As former coffee shop owners my husband and I are a little snobbish about our coffee. We have used everything from a basic flat-bottom brewer to a French Press and even, on occasion, a Keurig. The French Press had become our preferred method, but it still left us with some dissatisfactions. We prefer a sweeter taste to our coffee, and really just wanted espresso most of the time. However, as we really wanted an expensive plumbed-in machine, we were out of luck.
At the recommendation of some casual acquaintances, we bought ourselves an Aeropress about six months ago. They praised the sweet taste of the very strong coffee it produced, the ease of use and clean up, and the portability of the set up. Because it only cost about 30 bucks we were happy to give it a go.
We really, really like it. It makes a delicious – nearly espresso – shot of strong coffee. You can make one serving in about 45 seconds. The device is incredibly simple and so it is easier to clean than your coffee cup. You can drink the strong coffee straight, add hot water to it for an “Americano”, add milk for a latte, or pour it over ice in the summer. The only downside is that it is not great for making large quantities of coffee quickly. If we were having 15 people over for breakfast we might run into trouble. Fortunately, that never happens!
You can heat the water you need on the stove or in the microwave, but we like to use a nice electric kettle with temperature pre-sets to get just-the-right-temp water for brewing. We also have a small burr-grinder for fresh espresso-ground coffee. We also have a unique situation where our pastor roasts us fresh coffee every week. Not everyone is quite as blessed as we are…
Long ago, I worked at a certain ubiquitous coffee shop. I would rise ungodly early – 4:45am – and go make lattes. A major perk of working there, and there were many, was unlimited coffee drinks while you work. I would also often be able to have a day old pastry for breakfast. The Lemon Pound Cake was my favorite. This knock-off recipe appeared in my Facebook feed and I gave it a try. It is delicious. The icing came out a bit thin, so I would suggest adding a few more tablespoons of powdered sugar to thicken so it doesn’t run all over the plate. Or…you could just scrape the run-off up and eat it with a spoon. I’ll never tell.
1 cup SUGAR
2 tablespoon BUTTER; Softened.
1 teaspoon VANILLA
1 teaspoon LEMON EXTRACT
1/3 cup LEMON JUICE
1 1/2 cup FLOUR
1/2 teaspoon BAKING SODA
1/2 teaspoon BAKING POWDER
1/2 teaspoon SALT
1/2 cup COCONUT OIL
1 cup(s) POWDERED SUGAR; Plus 1 Tablespoon.
2 tablespoon(s) WHOLE MILK
1/2 teaspoon(s) LEMON EXTRACT
Use a mixer to blend together the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
Add dry ingredients one at a time in order listed mixing well after each addition.
Add oil and mix well.
Pour batter into a well greased OR parchment lined 9×5-inch loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into center of the cake comes out clean.
Make the lemon icing by combining all the icing ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk.
When the loaf is cool, remove it from pan and frost the top with the icing.
Let the icing set up before slicing.
Ahem. Please excuse the pretentious title.
Whether we realize it or not, we have a philosophy of life. We may never have articulated it to ourselves, but we live by it nonetheless. My favorite analysis of your personal philosophy involves this exercise summarized below:
- Take a few minutes and write down an ordered list of how you spent your time in the last week by greatest total hours (excepting sleep). Feel free to estimate, but be honest. If it really includes 20 hours of TV or of surfing the web (my weakness), then write it down truly. You should have 10-20 significant things you spend your time on including work and/or education, leisure activities, and chores.
- Take a few minutes to write down what you really believe to be important in life in a hierarchical list.
- Tear up the second list because it is nothing. The first list is truly your Philosophy of Life because it is what you are doing with your life.
We also tend to have a number of other philosophies floating about in our daily lives. I believe it is healthy to frequently examine the philosophies driving our behavior and consciously work to develop them into theologically sound ones.
I have a couple of minor philosophies that govern some aspects of my life. I recently shared one with the high school cross country team at The Ambrose School during a nutrition talk. Proper nutrition is an important aspect of athletic performance and living in our particular culture requires a lot of conscious thought and careful choices about food to avoid falling off a nutritional cliff. Of course, we talked about having a good balance of macros, discussed not getting into a restrict/binge cycle, and put up some example menus but before this we had to determine our philosophy of eating. The runners were very clear on the twin purposes of eating (fuel and pleasure). We did need to determine the balance between those and we needed to decide our primary philosophy of eating. I asked them what made a food good or bad for you. They were quick to list what they identified as “bad” foods and then to point out what was bad about them. Their list:
- Ice cream (sugar, fattening)
- Cheesecake (sugar, fattening)
- Twinkies (empty calories)
- Kale (tastes nasty)
- Soda (sugar)
- Doughnuts (sugar, fattening)
Notwithstanding these reasons, neither sugar content, total calories, or flavor can make a food “bad”. The only bad food is that which you are not properly grateful to God for. All food is good food insofar as you will be grateful for it. God clearly intended food for fuel as it does fuel our bodies. He also clearly intended it for pleasure; why else would we presented with such a dizzying array of flavors and textures? I feel strong after a meal of rich proteins, succulent fats, and crunchy vegetables. I feel great joy after a meal of complex, interesting, and balanced flavors. Grilled chicken and salads have fueled many a run and many a climb and Fettucini Carbonara with Chianti, garlic bread, and a dessert of Pots de creme has fueled many a long evening of conversation and revelry.
The goals of fuel and pleasure should be equally balanced in our eating habits and we should never sell one out for the other.
Every bite of food should be accompanied by gratitude to the One who created not only this meal and this palate but the very concepts of flavor and hunger and satisfaction.