Coffee Bean Barista Secrets: The Crema Revealed

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

With a delicious scone in hand, I hop back into the car and stuff it into my mouth. I look over to see you’re still right where I left you, in the passenger seat. I give an affirming nod and put the car into drive and we are off to continued adventures. We drive out into the wild world of coffee and its ever-percolating interest in today’s article, The Crema Revealed.

Where will our caffeinated beverage lead us today? Well, if you missed my article from two weeks ago, you can catch that right here. But today’s adventures lead us to a coffee shop barista sharing secrets as well as a long list of how we can make different coffees! Woo! Are you excited?

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SCONE ZONE

Image by elsasupport from Pixabay

Here we go again. I am making a small pit-stop on our coffee journey. We are pulling over to the side of the road to share a beautiful scone recipe. People talk about being in a “zone”, well I am in the scone zone. Brace yourselves because this is the ULTIMATE scone recipe. No, I am not joking. This is the best scone recipe for ease, taste, and quality. EVER! E V E R!

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The Making of Moses: God Speaks Through the Burning Bush- Part Two

Welcome back to Time in the Word. We are further into our adventure with Moses, and this week we wrap up the discussion of The Making of Moses: God Speaks Through the Burning Bush with part two. You can catch Part One right here.

Grab a Bible and turn to Exodus 3:7-22, or you can look up the scripture digitally here.

Last week Moses encountered God in the burning bush. The burning bush was significant because God revealed:

  1. Through the fire, God revealed his HOLINESS.
  2. The burning bush represented his GLORY.
  3. God showed his CARE for the Israelites.
  4. A NAME representative of who God was, was given to Moses by God himself.
  5. He gave the revelation of GRACE and the CROSS.

Last week we talked about God’s HOLINESS, which is his standard. This standard separates him from any other god. God is also the only TRUE God. In regarding God as holy, we should be reverent in approaching him. Pride is man’s biggest downfall. In our reverence toward our holy God, we recognize he is set apart from everything that he has made. Our sin further separates us from him.

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The History of Coffee: The “Brew-haha” Continues- Politics and Religion

Image by Christoph from Pixabay

It would be sacrilege not to drink at least two cups of coffee to kick off this second article on the history of coffee. I do love a good pun. I pulled another “punny” by using the word “brew-haha”. I’m just going to bask in that for a wee moment. There. That was my moment, marked by a space. This will throw off Grammarly, Microsoft Word “review”, and the Editor(s) at the paper.

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The History of Coffee

Well, there. Was the “Bob’s Red Mill” detour all that bad? I say that as I hop back into our car, and we continue our investigative journey into the world of coffee. Today we are going to hear about the history of coffee. I never miss an opportunity to educate you about food history. It helps us appreciate how it came into being.

You, dear reader, will astound your friends and family with the knowledge that you impart. Tea drinkers, I will get to your side of things later in the year. Stay tuned. I am about to give a “tip of the hat” to the tea realm, and if you yawn, you are going to miss it!

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Bob’s Red Mill

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I bet you’re about to say, “Hey, you said last week we were going on a coffee trip.” To which I would reply, “Yes, I did say that, but like all women, I forgot I had to do one last-minute thing.” I’ll keep the car running. Just sit tight. I have to get this article posted about Bob’s Red Mill, Gluten Free, Homemade, Wonderful, Bread Mix. That was a mouthful!

Before we take off for parts unknown with my coffee articles, I better finish this one.

All about Bob

Image by falco from Pixabay

Bob Moore’s passion for flour milling took flight after reading a book about old stone-grinding flour milling. His goal? To produce healthy, wholesome, and nutritious food.

Bob and his wife Charlee began their dogged search for their own set of useable millstones. Having found several mill stone sets, the Moore’s set up shop in Redding, California. Thus began their adventure in owning and operating a flour milling company.

Just glancing at the pictures from the Bob’s Red Mill website, https://www.bobsredmill.com/bobs-way/mill, Bob looked like he was near retirement when he started this adventure in the mid-’60s. Actually, Bob was around 48. Still a pup!

Eventually, the Moore’s sold the flour mill in California and went to Oregon to retire. It wasn’t long after arriving in Oregon that Bob bumped into another flour mill that was for sale. Bob and Charlee once again began to produce flour and cereal for area locals.

Then one fateful day in 1988, arsonists set fire to their beautiful mill. Though the fire destroyed their plant, the Moore’s didn’t shy away from rolling up their sleeves. They went to work rebuilding their factory and brand. Today’s Bob’s Red Mill products are the “phoenix rising” from those arsonist ashes.

Bob knows milling

Though in the 70s, health food stores were sparse and not taken seriously, today’s health food industry has exploded. Bob’s Red Mill hung in there and got to ride that health food industry wave. With over 400 products in their line, Bob’s Red Mill makes a tidy sum. In 1993 alone, sales topped over $3.5 million. As of today’s date, they have over $500 million in sales.

Bob, who is 90, is still alive and continues to work full-time. Yes, you read that right, FULL-TIME. His wife, Charlee, died in 2018. CNN reporter Jeanne Sahadi had a nice article that you should read. You can catch it here, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/14/success/bobs-red-mill-founder-profit-sharing/index.html.

Product Review- Bob’s Red Mill

Photo by Michele Bruxvoort

I have used various Bob’s Red Mill products throughout the years. But with my recent weight loss and healthy eating transformation, I have stocked up! I am looking to cut as much sugar out of my diet, and consume less gluten. I do not have a gluten allergy, but the recent baking book I bought is GF (grain-free) SF (sugar-free), “everyday grain-free baking” by Kelly Smith.

Many of the products Kelly uses, such as almond flour, coconut flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and several others too numerous to mention, are all in Bob’s Red Mill product line. I shopped and found most of what I needed to make her recipes. I will do a review of her baking book another day. Back to Bob’s Red Mill.

Today I want to give you a review of Bob’s Red Mill, Gluten Free, Homemade, Wonderful, Bread Mix. I would like to break my review down by:

  • Price
  • Product Ease
  • Taste
  • Texture

Price- I give it a 5 out of 5

The price for the Wonderful Bread Mix was $5.49. You had to add your water,1 egg plus 3 egg whites, and 1/4 cup melted butter or oil. Having to add these three items will cost you around .90 cents. Bob’s Red Mill supplied you with a yeast packet.

Remember this is gluten-free and would be considered a specialty bread in a bakery. I felt the cost was appropriate.

Product Ease- I give it a 5 out of 5

Photo by Michele Bruxvoort

Bob’s Red Mill Wonderful Bread mix directions were clear and concise. I felt confident as I followed the directions. I chose to mix it by hand and not with a stand mixer. That went well. I should have flattened the top of the bread dough in the pan, but didn’t. The rise time was spot on. Baking time was as indicated in the directions.

Taste- I give it a 4 out of 5

Photo by Michele Bruxvoort

Delicious smells filled the house as the Wonderful Bread Mix baked in the over. After baking the loaf, I let it cool. Then I sliced it. The bread was moist. It had a great crumb structure, which amazed me considering it had no gluten to assist. Xanthan gum was in the mix and that helped keep the product stable.

The crust was not tough. Overall, we thought the bread was pleasant. Butter on the bread made it even more delicious! I was disappointed that the taste of the bread changed by the next day. Maybe eating it slightly warm with butter made a big difference? I stored the bread in the refrigerator overnight and by lunch, it had acquired a different taste. Since we were not accustomed to GF bread, maybe we just needed to eat GF bread more often.

Texture- I give it a 5 out of 5

The bread felt like bread. Soft. A little bit of crispiness in the crust. You could flatten the bread. It felt heavier than regular bread. I would label it as a loaf of sandwich bread. It made a large loaf of bread.

Overall, it was a fun experience mixing up, raising, and baking Bob’s Red Mill Wonderful Bread Mix. The directions were simple and easy to follow. It was very tasty slightly cooled. We decided we would want the loaf to be finished on the first day. We didn’t care for the bread after it cooled. That may just be our lack of experience.

Friends! I am out of writing space. Till next time. Here is to good food, good friends and a great life!

Resources:

Coffee

Image by Christoph from Pixabay

Ah! Coffee! If you would have told me seven years ago that I would be writing about coffee, much less liking coffee, I would have told you, “You’re crazy”. I was entirely proud of my non-coffee compliance. It was a badge of honor. I drank tea; Green tea, English tea, Breakfast tea, and homemade tea.

I see tea folks as quiet sophistication in motion. Like my Grandma Westra’s, tea group. Polite ladies, holding such delicate teacups, stirring with tiny spoons. Gracious pouring of one another cups. While making hushed conversation and the slow passing of Windmill cookies.

I want to be there again. A little girl, all of five years, sitting silently on the davenport, awaiting my cookie. I shift my little legs around as the material of the davenport is scratchy. Everything else in this place is in plastic. Why isn’t this scratchy davenport? Hopefully, my cookie will come soon and then I can leave.

Where it all began

Image by Craig Melville from Pixabay

It’s fun to reminisce. It brings back peaceful thoughts and warm feelings. Things a heart needs from time to time. We all have to grow up, and eventually, our tastes do as well. I had to grow up one cold January afternoon in Excelsior, Minnesota. We had spent the morning running around in -13° temps. By the time we got into our hotel room, I was frozen.

I quickly searched the complimentary coffee tray for the usual bag of tea. Nothing representing tea was there. Just coffee pods. Yuck. I fussed at my husband as he patiently brought bags into the room. Dropping the bags, he told me that “coffee is it”. He suggested that maybe now was time to “Suck it up.” With that, he showed me how hotel coffee pots worked.

Soon delicious smells of coffee were circling their way around the room. I always enjoyed the smell, but not the taste. Once the coffee was finished brewing, he poured me a cup. There, at the age of 43, I took and drank my first complete cup of coffee.

Has this become an obsession… Um, maybe?

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

That is a good question. Has this “affair” with coffee become an obsession? Um, maybe? But let’s not consider this pursuit of the “perfect cup of joe” to be an “obsession”. Let’s call it a “pursuit of knowledge”.

What does make a good cup of coffee? Is it the:

  • Type of bean
  • Where it’s grown
  • How it is roasted
  • Grind- coarse, medium, fine
  • Water source
  • The temperature of the water going in
  • Ability of the coffee maker to heat the water hot enough
  • The brand and model of the coffee machine

Oh, my goodness. I so hate variables! It will drive me to madness if I don’t get this down. So. I research online. I sample cups of coffee at different homes. Me and my mental notebook, taking notes at friends’ homes as they serve me coffee.

I ask questions in the fashion of the Spanish Inquisition. “Are you using water from your faucet again?” “Did you grind your beans? When?” “How cold would you say the water is? Oh? Did that come out of the fridge, ‘or no’?”

– Sidebar, my Grammarly Assistant is now flying red flags over my use of the “or no.” It is flashing the word “not”. I rebuff Grammarly by leaning in close to the screen and whispering that it is a common usage of a cultural, geographic, rhetorical question. Then I hit the little garbage can sign to quell Grammarly’s insistence that I change it. There. Silence.

Then I usually inspect the brand of the coffee maker. Mr. Coffee certainly has made his rounds here in Southwest Minnesota. Bunn coffee makers are popular as well. Hmm. So much to research and so little time.

Ask with boldness

Yes, friends, I have boldly asked various coffee house staff, “What type of coffee do you use?” Some have been honest and reported, “We use Folgers.” “We get water, cold water, right from the tap.” Huh? You don’t say. Interesting!

This is just the beginning of my quest, and you get to ride along. There are lots of avenues to explore. So, leave a note on the table, and let them know we’ll be gone a while. And maybe, we won’t be back?! Ha! We can’t do that, but that would be fun? “Gone for coffee… not sure when I’ll be back?”

Ah well, all the fun of adventures and quests, even if we only take them on paper! Till next time. Here is to good food, with good friends and a good life.

Heartwarming Casseroles: Part Two

Image by Xuân Tuấn Anh Đặng from Pixabay

Well, thank goodness we got through corned beef casserole. Ug! That was a struggle for me to share. I kept having flashbacks of corned beef smell wafting through the kitchen. I had to think about Tater Tot Casserole just to keep my spirits up. But we have many heartwarming casseroles left to share!

What is your favorite casserole? Food brings back so many childhood memories, doesn’t it? I am hard-pressed to remember many adult food memories about daily eats, unlike what I remember as a kid. Today, I am sharing with you some casserole recipes from friends back home. Enjoy!

Ode to Chicken… casserole

I love chicken! What would be better than some chicken casserole recipes? Some are quick and simple. Others will require a little more fussing.

Chicken Casserole- Michele Bruxvoort

I’m not sure who gave this recipe to me or where I could have gotten it. I want to say it was Sarah Leystra.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked chicken- I prefer chicken breast
  • 1 can chicken noodle soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup celery- this is optional
  • 1/2 cup minute rice

Mix the above ingredients together. Spray an 8-inch square casserole dish, add mixed ingredients. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.

Chicken Casserole- Audrey Williams

Mrs. Audrey Williams was the quintessential dairy farming wife and mother. Audrey had 3 children and was the milker of the cows. While Audrey milked, her husband Howard watched the babies. When the babies needed a diaper change, Howard would bundle up the whole works and head out to the milk house. Howard would hand Audrey the diapered offender, and Audrey would change that baby right there on the warm milk tank.

When she wasn’t in the barn she enjoyed caring for her children, cooking, and baking, as well as “moonlighting” cutting hair. Audrey took great pride in her milking cows. A sad day for Audrey when she sold her cows.

-This is a yummy recipe!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 pkg. 10 oz. frozen French green beans
  • 1 can chop suey vegetables, drained
  • 1 8 oz. can water chestnuts, chopped up
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup onion diced
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 can of French- fried onions

Directions

Mix together the chicken, vegetables, water chestnuts, cheese, and onion. Put into a 9×13 pan. Mix soup, milk, and salt. Pour over chicken and veggies. bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Then top with French- fried onions. Bake an additional 20 minutes.

Chicken Crescents- Mary Paul

Image by laustkehlet from Pixabay

-This makes 8 chicken crescents.

This recipe comes from my good friend Mary. Mary does not fancy herself a cook, but she loves to bake! Mary also is a book store owner; selling fine gifts, Christian books, greeting cards, and much more. When we travel back to Wisconsin, we always find a room at the Paul’s! Their beautiful home is located near Fox Lake. Randy, her husband, used to dairy but hung up the milkers 10 years ago. I’ll have to tell you sometime about Randy getting stuck in the silo for 8 hours overnight.

Ingredients

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tubes crescent rolls
  • 3 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Directions

Bake chicken until tender and easy to flake- cool. Save the chicken juices and make a little gravy; adding chicken broth (if you desire), season to taste. To the chicken gravy, add the softened cream cheese, mixing well, and then add the cooled, shredded baked chicken. Take two crescent rolls and lay one down on top of the other, pinwheel-like fashion- you are going to make a square of sorts (it is a pocket to put the chicken in, and then you fold it up over the dollop of chicken). Take 1 -2 tablespoons of your chicken-cream cheese-gravy mixture and put it in the center of your crescent roll, and add a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese. Fold the cresent roll corners over the top of the chicken gravy dollop. Dip then crescent roll into butter , and then roll the buttered crescent roll in seasoned bread crumbs. Place each chicken-filled crescent roll in a sprayed 9x 13 and bake for 375° for 20-25 minutes.

Okay, friends! That was the extent of chicken casserole recipes. Until next time; Here is to good food, good friends and a good life.

The Heartwarming Casserole

Image by mathgun from Pixabay

I remember my mother talking about casseroles her mother Grace would bake. At that time, post-World War Two, most Americans were in recovery mode. Victory Gardens were still thriving. The mindset of “scrimping and saving” still had a stronghold.

Casseroles in the oven meant company were coming. You really “put on the dog” for company!

Wait! Just as a quick side note… I just want to thank the folks who have called me, talked to me on the street or in the grocery store, sent me notes or letters about my little column here in the Edgerton Enterprise. I especially enjoy comments like “I don’t cook or bake, but I sure like to read your column.”

My favorite part of writing is sharing my curiosity about life. The fun part is in telling you how I explore and weave in different facets of cooking and baking. Thanks again for your readership! Enjoy these nostalgic, heartwarming casserole recipes.

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