Thursday, September 29, 2011

National Coffee Day

Or, as it is known by me, the high holy day. Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not function well without coffee in the mornings. I will pretty much drink it however it is given to me. When I make it at home, all I need is creamer. No sugar for me. And just plain creamer, none of the flavored sweet stuff.  Generally, I like it hot (that's what she said. Sorry, I couldn't resist). But I decided it might be time to try something different.

Thus, my foray into the world of Homemade Iced Coffee. I found two recipes (one from the Pioneer Woman and one from Smitten Kitchen). They're pretty similar and not too complicated. I followed the one from Smitten Kitchen because it was simpler. Of course, I found them because of the beauty that is Pinterest.

Both recommend cold brewing the coffee, rather than brewing coffee like usual and then placing it in the refrigerator to cool. This is what I did.

from Smitten Kitchen (I really want to call this site Smitten Kitten).

Cold-Brewed Ice Coffee
From The New York Times (via Smitten Kitchen)

Yield: Two drinks

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
Milk (optional)

1. In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.
2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

I tripled this recipe, so 1 cup of ground coffee and 4 1/2 cups of water (right? I don't do math. It worked, though, so I guess I was right. Take that, fraction addition).  I used pretty cheap coffee (see above, I will drink whatever is available) and it tasted fine to me, but use whatever coffee you like.  As far as straining goes, I placed a paper towel in our fine mesh sieve (because the mesh just isn't quite fine enough. I do, however, like that calling it a "fine mesh sieve" makes it sound super fancy). It helps to take a wooden spoon to the coffee grounds, just press gently (be careful not to rip the paper towel) and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can.

After you've separated the coffee grounds out, you might want to refrigerate the cold brewed coffee. Or not. Maybe you want your caffeine NOW. Maybe I know exactly how you feel. 

After you've decided whether or not to be patient, grab a glass. Fill it with ice cubes. Then, fill half way (or more, depending on your desired coffee to milk ratio). Fill the remainder of the glass with milk (or half and half, whatever floats your boat). 

One of those recipes (I think the Pioneer Woman) suggests adding sugar or making a simple sugar with a flavoring, like vanilla. So, I did. But I made it with peppermint extract.  

Simple (really) Sugar
-1 part sugar
-1 part water
-peppermint extract to taste (or vanilla or whatever else your little heart desires)

Bring to a boil, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Seriously simple.

This is what I added to my iced coffee this morning. It takes about 3 minutes to make. But, the peppermint sugar tastes bitter in the coffee unless you let it sit for a bit. I took my drink back to my room, played on the internet, blogged about mexican pizza, and then took a sip of my iced coffee. It was ten times better. Maybe the vanilla wouldn't be like that. Peppermint, why you gotta be like that? But the upside is that the coffee was cold when I added it to the drink, so the ice didn't melt and water the drink down while I was doing other things. 

Now, if only I was drinking my coffee out of these:

Mexican Pizza (a la Taco Bell)

I think I have documented my love for Pinterest. If you don't have an account, you are truly missing out on an amazing time suck. But I justify the time I spend playing on the site with the fact that I actually try a lot of the things I find there.

Case in point: last night's dinner. We had already settled on Taco Night. But, while playing on Pinterest, I found this:

Mexican Pizza. Now, how did we never think of this? It's slightly infuriating.  I mean, we eat Taco Bell mexican pizzas like it's our job. Our pizza wound up being slightly different than the one at Honey, What's Cooking?, but it was delicious nonetheless.

-Tortillas (2 per pizza)
-Canola Oil (very small amount; just enough to cover both sides of tortilla)
-Water (1/4 cup)
-Onion (small)
-Refried  Beans (whichever brand you like; 1 pound can)
-Scallions, Tomatoes, Black Olives (whatever you like)
-Ground Beef (1/2 pound)
-Taco Seasoning (again, whichever brand you like)
-Mexican Cheese Blend (enough to cover pizzas)
-Salsa (whichever one you like)
-Sour Cream (optional)

(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
(2) Lightly brush both sides of 2 tortillas with canola oil.
(3) Place on foil lined tray and put in oven for 10 minutes -- 5 minutes on each side. If you have room, you can cook more than 2 at a time, but we don't, so we didn't. Also, I would highly suggest setting a timer. Five minutes is pretty fast when you're trying to do 10 things in the kitchen.
(4) While the tortillas are cooking, heat up the beans. Empty can into pot with 1/4 cup of water and cook over low heat. The water makes the beans (a) easier to cook; (b) creamier; and (c) easier to spread on the tortilla. Just do it.
(5) Chop the onion. If everyone you are feeding likes onions, then put them in the beans. If not (like our house), just leave them on the side.
(6) Chop whatever other vegetables you want (scallions, tomatoes, black olives, etc.).
(7) Cook ground beef and follow directions of taco seasoning packet. The other recipe wants you to add the seasoning to the beans, but that recipe is meat-free. We just added the taco seasoning to the meat and that added enough flavor.
(8) Take tortillas out of oven, but do not turn oven off. They will be really crispy. Ours managed to get a bunch of bubbles in them, so I just poked the bubbles with a fork and that flattened them back out.
(9) Spread the beans on one of the tortillas. Put some ground beef on top of that. The other recipe says to put a thin layer of salsa on top of the beans, but I opted not to do this.

(10) Then, place the second tortilla on top. Spread salsa in a thin layer and then cover with vegetables (onions, scallions, tomatoes, olives) and cheese.  See:

(11)  Place back in the oven. The other recipe said to cook for 12 minutes, but I found that the tortilla started to burn after about 5 minutes. Just watch it and try to leave the pizza in long enough to melt the cheese, but take it out before it burns (obviously).

We added Taco Bell mild sauce, sour cream, and guacamole and then enjoyed. A lot.

Just as an added tip, if you want to put salsa on your pizza, I would suggest making it. Most store-bought salsas are too chunky for my liking and about a year ago, Brandi and I decided to try to make salsa that had a consistency closer to that of restaurant salsa. Mission overwhelmingly accomplished. And it couldn't be easier.

Concord Foods Salsa Seasoning Mix (in whatever kind you like - both the mild and hot are good). All you do is add 2 cans of diced tomatoes (do yourself a favor and make sure you don't use the ones with basil or garlic or anything else Italian in it. You'll wind up with salsa that tastes like spaghetti sauce). The recipe calls for an onion, but we use scallions. Dump all of this in the food processor and blend. But pay attention and don't liquefy (another mistake we made that I hope you avoid). Delicious. And it lasts for a while, too.

The moral of this recipe? Pinterest makes me seem like the kind of person who comes up with mexican pizza recipes.

This recipe just illustrates this sentiment beautifully:

Monday, September 26, 2011

(Veggie) Dinner for One

Dinner was a free-for-all tonight. I settled on roasted okra, potatoes, and mushrooms. We are low on olive oil (what  I usually use to roast vegetables), so I turned to Italian dressing to do the job. Now, I'm really not a fan on Italian dressing, but Ken's Northern Italian with Basil and Romano dressing is pretty amazing.

I tossed the potatoes, okra, and mushrooms in the dressing, then salted and peppered them. Then, pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 395. Voila! If I had the desire, I might have cooked a piece of chicken to go with this, but man, that seemed like a lot of work for one person.  I would post a picture, but it's vegetables on a pan. I think you can conjure up a mental picture of that.

How Now, You Secret, Black, and Midnight Hags? What Is't You Do?

       How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?
       What is't you do?
                                   A deed without a name.

Okay, this is the third post I have written in the last week. You'll notice I haven't published the other two. I just couldn't quite get them finished. Much like this art project.  Fall is my favorite time of the year. Maybe it's because the fall brings Halloween, my birthday, and Thanksgiving. Maybe it's because fall brings a much needed reprieve from the sweltering summer sun.  Plus, school starts back in the fall and the nerd in me just loves school.

When I decided to make a couple of Halloween crafts, it should really come as no surprise that the first one I made was inspired by Shakespeare.


It's a 16 x 20 canvas and watching me paint it was, I'm sure, hilarious. I didn't really know exactly how big each of the words needed to be, nor did I know what the exact placement of them should be. This resulted in painting over multiple words in black and repainting them multiple times. At least it offered me some time to practice my curse words.

I've got some orange grosgrain ribbon that I'm going to add to the canvas, I'm just not sure exactly how yet. I'll post (better) pictures of the final project when I figure all of this out. In the meantime, I'm moving on the other projects.

         Thrice the brinded cat hath mewed.
         Thrice, and once the hedgepig whined.
         Harpier cries. 'Tis time, 'tis time!
          Round about the cauldron go;
          In the poisoned entrails throw.
          Toad, that under cold stone
          Days and nights has thirty-one
          Sweltered venom sleeping got,
          Boil thou first i'th' charmed pot.
ALL: [as they dance round the cauldron]
          Double, double, toil and trouble;
          Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
          Fillet of a fenny snake,
          In the cauldron boil and bake;
          Eye of newt and toe of frog,
          Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
          Adder's fork and blindwoman's sting,
          Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
          For a charm of powerful trouble,
          Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
          Double, double, toil and trouble;
          Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
                        -W. Shakespeare, Macbeth, IV.i.1-21

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Couldn't Forget, Not Even If I Tried

This week, like everyone else who remembers 9/11, I had multiple conversations about where I was that day, what I remember about it, and what I think that day meant in the context of my life and the lives of everyone else. Ten years is a long time. Ten years goes by in the blink of an eye.

When you're 17 years old, you think you understand the way the world works. You boldly purport to know who you are, where you are from, and how these things fit into the world around you. At 17, you're old enough to be aware, but far too young to understand.

The morning of September 11, 2001, began no differently than any other day before it.  I was a senior in high school and I had a meeting before school about Junior Miss.  I was wearing an empire-waisted white dress with blue flowers and a white cardigan. I got up, got dressed, and went to school, just like every other day. Little did we all know, today was going to change everything.  Initially, I thought it was a joke.  While walking from the meeting to homeroom, Andrew McNamara had stopped me outside to tell me the news. We both joked that it must be some moron who couldn't fly.  Thirty seconds later, as I watched the second plane hit,  it would become stunningly clear that this was no joke.

My world, the one I inhabited, was undisturbed. No one I knew was suddenly gone. No buildings I frequented had been attacked. The skyline in my hometown remained the same. I had never flown prior to 9/11, so not even that changed for me. Outwardly, everything in my world was the same. But something was very different. It's nearly impossible to put into words.  I remember going from class to class that day, watching the coverage. This continued for a few days, until one day when everything went back to normal.

This sounds silly, but 9/11 was the first time I can really remember being truly proud to be an American. It was also the first time I realized that the world might be a dangerous place. The idyllic world of my childhood had been shattered in a matter of minutes. But I think we are all better for the experience.

Ten years later and this thought crosses my mind: One day, Beckett may very well ask me where I was on 9/11. That day is my generation's Pearl Harbor, Kennedy assassination, moon landing, Challenger explosion.  Ten years later and it's still hard to process exactly what happened, exactly what was lost, and exactly what has changed. To just say "everything" doesn't seem like enough.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Football + Crafts = Bliss.

Well, kids, it's that time of year again. The most wonderful time of the year, as a matter of fact. Football season. And at our house, we are READY. We are divided in our allegiances, but unified in our love of all things football (and craft) related.  See:

So ready. More on this later.

As predicted, my bathroom did not get cleaned on Monday. It did, however, get cleaned today. Liza Jane just doesn't understand why none of her blankets (towels) were around for her to sleep on. And she was pissed that the trashcan isn't there for her to sleep on (it's in the closet so she can't dump out all the contents). It's clean. Finally.

Actually, the whole house is clean. Today, I cleaned everything. I ironed slip covers and curtains. I threw away expired coupons and washed 3 loads of clothes. Sometimes, I really feel like an actual adult.

Until next time...War Eagle!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...