Oh, How I Love Thee…

…Pumpkin Spice Latte!  Every year about this time, I fall in love again with Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  And the funny thing is, that as soon as Thanksgiving is over, I lose interest altogether!  Then I jump full force into a sea of Peppermint Mochas…and just relish the taste until about Christmas.  After that, I still like the Peppermint Mochas, but not so exclusively.

Well, the problem with Pumpkin Spice Lattes is that they are difficult to immitate.  I mean for Peppermint, you can just use peppermint oil, or dissolved candies.  For caramel, you can dissolve caramel.  But how do you attain the flavor of Pumpkin Spice without using pureed Pumpkin and lots of Spice?  Then this can make quite a gritty drink if not done properly.  Of course, the easiest way would be to use some of that fancy syrup Starbucks uses, but who knows where to buy it? and how much would it cost?  And we all know, if we invested in that, we would probably have to buy it in bulk.  Then by the end of the season, we would have used an eighth of the bottle, and by next year it would be lost or no good at all!

Well, I found a pretty good recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Latte.  It is not perfect, and the drink is thick and full of spice and puree, but it is enjoyable too.  In fact I loved mine until about the last fifteen percent.  Then you get all the pureed pumpkin and spice that has settled to the bottom, and it gets a strange texture and bitter taste real quick!  So do you know what I did?  I covered and refrigerated that last little bit, and the next morning, I added more milk coffee, and sugar, and had another Pumpkin Spice latte!  Not so bad!  So go ahead and try it if you’re brave, but beware of the last few gulps…I wouldn’t try to drink it!  (You could even try adding half the spice the recipe calls for to avoid a bitter end of the cup.)

Here’s the link.  You’ll be taken to another website where you’ll see the recipe when you scroll down.

Happy Fall!

Monday Morning Randomness II

Today, I have a few thoughts that have been firing in my mind recently.  I guess you could say that they are about as random as you can get…

A New Fad

Since the weather has been warmer lately, Andrea and I have gotten off of our morning latte/cappuccino kick.  For a worthy substitution, I found a good recipe for an icy coffee drink.  Thank you, internet!

As a side note: Did you realize that the internet (specifically allrecipes.com) can make any dunce a master chef?  As long as you can read and follow directions, you can just about create anything gourmet.  I mean, since we have been married, this couple has made out of this world meals and treats…just from following directions from the internet.  Many of you have gotten a taste of these things from reading our blog in the last several months, but again, that’s just a taste.  Together, we have made: pretzels, Italian hearth bread, cinnamon rolls, deep dish and brick oven pizza, flour and corn tortillas, southern-style biscuits, and Italian beef.  Not to mention all of the other things Andrea has made for dinner.  I think that’s pretty neat.

Anyways, I found this recipe for an iced coffee drink, and adapted it a little to our liking:

2 shots of espresso (or about 2/3 cup strong coffee)

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 1/2 cups of milk

1 cup of ice

To mix, pour the espresso, sugar and milk into the blender, then blend on low for about thirty seconds.  After that, just drop the ice into the blender, and blend on “super high” (ice crush setting) for another thirty seconds.  It’s as simple as that!  And believe us, it is much better tasting than the syrupy, overpriced concoction they sell under the Starbuck’s name.

The Green Fields of France

I have been doing a little reading the last couple of weeks on the First World War (1914-1918).  As Americans, the war itself didn’t mean as much as World War II, mainly because we were not involved until the last year and a half.  However, to the rest of Europe, it meant everything.  To put everything in perspective, Europe officially refers to the men of the generation that fought in the war as “The Lost Generation.”  They say that because literally, a generation of young men from the UK, France, Belgium, and Germany were butchered on the Fields of France.  Even today, nearly 100 years later, the land that represents the old front lines of that war is permanently scarred.  Near places like Ypres, Belgium and Baupaume, France farmers still uncover land mines and unexploded artillery shells.  Today the land is very solemn and surreal; to the point where it is almost unimaginable the loss that was suffered by millions upon millions of men.

Ypres,Belgium, 1916

Ypres, Belgium, Today. "In Flanders Fields, where the poppies grow..."

My Trusty Razor

Around this time, four years ago, during my freshman year of college, I purchased my first electric razor.  I honestly cannot believe it has survived this long; and believe me, it has been through a lot!  The main thing it survived was the Fairhaven Guy’s Dorm–that is a miracle in and of itself.  It has also been to two foreign countries (Mexico twice, and Canada).  In Mexico, it almost saw it’s end.  The family that allowed me to stay with them when visiting Andrea two years ago had this little dog–Buddy.  I can’t say they didn’t warn me about him!  Well, I left my Norelco razor out one day and he decided to have a little heyday with it.  I returned to the house to find it in a million pieces.  They offered to get me a new one, but it wasn’t really there fault, so I thought I might try to salvage it together.  Well I did!  To this day, though, it has a small piece that ol’ Buddy tore off.

Yes, it has been through a few deep cleanings and reassemblies, but it still hasn’t cost me a dime since I bought it.  The best part of all is that it still works almost like it did when I got it!


Espresso, Latte, Mocha, Cappuccino, Etc.

I have never been a big coffee drinker, and Andrea is even less of one than I am.  I never really wanted to drink any until my latter years of high school; and even then, with spoons full of creamer and sugar.  Beginning college, I would occasionally drink a cup for breakfast, eventually weaning myself off of the creamer and sugar.  For the most part, when I drink coffee, I like it black.  Some may find this laughable, but the caffeine in coffee doesn’t do anything to me.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing!  When I drink it early in the morning, it doesn’t wake me up; and when I drink it late at night, it doesn’t keep me awake!  Go ahead, call me strange…

Well, since Andrea and I  have been married, I have taken to like coffee more.  As the weather has gotten colder, coffee drinks have sounded even better.  Trust me, though, I am no coffee-fanatic.  I can count the times I have been to a coffee shop like Starbucks on one hand.  However, I do know that they have some fantastic drinks.  About a month ago, Andrea and I visited one of those shops that is just a block’s walk away from our home.  I can’t even remember what the place is called, but the drink that I had was fantastic.  Andrea enjoyed her’s a lot too–Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino.

Well, to make a long story short, a few weeks ago I ended up buying a small espresso machine for our home with one of our last wedding shower gift cards.  It is just about as simple as it gets, but has everything.  Since getting it, I have discovered quite a few things about these coffee based drinks.  The first thing is that espresso is completely different from brewed coffee.  Someone said that is just about the most abuse you can put the poor coffee grounds through without killing them.  Espresso is boiling water forced through finely ground beans with very high pressure.  The ounce and a half of liquid that goes through that torment and into a cup is a called a shot of espresso.  All of the other major coffee drinks are based off of this espresso.

Steamed milk is the other major ingredient.  It is cold milk that is heated with a steam wand that is normally attached to the espresso machine.  For example, a latte is 1/3 espresso, and 2/3 steamed milk.  A cappuccino is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foamed milk (milk with lots of air infused with the steam wand).  A mocha is a latte with made with steamed chocolate milk and syrup.  That’s just a quick rundown…

Believe me, I have not gotten into this very much.  I don’t have a bean grinder, and don’t plan on it anytime soon (though I wouldn’t mind having one some day).  My machine is about the most entry-level model you can get: thirty-five dollars.  But we really like our new machine!

That’s one way to make Andrea really happy: just make a pumpkin-spice cappuccino, carmel latte, or mocha and give it to her on a cool evening!  It is definitely a comfort drink for us!

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A homemade cappuccino