Iced Coffee – Part One

So, I’ve wanted to post this recipe for a while so here I am posting my recipe for Cold Brew Coffee.Today is part one, the actual coffee concentrate recipe, tomorrow I’ll post part two for how to make an individual cup from the concentrate.

Now, this isn’t the only recipe out there and I’m not claiming that it’s the best — but it’s pretty darn good if you ask me. So, what is Cold Brew you might ask? Well, it’s basically a cold coffee concentrate. Cold brew coffee is great because the coffee never gets heated during the brewing process, meaning you pretty much don’t have to worry about over brewing and getting bitter, burnt coffee. Also, the strength is easily adjusted to personal preference. The amount of coffee I make lasts a week, but when it’s really hot it’s not uncommon for us to have to make cold brew 2-3 times a week. Between me and my mother, we can really consume some cold brew.

Now, I was going to do this really nice step by step photo tutorial ala Pioneer Woman, however, somebody had already started a fresh batch of coffee and I didn’t want to wait to post the recipe. I took some pictures, but not as extensive as I would have liked. If you want to see some step by step photos I recommend you check out The Pioneer Woman’s post about cold brew coffee — her recipe makes a much larger amount than mine does, but she has awesome photos, so it you’re a visual person you might like to check it out. (Also, you should try her version with the sweetened condensed milk — sounds weird but it is oh so good)

The Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Iced Coffee

Iced Coffee

So, here’s what you’re going to need.

1 Quart Jar w/Lid — you’ll need another container about the same size when you strain the coffee grounds from the concentrate
1 – 1 1/3 Cups Ground Coffee
1 Quart Water
Strainer/Filter

  1. Picking your container. Okay, first things first, you need something to hold the coffee in. Here at my house, that’s a 1 Quart mason jar with a lid. This particular recipe makes just under a quart of cold brew. Just about anything with a lid will do, as long as it holds at least a quart of liquid.
  2. Picking your coffee. The beauty of this is that you can pretty much use any ground coffee that you like. Pick something that tastes good to you. So, if you like the iced coffee at Starbucks I would suggest using Starbucks ground coffee. Lately, we’ve been using the cheap coffee from Aldi’s. (Sorry, some of my pictures were a little blurry — caffeine does that to you). For cheap coffee it tastes pretty good and for the price we are getting a lot of value out of this can considering the price we would have to pay per cup to purchase iced coffee. So, don’t be afraid to use the cheap stuff if you have to, if it tastes okay to you, than it’s going to be fine. You can also use espresso, it makes a coffee concentrate that is to die for, but you definitely don’t need to use as much to get the same punch. Note: You can also use Decaf if you want the taste without the buzz.
  3. Measure out your coffee. I would suggest starting with 1 cup of coffee grounds, unless you know that a) your coffee is on the mild side or b) you know you want a really strong concentrate. In either of those cases, I would go with 1 1/2-1/3 cups of ground coffee. Just remember, the darker the roast the richer the concentrate, so if you’re using a dark roast coffee or espresso, I would suggest starting with 1 cup and adjusting later if this isn’t strong enough for you.
  4. Throw it all together. Another beautiful thing about this is that you literally dump everything in the same container and let it do it’s thing. Dump your coffee grounds into the jar and add water! My jar won’t quite hold the whole 1 quart of water, because the grounds take up a portion of my capacity, but if you use a slightly larger container get as close to 1 quart of water in there as you can. Now, stick the lid on there and shake it up a little to distribute the grounds a little so their not all at the top of the jar.
  5. Let it set overnight.That’s it, just let it sit. You can leave it out on the counter to set if you like, however, my mom and I let ours set in the refrigerator. That way, when we strain it the next morning it’s already cold and we can use it right then. We are not patient when it comes to our coffee — we want it now.
  6. Strain the concentrate.So, after setting overnight you should have a beautiful dark rich coffee-colored liquid. However, it’s going to have lots of coffee grounds hanging out and unless you like the gritty feeling you’re going to want to strain it. This is where the other container comes into play because you’re going to need a separate container to strain the groundless liquid into. There isn’t a right or wrong way to strain the grounds away, just so long as you’re happy with the level of ungroundiness (I just made that up — I is smart). You can use a strainer, cheese cloth, etc. You might have to strain it more than once to get all of the grounds out. We actually use a Melitta Pour-Over Coffee Maker to strain ours. One nice thing about this is that it only requires one straining because you use a coffee filter. We have a large one with an actual coffee pot that comes with it, it’s really handy. The smaller ones are actually pretty cheap — however, you don’t need anything fancy to strain your coffee, just do what works for you.
  7. Refrigerate cold brew.You’ll want to refrigerate your cold brew to store it. I’m not sure how long this technically can keep, we never have any more than a week so I’m not sure what the shelf life is.

And that’s pretty much it! For real, it’s really easy. After all is said and done, you should have this:

This has already had a couple of cups made from it, but you should end up with roughly a quart of cold brew coffee. From here you can make all manner of coffee drinks, tomorrow I’ll post about how I use it for the iced coffee that I posted yesterday.

I’m not entirely sure how many drinks you can get out of 1 quart. I’ve never counted, but the amount of drinks you get out will depend on how you dilute the concentrate. My mom and I, we don’t dilute the concentrate at all, however, if you do dilute it you will get much more out of the quart than if you don’t dilute. Now, when I say we don’t dilute it, we’re not drinking this straight out of shot glasses, we just don’t add water to it before we use it for our coffee drinks. It’s all about personal preference.

So there we go, the recipe that my family uses to make our Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate, which gets turned into Iced Coffee. If you have any questions, or have a tip or suggestion about making coffee concentrate, feel free to comment and let us know! Like I said, this isn’t the only method out there.

Well Wishes,
Allison

 

Ah, Annotations

I love annotations.

This is a big deal for me, previous to my Literature classes the thought of writing in a book absolutely appalled me. So did dog-earring books. Well, that still appalls me. I’d sooner brush my teeth with steel wool than dog-ear a book.

Once I started to really study literature I realized quickly that I wasn’t get very far without annotating. I am too forgetful and unorganized to remember to take notes and then have those notes properly coordinated to the place I am referencing in the text. At first I began to lightly, with a pencil, mark stars by passages that stood out to me. Pretty soon I figured out that wasn’t going to work. Like I said, I am very forgetful and I would be going through my text and I wouldn’t remember why I marked a particular passage.

After that, I decided to take the plunge and started writing annotations in my book. I started writing in my book. On the page, with a pencil.

Okay, so I couldn’t bring myself to use a pen at first. I am all for baby steps and I’ll tell you, those first words written were some of the hardest words I’ve ever marked on any piece of paper. There was no way I was going to use a pen though, that was just wrong. Pencils can be undone, but pens and their irreversible ink would blot the page forever.

Then the day came when I forgot to bring a pencil with me to class.

I had quietly been studying a line of Shakespeare when suddenly the heavens parted and pure clarity alighted upon me and revealed to me the hidden meaning of that confounding line of blank verse. My hand sought my pencil in order to record this revelation on the margin next to the now clear line of verse when I realized that I had no pencil. I sat in quiet agony and decided that this precious thought was more important than my desire to keep an ink pen from touching my text. With a hesitant hand I picked up the ink pen laying atop my notebook and gathering every ounce of fortitude in my body, I disclosed my thought with an ink pen on to the margins of that page, never to been undone from that text again. I sat back to view the carnage and reflect on the hideous crime I had just committed.Then I thought to myself:

“That’s wasn’t too bad.”

Over time I became more comfortable with the pen. It was an odd thing to get over. After while, I couldn’t understand why I was so against annotations in the first place — with or without a pen. I learned that they could be lots of fun and I began to annotate with wild abandon. I’m pretty sure if I went back and read some of my annotations from a year ago I would roll my eyes. I was overzealous at times and it was not uncommon for me to cover most of the margins around a poem with notes and ideas. I reckon that this was merely my newborn practice taking advantage of its youth.

I took the summer off from school and when I came back this past fall I found a more mature annotator had taken the place of the wild adolescent that I left in the spring. I still annotate, and annotate often. However, I’m more mindful of my annotations now. I still prefer annotating in pencil, just because if I decide I don’t agree with what I wrote, I can be rid of it easily.

All in all, I enjoy the practice now. I still remain as respectful to the text as I can be. I don’t write anything unless I feel it’s important. I also take better notes, because I think the essays are best for a blank piece of paper, rather than the margins of a book.

I do however, still use stars. Old habits die-hard I guess.

Well Wishes,
Allison

 

How to Spend Valentine’s Day as a Single Hopeless Romantic

Well, today’s the day. The day that people all over the place celebrate love with as much glitter and roses and clichéd words as they can possibly fit into one card.

That’s okay, I have nothing against it. But, as a single person I always wonder what I’m going to do for Valentine’s Day. I think I might have figured out a good plan, which I’m about to lay out for you in just a minute. But I think there’s something I need to address first, because I know the people who have known me since forever are scratching their heads in confusion.

Yeah, that’s right, I called myself a hopeless romantic. Laugh it up, go ahead, I know you want to.

You see, its my best kept secret. I put up a good front (I think), I abhor romantic comedies, act grossed out when my friends get lovey dovey around their significant others in front of me and in general I act like I am anti-romance most of the time.

But really, I’m a sucker for a good romance. No, I still despise romantic comedies, I think they are silly (let’s not even mention Nicolas Spark books/movies — I can’t stand them, no offense to Mr. Spark and his fans). But you sit me down in front of Beauty and the Beast? I’m a blubbering mess. I’m not sure what happens but I love stories like that.

Yeah, I know, it’s hopeless.

Anyway, here’s is how I’m spending my Valentine’s Day.

Listen to Good Music. For me, this is my latest obsession, The Civil Wars. I’m listening to them right now. I love their sound, also, I should have known that I would love them because on their “related artists” list on Spotify the first two are The Avett Brothers and Needtobreathe. It was meant to be.

Make Something Silly. In a moment of silliness I made myself a heart bracelet. I saw this cute little crocheted heart motif on Pinterest last night so today I made myself a bracelet with it (I know, again with the crochet, I’m not sure what’s going on either).

What I did was this; I made the motif (I used a skein of cotton embroidery thread and a F hook) and then I attached a crochet chain to one side, I chain stitched until it was long enough to reach around my wrist and then I chained about 4-6 extra chains and doubled back on them to create a loop for my button. I sewed a little button on the heart and voila! A cute, albeit silly, little bracelet.

Watch a Movie. Preferably one you’ve never seen before. Though I’m really tempted to watch Beauty and the Beast again. I’m really in the mood for that particular movie. However, if I do go with a new movie it will probably be Labyrinth. I’ve wanted to see this one for a while now. Last year I watched Serenity for the first time. ‘Twas awesome.

Read a Book. Now, obviously, some of us just don’t have the time to do everything on my list. Myself included. However, I figured I would plop this on in here to because I think it’s a good alternative to watching a movie. If I were to pick any book to read today it would be Beauty by Robin McKinley. She’s an awesome writer and I adore her rendition of the Beauty and the Beast story. (I need to get my own copy of this book).

Chocolate. If you’re allergic, or don’t like chocolate, find your favorite alternative. But really, get chocolate in any form possible. Yes, it seems like the obvious thing here, and perhaps this whole list is rather obvious. But it’s obvious for a reason. You’ll thank me.

So there you go, my plan for Valentine’s Day. I realize now that I have a major Beauty and the Beast theme going on here. I blame the latest episode of Once Upon a Time. I love that show and the newest episode “Skin Deep” is a play on Beauty and the Beast. I loved it.

Happy Valentine’s Day Y’all,
Allison