandelions were an absolute scourge. I grew up bewaring them. Like all kids, I wanted to grab a stem topped with a fluffy seed ball and blow. If I did, I’d better do it in someone else’s lawn or there would be hell to pay.

Dandelion coffee sounds as appealing as those fluffy seed balls. It’s herbal. It has no caffeine. It’s popular where all the cool people live. Some would even say it has liver cleansing properties. Roasted dandelion root tastes a bit like coffee and when brewed with chicory has a pleasant sweetness rather than an acidic or bitter aftertaste. What’s not to like?
ball
Sometimes there’s everything to like, but for those of us with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, sometimes there are just too many goodies included. Dandelion coffee is often brewed with barley and rye in addition to chicory root and sugar beets. If you order a dandelion latte in a restaurant, it’s worth checking the ingredients before beginning to sip. If you buy a packaged blend, be sure to read the label.

If you can’t find the perfect blend, you can make your own dandelion coffee. Dandelion roots are best harvested in late fall, winter, or early spring and will produce a more coffee-like flavor when cleaned, chopped, dried, roasted and ground. If you don’t want to dig your own when you’re maintaining the lawn, you can also order the roots from sites like this: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/dandelion-root-roasted/profile. You can add anything you want to your brew. Some popular ingredients are chicory root, cinnamon sticks, and cacao nibs.

While there’s no caffeine in dandelion coffee, the large dose of vitamin B it provides has been reported to perk you up much like a shot of espresso. While I haven’t experienced this, I once accidentally drank too much passion tea in one day and had to take a 5 hour nap. I wasn’t thinking of it as herbal medicine. I just drank it because it tasted refreshing in the summer served over ice. When I started feeling really tired and grumpy and weird, I discovered passionflower had once been approved as an OTC sedative and sleep aid in the US. Hmmm, who knew?

Anyway, I’m willing to believe that dandelion coffee may perk you up when you least expect it. I know those dandelions. They’re sneaky. One day they look like a pretty yellow flower, the next a dangerous ball of seeds that will ruin your father’s yard.
bloom
Eat the greens, pickle the buds, fry the blooms, make some wine if you dare. Just keep in mind when it comes to the coffee, sometimes it’s best to beware.

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/herbal-coffee/profile

https://www.eatweeds.co.uk/dandelion-root-coffee-recipe

http://www.almanac.com/content/dandelion-recipes-wonderful-edible-weed

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/dandelion

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-871-passionflower.aspx?activeingredientid=871

December 9, 2012

Coffee – The Good, The Bad, and The Unusual

coffeeGood morning coffee lovers. If you’re awake and reading this, I’m sure you have your favorite vessel in hand and steam on your face as you read. I prefer to drink my coffee piping hot and black out of a pottery mug with no handle that fits perfectly in my hand.  Ben prefers to drink his from fine china with a razor-thin lip. This visual always strikes me as funny. Not to be missed are the great coffee related stories that abound. I have a client whose stepfather left never to return after finding a small dried-up tree frog in the china mug he insisted upon when visiting the family farm.

Anyway, if you’re a regular coffee drinker, I’m sure you have your own favorite blend, cup, mug, coffee shop, routine, or garnish. I’m also sure you love reading each new report citing the health benefits of consuming coffee: Longer Lives, Reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s, Less Skin Cancer, Increased Heart Health (before the 4th cup), and Decreased Risk of Stroke.(1) You may even feel the immediate calm I feel when the first waft of coffee aroma reaches me from the drive-through window at Starbucks.

Most mornings, I make coffee at home. I like to start with dark roasted coffee beans gleaming with oil. I want them to produce a taste that’s well balanced and not bitter. I have the press-a-lever coffee dispenser in which I fill the reservoir to 7 cups. I don’t how 7 came to be the magic number or why it persists since I usually have coffee left over and wont to land tepidly in my cup the following morning because I’ve forgotten to drain out the excess when I’m fully saturated. Nonetheless, 7 cups it is.

As coffee beans have become increasingly expensive, I have become increasingly conscious of a desire not to waste the excess. When I remember, I remove the excess dispenser contents before I leave for work. I place the coffee in a plastic container on the counter or in the refrigerator. Once I have the coffee sitting there, I need some creative ways to make use of it. Here are a few of the things I’ve successfully tried:

Using coffee to replace part of the liquid in brownies or chocolate cake. The coffee enhances and deepens the richness of the chocolate flavor.

Using as an ingredient in molasses cookies.

Deglazing a pan in which I’m cooking beef. The coffee makes a savory broth even darker and bolder.

Thinking about making Red Eye Gravy, but I rarely have ham and I don’t like gravy that much so thinking is as far as I get on this one.  On the other hand, I have used coffee as part of the liquid in a more standard brown gravy.

Using the steam and warmth of mug full of coffee to relieve sinus pain back in the days when I had allergies. (Yes, I said, “had”. Thanks to zero-gluten and Oregano Oil, this is no longer an issue.) Breathe the steam and then apply the side of the mug directly to the sinuses.

Reheating to drink as “emergency” coffee when I’ve run out of beans.

Mixing with a spice reduction, then applying to my hair to reduce the gray.

Watering herbs or houseplants that need more acid in the soil. I don’t know if this is really helpful, but it hasn’t hurt them yet and it makes me feel less wasteful.

Some of you are probably excited about a new idea that was sparked by reading these options.  Others of you may be wondering why I don’t just make less coffee. That’s a valid question, but here’s the thing – some days, I drink that much coffee. Sometimes, work unexpectedly beckons early leaving me with too little time to savor this pleasure. Another issue is that in my groggy pre-coffee state on any given morning, I can’t seem to muster the presence to determine how much I will want.

Rather than fight what feels natural, I’ve learned to expand the possibilities, make myself feel good about my decisions, and give you a few new options to consider be they good, bad, or just unusual.

 

 

(1)Brice, Mikini. “Seven Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee.” Medical Daily RSS. Medical Daily, 16 Aug. 2012. Web. 08 Dec. 2012.

November 24, 2019

Just Do What You Can

You don’t need to tell me to call if I need something…just do what you can! It’s been a difficult past few weeks. We received news that my 18-month-old granddaughter has developed an unexpected complication that will require a 3rd open heart surgery. On the heels of that, my elderly cousin whose care I oversaw began to decline quickly and passed away. As this next season of difficulty for my family has arrived, so have the well meaning statements to call if I need something.

I appreciate it. I know some of you will drop everything to help. I also know some of you say to call, but in reality will most likely stay too busy to actually assist. This is the nature of the ebb and flow of relationships.
hospital
So, here’s the thing. What my family knows from the past year is that when hospitalizations grow lengthy and we all grow weary, many times it is simply beyond our ability to ask for something. Our silence doesn’t mean we don’t need help. It means we need it so much that we can’t get our thoughts together to articulate anything specific. We are barely able to put one foot in front of the other.

I’ve been in your shoes, wanting to help and hoping you’d instruct me, take the burden off me, and let me off the hook instead of having to take initiative and figure things out. I’ve wondered whether I’ll be perceived as pushy or intrusive if I take it upon myself to decide what you need. I’ve worried that I’ll accidentally do something that makes you feel worse.

In spite of those reservations, I have taken the initiative to buy groceries after a phone call in which I sensed the stress and overload a friend was feeling. She had moved her mother from a nursing home into her home to die, it was her husband’s busy season at work, and one of her sons was going through a nasty break-up and had moved back home. She mentioned she was out of milk and couldn’t leave the house.

I heard her. I did not ask for a list or permission. I went to the grocery store and bought some basics-milk, eggs, coffee, cheese, crackers, a rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, salad mix, bananas, muffins, a loaf of bread, deli meat, paper towels, and toilet paper. I didn’t worry whether I had chosen her brand of paper towels or coffee. I just delivered enough to get the family through a couple of days, hopefully giving them a chance to rest and rally.

Similar things have happened for my benefit. A few weeks after my mom died, I cooked lunch for a friend. After lunch, I felt really bad. My stomach hurt. I had no energy. All I wanted to do was recline. My friend checked to see if I needed to go to the doctor, then she told me to lie down on the couch and stay there. She cleared the table, washed every dish in the kitchen, and wiped down the stove. She saw in that moment what I needed and did what she could. It was a kindness I will never forget.

Last weekend when I got home from my cousin’s funeral, there was a bag of warm food sitting on my porch. The friend who I had taken groceries those years ago had roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower and steamed spinach with almonds and raisins then delivered them to my home. I had been on the road for three hours. Arriving to this gift warmed my belly and my heart. I am so grateful for friends who seem to instinctively know how to help!

But not everyone has this sixth sense. What if you don’t know how to help? I would say, just do what you can…

When you don’t have time or are too far away to clean the kitchen, call or text. If you wait for me to post something or send an update, it may not happen. It’s not that I don’t want to keep you in the loop. I’ll try, but sometimes my energy is directed toward processing the news that EM is being immobilized and put back on a ventilator or trying to get some work done in the few hours I have before picking up DJ from school. A message saying you’re thinking of us or wishing us a day without bad news is always welcome. I will respond when I am able.

If you want to help and texting doesn’t feel right, consider a gift card for an errand running service. During a 60-day hospitalization this spring, my daughter-in-law’s co-workers purchased a gift card from such a service that was well received. My DIL needed keys duplicated and distributed, but getting to the locksmith or hardware store seemed impossible. Suddenly, she had a solution!
pizza
When you live close but are really busy, think about piggy-backing on something you’re already doing. When you order pizza, pick up an extra one and drop it off at the hospital on your way home. A quick text and we can often meet you at the front door. You won’t even have to get out of your car.

Of course it doesn’t have to be pizza. If you know something specific we like, bring it. If not, when you eat out, carry away a Poke bowl topped chicken and other generally liked topping choices; a salad with a couple of dressing choices on the side; a loaded baked potato with all of the toppings on the side; a baked chicken breast with mixed veggies; a burrito bowl; muffins or croissants. Whatever you bring will be welcome. If we can’t eat it, we will share with another family. It will not go to waste.

You can do the same when you cook at home. You don’t need to prepare anything extra. Drop off leftover mac & cheese, pork tenderloin, squash casserole, chili, enchiladas, pot roast, stir-fry, or steamed vegetables. It doesn’t have to be a full meal. Your vegetables added to protein from the hospital cafeteria will still be a welcome change.

Another easy contribution is a few home essentials you can add to your regular shopping list. Choose things everyone needs or can use that can sit on the porch for a few hours without spoiling – paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, facial tissue travel packs, zip top bags or snack containers in a variety of sizes, hand soap, hand lotion, body wash, dental floss, Tylenol, disinfecting hand wipes or diaper wipes if there are small children in the household, kitchen wipes, unscented laundry detergent, dishwashing pods, a snuggly throw, magazines, trail mix, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, instant oatmeal or grit packets, cereal, microwavable rice, or a variety of pre-made soups.

Last week, a friend brought me a couple of things I requested from the grocery store. She threw in a copy of National Enquirer. It was the perfect addition! It made me laugh and gave me frivolous reading plus sudoku and crosswords to distract me from funeral planning.

When you have extra time, lawn care, plant watering, or houseplant sitting can be welcome contributions. Present them as options you are going to do unless there’s an objection rather than asking whether they need to be done. Providing pet sitting, grooming, or transportation to the vet can also be valuable services.

Other ways to help may be to take a shift sitting with the patient at the hospital or taking the other children to the museum, making a Halloween costume, delivering or decorating a Christmas tree. Keep things simple and appropriate. If the family normally has a small, simple tree, stick with that. Don’t bring in a 20ft elaborately decorated monstrosity unless the family has expressed the desire for one.

Perhaps the best thing you can do is make time to listen. Long-term illness and hospitalization are isolating experiences. Very few people know what it’s like to be in ICU month after month. There’s no need to offer platitudes, cliches, or assurances that everything will be okay. You don’t know that everything will be okay and even if it is, we’re stuck in the current moment. That’s where we need you to hear us, now, not in the future when things may be less difficult.

You don’t have to try to make us feel better. Just be there, really there, able to hear and shoulder our pain and loss. That will make us feel less alone, more connected, and therefore better.

If you’re not up to that task, it’s okay. There are many, many ways to reach out, help, and show you care. Just do what you can.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-nourishment/201608/helping-friend-whose-loved-one-is-seriously-ill

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/five-ways-cope-life-feels-like-always-someone-else/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/id-tell-you-but-then-id-have-to/