Poor man’s coffee connoisseur

I love coffee! I love good coffee! But I cannot afford Starbucks’ or Scooter’s or Jidders’ Coffee House coffee for two reasons: 1) I live out-of-town and do not go into town every day and 2) while Jidders, a local coffee establishment, has reasonably priced coffee, it would still cost me over $35.00 a week, with tip and that over 52 weeks totals $1800+.  I know that I can think of more ways to spend $1800.00 than in someone else making me coffee.

SO….I needed to find a way to create that same coffee, whenever I wanted it, at a reasonable price. Having lived in Spain made the first step to my solution simple. When living in Spain our family adopted the philosophy that we needed to become Spanish and live as the Spanish. While I had purchased an auto-drip coffee maker, I decided that since the Spanish thought American coffee as ‘dirty water’, I needed to invest in a more proper coffee maker.

I purchased a stove top espresso maker. In Spain it is just called a coffee maker because they do not categorize their coffee as espresso; you can purchase cafe’con leche, cortado, cafe’ solo or carajillo (coffee with milk,  coffee with less milk, coffee with no milk and coffee with brandy). In Spain all coffee is based on what we would call espresso. My 24 oz. coffee mug is unheard of and the largest cup would be 8 oz.

When we moved home I wanted to continue on with my Spanish coffee style. The stove top coffee maker moved home with us and my auto-drip coffee maker was relegated into storage.

For years, I would make my coffee, add milk and sugar but still head to the coffee shops for my latte’ fix. Now I had owned an espresso/frother machine in the past but I really liked the stove top method and decided against purchasing a new espresso machine. But I needed a solution to my coffee predicament.

As I was walking through a Target Store one day, I saw a hand frother and new that I was on my way to becoming independent. I purchased the frother and then got about to testing  the heating of milk to the proper temperature in my microwave. I determined that 2 minutes gave me the proper heat and frothing ability. I did discover that freshly opened milk froths better than milk that has been opened for a couple of days.

I was disappointed this week when I was reading a magazine and there was a quote about swapping out those unwanted, useless gadgets, ‘like the frother you received from Uncle Fred‘! I love my frother and would not exchange it for the world. It saves me money and helps start my day right.

The last step was to find syrups that were sugar-free and reasonably priced. I went to the internet and searched and searched and searched and found  http://www.lollicupstore.com. This website has a great variety of sugar-free syrups and when you add in the shipping,  it might average out to $8.00 per bottle of syrup (a guess). The bottles range from $4.50-4.85 a bottle. Shipping is expensive, but worth it because of the variety and it is delivered UPS to your door. I usually stock up once or twice a year and order 12-15 bottles at a time. It is definitely less expensive than $1800.00 a year and the sugar-free varieties are greater in my home coffee shoppe than any coffee shoppe I have ever visited.

I am not a coffee expert but I like good coffee and a great latte’. People who know me, know that I carry my Mickey Mouse Mug where ever I am in the morning. I have approximately 13 oz. of coffee and 8 oz. of frothed milk. My variety ranges from ‘Almond Joy‘ to ‘Bing’ candy bar to caramel pumpkin to Peach Melba.

My new discovery is added syrup to the milk prior to frothing. I add sugar-free vanilla syrup. It adds another layer of complexity to the coffee and it reminds me of homemade vanilla ice cream as I sip through the froth to get to the coffee.

While this system may not be for everyone, if you like a good coffee but don’t like the expense, I would invest in my system and enjoy what you like, when you want it and not worry about needing to get out of your automobile or sitting in a drive-thru.

It definitely works for me and it makes me, not a poor man’s coffee connoisseur but an economical alternative to the expensive coffee shoppes.

ENJOY! Today was Caramel Pumpkin Latte’ with Vanilla Bean Froth. I am getting ready to make my second up.

Bread Pudding

I said I might write about bread pudding today and decided it was a quirky topic and I should just go for it. Who knows how this will develop. We will go on this journey together.

I love bread pudding! Whenever I see it on the menu, I will order it for dessert. That is quite the commentary because I generally never order dessert from a restaurant. I then make a judgement of the restaurant based on how I liked the bread pudding. I do the same when it comes to eggplant parmesan in Italian restaurants and tamales in Mexican restaurants.

I like my bread pudding to be moist but not so moist that you can’t differentiate the torn (or cut) pieces of bread. It has to have the perfect consistency that doesn’t taste mushy in my mouth. It needs to be not too dry, not too wet. Just like Goldilocks, it needs to be just right.

It can be chocolate bread pudding or banana or just plain ol’ bread pudding. What is a delicacy, but really adds to my enjoyment, is a warmed rum butter sauce. In fact, I would say a standard bread pudding with a warmed rum butter sauce and oh yea, nuts sprinkled on top is the best of the best.

I guess I am somewhat like bread pudding. I am just a plain ol’ girl from the Midwest. I like to think that I have good values that are simple to follow; be nice, give back to the community through service, and raise a family that is respected by the community. I think that whatever you believe in, you need to be consistent and follow through. As a Christian, I believe I should be in church every Sunday. Yes, there may be days that I would rather stay under my nice warm quilts, but going to church is the least I can do to thank God for allowing me to wake up every morning.

I would like to live a simple life. How wonderful it would be to not be tied to a computer for communication or a cellphone for that same reason. How nice it would be to wake up in the morning and only need to worry about making the best home for my family and volunteering to make my community a better place to live.

All very simple. You know there has to be a but coming though don’t you…

BUT that is not the reality of our world. We need to be connected to our electronic world. That is just the way it is. If it weren’t for the internet, I would not be blogging and you would not be reading this post right now. If it weren’t for the cellphone, I wouldn’t be able to have a sense of security knowing that I can get a hold of my children when I need that connection. Our family has been able to learn about the world and our country because of our traveling. What a wonderful opportunity we have had that many have not.

Those things are the rum butter sauce and nuts. Without those extras, the food is good (life) but the extras help me appreciate everything that this world has to offer. Without the internet or our traveling, our world would be so small. I am so glad that we have been able to expand our children’s scope of the world because of those extras.

So while my simple rules for life are good, because of the rum sauce and nuts, my life does seem more complete. There are days when I just am bread pudding and have no toppings. I clean my home, run errands for the whole family, bake/cook and do all of those domestic things that I just love. More times than not, there is so much more going on that it gets crazy. There are days that not only is there rum sauce and nuts, but sprinkles and whipped cream or maybe a flambe’ is made by adding rum and catching it on fire. Those days when I have added a little too many extras, make me a little crazy and I feel overwhelmed. The simple life helps me appreciate those extras and conversely the extras help me appreciate when things are simple. In that way, my life is complete.

How is your life complete, are you a plain bread pudding or are you someone with a few toppings or an overload?

My coffee latte for the day was Almond Joy; chocolate, almond and coconut.