Back away from the coffee, ma’am.

I am a Supertaster who loves coffee.

I’m not “supposed” to like bitter foods like coffee but I have a workaround, thanks to to the assistance of Splenda and cream.

As with most food items in my life, I am picky about how I take my coffee. I’m very much Sally from When Harry Met Sally with my preferences:

  • Has to be bold, flavorful, HOT coffee. I can count on one hand the number of restaurants I go to for their coffee.
  • I prefer my coffee in a cup and saucer at restaurants but a mug at home.
  • I have to have half ‘n half or cream in my coffee. 2% milk is barely tolerable and skim milk in coffee is so bad, I’d rather not have it at all.
  • I choose an artificial sweetener, such as Splenda (well, ONLY Splenda) to put in because it’s technically sweeter than sugar so I can use less, and it dissolves like a dream. There is no sinking of Splenda to the bottom of the cup.
  • I can drink coffee with cream and no sweetener but usually only if there is a sweet dessert present. I can’t drink black coffee, with or without sweetener. So you see what really takes precedence.
  • If the coffee cools too long, it becomes undrinkable and it goes down the sink. There is absolutely a Point of No Return with coffee temperature.

BUT!

Because I am so discerning with how I doctor my coffee (ratio of cream and Splenda to coffee is of utmost importance), my biggest pet peeve when dining in a restaurant where I’m happily sipping my coffee is to have my cup refilled before I’m ready.

It really gets my hackles up to sit there enjoying my food and a waiter or waitress comes along and before I can say no, s/he gives me a “warmup” with fresh coffee, thereby completely ruining the precious, perfect combination of coffee, cream and sweetener.

<Insert slow motion “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” here.>

Because I am a shy person who doesn’t want to bring attention to myself, I rarely speak up for myself in these instances, and my perfect cup goes to crap, forcing me to re-doctor my coffee all over again.

I’ve even pretended to be mid-sip so that the waitress will think I don’t need a refill. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. If I were a server, I would definitely wait to get a response before taking the liberty of filling up my customer’s cup.

Coffee doctoring takes precision, people! I even have pictures to prove it. Yes, I’m that person.

Polished Silver

Cold cream awaits the coffee.

Coffee_altered

Perfectly good coffee in a saucer receiving cream.

Clouds in my coffee

The cream begins to work its magic.

Coffee and spoon_NYC

The swirls of deliciousness unite.

Doesn’t that just make you want to get yourself a yummy cup of joe? It does for me. But that delicate balance of java, cream and sweetener can be ruined in a heartbeat with the addition of extra coffee before it’s consumed.

So servers, I beg of you: back away from the coffee. Wait for a “Yes, please!” before you give that warm-up.

It’s also with a heavy heart that I inform you all that the place in which I took these photos earlier this year has now closed. It’s one of the only restaurants in my town that served really wonderful hot coffee (with cold cream!) and I am sad to see it gone. R.I.P. Uncle Jack’s.

Advertisements

Zoe Recommends: Old-Fashioned Whiskey Sours

I am all kinds of excited for today’s post! Due to some adult content, if you will, I have a few things I need to mention before getting to the meat of things:

  • This is a post about alcohol. Please use common sense when consuming adult beverages, especially whiskey.
  • This recipe uses raw egg white. If you are allergic to eggs or have a severe phobia of consuming raw egg, you can choose to omit the egg white but you will lose out on a huge part of what makes this recipe so delicious.
  • This cocktail will change your life.
  • Kthxbai

One of the very first cocktails I ever got into was the whiskey sour. My grandfather on my dad’s side was known for making the best ones, even though I was never old enough to be able to have one and fully appreciate it when he was alive. Even though I never knew the taste of his whiskey sours, I did know that what most bartenders nowadays consider a whiskey sour – isn’t one.

Because I was dying to find a REAL source for old-fashioned whiskey sours, I scoured the corners of the interwebs, since I couldn’t ask my grandfather. (Who, by the way, was born in 1905, so when I say old-fashioned, I mean old-fashioned.)

I came upon this article from Seattle Weekly and knew immediately after reading it that I would be doing a post on making this woman’s recipe. Favorite line? “Lazy bartenders…sullied the drink’s reputation by doing nothing more than pouring a shot of cheap whiskey and topping it with a squirt of some neon piss out of a gun or a plastic bottle.”

Spot on!

I personally can’t stand the pre-made, neon green sour mix of present day and was thrilled to find out what actually constitutes a sour is a blend of simple ingredients like lemon juice and simple syrup.

And, because I planned ahead, I already did a blog post on how to make your own simple syrup. So check that out before proceeding.

Another reason for my being excited to present this cocktail recipe to you is that I not only made it and liked it but I took photos. We all love a good story told by photos, don’t we? I’ll post the cocktail instructions at the end, though I’m just copying it directly from the article I referenced above.

You will need the following:

You’ll also need something to put all of these ingredients in – preferably a cocktail shaker. If you do not have one, any tightly lidded container will do. I used a Mason jar.

I don’t have a photo of me pouring a shot of whiskey into my jar but that is what I did. Pretty easy to do and to imagine.

Next up: squeeze half a lemon!


The recipe calls for a “dollop” the size of a quarter of the first runny clear egg white that comes out of the shell. Because I was taking photos, I decided to use my handy dandy egg white separator. It looks like this:


I cracked the egg into the little plastic holder so I could catch the white below:


I took a tablespoon of the egg white and added it to my Mason jar. I then added “half an ounce” (I admit it, I eyeballed that) of simple syrup to my Mason jar. That’s about one tablespoon.

Now we’re ready to shake! REALLY shake it – it’s going to give you this creamy, delicious froth from the egg white that makes your whiskey sour all velvety.


You’ll have a mixture that looks like this:

Almost ready
If you have a little strainer, get that out. You definitely don’t want chunks of pulp in your whiskey sour (unless that’s how you roll) but I like mine smooth as silk.

Strain! I had shaken mine with two cubes of ice to get it REALLY cold before pouring it over more ice but you don’t have to do that. If you have a formal cocktail shaker, you’ll be able to get more of the egg white foam on top of your drink.


Mmmmmmm…….


Some people put a cherry in or a garnish of an orange or lemon wedge. I really just wanted to enjoy the drink as-is and it’s still very attractive and yummy looking, if I do say so myself.

Serve and enjoy! And just for fun, a couple more ooo and aaahh shots:



By far, making my own has given me the supreme gratification of saying that I now make the BEST old-fashioned whiskey sours. I have made these a couple of times now (actually, Kevin made the first batch) and didn’t get sick from consuming raw egg. Just be sure to use FRESH eggs and keep these babies cold.

Have I inspired you to try making these? I really hope so. I’d love to hear back if you do! Recipe below. Cheers!

————-

For two whiskey sours, shake:

Juice from one lemon
Two shots of whiskey (more if you like your drinks strong)
1oz. of simple syrup, which amounts to two tablespoons (adjust to taste, of course)
2T. of egg white, though you can add more if you want more froth

Strain and pour over ice, if that’s your thing.

Garnish if you wish and then ENJOY. These are seriously kickass. Zoe Recommends!

Simple Syrup is Simple

I know it’s been over a week since I’ve had anything to say, which is unusual for me (at least this past year). I had a bout of writer’s block and am hoping to be more inspired this week.

I have a post up my sleeve for later this week (a Zoe Recommends, if you must know). However, it takes some forethought and planning–is that redundant?–and this is the first step. In order to avoid inundating you with way too many photos for a simple blog post, I decided to do this one first. And hey, since simple syrup can be used for so many recipes, I thought I’d share this illustration of it with you. Aren’t I so helpful?

I am not a “cook.” I praise the Lord every day that my man not only cooks and grills skillfully (and sort of bakes, though I am the better baker) but loves to do so. So even the quickest thing that requires me to pull out pots and pans and like, “do stuff” on the stove, makes me kind of:Therefore, I surprised myself with the fact that I was able to make this “recipe” all by myself AND take photographs of it at the same time without totally screwing it up. Whee!

Simple syrup is most easily made with a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar. When it’s all said and done, you use it to make any preferred sweetened beverage. I know that sugar is blacklisted in many homes but it’s not like you’re going to drink this stuff straight from the jar. Or at least, you shouldn’t.

Because I didn’t need to end up with two cups of the stuff, I opted to use only one cup of water and one cup of sugar, but it’s totally your prerogative. Let’s get our syrup on!

Step 1: place one cup cold tap water into pot. Easy enough.

Step 2: boil said water. My little pot here came with a handy lid so I popped that on so the water would boil about ten times faster.

Step 3: when the water has begun to rapidly boil, add sugar:

Step 4: turn the heat down to low and stir the mixture constantly. You want to make sure the sugar is dissolving into the hot water or you’ll just end up with crunchy water. No good. Just keep stirring, just keep stirring. Then, when you’ve stirred a whole bunch more, test it with a metal spoon. Scoop from the bottom and bring the spoon up close for inspection.

Slowly dribble the water back into the pot, looking for granules of sugar. I probably did this ten times or so, because I was paranoid I was doing this wrong. The liquid in the spoon looked nice and clear so after giving it one more quick stir, I turned off the heat completely and let it cool to room temperature.

Eventually, you’ll have this stuff, which looks almost no different than when you started, except it’s a bit thicker:

After it cools to room temp, pour your simple syrup into a jar and store in the refrigerator. And voilà!

Not too terribly hard, right? I even had a jar to store it in, which was highly convenient. I gave a quick taste test and yep, it tasted like a clear, sweet syrup with no crunchy bits in it.

It will NOT be super thick but it will be sticky as all get-out, so make sure you have a good spoon rest and wash your pot and spoon(s) right away.

I’m excited to present the next installment of what I’ll be using this for later this week! Here’s hoping you enjoyed what was a lovely first weekend of autumn.

For more information or to know where I got my instructions from, go here.

Ice cream as natural disasters

At some point, advertisers and marketers alike decided that ice cream needed to be more exciting and enticing than it already is, and set out to come up with trademarked names for ice cream vendors’ concoctions.

The basic premise for most ice cream shoppes is to have something with a base of ice cream with some kind of topping, candy or “mix-in” thrown in to give you a delicious “new” frozen treat. (Note: Snickers turns into hardened chunks which you will NOT be able to remove from your fillings.)

Take Dairy Queen. Their signature ice cream mixture is the Blizzard. It makes sense – it’s something frozen and it’s all a “whirl” of tasty deliciousness.

The local place near me, Custard Cup, calls theirs a Snowstorm.

As a woman whose hometown is St. Louis (that’s in the state of Missouri; I have actually been asked that before), I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up Ted Drewes. What’s Ted Drewes, you ask? Only the best frozen custard in all the land.

What’s frozen custard?

Surprisingly, this is not a frozen treat everyone is familiar with. And it is NOT frozen yogurt or Pinkberry or anything like that.

By definition, frozen custard is the following:

Frozen custard is a cold dessert similar to ice cream, made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar.

In the United States the Food and Drug Administration requires products marketed as frozen custard to contain at least 10 percent milk fat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids. If it has fewer egg yolk solids, it is considered ice cream.

If you have any kind of discerning palate, you will taste the difference, though I fear you won’t fare very well if you prefer diet or light ice cream. I prefer the purity of Häagen-Daz if I’m going to go for ice cream. Coffee, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Chocolate are my favorite flavors and they all have about five ingredients, none of them resembling monoglycerinsulfatecresthydrogenelixircarbonate.

Anyway, if you go to Ted Drewes in St. Louis, you will want to order yourself a Concrete. This is what I grew up calling any kind of natural-disaster-ice-cream-dish. They are awesome and the frozen custard can’t be beat, at least in my opinion. Here’s a photo of what all cashiers do when they serve you your concrete:

See that? She’s holding it upside down to show you that it really is frozen and it’s not going to slide out of the cup just because it’s been mixed together. It’s not a milkshake. Nostalgia does strange things to people because now I want to go back and have someone turn upside down my ice cream treat (concrete). Oh and Kevin always makes fun of me for calling anything that is ice cream + candy a concrete. We’re dorks like that.

McDonald’s dubbed theirs a Flurry. Just a slight chance of some kind of snow-related weather activity – in a cup.

Another local place here called Junior’s Burgers & Custard called their ice cream + candy thingy a Tornado. No need to post a photo. I wonder if a cyclonic image makes people shiver and think, “I want ice cream!” And you know somewhere out there, someplace calls theirs a Cyclone.

Sonic calls theirs a Blast. A blast of what?

Lastly, as we circle back around to Dairy Queen once more, they also came up with something called an Oreo Brownie Earthquake Sundae.


At this point, I have to wonder if the name really does help sell the thing. If it’s not something akin to snow, it’s ice cream as it relates to a natural disaster. Missing are Typhoon, Wildfire, Hailstorm, Volcanic Eruption, Mudslide, Sinkhole, Tsunami, Hurricane, and Flooding. I can see it now: “Can I have a sinkhole with marshmallow, walnuts, cranberries, and Andes mints in it?” I just grossed myself out typing all of that.

Did I leave anything out? What do you think, do you like the fun gimmicky names or do you prefer we just call it as it is? I think if I owned an ice cream shoppe I might pull a Dwight Schrute and all my menu items would be listed as such:

  • It is Custard With One Mix-In. $3.50
  • It is Two Scoops of Ice Cream With Hot Fudge On Top. Nuts Are Optional. $4.50
  • It is Like a Concrete But it is Really Just Ice Cream With Candy In It. $4.00

 

Mixing It Up With Friends…Giveaway | She’s Becoming DoughMessTic

Mixing It Up With Friends…Giveaway | She’s Becoming DoughMessTic.

This is for a good cause. I have been trying to win a KitchenAid mixer for my BFF Helen for quite some time. She won’t easily find out about this because she doesn’t have Internet (she’s old-fashioned like that). So if any of you decide to enter because you see this post, just say “Zoe Says sent me!” And you can also enter for yourself, as well. Although the contest ends in about 45 minutes so the likelihood is slim but hey, a girl can dream.

Hells needs a mixer so I’m doing what I can to win one for her.

Drumming up new mixer karma!

 

 

The Pizza Phenomenon

Papa Del’s Pizza!

“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do….“*

This has been my attitude towards consuming pizza since I began to eat it. It’s been one of my favorite foods since I was a child. I always thought it was so strange when I would see people who could eat ONE slice of pizza at a meal and claim to be satisfied. Granted, it depends on the size of the slice and if you live in New York City, one slice can certainly be the equivalent of two. But let’s say one is eating thin crust. I mean, come on. Like Imo’s from St. Louis and Monical’s from Central Illinois, a person simply can not be satisfied with one slice of thin crust. They’re cut into small squares and are designed to be eaten in larger quantities. Even Domino’s has capitalized on doing this.

Between that and the other non-New York slices, I just find it dumbfounding that people exist who can merely pick at pizza or take one and say, “I’m good.” Forreal?

Then I moved to Illinois, home of Chicago style pizza. I’d had this style before, if you count it when one frequents the chain called UNO’s. In Champaign-Urbana, there is a Chicago style place called Papa Del’s. There is one close by to my office and it’s very convenient to go and pick up a slice during the day.

Well. I am a changed woman.

I can actually consume one slice of this pizza and be totally satisfied. I never thought it would happen. I guess that’s why there’s that ‘never say never’ phrase. Oh, I can eat two or more slices, but for a quick and portion controlled lunch, it’s not exactly the best decision when one is working. The slices are thick and hearty with plenty of robust tomato sauce; even one topping suffices and I’m a multiple topping kind of gal.

I must congratulate the universe (or just those who invented Chicago style pizza, perhaps) because in all my decades of pizza consumption, I have never been able to stay away from eating multiple slices. And with this satisfying type of pizza, I don’t need to. I will say this, though – if you do not like thick crust, don’t bother. Then this won’t work for you if you’re similar to me regarding the “can’t have just one slice” thing. Thick lovers need only apply.

A nice side benny: I don’t feel like a piece of garbage when I’m finished because I’ve kept the portion reasonable and I take my time eating it. It’s….actually incredibly satisfying. And at the end of the day, I get to say I had pizza for lunch. It’s win-win-win. (The Office reference, for those of you familiar.)

There is hope for me yet as I go along with this portion control business. Win.

*Lyric from Harry Nilsson’s song “One”

Groundhog Day Cake

Nothing could have made for a better week than having an Adult Snow Day (read: working from home) on Groundhog Day AND  having my other half home with me since all classes at the University were canceled.

It is a real privilege to be able to work from home on an insanely cold, icy and snowy day when the roads and parking lots are treacherous. Many a company would flat out refuse their employees to do this, even in dire conditions. So if my boss is reading this, thank you. I am exceedingly grateful. You are very kind.

To celebrate all of these factors coming together divinely to provide me with a work day in slipper socks and pajama pants, on one of my breaks I decided to make something special.

That’s right. I got out the yellow cake mix from Ms. Crocker (purchased on sale for $.75 during the holiday season) and its accompanying super chocolatey can of frosting.

I read labels. I know that both of these items have corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and other crap in them, of which 99% of the time I steer clear. But sometimes, you just can’t beat being able to mix, bake, and frost a cake in an hour.

Yellow cake and chocolate frosting is a classic combo, at least in my book. A couple of friends of mine confirmed this when I told them I had a yellow cake in the oven. Also, yellow cake + chocolate frosting + glass of cold milk =  trifecta of goodness. This should be a theorum somewhere.

If nothing else, yellow cake baking makes your house smell so insanely good that even if you don’t end up eating it, just bake it for the smell.

I don’t regularly make cakes — regular or boxed — but today is Groundhog Day, a day I revere ever since the uber popular film released in 1993, as it became one of my all-time favorite movies. And so, in dedication to Punxsutawney Phil, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, the town of Woodstock, IL and the fact that it is balls cold out — a fluffy, delicious cake was made in my oven.

And isn’t it just handy that I snapped some “artsy” photos of the results?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Best Coffee Flavor? Creamy Chestnuts.

It occurred to me that I have yet to write about one of my favorite websites on my blogroll: Coffee Fool. If you love coffee and you’ve never heard of this website, I urge you to go there immediately and browse their insanely good selection of coffee. Then buy some.

It’s not just the flavors, though they are my favorite out of the kinds they have. It’s the joy and caring they put into their roasts, as well as a very detailed explanation of how they get their coffee a certain way. They also help you understand that most store-bought coffee is not freshly roasted and therefore is stale. If you’ve ever smelled ‘fresh’ coffee grounds and thought it smelled kinda ashy, like cigarettes, then yeah, they’re bad.

Big K and I like to get the beans because when we grind them ourselves, the powerful smell of truly fresh coffee hits you over the head. It’s akin to wine. You can inhale the scent up to your eyeballs and before you even brew the stuff, you feel more awake. I wish I were exaggerating but it’s really true.

To that end, we discovered that our favorite part of Coffee Fool’s website is the Friday Flavors. There, they “experiment” with different flavors and usually keep the roast at on the lighter, American side of things. (Don’t get me wrong – their Italian and French Roasts are like dark silk. Try one if you have any semblance of loving a rich roast.) Anyway, in Friday Flavors (which have now been incorporated into their regular line), they have many delicious concoctions but my favorite “potion” – and I’m talking all-time here – is Creamy Chestnuts. There is just something about this nutty flavor that keeps me buying pound after pound. I could probably get on their auto-delivery program for it because it’s that good. Every single person who has ever had it at my home thought it smelled amazing and tasted just as good. You don’t get that all the time with coffee – just sayin’.

I don’t know if they still do this but if you buy enough coffee from them, you earn a permanent discount with them. Needless to say, I get a slightly discounted bag of coffee each and every time I order. They also have wonderful staff and customer service. I really hope their whole business plan stays exactly the same.

So, to Coffee Fool: I salute you! Keep up the outstanding work and thanks for brightening my life with your creativity in a product as necessary as coffee. The variety and quality boggle the mind! At least mine.

Here are a few of the other flavors I’ve tried and my two cents on them:

Boolicious: they keep this one a ‘secret’ but Kevin and I have definitely discerned that it’s a mixture of blueberry and other flavors. This would be great for most people, since there are an odd number of folks out there who enjoy blueberry flavored coffee, but I do not. So while I do not recommend it, Kevin would.
Chocolate Pumpkin Pie: I like this version better than their regular Pumpkin Pie flavor. I found the latter to have too much pumpkin spice.
Cremera: Don’t bother. It literally tastes like a weird, subdued, creamy coffee. Wouldn’t buy twice.
Egg Nog Royale: I don’t like egg nog flavored things but my dude loved this one.
Santa’s Cookie Coffee: I bought two bags of this and liked it initially. Then when I tried it again, I didn’t like it enough to buy it again. It’s VERY popular, though.
Turtle Gone Nuts: This is pretty good. I love me some chocolate and caramel.
Vanillamykahlua: Give this a whirl if you like mild vanilla. (I can also highly recommend their French Vanilla, since it’s French roasted coffee with vanilla. YUM.)
Bacon: You’d think this one would have blown us away. The ‘bacon’ flavor was so mild that it didn’t blow our hair back. We’ll just stick with regular coffee and frying up some bacon.
Chocolate Espresso: Self-explanatory. And delicious.
Chocolate Raspberry: This stuff is amazing. Conversely, I tried the Raspberry Squared and wanted to throw up. I couldn’t drink the stuff. Too berry-y.
Creme Brulee: I can’t attest to this one but K-Dawg loves it.
English Toffee: very tasty! I’d buy this one again.
Maple Walnut: a new flavor that is really good. I think out of the “nut” coffees, it goes Creamy Chestnuts, Pecan Supreme, then Maple Walnut. This is a really nice flavor and can be mixed with others if it’s too mapley for you.
Melted Marshmallow: I wasn’t a big fan. It was just kinda ehhh for me. But I’m picky about marshmallow stuff.
Pecan Supreme: REALLY good. Not as good as Creamy Chestnuts but up there!
Pacific Espresso: I really adore dark roasts but I do not like this one. The best reason I can come up with is that it’s too bitter. Their Italian and French roasts are great for me, though.
Smooth Sailing: this is a reduced-acid coffee and has a wonderful flavor. It’s what “regular” coffee should taste like. And I can have multiple cups without having a Tums. Bonus!
Snoodle Doodle: One of my favorites. I have ordered this multiple times and would get this more regularly if it weren’t for Chestnuts eeking out the competition.
Highlander Grog: Also one of my favorite repeat orders. I like it because it’s not super hazelnut. It’s got a good blend of butterscotch and the hazelnutflavors.

Flatpicker Fuel, Fool’s House French, Fools’ House Italian Dark, Lock & Load and Velvet Hammer are all of the dark roasts I’ve tried. They’re really good about keeping the descriptions accurate so just double check what they say about each before picking. It’s almost hard to pick one you won’t like! (My God. I just went over to the Light/Medium roasts and realized I’ve tried a bunch of those, too. I really am a fan!)