Guest Author - Gayle E. Santana
If there is one thing we should get from trudging through the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, it is a return to values and quality in our lives. This begins with getting back to basics.
Don’t get me wrong, I already know this is hard, but if we don’t get this part right now, we will all be in trouble down the road. If you are wondering how we got here, just look back to the not-so-distant past. You will find three bodies on that road known by the names of Gluttony, Greed and Waste. They are dead now so let’s move on.
This certainly applies to our coffee. Don’t get this confused with wanting the finer things; there is nothing wrong with that. I certainly learned this the hard way. But if the finest doesn’t quite fit in your budget, it is still possible to have quality without a ridiculous price tag.
If you are going to drink coffee, by all means make sure it’s something you really love. Did you know that the region where your coffee was grown will distinctly affect its taste? Take a trip around the world by trying coffee from different regions. Find the one you love best and stick with it.
Scott McMartin, Director of Coffee and Tea Education for Starbucks, describes the different flavors from each region like this:
Latin America - “…sturdy elegance and pronounced acidity of Central American coffees, to the well-balanced coffee flavors of South America.”
Asia Pacific - “…can be full-bodied, exotic and spicy…or they can have herbal, earthy aromas…”
Africa/Arabia - “…wine-like qualities—including citrus fruits, berries and lavender.”
What a lovely way to travel, and in case you don’t know this by now, you can save tremendously if you buy a bag of beans or pre-ground from your favorite region and make it at home. You can also get yourself a travel mug or thermos and have your coffee the way you like it wherever you go. Check the difference in price and you may find this venture well worth it. Not only that, when you take the time to care for yourself in small ways, it makes a big difference. Instead of feeling lack or deprivation, you feel happy and cared for. Add to that mix the use of a French Press and you will be feeling richer in no time.
If you would like to have family and friends over, but there’s no money in the budget, try this idea on for size: Invite them over for coffee. You can even bake a cake. Yes, you heard me, try baking. It’s personal, it’s fun and it gives your home a beautiful scent.
Here is a wonderful recipe to get you started and it will be heavenly with your favorite cup.
To make this cake look wonderful, bake it in a Bundt or Tube pan.
2 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
1 ˝ cups of canola, corn or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of nutmeg (I use a bit extra of this)
2 teaspoons of cinnamon (I use a bit extra of this)
2 cups of carrots finely grated (1-16 oz bag will do the trick)
2 teaspoons of baking soda
˝ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
˝ cup of shelled walnuts
No need for a mixer here. I use a big wooden spoon to mix.
-Mix oil and sugar together.
-Add eggs one at a time-mix well after each.
-In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients (if you don’t have a sifter, use a strainer—it works just as well).
-Add to mix in thirds.
-Fold in grated carrots and mix thoroughly. Note: If the grated carrots are too big, they will make your cake doughy. To get the carrots grated finely on my Cuisinart, I run them through the grater blade and then through the chopper. If grating by hand use the smallest side of the grater.
-Add walnuts (If you are using whole shelled walnuts, break them up so they are not so large although some people like them this way).
-Spray the pan with Pam or other vegetable spray (vegetable oil or shortening will work as well). Then dust with a little flour
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes and test for doneness-a toothpick in the center should come out clean. Remember that ovens do vary.
You can dust this cake with confectioners’ sugar and forgo the icing if you like. The cake has great flavor and stands on its own. However, this cream cheese frosting and crushed nuts makes a beautiful presentation.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. (16 oz.) confectioners’ sugar (about 4 cups), sifted
-Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
-Add sugar gradually, beating until well blended after each addition.
-Don’t frost the entire cake. Just go around the top piling it on just thick enough to cause it to drip down the sides a bit.
-Crush walnuts and sprinkle them on top. If you have nut allergies, here are a few other things you can try. Grate dried apricots (grated on the large side of the grater). Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon sugar (available in most supermarkets).
So in this time of economic duress, yes, peel back as much as you need to, but remember to make the best of it all by continuing to get together with family and friends and take care of yourself.