Monday, April 4, 2011

Tea and Coffee

Our weekend started off early with the Royals Home Opener on Thursday. We celebrated at home of course.

This weekend was windy but warm and beautiful. I wasn't feeling super but the sun was so very motivating and healing in it's own way.  Because I wasn't feeling so well I talked with some friends and decided that after over a month of contemplating...I would try my hand at a green smoothie.
I put:
8 fresh strawberries
4 baby carrots
1 orange
juice of one lemon
1 1/2 C plain organic yogurt with cream top =)
3 T flax seed
1 T local honey
Handful of fresh, organic, baby Spinach

I would normally put in a banana but they weren't ripe yet.  This was pretty good but the lemon made it way tart. The banana made all the difference in the world. I look forward to trying this more down the road and I can't wait to try it with fresh mint leaves! Thanks, Frontyard  Foodie, once again.

After a short stint of returning cold weather, that reminds us that we live in the Midwest jet stream and that it is Spring, and not yet summer, the warmth was so welcome. I hurried to get my sun tea out and decided to try my hand at cold-brew coffee.

For my sun tea I fill up a glass jar (I got this from Wal-Mart for $4) with water and throw in about 8 servings of black tea bags.  I set it in the sun and it's ready in a few hours! I love this because you don't use any electricity, it doesn't warm your house in the slightest (perfect for summer), and you don't really have to worry about over steeping or it becoming bitter.  When finished I just throw in 1/2 C of sugar (my Sugar likes his sugar!) and put it in the fridge or into a serving pitcher.

I sliced up a lemon and threw in half of the slices.

The Cold-brew coffee.
I followed the process that I found in a Food and Wine magazine for Vietnamese-style iced coffee. The article is here.
The process takes 24 hrs to complete but there is so little to it. 23 hrs and 55 mins is wait time.
Get your cold water...I don't know why but I felt the need to use ice.

Ground your coffee and mix with water.

Cover and wait 23 hrs and 55mins. Approximately.

Strain/Press coffee grounds out. My french press worked well.

And if you're wondering if that is a pasta sauce jar, you'd be correct. To my husbands dismay. But hey, it saves him money!

Then they have a recipe that called for sweetened condensed milk and milk...I did not have that, and I'm sure it would have been delicious.  But I used a flavored creamer and water.  
6oz coffee concentrate
8oz (1 cup) water
1-2T flavored coffee creamer 
served over ice (of course).

Results: Great! This was so easy and is definitely worth a shot. Especially since the magazines says "Coffee snobs prefer cold-brewing." That alone should make you try this out this summer!

Also something new I have started, that also takes some wait time (but a LOT longer) is making my own vanilla.  In the Valentines Day (or February) edition of Martha Stewarts Living she had a small article on making your own vanilla extract.  It is shamefully easy. Shamefully in that we should all be making our own!
You need:
Vanilla Beans

Now a friend had given me some of her homemade vanilla and I knew I was going to have to make some, but I knew that mine would not be ready before I finished hers off. So I decided to buy the Vanilla flavored Vodka and get a head start on the flavor so that I could use it as it becomes more and more developed.  My friend also gave me a bag of vanilla beans (she's a wonderful friend huh!?) and my vodka cost me $6. So I have 750 ml of vanilla extract for $6. You can't beat that. Of course, because I got the flavored stuff, I can't call it "pure" but its good enough for me.
I simply sliced open the vanilla bean pods and scraped/loosened the tiny vanilla beans and put the pods and beans in the bottle. As the article says, you can continue to add pods that you may have leftover from any recipe that calls for vanilla beans.  
The recipe called for at least one vanilla bean per 1/2 cup of vodka. So I put about 8 in to start my bottle. Then you wait 280 days. Or, if you're unable to wait you can try my cheating method.

Here is the deepening color only two weeks in.  And it smells wonderful. 


  1. I tried making my own vanilla extract with beans from a bottle my sister had made for me -- I read many places that you can reuse the beans over and over again. Um. I'm not so sure. It's been sitting for weeks already and it barely looks any different than when I first poured in the alcohol. LOL I want to try again with fresh beans.

    I also want to cold brew coffee. I've heard for ages how wonderful it is!

  2. Meg, I hope that maybe your extract turns out...Martha Stewart said you could use pods that you scraped to use the beans but I'm with you and not so sure that the bean pods could be used over and over. hmm. I'll ask Rebekah where she got her pods and how much they cost.