Archive for April, 2010
A few years ago, my mom invested in a new type of coffee machine. Instead of brewing an entire pot of coffee, the machine keeps a reserve of water heated and uses a prepackaged cup of coffee grounds to reduce the entire brewing process to just a few seconds. When I first experienced this coffee, I felt that the quality left something to be desired. I found that the little cups were quite expensive and the varieties available were limited.
Since my mom was somewhat of a coffee connoisseur in her younger days, it came as a shock that she would sacrifice quality for convenience. After doing some shopping recently, I found a Saeco espresso machine that can be programmed to create your favorite coffee beverages and brews potables in a fraction of the time it took traditional machines. Needless to say, it didn’t take much persuading to convince my mom to upgrade.
Do you have difficulty working up a lather in the shower? Does your laundry machine emit a funny odor? Are you facets and sinks caked with a white, chalky substance? If you answered Yes, to any or all of these questions, there is a good possibility that your home has hard water. While this certainly isn’t a catastrophe, hard water brings some inconveniences.
For example, your appliances that use hard water such as coffee machines are prone to mineral buildup. When this occurs, the flow of liquid through the appliance will be prohibited, which will affect the performance and may alter the taste of the given product. Luckily, there is a variety of products, including an espresso decalcifier, that can eliminate the minerals and prevent future buildup.
When my in-laws invited my wife and me over for dinner last week, I was a bit apprehensive. Not that I don’t like her parents, it’s just that they have never invited us over for a meal they had prepared themselves. I致e heard horror stories from my wife about how horrible their cuisine was; so on the way there, I was already devising ways to conceal my contempt for the meal.
As it turned out, the food wasn’t horrible, but it certainly wasn’t something to write home about either. Everything was cooked adequately, but it was all rather bland and lacked basic seasoning. Of course, I raved about the meal and showered praise upon the chefs. However, I would like to help my in-laws improve their cooking while still being tactful. I think that for one of their birthdays I will buy them a Cilio pepper mill and salt mill, which will hopefully encourage them to be a bit more liberal with their spices.
After drinking the same coffee every morning for 18 years, this year I resolved to expand my brewing horizons. I won’t mention the name, but I have become accustomed to the freeze-dried crystals that you find in the supermarket and put little effort into my coffee purchasing selection. Many of my friends describe to me the rich, robust nature of their coffee and, I have to admit, I’ve never had that experience with my coffee. Instead of simply selecting a coffee at random, I’ve endeavored to try a different coffee every week this year in order to discover where my java loyalties lie.
Of course, to embark on an experiment like this you need the proper equipment. Having owned the same drip machine for years, I was quite ignorant as to the coffee maker options available to me. Luckily, one of my friends volunteered to go with me, so I know that I came out of the store with a state-of-the-art espresso machine.
When you’re pregnant, sometimes it can feel like you can’t do any of the things you like anymore. After all, all sorts of things are off limits for you. You can’t drink. You can’t smoke. If you’re far enough along, you can’t even fly. Depending on the advice of your doctor and the beliefs of the mother, some women even cut out their daily fix of caffeine. This means that for nine months, they go without any coffee. For true java addicts, that’s quite a feat.
If you find that after you have the kid, and you no longer miss coffee, that’s great. You can live free of your morning cup. But there are just as many people that get through the pregnancy fantasizing about that first latte they’re going to have once they get home from the hospital. If you know somebody like this, consider getting them an espresso coffee maker as a “welcome home” present from the hospital.
Here is an excellent recipe for cranberry rice pudding; a sweet treat that isn’t too fattening.
1 cup uncooked medium grain rice
1 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons of orange peel
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ teaspoon salt from a salt mill
3 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
Combine rice, water, orange peel and salt in a saucepan. Heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat, cover the saucepan, and let simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is gone. Removing the cover, increase the heat to medium-high and add sugar, milk, and dried cranberries. Heat until boiling, stirring often. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cook until thick and creamy, 25 or so minutes, stirring occasionally. Wait to cool before eating.
Admittedly, I used to be one of those people who thought that you had to pay $4 for a decent tasting cup of coffee. This belief was cultivated in part by the ubiquity of pricey coffeehouses and partially from the fact that I have an extreme disdain for any task in the kitchen. However, for my birthday this year my husband purchased me a Solis espresso machine, so naturally I felt obligated to use it.
At first, I planned on using the machine for a few weeks and then relegating it to the area underneath the sink to join the ranks of other superfluous kitchen appliances we’ve purchased in the past. After using the machine a few times though, I absolutely fell in love with it. With no effort, I was able to create delicious coffee beverages and eliminate my ritualistic trip to the coffee shop on my way to work.
Many people scour through supermarket shelves in search of products with low or no sodium, and with good reason. Too much sodium in a diet can cause dehydration and contribute to a myriad of health problems. However, there is another explanation as to why many people—including top chefs—prefer to stock their pantry and refrigerator with salt-free products.
Whether you’re baking, simmering, roasting or grilling, it is important to be able to control the salt content of your dishes, both for nutritional and flavor purposes. As the saying goes, “you can always add more, but you can’t take it out.” To that end, purchasing low or no salt products allows you to utilize your Cilio salt mill to achieve the perfect combination of seasonings.
If you’ve spent the time and money to invest in a premium coffee maker, chances are that you want the highest quality brewed beverage possible. However, the equipment can only take you so far. The two biggest variables when it comes to brewing your coffee are the beans and the water. Using bottled water solves the water quandary, but there are several factors to consider when purchasing your coffee.
No matter where your coffee is cultivated or what flavor essences it boasts, to achieve the best tasting product it is essential to grind your own beans. As soon as the coffee beans are ground, they begin to lose their flavor, as the oils, which give the coffee its taste, are released. And who knows who long those pre-ground coffees and dehydrated crystals have been sitting on the shelf?
Chances are you’ve seen commercials depicting a hectic household where a mother is desperately trying to put breakfast on the table, pack the kids’ lunches and get everyone out the door for work and school. It may seem like a gross exaggeration, but that is how most of my mornings go. That being said, I am always looking for ways to ease the tension and make things run more smoothly.
This year, for example, I have begun packing the kids’ lunches the night before, which has eliminated much of the fracas and clutter in the kitchen. My husband bought me an automatic espresso machine this year, and this has worked to streamline the mornings as well. Now when I come downstairs, there is a piping hot cup of coffee waiting for me. This allows me to get some caffeine pumping in my system and helps me work to my full potential.