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 Every drop I made from that bag superseded any coffee that came before or since.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.

December 11, 2018

Always Keep Kitchen Safety in Mind

When you’re preparing food, it’s important to always keep kitchen safety in mind. Where else in the house do you get to play with sharp objects, open flames, boiling liquids, cans under pressure, and countless amounts of breakable glass? In contrast to the rest of the house, the kitchen is a perpetual accident waiting to happen.

I feel like I’m pretty aware of safety when I’m working in the kitchen, but I am constantly reminded of yet another hazard by an OMG moment! Grandchildren in the kitchen have added yet another layer of awareness.
kit safety
Here are a few safety tips from my kitchen…

Knives

Beyond the obvious keep knives away from fingertips warning, don’t be tempted to leave knives lying on the countertop. This is hard for me. I will chop something on a cutting board, then lay a knife across it because I plan to use it again after I’ve done a few other things. I know the knife is there, how dangerous can it be?

Well, having almost stabbed my foot with a falling knife I’d accidentally jostled a couple of months ago, I’d say pretty dangerous. I was grateful I’d had Stop the Bleed training. I also became keenly aware how difficult it would be to use that training on myself.

I know not to leave sharp or breakable objects on the counter when my grandchildren are around. A curious 18-month-old may reach above his head and swipe his hand across the countertop to see what he can find. He also may reach for a knife from your knife block if it is visible. Luckily, my grandson warned me that he was about to pull a knife out by telling me he needed one for the dish he was “cooking” on his stove. My knife block no longer resides at the end of the counter.
knife
Flames

I’ve narrowly escaped burning dish towels and sleeves by failing to notice until the last minute how close they were to the flames on the burner. In general, long flared sleeves may be adorably cute on you, but they’re a really bad idea to wear as cooking fashion. In the same vein, a dish towel may be the most handy potholder, but if you leave any part of it dangling, it can touch a dancing flame before you know it.

And don’t even get me started on paper towels near the stove. Fry some chicken, cover a plate in paper towels, hold that plate above and to the side of the skillet when you remove the chicken to drain on the paper towels. Sounds like reasonable instructions, right?

The instructions aren’t bad, they’re just not complete. They should include a caution to make sure NO paper towel extends beyond the edge of the plate and that the flame is turned low enough that it doesn’t extend past the edge of your frying pan. If you need the flame higher than that to maintain the proper oil temperature, it’s probably best not to hold the plate so that you know it’s sitting a safe distance away from the flame.

Also, don’t be tempted to wipe that drip off the top of the stove just behind the burner while it’s on. You’ll have to reach your arm over or around a very hot pot near a very hot burner most likely with something wet in your hand that won’t protect fingers from heat. That’s too much risk for the amount of time it will save you later. Of course I know this is a bad idea because I’ve done it.

Always keep a fire extinguisher charged and handy just in case flames get out of hand. Mine lives under my kitchen sink. If you happen to have a small grease fire in a pan, turn off the burner, smother the fire with a metal lid or baking sheet, baking soda, or salt. Do not throw water or flour on the fire. Do not cover the pan with glass or pottery. Do not try to carry the pan outside.

Pot Holders and Dish Towels

We just touched on one downside of using a dish towel as a potholder, but it’s also good to remember that a damp or wet towel will not provide insulation from heat. Any towels or potholders should be dry before grabbing a hot handle.

Dish towels may have to be folded multiple times to be thick enough to protect your hand. This can result in a wiggly (technical term) grip. Heavy skillets like those made from cast iron increase the risk a wiggly grip poses.

I use my pot holders so much, they get thin in the middle. I usually discover this when I grip a skillet of cornbread and start to lift it out of the oven. The heat transfer is gradual, but over time I’ve learned when it feels hotter than it should in the first few seconds I should immediately put the skillet back down on the rack in the oven. Muscling through the heat to lift it to the counter is a D-U-M-B thing to do.

Storage

Don’t store anything in the oven that isn’t oven proof to the temperature you’d use to bake a frozen pizza. Sometimes I just need a quick place to hide something in the kitchen. Of course the oven works beautifully…until days later when I’ve totally forgotten the plastic tray in there and preheated the oven. Ugh, you get the picture. I actually preheated the oven this morning with a skillet & sheet pan in it. I do this on the regular, so I know I have to outsmart myself and only store oven proof things.

If you have pets, storing anything on the top of the stove can be risky. A former customer of mine put a basket on top of her stove to at night. One night while everyone was sleeping, her cat jumped on the stove to investigate. In the process, the cat’s foot turned on a burner starting a fire. Luckily, a smoke alarm awakened the family quickly, but the whole kitchen burned.

Having a system that tells you how long a bottle of olive oil, soy sauce, or maple syrup has been stored open in the pantry can prevent you from eating spoiled condiments. Of course, it’s good to do the same thing for the salad dressing, mayonnaise, pickles, jelly, and ketchup in the fridge. Discarding these in a timely manner (with hot sauce, timely means you have years to spare) is a great safety precaution.

I’ll admit my discard system is haphazard. When I’m testing recipes, I use everything so fast this isn’t an issue. When I’m cooking less, I periodically throw everything away that I can’t remember opening and start over. I’m about to have one of these purging sessions in my pantry.

Microwave

I’m sure you know not to put metal in the microwave. You may not know that putting a honey bear in there to heat up crystalized honey can result in serious burns. If heated too long, the bottle can explode when you remove it and you can end up covered in molten honey. This happened to a friend of mine, but a Reddit thread tells me it’s happened to others as well.

When James was about two, I microwaved a cup of water. I took it out of the microwave then had to go check on his crying baby brother. Before I left the room, I made sure the cup was toward the back of the counter where James couldn’t reach it. Being resourceful, James pulled a chair up to the counter, climbed up, got the cup and spilled a full cup of boiling water down the front of his shirt. It all happened in a matter of seconds.

James proceeded to run around the house screaming at the top of his lungs because his shirt was burning him. When I finally caught him, I grabbed the shirt and quickly pulled it off. The skin of his entire chest came off along with the shirt.

Yes, it looked as bad as it sounds and I’m sure it was as painful! After a visit to the doctor, we kept the wound clean and coated in Silvadene and it healed. The only scars left are in James’ memory and on my Mommy record.

Coffee

Unplug the coffee grinder before you use your finger to scrape out the grounds that didn’t fall into the lid. I mean it. Unplug the thing. More than once I’ve had coffee grinders come on unexpectedly and get stuck on. One of them was recalled because of this problem. I’ve seen plenty of otherwise smart people dig out grounds with the grinder plugged in. It makes me cringe each and every time.

Unplug the coffee maker when it’s not being used. I once watched my coffee maker shoot sparks into the kitchen. It was plugged in, but not turned on. The fact that I was there to see it (and prevent a fire) was a happy accident. I switched to a French press.

Timing

I use the timer on my stove, but it’s not very loud. If I’m leaving the kitchen, I know it’s a good idea to set a corresponding timer to carry with me. The one on my phone works great. I also have a stationary one on the desk in my home office.

It’s also a good idea to set a timer if you decide to chill a can of soda in the freezer. I rarely do this, but when I do, I consistently forget about that can for way too long. Usually I catch my error at the point the top of the can begins to bow out, but I have had to clean up the freezer after a can explosion. I can assure you that cleaning the freezer is not my idea of fun!

Other Things

-Read labels for allergens.
-Disinfect anything that touches raw meat.
-Use a meat thermometer to make sure meat reaches a safe temperature.
-Don’t eat raw eggs.
-Wash fruits and vegetables.
-Kiss Caesar salads goodbye for awhile. The romaine problem has gotten out of hand.
-Refrigerate leftovers in a timely manner.
-Turn pot and pan handles toward the center of the stove.
-Wipe spills up quickly so you won’t slip and fall.

Clothing Optional

I’m fine with you doing whatever you want to do in the nude, but this post is about safety in the kitchen. Soooo, don’t cook naked. Like ironing naked, it seems like a good idea until it’s not. By that point you’ll probably have frozen or burned something you really don’t want to freeze or burn. At least put on an apron. A simple apron with heels can be the perfect cooking outfit depending on the guest list.

Every cook I know burns themself at some point. Many cut a finger. Most of these injuries are minor. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to have a watchful eye and always keep kitchen safety in mind when you’re having a kitchen adventure.

https://www.firerescue1.com/firefighter-training/articles/223446018-How-to-put-out-a-grease-fire/

https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/index.html

https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/index.html

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/make-the-kitchen-your-happy-place/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/pare-your-kitchen-down-to-the-basics/