ESPRESSO … “stronger than all the religions of the world”

“The voodoo priest and all his powers were as nothing compared to espresso, cappuccino, and mocha, which are stronger than all the religions of the world combined, and perhaps stronger than the human soul itself.” Memoir From Antproof Case, Mark Helprin

What is more delightful than an espresso (that’s eSpresso, not eXpresso) to help move through the day or a caffè correto to end a good dinner and aid digestion? This is an easy-to-learn process using a Bialleti Moka Express, a stove-top espresso maker.  It’s well worth the negligible effort.  I prefer the moka pot to a machine because I feel more connected to the process and the product, it takes up less real estate in the kitchen, and it’s budget wise.

As always we start with the freshest ingredients: water – clear, cold, and filtered – and freshly ground dark-roasted coffee.  Buy it when you know you will use it right away, even if you purchase beans and grind them at home.

The Bialetti Moke Express comes in three parts: the reservoir for water, a coffee filter with funnel for the grounds, and a top piece to capture the espresso as it bubbles up from the bottom.  This coffee pot comes in various sizes to make coffee for just one person or for up to twelve.

Directions:

Fill the reservoir with water to just below the steam valve. Put the coffee filter in place and fill it with grounds, tamping them lightly with the back of the spoon. Screw the top piece in place.

Put the Moka Express on the highest heat.  Watch it because it is quickly done.  The espresso will gather in the top chamber. Serve immediately.  Sweeten with xylotol if you like.  If you care to, you might add either a lemon peel or, for a caffè correto, a little grappa. Caffè latte: One shot fresh, hot espresso for each six ounces of steamed organic dairy or nondairy milk.

This video demonstrates the process. (If you are view this from an email subscription, it’s likely you’ll have to link through to the site to watch the video.)

Photo credits: The header photo and the Bialetti are courtesy of Bialetti. The espresso cup is courtesy of Lemone under GFDL.

“An old American who lives in Brazil is writing his memoirs. An English teacher at the naval academy, he is married to a woman young enough to be his daughter and has a little son whom he loves. He sits in a mountain garden in Niterói, overlooking the ocean. As he reminisces and writes, placing the pages carefully in his antproof case, we learn that he was a World War II ace who was shot down twice, an investment banker who met with popes and presidents, and a man who was never not in love. He was the thief of the century, a murderer, and a protector of the innocent. And all his life he waged a valiant, losing, one-man battle against the world’s most insidious enslaver: coffee. Mark Helprin combines adventure, satire, flights of transcendence, and high comedy in this “memoir” of a man whose life reads like the song of the twentieth century.”

 

Buttered Coffees and Teas: Everything they’re cracked up to be …

Like me, you’ve probably seen them: all the articles touting buttered coffee and – less frequently – tea for both health benefit and heavenly flavor.

The idea of buttered tea wasn’t new to me, but …

I’d read about the Tibetan custom of drinking black tea with salt and yak butter, often with tsampa (roasted barley flour) as well. Nonetheless, the thought of drinking buttered coffee or tea held no appeal until it became clear that I had to up the fats in my diet and eliminate fast carbs (sugars, grains and starches) in order to transition my brain from running on glucose to running on ketones and my body from carb burning to fat burning. This meant focusing primarily on healthy fats (organic extra-virgin cold-press olive oil, organic coconut oil, grass-fed butter, medium-chain-triglycerides [MCT oil]), moderate vegetables, tidbits of berries, a modicum of seeds and nuts, and adequate protein from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals.

Such transitions also involve intermittent fasting.  I have a six-hour window for “feeding” and don’t eat for eighteen hours. This allows the body to rest and regenerate. It controls insulin production and inflammation and – nice bonus – it facilitates clear mind, physical energy and weight loss.  I lost eighteen pounds in two months. Buttered coffee or tea makes fasting easy. It’s delicious and satisfying and, since there’s no insulin spike, it doesn’t break the fast. I find I never feel deprived.

Buttered coffee drinks were popularized as “Bulletproof Coffee™” by Dave Asprey, an entrepreneur self-described as a bio-hacker, someone who hacks his/her body for the sake of good health, high energy and peak physical and mental performance.  Hacking is tech-speak for gaining access to a system, so bio-hackers experiment with their body-systems to target the best ways to eat, sleep, exercise, and supplement.

Because I’m a writer, I think of it more as reframing, as in reframing a scene or a story line, or as a sort-of physical version of cognitive reframing. Instead of reframing the irrational and maladaptive, we reframe neurodegenerative disease and dysfunctional metabolism.

There are three caveats for the switch to high fat:

  • Go slowly.  If your body is used to a low-fat diet a sudden increase in fats will result in uncomfortable and embarrassing gastrointestinal issues.
  • A high-fat diet MUST be combined with low carbs. High fat and high carbs will put the pounds on and damage your lipid profile, putting your health at risk.
  • Consult with your doctor.

Since I’m not a medical professional, that’s enough said by me. If you’re interested research: Low-carb High-fat (LCHF), Ketogenic, Whole 30, Paleo, and Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diets.

Meanwhile, to the point of this site: here’s how to make delicious frothy buttered coffee. I promise you, it’s addictive.

  • using filtered water brew eight-to-ten ounces of coffee
  • use two heaping teaspoons of your favorite beans, freshly ground – NO instant coffee

Additions:

  • over a few weeks work up to two tablespoons of MCT oil (start slowly and start when you have a few days off from work)
  • one tablespoon unsalted butter from grass-fed cows

One or more possible additions depending on your taste preferences:

  • one tablespoon organic heavy whipping cream (grass-fed if you can find it)
  • alcohol and gluten-free vanilla or almond flavoring
  • one teaspoon organic cocoa powder
  • quarter teaspoon organic turmeric
  • xylitol made from birch to taste.

I actually like my morning coffee with just a pinch of nutmeg or cardamom.  To make buttered tea just substitute your preferred morning tea for the coffee.

Lastly, be sure to whip up your blend in a personal blender or Bullet.

And with that, here’s todays poem:

Over His Morning Coffee

Over his morning coffee he sat,
dreaming of yesterday’s spring
and the hill country of his youth,
remembering summers of peace
and autumn days when he thought
life a forever thing. The world lay before
him then, a ripe field awaiting harvest.
Now beside this sad cup, a winter hand,
so withered and so gray, an old man’s
hand he barely recognized as his own.
Then his gaze found her playful smile.
In the hazel warmth of her eyes he
felt like spring again, the rich loam of
her love yielding a gentle harvest of joy

– Jamie Dedes

© 2015, poem and post, Jamie Dedes;  Bowl of Tibetan Buttered Tea courtesy of Yosomono under CC BY 2.0 license.

 

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony … “For the Love of a Good Cuppa” by Karen Fayeth

An Ethiopian woman roasting coffee at a traditional ceremony. Photo courtesy of Sam Effron under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

A coffee ceremony is a ritualised form of making and drinking coffee. The coffee ceremony is one of the most recognizable parts of Arab, Eritrean and Ethiopian culture. Coffee is offered when visiting friends, during festivities, or as a daily staple of life. If coffee is politely declined then most likely tea (shai) will be served.  [Wikipedia]

FOR THE LOVE OF A GOOD CUPPA

by

Karen Fayeth

This year The Good Man and I had the chance to celebrate the Fourth of July with some good friends. There were six of us total (three couples), and we met at our friend’s house for a special treat.

One of our crew had just recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia. She and her husband are in process of adopting an adorable baby boy and she had to make a visit to work through the paperwork with the local courts.

While in country visiting her baby son and patiently working though the long process, she was treated on several occasions to the Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

On our Fourth of July holiday, she wanted to share this ceremony with us, her friends.

About the coffee ceremony, here’s a quote from Ethiopian ambassador Haile-Giros Gessesse:

“Coffee has social value in our society. It is deep rooted in our culture. The coffee ceremony in local areas is used mainly for social gatherings. In the mornings and evenings parents, especially mothers gather together for a coffee ceremony and also use it as a platform for exchanging information in their surroundings. It is a means of communication. When people sit down they usually spend three hours finalizing the ceremony, starting with the preparation, and then roasting to brewing it.”

Our friend had hauled home a big bag of green coffee beans, water hulled (the good stuff) not fire hulled, and we sat outside in the beautiful sun while she told us about the ceremony.

First, she roasted the beans on the grill. We watched as she shook and swirled the pan, much like a slow Jiffy pop motion.

When we all agreed that it looked like the beans were at a good medium roast we all took in a whiff of the fantastic aroma from the pan.

We then took turns using a mortar and pestle to smash the beans down to a nice grind.

It was satisfying work to smash, smash, smash those crispy beans and release the beautiful scent and oils.

The grinds were then put into a French press and once brewed, a round of coffee was poured into six cups.

Yuuuummmm! It had a floral aroma and tasted so light and delicious. So amazing with just a touch of sugar and nothing else.

In keeping with tradition, we had three rounds of coffee while we discussed our lives, the news of the day, baseball, and got caught up with each other. This is part of the ceremony, the community, the support, the friendship.

Now, I love a great cup of coffee, but I rarely drink caffeinated coffee. After three cups I was ready to clean my house top to bottom, jog a thousand miles, and throw a 98mph fastball.

But it was a happy caffeinated high.

I was honored to be a part of the ceremony and I can hardly wait until our friends bring home their baby boy. I hope to we can continue to give him a sense of community and family…maybe even over a cuppa or two…or three·

© 2017, Karen Fayeth


(c) Karen Fayeth

Born with the eye of a writer and the heart of a story-teller, KAREN FAYTH‘s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico and complemented by an evolving urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she conducts business throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Central America. Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include three features in New Mexico Magazine and short stories in Ragazine, The Griffin, Jet Fuel Review and The Tower.

Contact Karen at karen-at-karenfayeth.com or visit her blog at blog.karenfayeth.com

Coffee Dark, Poetry Light … How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee … featuring poet and short story writer Dan Roberson

Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water. ~The Women’s Petition Against Coffee, [England 1674] to Keepers of the Liberties of Venus; The Worshipful Court of Female Assistants, &c. from the Several Thousands of Buxome Good-Women, Languishing in Extremity of Want

No need for the men to prowl the cafés at night once the Buxome Good-Women started making perfect coffee at home and drinking it too. These days some of us drink it round the clock and we all recognize that a morning without coffee is sleep.

Tips for the perfect brew:

  • Pick your coffee maker. Preparing one streaming-hot fresh cup at a time makes a difference . My daughter-in-law bought me a ceramic one coffee dripper. Love it! Next on my list is a glass one. Both options are preferable to plastic, no worries about leaching plastic into your brew.  These one-cup drippers work well, they’re affordable, straight-forward and don’t take up a lot of kitchen real estate.  You can purchase larger sizes to prep coffee for family and/or guests.
  • Pick your filter. Unbleached filters only.
  • Fresh cold filtered water. Brita 18 Cup UltraMax Water Dispenser works well.
  • Quality beans. We enjoy Kicking Horse.
  • Store beans properly. In other words, keep a small amount hand in a tightly sealed container and store the rest double-wrapped in the freezer so the oils don’t get rancid.
  • Grind your beans fresh. You don’t have to spend big bucks on a grinder.  My son and I have both have Epicas. Efficient. Space-saving. Affordable. For uniform grind, don’t do too many beans at once.
  • Use the correct ratio of grinds to water. Two tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water.
  • Use the correct water temperature.  In sort, be sure to use boiling water.

Enjoy!  And now here’s Dan Roberson’s poem:

Never More

Something was playing with the cat,
Maybe it was the wind and nothing more.
But gusts of wind blowing this way and that,
Continued to rattle the creaky back door.
It had to be the wind and nothing more.
I woke from my tortured dreams,
“Someone is playing with my keys,”
“But the cat will keep intruders out,
If it is small, or nothing at all.”
In my dreams something shook the door.
“Please, please,” I pleaded. “Please, no more.
You must be a fake, for goodness sake,”
Or nothing but my dream and nothing more.”
The wind began to pound and roar.
I pulled the covers over my head.
“I hope I don’t wake up bloodied and dead.”
But it was nothing, nothing but the wind,
Howling, howling at my door.
I lit a fire, waited for it to grow high.
I started the coffee brewing,
And waited to see what the wind was doing.
“Nevermore,” howled the wind,
“Do I want to hear your snore.”
“I like the rain, the constant dripping,
The leaves rustling against your door.
But your snore! …. Nevermore.”

© 2017, Dan Roberson

(c) Dan Roberson

DAN ROBERTSON (My Blog) Wrote this poem in response to a writing prompt over at The Poet by Day. He didn’t send me a bio and photo (or, maybe I forgot ask for one) but I’ve known him long enough to write a little something off the top of my head. Dan is a former teacher (high school I believe) and a father. One daughter is an accomplished artist. He’s a natural-born storyteller with one – maybe two – collections of short stories that were published some time ago. Dan’s been sharing stories and poetry on WordPress since November 2010. He is also the former owner of an online shop. Dan’s gentle spirit and strong intuitive sense is revealed in all his work. He studied journalism and communication at Cal State Sacramento. J.D.

Writers and Their Cafès

WRITERS AND CAFÉS go together like coffee and a biscotto. Perhaps the connection started in the place where coffee houses first evolved, Ottoman Turkey. There it is said the men met over small, sweet cups of Turkish coffee to socialize and entertain one another with backgammon and poetry.

Later, when coffee came to Europe, the Viennese cafès were de facto office sites of many well-known writers. The Austrian journalist, Alfred Polgar (1873-1955), admired for his witt at Vienna’s Café Central, wrote that coffee houses were “a place where people want to be alone, but need company to do so.” Maybe writers needed the noise and the caffeine to keep up the will and energy to face one white page after another.

CAFÈ CENTRAL, Vienna

Boris Vian (1920-1959), the French polymath (his abiiities included writing and poetry) claimed that “if there had not been any cafés, there would have been no Jean-Paul Sartre.” That’s an exaggeration of course, but one with which we might agree makes its point. I’ve read that Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir hung-out in Paris at Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore. The former was also a favorite of Rimbaud.

We are told that Pushkin found courage in coffee – not alcohol – before his last and fatal duel in 1837 at The Literary Café in St. Petersburg. Byron, Casanova and Henry James had their favorite coffee houses in Vienna. Lorca met Dalí at the Cafe de Oriente in Madrid, and Kafka worked on Metamorphosis at the Café Stefan in Prague. Oscar Wilde was famous in coffee houses throughout Europe, though perhaps not for having pen in hand.

HEMINGWAY, HADLEY and Friends, American Ex-pats in Paris

The connection between writers and coffee houses was well established by the time the lost generation was meeting in Paris in the 1920s. Hemingway wrote about Cafe La Rotonde and Le Dome Cafe in The Sun Also Rises. He also frequented the Dingo Bar along with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Djuna Barnes.

The Pedrocchi Cafè  (1831) in Padua, like many of the old coffee houses, is still in operation and is one of the world’s largest. It was Stendhal’s home-away-from-home …

… and so the affinity continues into recent times. The Elephant House in Edinburg is the “birth place of Harry Potter.”

THE ELEPHANT HOUSE, Edinburg, “the birthplace of Harry Potter

Photo credits ~ Header photograph  selection of Bialetti moka pots at Koffiebranderij BOON in The Hague, by Takeaway under CC BY-SA 4.0. Next photo courtesy of morgueFileCafè Central and Hemingway and Friends are in the public domain and via Wikipedia. The Elephant House Cafè is courtesy of Nicolai Schäfer licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license via Wikipedia.

Lebanese Coffee, Cardamom Scented; featured writer, Freya Stark

“We found a little side valley for lunch, and made a salad and cooked the coffee.”

Letters From Syria, Freya Stark

A blend of dark coffee beans ground with cardamom, prepared in Lebanon, a Turkish ground

As a child I lived for a while with my Lebanese grandmother, my Sidto. Every Tuesday afternoon some of the ladies who traveled to the U.S. with her would come to visit. They’d bring store bought-cakes. This was a luxury and a delight. It was something they didn’t have to slave over.

My grandmother would serve coffee. Sometimes it was regular American coffee and sometimes it was Lebanese coffee, a sweet treat fragrant with cardamom. It is the cardamom that distinguishes Lebanese coffee from Turkish.

The coffee, called Al-Qahway in the Arabic, is integral to all entertaining, a hallmark of Lebanese hospitality, which is legendary.

Note: Generally I prefer and recommend purchasing whole beans, however Maaatouk is perfectly blended and ground, delicious and convenient.

 

Hand Hammered Thick Solid Copper Turkish Coffee Pot Small, Arabic Greek Stovetop Coffee Maker Ibrik Cezve Briki with Brass Handle

Lebanese coffee is prepared in a narrow, long-handled brass pot, called a rakweh, and then poured into a demitasse.

It is generally served sweet (mazbuhtah), moderately sweet (wahsat), very sweet (helwa) or, at funerals, bitter (murrrah).

This recipe is for two servings. Just multiply the ingredients to prepare the coffee for more people.  This is an easy prep process.  Don’t be intimidated.

The recipe

The ingredients:

For two demitasse cups, medium sweet:

water

2 tablespoons dark-roasted coffee, ground for Turkish Coffee

2 teaspoons organic sugar

2 cardamom pods

The preparation:

Pour two demitasse cupfuls of water into the rakweh. Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat, and add the coffee and sugar. Put the pot back on the heat.  The coffee will foam up.  Remove from heat and let the foam subside.  Add the cardamom pods. Put the pot back on the heat and let it foam again.  Remove from heat.  Let the foam subside.  Do the process once more. Pour into cups.  Drink hot, hot, hot.

This is my favorite set, not only because of the colors but we are a family of three: me and my son and my daughter-in law. Three Espresso & Famous Turkish Coffee Cafà Cup Mug.

“There is a certain madness comes over one at the mere sight of a good map.”

FREYA STARK (1893-1993) was an explorer and travel writer, an adventurous woman who was ahead of her times. As a child she was often ill and housebound. When on her nineth birthday, she recived a copy of One Thousand and One Nights, her facination with what was then called “the Orient” began. As an adult she lived in Lebanon and Iran and was the first Westerner to travel western Iran wilderness. She traveled in Southern Arabia, rare for a Westerner, and all over the Middle East. Her books and her biography are facinating reading, not least because they make for a great vicarious adventure. Jane letcher Geniesse’s biography, Passionate Nomad, The Life of Freya Stark, is a recommended read.

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