Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Morning Without Coffee is Like Sleep

I remember my very first sip.  I was about 6 or 7 and my mom told me, "You are not going to like it."  I took the cup, held it to my lips, breathed in deeply, and tasted my first coffee.  I was the type of child, when told they will not like something, it becomes their mission to prove you wrong, so needless to say, I entered a life-long love affair.

One problem I had were those long, hot summer months, which usually ranged from early May to around the end of October.  I wanted my coffee everyday, but those stifling, humid days made it not quite as pleasant.  I loved getting those crisp iced coffees from the local coffee shops, but this practice became time consuming, as well as not very cost effective.  I thought it was a conundrum I would have to deal with, and bear it with stoic acceptance.

But earlier this year, I stumbled across this recipe on the Pioneer Woman's blog, and it has become a staple in our house ever since.  

Put 1 lb of your favorite coffee grounds in a bowl.  

My anticipation is building!

Pour 12-16 cups of water over the grounds.  Use closer to the 12 cups if you want your coffee stronger or closer to 16 if you want it more mellow

Stir the mixture so that every coffee ground is covered with water.  This is about the time my husband comes into the kitchen and says in his most red neck voice, "So yur makin that swamp watter agin?"  

Cover the mixture and let it sit for atleast 8 hours.  I usually let it sit overnight and strain it in the morning.

Now this is the tricky part!  Trust me, they have a lot of easier ways of doing this, but this is my normal method for straining the coffee concentrate.  I take a large bowl with a spout and place it in the bottom of my clean sink.

Place my colander over the bowl

Line my colander with paper towels going in different directions to trap all of those coffee grounds.

Take your coffee concentrate that has been marinating for 8 hours...

And pour it in the middle of the paper towels.  I have used several different tools to strain the coffee, but nothing has worked as well as the paper towels.  With the other things I have used, I always ended up with some of the smaller grounds swimming in the final product, and it makes the concentrate too bitter.

Ta Da!!!!  Perfect!  Pour the concentrate into a pitcher with a lid, and it will last you a whole month!  

I don't have a picture of it, but I can easily lift the paper towels with the coffee grounds out of the colander and place it directly in my garbage can.  I have also heard that you can use the grounds as fertilizer for your garden, but this I have not tried!  If you are interested in this ecofriendly option, I found a link showing you how it is done:

Now we get to reap the benefits of all of our hard work.  We use Monin syrups to sweeten our coffee.  They can be found at your local Cups coffee shop or you can find them online at  You can also use, sugar, honey, or any low calorie sweetener you have on hand.

Fill your cup with ice

Pour the coffee concentrate until the cup is half full, not half empty.  We are remaining positive here! (My cup is alittle more than half full because I like it slightly stronger)

This step is up to you.  The Pioneer Woman says to use heavy cream to fill up the rest of the cup.  Remember, Ree, I am drinking this every single morning without fail... my waist-line cannot handle half a cup of heavy cream everyday!  But to each his own.  You can use heavy cream, half and half, skim milk, whole milk, creamer... I use whatever I have on hand which is normally 1%, and it is still fabulous!

This is the finished product.  I pop on a tervis tumbler lid, and I am out the door and headed to class.  Just ask anyone in my class if they have seen me walk in without this in my hand.  They will say, "No!"  Just ask them if they want to see me if I did not have this in my hand.  They will without a doubt say, "Noooo!"

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tea Time

There is not trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea ~ Bernard Paul Heroux

In my life, this statement is very true.  As some you may know, I am a student at the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, and trust me, I love what I do.  I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to study what I love, but sometimes it all can be so overwhelming, especially now that the school year is coming to a close.  

Even on my most trying days, where I feel so discouraged, nothing makes me feel better than a good cup of tea.  It is my simple thing that I find joy in on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, that I might as well go live in Australia (One of my most favorite childhood books was Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorist).  It seems to just warm my soul and comfort me when I am worn thin.

Here's how I do it:

Fill up your teapot with water

Pick out your favorite mug

I love green tea for all of the antioxidants.  I am so sorry to all of those who drink caffinated tea, but I have to buy both because I normally want tea right before I go to bed.

I love using honey in my tea, but this is not just any honey.  This is the straight up local stuff that I cannot get enough of!  Thank you Dr. Bill Sneed!

I put about a tablespoon worth in the bottom of my cup while my water is boiling

I really like my tea hot so I normally take it off of the burner when my pot is literally screaming at me

Pour the water over your tea bag and honey

Now it is stir and steep time.  I usually let mine steep for about 5 minutes and remove the bag.

Sigh of relief

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tender Hearts

The night before our wedding, I decided to check my suitcase and make sure I had everything I needed for the honeymoon.  As I was going through my things, I found a note.  I saw the delicate, perfect handwriting and knew exactly who it was from.  I sat with the letter in my hands, unsure whether I was going to open it yet or not.  I knew I was not supposed to know it was in my suitcase until I was out of the house, but what pearls of wisdom did my mom have in store for me?

I gingerly opened the letter and began to read.  It was marital advice from someone with nearly 30 years of experience.  One of the things that really stood out to me was, she spoke of the fragility of my husband's heart.  "Your husband, although strong and the head of the household, is very sensitive.  He wants you to respect him and his decisions more than anything.  Every time you cut him down or speak negatively of him, especially in front of your friends, it crushes him more than you will ever know.  He is still a small boy in a man's body seeking your approval.  Go to him if you are having a problem with something he has done.  He will love you all the more for coming to him in private instead of tearing him down in front of your peers."

I am certainly not perfect with this advice, but I was so thankful she told me this because at least now I am aware of how much I can hurt him.  I think this whole idea is not something that comes easily for women, or maybe just women like me.  I tend to say whatever is on my mind without realizing the consequences of my words.  I have always had this problem and I am pretty sure, not a day went past without my mom saying, "If you do not have something nice to say, do not say anything at all."

She also told me that a man can feel the most vulnerable with his wife.  No one else's praise means more to him and on the other hand, no one else's ridicule cuts like his wife's does.  I think this knowledge is good at whatever point you are at in your relationship.  If you are just starting out, he will be attracted to your encouragement.  As the relationship progresses, he will feel safe with opening up to you.  If you end up getting married, he will love you for your respectfulness.

My Tender Heart