Cubist Coffee: or, Handcrafted Summer Mornings

Ahhh, Summertime! Where I live, it is very temperate and pleasant. But in many, many places it is just too darn hot! Especially for a hot beverage to start the day. So this Handcrafted Hack is in celebration of getting your caffeine, without having your eyes sweat. *It should be noted, before we even begin, as with so many handcrafted projects, this is not instant! The cubes will need to be frozen overnight (minimum of 8 hours. 12 is better) I saw a post on facebook about making coffee ice cubes, and decided to put the theory to the test. I decided to start sort of small, since it was an experiment. I brewed about 1/3 of a pot of very strong, lovely coffee.

start with strong coffee

start with strong coffee

Then, I used a clean, empty ice cube tray

clean tray

clean tray

I filled the tray pretty full, and let it sit on the counter for an hour or so, as I filled it hot. You could simply turn off the coffee pot and let it cool before you pour. Obviously, you don’t want to put anything hot into the freezer, as it puts all your frozen foods at risk of thawing.

cooling coffee

cooling coffee

Then, place the trays into the freezer, where they won’t be disturbed until the next day. Just a note, here, I stacked my 2 trays I made, and the coffee froze onto the bottom of the top tray, which, of course melted into dark coffee drips as I was taking it from the freezer, and using the cubes. There is a pretty significant potential for mess, here, so, maybe, don’t wear white while you participate in this process. The next morning, I pulled the cubes from the tray and placed them in my glass:

iced coffee on!

iced coffee on!

Now, because I was just having an “iced latte”, I simply added milk (cow’s milk, for this experiment, but, of course, you can use whatever you fancy), and was on my way. As the cubes have melted, the coffee is mixed into the milk. It has been a spectacular way to start the day.

Iced latte!

Iced latte!

It should be noted that this concoction could just as easily be a mocha (add chocolate syrup), or a flavored latte (add syrup) or a blended drink (drop the lot in a blender and whirl). The thickness of the blended drink is the coffee cubes, which do not water down a blended or on the “rocks” coffee drink. And, let’s don’t miss the obvious indications for both alcoholic additions and ice cream! I believe this idea could easily b adapted to a bunch of other applications, such as tea-cubes for your iced tea (in any flavor, or even herbal); freezing juice cubes, or adding your favorite protein/diet/supplement powder to the mix. So, today’s tutorial not only saves a fortune in coffee house prices, but sticks it to both Monsanto and Starbucks! Double bonus for Awesome America!

Going Bananas

Ok, so here is the finished banana chip project. It went splendidly to plan. But I did make a minor modification in the plan:

done!

done!

I started the project dehydrating the banana slices on 125 degrees, but found, before I went to bed, they were drying out faster than I anticipated. So I turned the temperature back to 115. I had my husband turn the machine off at 7am, when he gets up, to complete a 12 hour cycle.

The chips were perfectly dried. Chewy, flavorful and lovely.

Just a note as to quantity- I expected my 2 large bunches to become a quart mason jar of dried chips, but they ended up being more like 2!

finished product

finished product

I am told that if you spray a fine mist of lemon juice over the slices they will stay truer in color. But I couldn’t be bothered. The color of them doesn’t put me off at all. If it bothers you, lemon juice is an option.

Thinking ahead to fruit leather, I am thinking of using the applesauce I canned in the Fall, and a puree of some fruit I have in the freezer. I have raspberries and blackberries, so I am excited for the future of healthy snacking!!! Take that BigFood!!!!!!

That’s it for today. It’s Day 5 of a 10 day run at my day job, so I will be along when I have time and inspiration.  Be well. Handcraft. Be awesome America! Stick It To Monsanto!

It’s ALIVE!

Greetings, all and sundry!

I am positive, by now, you have decided I died of eating nothing but handcrafted food. Or, worse, fell off the Handcrafted wagon, and was lost in a mire of Monsanto.

But, NO! I just had a lot of other stuff going on in my life.

Still, I am back in the saddle, and am ready to share some of the cool stuff I am doing and learning, lately. But first, the past year… I have still not mastered cheese . This saddens me, but I remain hopeful that one day I will get it.  I am still entirely sold on handcrafted toothpaste, and still use my own every day. It has helped me with a lot of the problems I was beginning to have with my aging teeth. I am not as keen on long-term use of the coconut oil and baking soda deodorant, and have eliminated the baking soda because it caused me to have some pH issues. No big deal, but after a month or so, my skin reacted and I didn’t like it. If I took a break, I could use it for about another month, but, ultimately, it happened again, anyway. So, I use just plain coconut oil most days and regular deodorant for “potentially sweaty” days.

I am still making my own sauces and soups and smoothies and croutons and bread. But not so much diligence on crackers and granola  . I am getting back in the swing of things, again, though, so I expect to have better reports very soon.

So, as to new stuff, I just got a brand new, giant food dehydrator- 10 racks all with mesh liners and the fruit leather trays, for $15!!!  🙂  I have been waiting for ages for this to manifest in my life! I have employed many other preservation methods, but have felt I have been missing a vital aspect of pantry-filling without it.

I wanted to get started immediately (of course!) so I went shopping for one of my favorite dried fruit items, bananas. They are easy, and practically instant, prep-wise. My shop had organic bananas for sale for $0.10 more than the regular, so I splurged for the good ones.

All I did was slice the bananas as consistently as I could, and pop them in a single layer on the tray. I started 4 full trays, from 2 bunches of bananas.

sliced bananas in the dehydrator

sliced bananas in the dehydrator

Then I turned on the machine (125 degrees) and will now wait the 12 hours to check for doneness. I like mine a bit “leathery”.

 

Tomorrow, I will be back with the finished product, which I will store in a mason jar with tight fitting lid.

Fruit snacks are as simple as that. Later, I am going to make fruit leather with apples and raspberries (because red is my favorite flavor!).  Take that, Big Food!!!

Thanks for tuning in, my precious blueberries! I look forward to a busy, prosperous and entirely handcrafted Summer!!!!

Raw Strawberry Jam

I have become completely addicted to jam in my homemade yogurt, but I am also not happy with all the sugar in the jam I have been eating.

So, this Spring, I have decided to try some experimental jams that use little or no sugar, whatever. This batch is made of nothing but strawberries, chia seeds and water. My berries were so sweet and good I didn’t even add the honey I had planned to use to sweeten it.

The recipe comes from naturesnurture.com:

  • 1 cup fresh, washed berries
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp water
  • sweetener to taste

 

fresh, raw ingredients

fresh, raw ingredients

First, I washed and topped the berries and squished them into the measuring cup

1 cup berries, 1 tbsp chia seeds

1 cup berries, 1 tbsp chia seeds

Then, I added 1 tbsp of whole black chia seeds, which become very gel-ly when they get wet. They also have no flavor, whatever to interfere with the recipe’s taste.

adding the chia seeds

adding the chia seeds

My berries weren’t really super-juicy, so I added 1 tbsp of water.

adding water

adding water

Wait one hour, and boom. Jam!

jam!

jam!

I made one batch for now, which I will keep in the fridge, and one batch to try to freeze. I have no information on how this will affect the texture, so I am giving it a shot. Berry season is waaaayyyy too short to only be able to enjoy this when they are in season.

one for now, one for later!

one for now, one for later!

I will provide an quality control update, when I thaw the freezer batch.

Happy Berry Season!!!!

Handcrafted Happiness

Sometimes, just getting out there, and doing something awesome for someone else is the best way to handcraft some happiness!

Take, for example, last night. It was Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday and in celebration, World Book Night USA provided Givers across the US and the World over 500, 000 books to give away, free of charge, to folks who might not otherwise have access to new books and the opportunity to read.

I was a registered Giver, and also orchestrated being a sponsor shop, through the bookshop I work at. My boss came out to help give books away, as did Givers from other local bookshops, as well. The library, who also was a sponsor, graciously offered us space in their lobby for the evening to give our books away. It was a splendid occasion to be a Giver, because the Library was also putting on their annual Family Night At The Library, in conjunction with Lincoln City’s Community Days, so loads of extra folks were on hand, some who frequent the library, and many who do not.

My group gave away almost 100 books, and brought happy to so many people But nobody more so than this little cutie who didn’t have her book more than 5 seconds before this happened:

another satisfied customer, on World Book Night  #wbn2014

another satisfied customer, on World Book Night
#wbn2014

There is so much joy to experience when you take time to do something for someone else. Money might “make the world go round” but happiness is absolutely FREE!