Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Coffee drinkers love to talk about where their coffee beans come from and they love to grind their own beans.  But how many have ever roasted their own beans…outside…in the hills of Arkansaseven in the winter?  Yeah, I thought not. I happen to know one who does.

Madison Woods, one of several nom de plumes, lives with her husband in very rural Arkansas, working hard at living a sustainable lifestyle 30 minutes from paved roads.  I first met her through Friday Fictioneers, a group she founded.  The premise behind FF, which I participated in for a number of years, is to write a 100-word story based on a photo.  (The group continues today under the auspices of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, a three-times published author.)  Madison still writes, her specialty being rural (vs. urban) fantasy.  She has one book published and available on Amazon, with a second in the works.

Madison loves nature.  One of her more esoteric pursuits is American ginseng.  She says:

American Ginseng and the habitat that supports this endangered plant is one of my avid interests. Most of my non-fiction is devoted to this topic and I encourage anyone with the right kind of land to help protect and re-establish habitat. This is my goal for our property even though we still intend to harvest and sell our roots eventually. With proper planning, planting and ethical harvesting, it will thrive for generations to come.

Wild Ozark is the only licensed American ginseng nursery in Arkansas.

But about that coffee.   When I wanted a unique gift for one of my s-i-l’s who’s a  coffee drinker, my mind immediately went to Madison.  She and her husband love coffee so much that they source, then roast their own.  I contacted her in January, only to be told that it was too cold outside to roast, but that she thought in a few days it would warm up enough to do so.  That’s not something you see every day!

We use Peru Aprocassi Fair Trade and Organic beans. This is the variety of bean we love the most. I roast outside in full view of the mountains and the valley. The Wild Ozark hills are infused in every cup!

Ordered and delivered long before the birthday date, I waited to see what my s-i-l thought.  When she finally opened and tried the coffee, she raved about it.  The proof is that she just re-ordered.  Hopefully it’s nice enough outdoors to roast!  🙂

Interested?  The coffee is $15/roasted pound, whole bean only.  Email Madison at madison@wildozark.com for availability, postage, and payment methods.  If you’d like to read more about Madison and her interests (or to sign up to follow her blog), go to the Wild Ozark website. Even if you aren’t interested in coffee, you’ll find it full of interesting information about ginseng and other things and you can shop in the Nature Boutique or order one of her fantasy books. There’s so much there I can’t even tell you about all of it, so take time for a visit.  It’s easier to get to than Madison’s place in Arkansas. 🙂

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Just back from a weekend in Philadelphia and, today, an almost-thirteen hour drive home and I need a post.  We enjoyed time with our younger daughter, amazingly warm weather, explored Valley Forge (yes, you’ll get to come, too), and I stocked up on door photos for Thursday Doors while getting far behind on other posts.  I’ll start over tomorrow. I was also happy that so many of you enjoyed my Marge Simpson post.  In that same spirit, I decided to go with the following shot from Rim Cafe, home of the most amazing hot chocolate drinks.  Hence, the sign.  🙂

© janet m. webb 2017

Although I love the smell of coffee, I don’t like the taste unless it’s tarted up with chocolate (dark, for preference) in a mocha or comes as a cappuccino, a drink with a venerable history. I’m a tea drinker on a daily basis, with the occasional mocha/cappuccino thrown in for variety.

But when I’m in Europe and it’s after dinner, cappuccino is my tipple, while my s-i-l chooses un café. And while on an extended walk through a lovely town, when the need for a bathroom (toilet) strikes, unless you wish to use the public toilets, which may or may not be nice, you don’t just waltz into a McDo and use the facilities.  No, it’s into a bar and order something. Of course, simply sitting and having a coffee of whatever sort, is also the perfect excuse to sit outside and people-watch.

While in Plombières-les-Bains, the need for a bathroom break prior to the drive home was a priority, so we nipped into a small corner bar, eschewing the more attractive outdoor tables to avoid a smoker.  When my cappuccino arrived and the server had left, my s-i-l and I exchanged one of those glances where you widen your eyes while making a small, disbelieving face.  This topping, complete with sprinkles,  reminded me more of something I might get on top of a sundae at the county fair or Dairy Queen!!  To say I sipped cautiously was to understate, but the coffee wasn’t bitter and the whole thing worked wonderfully.  If it looks overly sweet, remember that whipped cream isn’t sweetened the way it is here and that cute, wrapped sugar cube was still there when we left.

© janet m. webb 2016

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It’s always good to find a place where the locals hang out, where there are good food and drinks. In the Quepos area, that place, the third place, is Cafe Milagro.

“Cafe Milagro is a small, independently owned and operated Costa Rican coffee roaster.
Based in Costa Rica, we are your direct source for premium, single origin, estate grown, micro milled coffees.”

The guidebook I read raved about Cafe Milagro more than once and we’d spotted it when we arrived Sunday evening.  So after a relaxing morning at the beach, we braved the heat (about 90), high humidity and steep terrain to make our sweaty way to the cafe.

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All restaurants in the area are open which sounds cool, but in the heat, with no breeze, they’re anything but.  That put cool drinks at the top of our agenda. Shannon chose an iced coffee drink, which was good, but I scooped the pool with my drink of lime with mint. It was incredibly refreshing and good for me, too. Can’t beat that.

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On Wednesday morning, after our day of horseback riding and catamaran sunset tour, we had a morning off. We decided that was the perfect time to have breakfast somewhere other than our restaurant, although the food there was good. At Cafe Milagro, the decision about what to choose was tough, but we both went with mango crepes with berry sauce and shared a plate of fresh fruit.  The crepes were bursting with mango and the fruit was fresh and refreshing.

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On our final morning, before heading back to San Jose, we went back one last time, this time for lunch. We decided to share the two entrees that sounded best: fish tacos and vegetarian quesadillas. The fish, caught locally, was fresh and tasty. In fact, both entrees tasted as good as they look here.

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Besides food, drinks, both alcoholic and non, a gift shop and live music every evening, Cafe Milagro offers locally roasted coffee. Costa Rican coffee is considered by many to be the best in the world and if the aroma that came through the pin-sized hole is anything by which to judge, the taste must be amazing.

When traveling with someone, take large doses of patience and tolerance with your morning coffee. 
~Helen Hayes
Good communications is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Getting together with a friend is about the best way to start a day that comes to mind! Especially over a cup of tea (or coffee for her) and some unrushed sharing time. I was blessed to start my Friday that way, with a friend who I don’t see nearly as often as I’d like, but when we do get together, it’s as if we’ve never been apart.

Our friendship started when both our families attended the same church, although it was more like a mentoring relationship in those days. She was younger, wanting to accomplish things, to take on the world, sure that her way was right while still being a loving person, a cheerleader as opposed to my athlete. I was home schooling our girls. We were both teaching Sunday school, she originally as the superintendent, as I recall it. Although I had a lot of maturing yet to do (and still have more to accomplish in that area even today), I found myself listening, mediating, calming, talking. When she began working as the school librarian, we started meeting once a week in the library for prayer, prayer for our families, our friends, our church, our country and, probably, the world. We met at each other’s house, too.

Then she and her family moved, not far, but far enough that we weren’t within that easy distance for stopping by for a short while. Instead of five minutes or so, we were looking at an investment of twenty or more each way. I stayed busy home schooling, she took a part time job as a reference librarian, a job she kept telling me would be the perfect one for me some day.

But we still made the time to meet periodically. A Caribou Coffee was, although not equidistant, at least not too far out of her way, which brought her that direction sometimes anyway. It was the perfect place to meet, greet, catch up, pray again, make use of the time we had to keep our friendship not only alive, but the kind that works despite the distance and time; the kind where you know if you needed something or someone, you could call or email (I don’t text) the other person and if at all possible, she’d be there. We both have other friends, other things going on in our lives. But it doesn’t matter; we’re both secure enough in what we have to know that it’s important no matter what else is happening, no matter who else is there.

That type of friendship is worth much, especially in a world that grows busier every day, where communication, despite the plethora of ways it can be accomplished, is often sparse or facile, a Facebook world of sound bites and other people’s posts.

We met again Friday morning at CC at GG ( at Caribou Coffee at Golden Gate, the mall location), our shorthand for “our” spot, the place where along with our tea (for me) and coffee (for her), we imbibe the much more delicious and valuable drink of time together with a friend. Another brick in the wall of friendship. The perfect way to start a day!

I’m always seeing things that make me laugh or hearing things that don’t come out correctly or just stuff that’s weird and not as I’d expect it to be. Don’t give me any scientific explanations for any of it, either. It ruins the fun.

In no particular order….

When I’m at a restaurant and a waiter/waitress/waitperson/server comes up, they’ll often say, “If you need me, my name is (fill in the blank).” OK, what’s your name if I don’t need you? Sorry, but it’s a struggle for me every time someone says this not take ask them that follow-up question. I don’t, but I’d really, really like to.

Why do pancake recipes tell you to only turn the pancakes once? What horrible thing could possibly happen if you turned them a third time? What about 4 or 5 times? I’ll be brutally honest (and you don’t even have to bring out the comfy chair)….I have turned pancakes more than one and occasionally maybe even four times. Does that make me a bad person? What did it do to the person who ate the pancake so terribly abused? Please don’t tell anyone.

Why is it that leftover pancake batter, like diamonds, is forever? I can fill the empty bowl with water and let it sit all day. When I pour the water out, the leftover mix is still at the bottom, seemingly just as it was hours earlier. Even if I carefully wipe everything, then wash thoroughly, there always seems to be some pasted-on, dried-up batter somewhere, hanging on, like a barnacle on the bottom of boat, for dear life. I guess that’s why you can make paste with flour. Makes me wonder what my insides look like? Guess all those enzymes and things in there are pretty tough!!

Why should anyone selling coffee or any coffee-related beverage, tea or hot (remember the “hot” part) chocolate (excluding all designer drinks that have any of these in them but are made cold), have to put cautions on the cups or elsewhere warning people that the beverage is hot? (Do NOT give me the legal reasons. Just don’t.) You wanted a hot beverage; you paid for a hot beverage; you’re annoyed if your hot beverage isn’t hot. Why wouldn’t you expect it to be hot and behave accordingly? Now if you ordered iced tea and it was hot, you’d have something about which to complain.

Our mailman isn’t male. I guess that makes her a mailwoman, but not a male woman. Mailperson not male person. And no one, male or female, wants to be a garbageperson.

Have you ever thought about how many brain cells are occupied with words from songs from your past? I can hear something from the 60’s or 70’s and often chime right in without realizing I even know so many of the words! Some of the songs were shorter but still. For instance, I know all the words to “Secret Agent Man”, “Red Rubber Ball” and “Happy Together”, but I also know “Bye, bye Miss American Pie” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”, plus lots and lots of things…including much of “Smoke on the Water”. Anyone for a rousing round of “Inagaddadavida”? Would I be a brain surgeon (maybe on my own brain) or a rocket scientists if I had all those cells otherwise occupied? But if the latter, then I couldn’t say “It isn’t rocket science”, because it would be.

Having done and proofed bulletins and newsletters as well as having been part of a committee to re-work the constitution of our church, I’ve always wondered at the plethora of extraneous capital letters that abound in church missives. “We will meet in the Narthex of the Church. The Pastor will lead the Congregation in singing from the Song Book. Please remember that Dogs are not allowed in Church any day of the Week, unless they are Service Dogs.” (Sorry about the pun.)

Did you ever think about the fact that a fiend is only one letter removed from a friend? Literally one letter removed. Makes you think.

In case you need a little something for today…

Since the fledgling biscotti recipes I made were fortuitously found while I was folding newspaper for recycling, paper that arrived providing padding for some since-forgotten gifts, I can share the recipes, since I don’t believe there was any attribution made or if so, I didn’t write it down.  Hopefully the biscotti recipe police won’t hunt me down and charge me with copyright infringement!  I guess I’ll chance it.

Biscotti are simple to make, great for gift-giving and for the price you pay for about six at a store or coffee shop, you can make at least 2-3 dozen.  I like to cut mine using an electric knife and I have an oven-size insulated cookie sheet that I pretty much only use for biscotti because I can get the entire recipe on that single pan. You can add dried fruit and please, feel free to dip an end or side in chocolate, (I recommend dark), for an even fancier look and all those lovely antioxidants (as if you needed a reason to eat another biscotti!)

Let me know how you like these and feel free to share any recipes you might have.  And once you’re done, the next time you’re shopping for groceries or having a cuppa (tea or coffee), at your local coffee shop, take a look at the price of the biscotti they’re selling.  But try not to laugh out loud or look too smug!!

 

Honey Almond Biscotti

 

2 c. flour

¾ c. sugar

¾ c. whole/slivered unblanched almonds

¾ c. finely ground unblanched almonds

½ t. baking soda

½ t. baking powder

½ t. salt

½ t. cinnamon

Mix in a medium bowl.  In another bowl, mix

1/3 c. honey

1/3 c. water

¼ t. almond extract.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until well-blended.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide in half and make two 12” x 2” x ¾” logs.

Place logs on a sprayed baking sheet and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.  Remove and cool 10 minutes.  (I remove the logs from the baking sheet.)  Slice into ½” diagonal slices, using a serrated knife.  Place slices on their sides on the baking sheet and bake 15 minutes more.  Cool on a rack.  Makes about  4 dozen.

Chocolate Chip Biscotti

2 c. flour

2/3 c. sugar

1 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

½ c. semisweet, miniature chocolate chips

Mix in a bowl.  In another bowl, mix

3 large eggs, beaten

1 t. vanilla extract

Add wet to dry and mix until blended.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead 8 –10 times.  Caution—the dough will be sticky!  Form in a log 2” x 16” x ¾” (or two smaller logs.)  Place on a sprayed baking sheet and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.  Remove and cool 10 minutes (off baking sheet.)

Put on a cutting board and cut diagonally into ½” slices, using a serrated knife.  Reduce heat to 325.  Lay slices on their sides on the baking sheet and bake 10 minutes.  Turn slices over and bake 10-12 more minutes or until slices are golden brown.  Cool on a rack.