Upping My Coffee Game

It’s a well established fact that I am just not a coffee drinker.

The smell is heavenly – but the taste has always let me down.

My kids, however, all drink coffee.

And not just any coffee – but good coffee. That’s why they make their own when they are here.

The only time I make coffee is when my parents come to visit and I pull my little vintage percolator and attempt to brew a pot. They’ve always said it was “fine”.

To be honest. I never even think about coffee except to make sure I have some in the freezer and half & half in the fridge when the kids are home.

So when Peter brought a bunch of friends down to help tear down the hovel, coffee was the last thing on my mind. At least until they staggered in the kitchen Saturday morning with bleary eyes and mumbling “Coffee?”

I went into full on panic mode and grabbed my little vintage peculator which looked grossly undersized and frantically tried to remember how to make coffee.

I don’t think I succeeded by the number of mugs full of coffee that were left on the table when they went outside.

The next day I texted my oldest son – the one known in our family as the connoisseur of fine brew – and asked him to teach my how to make a good cup o’ joe.

He took the challenge seriously and began lessons the very next time he was home.

I will admit he looked uncertain when I pulled out my little vintage percolator but gamely tried it.

He immediately dumped the pot.

Lesson 1 – when coffee is boiled it becomes bitter. Bitter is not good.

He then introduced me to the French Press <insert heavenly music> which is the easiest and almost dummy-proof way to make coffee.

As he carefully measured the coffee grounds and started the water boiling, he began explaining the different kinds of coffee, pros and cons of coffee beans and already ground coffee and how to tell when your coffee is old and why nobody wants to drink the three year coffee in my freezer.

Lesson 2 – Nobody likes old coffee. Old coffee is not good.

I listened intently as I watched him take the boiling water off the burner, let it sit for a minute to bring the temp down (lesson number 1!) and poured it over the ground coffee.

He then told Siri to set a timer for three minutes, and continued my education on all things coffee. Did you know there’s a roast date on every package of coffee? And the lighter the roast the more caffeine?

My head was spinning by the time Siri told him his coffee was done.

He carefully poured his perfectly made brew into a mug and sat down satisfied with the look on his face that only the most serious coffee drinkers understand.

I sat across from him holding my massive cup of green tea and realized that my brain was about to burst with information.

So I grabbed a recipe card and started making notes.

I fully realize that I may be teased about this for the rest of my life – but I will confess hear and now that I actually have a recipe for coffee.

And I used it when my parents visited.

And they immediately noticed that my coffee had improved. Greatly.

This momma has upped her coffee game!

Next lesson – how to get Siri to set the timer for 3 minutes!

Okay – don’t hold your breath on that one!


Iced Mocha

So what does a coffeeIced Mocha addict do when the temperatures hit the 90’s, the humidity is soaring – and they need their coffee fix?

They head to Pinterest and find a recipe for Iced Mocha!

That’s just what Dagmar – our resident coffee aficionado – did.

She made it – fell in love with it – and the girls have been indulging ever since!

(Please note that I said the girls – that does not include me! I have never tasted this recipe – nor do I plan to – ever! You all know my thoughts on that stuff! And to think – they actually wasted good chocolate in it!  I shudder.)

But anyway –

It starts with frozen coffee ice cubes, so now they keep an ice cube tray of coffee in the freezer just in case a craving hits.

Which it does. Daily.

Iced Mocha

2 cups cold coffee (try different flavors for a twist)
1 tray of coffee ice cubes
1/2 whole milk (or coffee creamer – especially flavored!)
1 ounce chocolate syrup

Throw everything in the blender and whiz.

Pour it into a fancy glass and top with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup!

This can serve up to four – if you share.


The Perfect Cuppa

the perfect cuppaI find it very interesting that I – a confirmed non-coffee drinker – should end up with so much coffee paraphernalia.

Would you believe there is – right at this very moment – a coffee maker, a French press, and a coffee grinder sitting on my counter?!

And two different kinds of coffee beans in the freezer, and an assortment of creamers and simple syrups in the fridge?

And I don’t even like the stuff! Honestly – how can something that smells so heavenly taste so nasty?!

I guess I better get used to it – with two highly-caffeinated, coffee-loving teens living in the house now.

I find it very humorous when they put coffee beans on the grocery list. What? You want me to aid in this addiction?

I stop laughing when I hit the coffee aisle.

Oh my! The choices! Whole bean or ground? Decaf or caffeinated? Flavored or plain? And how do want them roasted?  Light? Medium? Dark?  What’s the difference anyway? Then there’s all the brands to choose from!

So tell me – when did coffee drinking get so complicated? When I was growing up, coffee came in big tin cans and my mom brewed it in a peculator and would offer cream or sugar to guests.

Now you have the mocha, the latte, the frappe, the cappuccino, the macchiato, the expresso and even a half-breed frappuccino.

And they can come in almost any flavor you can imagine –  pumpkin, peppermint, gingerbread, vanilla, chocolate, caramel, almond, and the list goes on and on and on.

Do you want that hot or cold?

Steamed, pressed, brewed or dripped? Whatever that is.

How about some whipped cream on top? Sure. How about some sprinkles, too.

I’m sorry. It’s just all too confusing.

That’s why I drink tea.

A mug. Some leaves. Hot water. 6 minutes. Perfect.

Now – what kind of tea should I have? Black? Green? Herbal? Chai?  Earl Grey? Oolong? Darjeeling? Hot? Cold? Loose leaf or tea bag? With sugar or lemon or a touch of honey? Hot? Cold?

Photo courtesy of Julious Schorzman.

Frosted Shortbreads

It’s a cool, damp fall afternoon here in the hills of Southern Iowa. The perfect afternoon for something warm with melted gooey chocolate. But with a full schedule, I needed to bake something quick. The perfect solution, Frosted Shortbreads. My husband’s sister-in-law first introduced me to the delights of shortbread. She loves to whip up a batch in the evening and eat it warm with a cup of strong coffee.

Frosted Shortbreads:

Cream 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar.

Add 1 egg yolk and 1 tsp. vanilla.

Then add 2 cups of flour and 1/4 tsp. of salt.

Carefully press the dough into a 15″ by 10″ greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Remove from the oven and immediately press 4 milk chocolate bars (1.55 oz. each) broken into rectangles, over shortbread.

Let stand 1 minute and then spread the chocolate around evenly. Sprinkle with 1/2 c. of nuts if you desire ( today I used toffee pieces) and enjoy!

You should have heard the mmm’s and seen the smiles I just got from all five children. I of course substituted a glass of milk for the coffee and added an apple to round out our afternoon snack. But I am still “mom of the year”, at least in this Little House on the Prairie!