Category Archives: Food and Cooking

A Good Cuppa

This is the first cup of coffee where I do not feel the need to add sweetener. I’ve been using Sucralose or Aspartame for years but I’ve also been drinking Keurig-brewed coffees. For too long, I’ve been fine with that. The coffee had superficial flavorings (scents, really) that made them somewhat interesting and I never really thought much about it. However, lately, something shifted inside me and I decided that so-so coffee was no longer good enough.

I first tried coffee for real after college when I was working at my first job in the computer center at Dartmouth College. It was your standard Bunn affair, standard office coffee made from old grounds in a giant filter in industrial quantities. It was ok and I made it better by adding a packet of Swiss Miss to it. I wanted better (and there were no coffee houses in the area yet) and I couldn’t afford a coffee machine, so I got a plastic drip thingy for my mug. Over the years, I’ve experimented with various coffee machines (I still miss the Capresso combination drip coffee maker and espresso machine that we got as a wedding present) with varying results. When my mother-in-law moved in with us, we got the Keurig so she could make herself coffee (she was too old and frail to do anything more complicated than that) and we made do. If I wanted something stronger or better tasting, I would head out to Starbucks (yes, I actually like Starbucks coffee) or Brewed Awakenings, where you can get personal French Press coffee at your table. My wife doesn’t put sweetener in her coffee and is always on me to break the habit. But every time I try it, I just can’t do it and give up before too long.

Out with the old…

Yesterday, I bought a Chemex and some of their square, brown paper filters and began experimenting. The first cup was good. Certainly better tasting than anything the Keurig ever made, but I knew it could be better. So today, I did some googling and found http://Ineedcoffee.com and followed the instructions I found there for using a scale and weighing things more precisely. With a 17:1 water-to-coffee ratio, I ended up with this amazing cup of coffee. And I tried some without sweetener and it tasted good. It was interesting and had some flavor notes I had never detected before. I didn’t feel the need to put sweetener in. Just some half and half and that was it (I did try a sip black but I think cream brings out some flavors and takes the edge off the coffee).

Ignore the sriracha in the background…

Maybe using a Chemex, scale, thermometer, and kettle to make my coffee makes me a hipster. But I got into it long after it was cool so I doubt it. All I know is that I needed my coffee to be better. And now it is.

Don’t reach for either of these too fast. Easy to get wrong with disasterous results.

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Now that’s what I call Tiramasu!

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Lunch done right

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A Bugaboo about Bugaboo

Jack and I just had lunch at Bugaboo Creek. I am so disappointed and depressed right now. Not because of Jack, of course. He was the perfect lunch companion and we had a lot of fun together. No, what’s got me down is a fundamental change to the restaurant. We haven’t been to Bugaboo for at least two years. The nearest one to us when we lived in Virginia was somewhere up in Maryland, a goodly drive from home so we only ever went when we were on our way back from up north. Jack didn’t remember it as we pulled in and I said, “Remember the place with the singing buffalo who sang, ‘Bugaboo Nell! Bugaboo Nell!’” and Jack replied, “Oh yeah!” and got very excited.

We sat down, ordered our food and waited. Then the buffalo started talking and talked about wishing he was down eating the really good food and we were up on the wall. OK, funny. Not what I remember him saying. Then he came on again and said he didn’t want to be stuck up there and wished someone would bring him a cookie (he named a dessert on the menu).

When he came on the third time, it was yet another advertisement for food on the menu.

Basically, everything in the restaurant is now an advertisement for more food or drink. All of the folksy charm has been leeched from the place and it left me feeling somewhat used and sad.

The waiter was also desperate sounding when he tried to push appetizers and drinks at me (who pushes cocktails on a father in for lunch with his six year old son?) and gift cards and such. He also pushed repeatedly at joining their club to get email and a free dessert on my birthday. Um, no thank you.

I doubt we will be going back.

On the way out, the hostess turned on the talking tree just for Jack. It was an ad for their gift cards.

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Unexpected Present

Andy drinking out of his new Take Control MugI was surprised to see UPS stop at my house today and bring me this! It’s a gift from my publishers at Take Control Books: A mug reading “Take Control of your Hot Steaming Beverage” Excellent! Thanks guys!

With the recent announcements from Apple of iLife ’06, I will be doing a lot of fast writing to get the book updated for GarageBand’s new podcasting features. Just need to get my hands on a copy… Gotta admit, I’m pretty excited about iLife ’06. There’s a lot of interesting stuff there and even iWeb is enticing. Normally I avoid these make-it-easy tools but this really looks like something that not only makes it easy to maintain good quality webbiness, but makes it fun as well. We shall see…

Back to my new mug. It wasn’t out of the box 10 minutes before it was filled withTibetan Tiger tea.

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Irony

My wife sent this to me. Read the top and bottom entries on the list and tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

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Sunday Morning Fritatta

My little breakfast experiment this morning turned out amazingly.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs (more if you eliminate some yolks to reduce fat/cholesterol)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup milk (depending on your tastes)
  • 1/3 each red and yellow bell pepper, shredded into small strips (I used a neat slicer we got for our wedding many years ago which made short work of the peppers)
  • 1 leaf fresh sweet basil
  • 3 leaves fresh lemon basil
  • 1/8 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1/8 tsp fresh grated lemon peel
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (I used sheep’s milk feta which tasted great)
  • 2 tbsp. shredded parmesan cheese

To Prepare

  1. Mix the eggs and milk in a bowl with a whisk, set aside
  2. Chop/shred/cut/prepare the peppers, sundried tomatoes, lemon zest, and basils and place into a small bowl together (or keep separate if you like that kind of thing)
  3. Turn on the broiler in your oven and make sure the top shelf is on the second level down from the top — you don’t want the eggs too close to the heat source.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan on medium-high heat and then add the peppers, sundried tomatoes, lemon zest, and the basils. Sautée until heated through and the peppers are limp.
  5. Pour in the eggs and leave sit for a few moments (resist the urge to stir everything in the pan)
  6. When the eggs have set enough to make it possible, lift up the edges and tilt the pan so the uncooked eggs on top flow under the flap you lifted. Do this repeatedly until there is no more uncooked eggs that actually run when you tilt the pan.
  7. Pour the cheeses on top of the egg mixture in the pan evenly all around
  8. Move the pan to the broiler and leave the oven door slightly ajar (we have pans with plastic handles so we have to be careful that the pan is far enough in that the top of the eggs cooks and the cheese melts but the handle doesn’t melt. So far, it’s worked out for us.) Cook until the cheese is melted and it just starts to brown on top. If you can rotate the fritatta in the pan so the cooking is more even, great. Otherwise, accept that the back part will cook darker than the front half.
  9. Remove from the broiler and slide the fritatta onto a cutting board and let sit for a few minutes. Then cut with a pizza cutter into 8 slices, serve and enjoy.

Be careful to use only a little lemon zest. It’s pungent stuff and the point here is to add a nice lemon flavor to this, not to make this a lemon fritatta. If you do this right, you’ll notice the lemon flavor as a nice accent rather than a dominant flavor.