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Saturday, December 27, 2003

a more equal exchange

i've always liked the people at equal exchange, ever since i met beth ann at the 2003 scaa boston convention. i'd love to cup coffee with her someday!

today we see an article on how equal exchange works with religious groups (log your own bad self in and think of bruce: saute, wednesday) to promote fair-trade coffee.

myself, i was just tired today. i started the morning with a cappuccino of gimme's leftist espresso, but still craved comfort.

so i went on and made gillies carioca in the cafetiére. it helped. isn't that what coffee's for?

sometimes, you're just a touch blue: maybe it's the cold weather, not enough sleep, absent friends, too much work. you wonder "does anyone feel the way i do? does anyone remember i'm here?"

take my advice: make a great cup of coffee and just smell it. it's relaxing and uplifting in and of itself. . . then drink it with a sigh and move on to feeling better!

still can't shake those early winter, post-holiday blues? try to find a yoga class near you this very afternoon!

posted by fortune | 6:22 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Friday, December 26, 2003

bread therapy in oz

just as the recent craze for male knitting (and they think yoga is still sissy?) spread worldwide, male breadmaking is catching on down under.

i never thought of bread baking as therapy. i was always just dissatisfied with how most bread tasted. i was also completely disgusted by how much dean & deluca and places like the old bouley bakery charged for a semi-decent european-style loaf. . .

i baked it to eat it; and unfortunately came to the point where i really can't stand to eat non-handmade bread. it just tastes so. . .so. . .non-tasty! like flour paste in your mouth.

which means i hardly eat any bread that comes from outside my own kitchen at all. actually, i really don't like very many people's bread but my own any more. . .that's another story however! but of course, i make pizza every week, even though i don't have as much time for bread as i would like.

so go for, ozzie guys. bake better bread and release your aggression!

perhaps this marks the difference between when most men and most women do things. i end up baking my own pizza, pulling my own espresso, etc. because i simply want something decent to eat or drink and remain shocked at the prices others charge for these things when really the quality isn't that great.

very practical, actually. maybe most men are more seeking a hobby or "therapy." it's the same with yoga: i started for a very practical reason -- my back hurt. . .

as for the chocolate, well, i guess at that point my excuse breaks down! so quickly, before you can start to ask any inconvenient questions, let me direct you to what looks like a great recipe for a chocolate spice cake with chocolate glaze.

posted by fortune | 9:03 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Thursday, December 25, 2003

the nutcracker and other real things

of course we celebrate all holidays with chocolate, which is why today finds us baking our famed chocolate chip cookies.

use the above search to find the bccy recipe.

to speed the 4 dozen or so along, naturally, we enjoy baking to music: shirim's awesome psychedelic free-jazz klez version of tchaikovsky's nutcracker and a good mix of vince guaraldi's charlie brown/peanuts music.

today also finds us bidding farewell to the last of the gillies norwegian wood. although the coffee artist himself is presently on vacation, i think we here at bccy have enough coffee to squeak by before we perish of deprivation and despair.

waiting for said cookies to cool, we noshed on nova and fresh scallion cream cheese while perusing this silly article:

"guzzle double espressos while doing yoga."

message to the dallas morning news: what is supposedly antithetical about coffee and yoga? as i never tire of mentioning, famed yoga teacher p. jois drinks several cups of coffee every day.

since the article goes on to blather about various fake social constructs created by marketing professionals, and then ends by trying to make women readers ashamed of themselves for seeking authenticity, (since when is that a crime?) or as i see it, simply enjoying life more, i should giggle and have a cookie.

crucial yoga note: guilt is not involved. at every moment you have the option to start anew, to do it anew, to be who you are now. . .anew.

the consumerist commercial media just can't stand this idea.
while the article goes on to mock people for being who they are and making their own choices (mostly those of women), note how it uses guilt to slam the concept of authenticity in order to back-handedly extol its own idea of an acceptable and authentic identity.

but of course one that is set, regulated, owned and controlled by major media commercial outlets such as the dallas news. . .

posted by fortune | 1:03 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

norwegian wood, take 3 & oh yeah. . .

and in keeping with my plan, this morning i made gillies norwegian wood mélange in the bodum santos stovetop vac pot.

i know i'm repeating myself here, but a different method of preparation does highlight different notes in any given coffee. of course this norwegian wood has the same incredible fragrance, the same light chocolate aftertaste i found yesterday in the cafetiére (a.k.a. french press).

but just as the napoletana highlighted the brightness, the vac pot has its own effects. the body is smoother, as in the napoletana. but with a finer grind, i seemed to get less brightness.

also, the vac pot increased the caramel-y. "honeyed" note and strengthened the syrupy-vanilla feeling. it's as if the vac pot brings out the middle tones of the coffee more, which is perhaps why many coffee experts recommend the method so highly.

the santos does seem to allow all of the possibilities in the bouquet more expression. in a perfect world, i would love a coffee maker that gave me the body of press pot with the bouquet of the vac pot. . .

i know some people are still doing last minute shopping. i say take it easy on yourself and make a donation to charity on behalf of those for whom it's difficult to buy gifts. of course, i recommend coffee kids for the coffee lover who already has everything!

finally, don't forget to take care of yourself this holiday! eat plenty of healthy dark chocolate. . .

posted by fortune | 10:22 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

meet your family & norwegian wood, take 2

"coffee has the potential for doing something unexpected: bridging the rarely crossed generation gap between teens and their parents."

it's true: teens love coffee, especially starbucks-style flavored milk drinks. parents, re-introduce yourself to your children over coffee! coffee remains the social beverage par excellence.

following up on norwegian wood: i made it this morning in a cafetiére a.k.a. french press.

and once again i really have to marvel at how changing the coffeemaker changes the coffee. the napoletana requires a very coarse grind, and this seemed to highlight the brightness in the coffee.

while the fantastic red currant and addictive vanilla fragrance of norwegian wood remain the same, in the cafetiére the coffee not only gained body -- as you'd expect, because the press is a method that highlights body -- but also a light chocolate aftertaste.

the brightness was reduced to a more balanced level, or maybe the chocolate aspect balanced the brightness more. however you want to say that. while i could appreciate norwegian wood intellectually in the napoletana, i really loved it in the press.

i ground it coarse for the press, but what i'd call finely coarse, not the kosher- or rock-salt size coarse you need for the napoletana. i used 55 grams (about 2 oz.) to 32 oz. (about 945 mls.) water, with the water at 200 degrees f (about 94 degrees c), and let it steep for 4 minutes, languidly stirring with a wooden chopstick the entire time to promote good extraction.

tomorrow, the last experiment with this coffee while it's still superfresh: to make it in a vac pot. i expect this will thin the body some, but it might also bring out new notes in the coffee i have yet to experience!

in short: how you make the coffee counts! a coffee you might think you don't like one way might shine with a different preparation.

posted by fortune | 8:55 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Monday, December 22, 2003

alice medrich's truffle recipe & danny's diary

while i like richard donnelly's truffles, i know many people worship pastry chef alice medrich. so here's her truffle recipe.

truffles are great last-minute gifts you can make in a couple of hours. most of the time you're doing nothing while the truffles are chilling -- the melting, etc. take all of 10 mins.

a batch is usually several dozen truffles. which means in about 2 or 3 hours you can make a gifts for 4 or 5 people, if you're giving a dozen per person. and they are relatively inexpensive for the giant impression they make on the giftees!

"you made these yourself?" people exclaim with wonder. since fresh chocolates, like fresh bread, are extra-delicious, your homemade works can have an impact that exceeds even fancier ones made by famed chocolatiers.

if you find yourself in need of some last-minute presents, do consider the fun, easy, and high-impact homemade truffle!

finally, dear readers, you're cheating yourself if you don't read danny o'keefe's great online coffee diary for the week. . .

posted by fortune | 9:15 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Sunday, December 21, 2003

how cappuccinos could save your life

once again dear readers, this stuff is too good to invent: researchers have found that regular consumption of a hearty dash of cinnamon -- just like you toss on top of your steaming morning cappuccino -- seems to improve blood sugar levels in those with diabetes and also benefit cardiovascular health.

this is fascinating news, because as everyone has surely observed, not a week goes by without drastic stories in the media about the current epidemic of diabetes. and many people, due to lack of exercise and poor diet, are said to be unknowingly in the grip of something called "pre-diabetes."

i know the coffee, filled with antioxidants and polyphenols, is good for you; i know the calcium in the milk is good for you; and now we know the cinnamon topping is good for you too.

it's time to declare the cappuccino a health food. try having two 5 or 6 oz. ones a day. . .with skim milk, if you're calorie-counting. or heavy cream, if you're carb counting! whatever works for you!

you can increase the drink's health benefits by including a strong dash of unsweetened cocoa along with that cinnamon. research has also shown that pure cocoa powder is amazingly rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants as well.

just skip the white sugar and try splenda or the other replacement sweetener of your choice instead.

and speaking of what works for you, this cinnamon thing strikes right at my post earlier this week on the ayurvedic rasayana.

a lot of people ribbed me about it; but one i eat does seem to include cinnamon! who knows what other beneficial effects researchers will in future find in spices?

certainly ayurveda does prescribe spice mixtures to be taken in food, tea, coffee, and even to be eaten as jams. if the cinnamon research bears out, we may find that there is something to this wacky-sounding stuff after all!

once again i find it of interest that famed yoga teacher p. jois drinks several small cups of coffee every day. he is said to take it with high-fat buffalo milk, honey, and saffron, as well as other spices.

i bet that includes cinnamon -- and you can't deny he's running around the globe teaching classes at well over 80. . .

i urge readers to view all this with a skeptical eye. in things yoga, you must try for yourself. then your own experience can be confirmed by science as it catches up. . .

posted by fortune | 12:12 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

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