Bookspiration

Bookspiration: Boo!

photo-oct-28-6-25-27-pmToday we had a lot of fun letting Lillian get her hands all slimy with pumpkin goop while daddy cleaned out a pumpkin for her to sit in. We wanted to carve the other side of the pumpkin when we were finished, so we decided to take inspiration from the wonderful board book Boo! by one of our favorite children’s authors, Leslie Patricelli.
This sweet book is about a baby enjoying all kinds of Halloween fun.  After picking out a pumpkin that is just the right size, the baby wonders what to carve:

Since Lillian loves our two cats, we decided to go with a kitty face on our pumpkin (you’ll have to check out the book to find out what the baby carves in Boo!). I’ve seen a few different kitty carvings online, but I especially liked to idea of using pumpkin pieces for ears! We attached the ears to our pumpkin with toothpicks. One of my favorite tips to try before lighting a candle for Jack-O-Lanterns is to add cinnamon powder to the top of the pumpkin. The aroma fills the air and really adds to the cozy fall feeling of pumpkin carving! I think our kitty pumpkin turned out pretty cute, but I’ve gotta be honest, Lillian inside the pumpkin is definitely cutest of all!
What are your favorite Halloween books? Did you carve pumpkins yet this year? I’d love to hear all about your Halloween!

xx Caitlyn

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Bookspiration

Bookspiration: Mottainai Grandma

Recently we’ve been making stops at a local bookstore to find books to read to Lily that might be harder to find back home. We’ve been excited to find some books written with both English and Japanese on each page. While we don’t really plan on teaching Lillian Japanese since we’re moving back to the states, there are some phrases that have become part of our vocabulary, so it’s neat to have books available that incorporate some of those phrases. We also enjoy being able to introduce Japanese culture to her, as well as good stories!  Saturday we purchased a book called Mottainai Grandma. It was written by a woman who was trying to explain the Japanese word mottainai to her son. Mottainai basically means, “What a waste,” or “Don’t waste,” but it also comes with a reminder to have gratitude for what we’re given. Furthermore, as this NPR review points out, mottainai is an old Buddhist word that ties in with the Shinto idea that objects have souls. Japanese believe we are part of nature, and that we should have a very harmonious relationship with it. I think mottainai is a great phrase for Lillian to know!  In the book, mottainai grandma teaches her grandson all kinds of ways to avoid being wasteful. One of my favorite examples is when the grandson has leftover rice in his bowl and his grandma not only eats every remaining grain of rice, but goes so far as to lick the rice sticking to her grandson’s face as well!
img_5077I also like when mottainai grandma tells her grandson that instead of throwing out his mandarin orange peels, he should dry them in the sun and put them in his bath water. Although we love taking baths and have even traveled Japan with bath salts, it somehow never occurred to me to use mandarin orange peels in the bath! And we tear through mandarin oranges when they’re in season! I’m inspired to use the peels in the future during bath time, but it might also be fun to use them to make mandarin infused vodka, to make a pretty smelling body scrub, or to make candied mandarin orange peels!
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 Mottainai Grandma is a super cute book with a great reminder for children and adults alike. It serves as fun inspiration for thinking about ways we can reuse things rather than throw them away, and makes you think twice about letting things go to waste. What is one of your favorite uses for something many people normally throw out?

xx Caitlyn

PS If you’re into up-cycling items that others might toss aside, you might enjoy checking out these thrift store challenges (a feature I’m hoping to resume on Little Snail once we’re back in the states!)

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Bookspiration: Summer Reading

So I know I told you I was starting to read Keys to Good Cooking, but I got a little…distracted. In the meantime, I’ve managed to finish three other books since The Miniaturist, a book which I briefly reviewed back in my Summer Bucket List Post here. I thought it might be fun to tell you what I’ve been reading, and about the little inspirations I’ve gotten from each book!

1. Harriet the Spy
The first book I read after The Miniaturist was Harriet the Spy. Ever since watching the movie years ago, I wanted to read the book and disappear into the excitement of Harriet’s spy world. One of my favorite scenes from the movie was one that does not take place in the book: the wind chime garden scene. The scene always made me want to make pretty wind chimes to add a bit of whimsy and magic to a future garden. I imagine the movie scene was made to replace a less magical, rather solemn scene from the book where Harriet is taken to meet her nanny’s mother.harrietAlthough the book didn’t inspire much whimsy for me, it did have some good observations from Harriet, like these:

“I’M GLAD I’M NOT PERFECT. I’D BE BORED TO DEATH.”

“PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEIR WORK LOVE LIFE.”

“THERE ARE AS MANY WAYS TO LIVE AS THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THE EARTH AND I SHOULDN’T GO ROUND WITH BLINDERS BUT SHOULD SEE EVERY WAY I CAN. THEN I’LL KNOW WHAT WAY I WANT TO LIVE AND NOT JUST LIVE LIKE MY FAMILY.”

The book also introduced me to a beverage I’d never heard of: Egg Creams! Harriet loves getting Egg Creams at the soda fountain, so I looked up the beverage and found this article (and image) on seriouseats.

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The beverage is basically chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer, but apparently it takes a lot to get it right. I’ve looked at a few recipes like this one, but I’m wondering if it might be better to just go try one in Brooklyn someday 🙂

2. The Secret Garden
The next book I chose was The Secret Garden. This reading choice was also inspired by a movie version I saw bits of when I was young, and though I don’t remember much about the movie, I do know I’ve always thought there was something very appealing about the idea of a secret garden. To be honest, the book didn’t blow me away, but it did inspire me to look up a few types of pretty flowers, like snowdrops (below), which are actually quite sought after. I also stumbled upon a gardening website that summarizes the book with added floral pictures throughout a blog post.

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A nice quote from the character Colin in the book: “Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world…but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.”

3. The Lotus Eaters
The most recent book I finished is called The Lotus Eaters. Briefly stated, the novel is about three characters whose lives are changed during the Vietnam War. To be honest, this premise wouldn’t normally appeal to me, but somehow I kept seeing the title pop up over and over again, and I’m glad I chose to finally go ahead and read it. After getting only a short way through the book, I realized my knowledge about the war was extremely limited, and so I brushed up a bit on my history (one of the ways I did this was by watching Crash Course US History #37 and #38, short videos that were quite helpful for a brief understanding). This book was a good read for me for several reasons. First, and perhaps most obvious, it inspired me to learn more about important history. Second, although the setting is drastically different from anything I’ve ever experienced, I could still relate to the characters:

“This is what happened when one left one’s home–pieces of oneself scattered all over the world, no one place ever completely satisfied, always a nostalgia for the place left behind.”

Lastly, the book made me want to learn more about Vietnamese culture and food. When looking up traditional Vietnamese crafts, I came across carved wooden cookie molds, like this “Lotus in the Lake” mold, so I started researching them and how they’re made and used. You can find some baking molds sort of like this in Japan, too, so I’m going to keep my eyes peeled!

As for Vietnamese food, recently Chad and I tried an amazing dish called bún thịt nướng, which is Vietnamese grilled pork and rice noodles. It was so light yet flavorful, and has become a frequent craving for me! I found this recipe I might have to try making sometime, but in the meantime I think we’ll have to keep frequenting a nearby Vietnamese restaurant!

I hope you enjoyed seeing the inspiration I got from my recent reading, and look forward to sharing more with you after I finish my next book. Hopefully whatever I chose next will get me crafting or cooking something delightful!

What have you been reading lately?
xxCaitlyn

Bookspiration

Bookspiration: Snail Mail

I just love writing letters the old-fashioned way, and I also love checking my post box and finding a little snail mail surprise mixed in with the bills and advertisements of everyday mail. Somehow it’s been ages since I’ve sent out any hand-written notes of my own, but after stumbling upon the book To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing, I finally got myself to write a long overdue letter to my very favorite pen pal. In the US, postage is the same for international mail whether you send a letter or just a postcard, so I’ve found myself waiting to write full letters rather than sending quick postcards just to make up for the price. I’ve decided in the spirit of snail mail (and so I at least start sending something again!), I’ll just let the extra few cents go and start sending postcards more regularly again, specifically through a project I always enjoyed called Post Crossing.

Snail mail #watercolor #envelope #tinySource

I used to avidly participate in Post Crossing when I lived in Japan. It was so much fun receiving postcards from all over the world! I would love to participate in the Happy Mail Project if another round gets going sometime, too. In the meantime, I’ve been thinking of sending creative mail to friends, even if they live nearby, just to give them a nice little surprise. I’ve been playing with the idea of sending letters in fun or pretty envelopes, like this, this, or this.

Below you’ll find a few of my favorite quotes from To the Letter; they really sum up what I love about the hand-written letter.

“…will we ever glow when we open an email folder? Emails are a poke, but letters are a caress, and letters stick around to be newly discovered” (20).

“…what can we learn from these excitingly random collections of letters at auction houses and the slightly more ordered gatherings in anthologies? We learn that we are not alone, and that letters may leave us both larger and other than we are” (200).

“Love letters catch us at a time in our lives where our marrow is jelly; but we toughen up, our souls harden, and we reread them years later with a mixture of disbelief and cringing horror, and — worst of all — level judgement. The American journalist Mignon McLaughlin had it right in 1966: ‘If you must re-read old love letters,’ she wrote in The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, ‘better pick a room without mirrors'” (336).

I love the way letters can breathe life into history–turn an event from which we feel detached into something poignant and real. I also enjoy how letters connect us and make us take the time to share something thought out that feels more permanent and special than an email.

I’d love to hear about your experience with snail mail! Leave a comment below 🙂

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
xx Caitlyn

Bookspiration · Projects

Bookspiration: Owl Postcards

“For to witness majesty, to find yourself literally touched by it, isn’t that what we’ve all been waiting for?”

-David Sedaris

After reading Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, I decided to make postcards with owls on them. I made four postcards in total, trying to keep them simple with easy watercolor owls saying the above quote.

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Click to view larger image

I tried my best not to worry too much about detail, and after free-handing the calligraphy, I also quickly free-handed the cute little owls.

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It’s a little bit hard to see the light green-colored wings in the picture, but I liked the way it turned out. I’m thinking I might send the postcards to people via postcrossing. I accidentally changed the quote slightly in the postcard featured above, but I still thought the art was nice. Sedaris writes the phrase I quoted when talking about coming across something beautiful and unexpected in nature, and making a private connection with nature in that moment.

Have you experienced any moments of majesty lately?

xx

Around Town · Bookspiration · Monday Matters · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Around Town/Bookspiration: My Fishy, Muddy Weekend

After a bit of a rough patch there, I decided I should read something uplifting and funny, so I chose to go with Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. It was funny in parts, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say uplifting. There were, however, quite a few parts in which I found myself nodding, saying to myself, “YES! EXACTLY!” For example, in the story “Loggerheads,” Sedaris describes a time in which he comes across a monkey in a national forest in Japan. I could relate to his feeling of being in awe of animals and nature, of that feeling like time stops in that rare, surprising moment. Sedaris writes, “…part of the thrill was being accepted, which is to say, not feared. It allowed you to think that you and this creature had a special relationship, a juvenile thought but one that brings with it a definite comfort” (59).

I also loved the story “Standing By,” not only because it described airplane travel in ways I could COMPLETELY relate to, but because it made me laugh out loud a lot. The last story that stood out to me was “Day In, Day Out.” In this story, Sedaris talks about his writing habits, and about rereading old journals. He writes:

“…that’s the terrible power of a diary: it not only calls forth the person you used to be, but rubs your nose in him, reminding you that not all change is evolutionary. More often than not, you didn’t learn from your mistakes. You didn’t get wiser, but simply older, growing from the twenty-five-year-old who got stoned and accidentally peed on his friend Katherine’s kitten to the thirty-five-year-old who got drunk and peed in the sandbox at his old elementary school. ‘The sandbox!’ my sister Amy said at the time. ‘Don’t you realize that children have to pee in there?'” (229).

Sometimes rereading old journals definitely makes you feel that way! Though I like to think I’ve been learning something along the way, journals do sometimes “rub your nose” in some of the less-than-good choices you made or in unfortunate situations you experienced.

In Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Sedaris talks a lot about his time living in England, so I convinced Chad we should have Fish and Chips for dinner Friday at Fish X2 in Spring Lake.

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Fish X2 is a fish, seafood and chicken restaurant right off of the expressway from Grand Haven to Spring Lake. They have a special Hurricane Sauce, allow you to bring in your own fish to be cooked up in their kitchen, and have won an award for a salmon dish at the Salmon Festival.

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IMG_20140606_193315_415We chose to go with their Friday Catfish special, each getting a Mate’s Basket. The baskets come with fries or slaw, homemade sauce and a slice of lemon. You can also substitute sweet potato fries for an additional dollar.

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IMG_20140606_192750_854The inside of the restaurant is very open and clean, with no fishy smells at all (always a good sign!). Every time we’ve gone to Fish X2, the staff has always been very friendly and helpful, creating a very inviting atmosphere.   IMG_20140606_193013_314Fish X2 also has nice, cozy outdoor seating for the summer time. We decided to bring our meals to a nearby park/boat docking area, but it was nice to sit in the sunshine while we waited for our meals to be prepared.IMG_20140606_191303_093We waited about ten minutes for our Captain’s Baskets, but who minds that when you’re about to get a fresh-cooked meal? Once we had our to-go bag, we headed across the street to Mill Point Park and Boat LaunchIMG_20140606_193540_055There couldn’t be a nicer day for a picnic!

IMG_20140606_193600_414We dove into our meals. Sadly, Fish X2 was out of sweet potato fries (which happened the last time we were there in February, too!), so we both opted for their regular fries. Additionally, only one of our baskets came with sauce and a lemon slice! Fortunately, Fish X2’s normal fries are really yummy, and we were able to split the sauce and lemon out of one basket.IMG_20140606_193610_254The catfish was perfectly salty, while also light and fresh tasting. While it’s very easy to have greasy “fish and chips,” our meal at Fish X2 seemed to be a perfect balance of an airy batter, flaky, fresh fish, and not-too-crunchy, not-too-soft fries. Yum!

Separate from our book-inspired outing was an adventure I had the next day in Kalamazoo!mud run

Some of my fellow baristas and I decided to do the Kalamazoo Mud Run. It was definitely an interesting 5K, with lots of obstacles I never saw myself trying out (and with lots of unintentional mud-tasting!). I had a lot of fun with my Green Apron girls, evidence of which can be seen on Alex’s blog, here! While I was definitely more comfortable with the “fishy” part of my weekend, the “muddy” part was quite an experience, too!

What did you try this weekend?

xx

Bookspiration · Projects

Bookspiration: The Song of Hiawatha

Several years ago I received the book The Song of Hiawatha as a Christmas gift, and though I had read bits and pieces of the epic poem , a few weeks ago I finally got the chance to read the entire thing. It was difficult for me to decide what to make after finishing the book, but after much deliberation, I decided to put some of the text from The Song of Hiawatha over a picture from a recent walk at one of my favorite places in Michigan, Rosy Mound.

First, I chose my picture:

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Then, I spent what felt like three years trying to put text over it the way I wanted. I still didn’t quite achieve the look I was looking to create, but I decided the text was going to have to be good enough.

Live Together

It says:

“All your strength is in your union,

All your danger is in discord;

Therefore be at peace henceforward,

And as brothers live together.”

I printed an enlarged copy of the image at Walmart for about $6, and then modge podged it to an art board purchased for around $5 before a 40% off coupon at one of my local craft stores. Below you can sort of see how it turned out, though the lighting isn’t the best:

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I am not necessarily in love with how the project turned out, but I do love where the photo was taken, and I really like the passage from The Song of Hiawatha. I often think about the power of human connection when I go on walks through nature, and about how to I can be kinder and more loving to others. A message about unity totally seems fitting for a picture taken at Rosy Mound.

Here are some other pictures I took on the lovely spring day last week: IMG_0583

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Hope you got to enjoy some beautiful weather like we had in Michigan over the weekend 🙂

xx

Bookspiration · Food & Cooking

Bookspiration: Chocolate Temptations

And now the finale to all the fun I’ve had with Uncommon Grounds: An adventure involving coffee and chocolate, which are two of my favorite things on the planet. I found a recipe in 1000 Chocolate Baking and Dessert Recipes from Around the World for Chocolate Temptation cookies, and decided to give the recipe a try. They. were. GLORIOUS.

IMG_20140516_073130_495To start the recipe, you preheat your oven, grease a cookie sheet or parchment paper, and melt some chocolate, coffee and butter into a heat-proof bowl until the chocolate is almost melted.

IMG_20140516_073400_808 IMG_20140516_073751_979 Then, in a separate bowl, you beat some eggs until they’re fluffy before adding some sugar.

IMG_20140516_074136_356 IMG_20140516_074348_783From that point, you add in the chocolate, butter and coffee mixture, stirring until smooth.  IMG_20140516_075104_172Next up you sift a mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt into the mix, along with chocolate pieces and almond extract.

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Next, put tablespoonfuls of dough onto a greased baking sheet or greased parchment paper and stick them in the oven to bake!

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Once they’ve cooled, it’s time to pipe melted chocolate onto them (I used a ziplock bag!).

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I did the white chocolate first…

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…and then I did the milk chocolate!

The cookies turned out fantastic, though the coffee flavor was quite subtle. As you can see in the first picture above, I used Starbucks Breakfast Blend for my cookies, but that was just because that was what I had on hand. When I brought the cookies to work, we decided to do a tasting with a French press of Espresso roast, which goes well with nutty, chocolatey flavors. The pairing was FABULOUS, so I’m thinking that perhaps next time I make these cookies I’ll use a darker roast coffee brewed more strongly instead of the Breakfast Blend. Do you have a favorite recipe that incorporates coffee?

Chocolate Temptations (adapted from 1000 Chocolate Baking and Dessert Recipes from Around the World)

Ingredients

3 1/4 oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

12 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate

1 tsp strong coffee

2 eggs

scant 3/4 cup brown sugar

generous 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

2 tsp almond extract

scant 2/3 cup chopped walnuts

scant 2/3 cup chopped hazelnuts

1 1/2 oz. white chocolate

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet or parchment paper. Put 8 oz of the semisweet chocolate with the butter and coffee into a heatproof bowl and heat in 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between each burst until chocolate is almost melted.

2. Meanwhile, beat eggs in a bowl until fluffy. Whisk in the sugar gradually until thick. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until combined.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and stir into the chocolate mixture. Chop 3 oz of semisweet chocolate into pieces and stir into the dough (or use semisweet chocolate chips to make things go even faster!). Stir in the almond extract and nuts.

4. Put tablespoonfuls of the dough onto a cookie sheet, transfer to the preheated oven, and bake for 16 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, or if using parchment paper, pull paper off cookie sheet and set aside to cool. To decorate, melt the remaining chocolate and spoon into pastry bags or ziplock bags with the ends cut off, then pipe lines onto the cookies.

Enjoy!
xx

Bookspiration · Projects

Bookspiration: The Coffee Belt

O Coffee! Thou dost dispel all care, thou are the object of desire to the scholar. This is the beverage of the friends of God.”

In Praise of Coffee,” Arabic Poem (1511)

After practicing my calligraphy like a crazy person, I decided to test my new skills for a map I had planned to make while reading Uncommon Grounds. I was really happy with how my coffee belt map turned out, and doing the watercolor and calligraphy have helped me remember what flavor profiles the different regions of coffee are known for: Latin America for notes of cocoa, soft spice and nuts, Africa for floral, fruity and berry notes, and Asia for earthy, herbal notes. I also enjoyed making the little coffee cherry diagram, as it put an image to the descriptions I’ve read about coffee cherries. I was thinking that if I can figure out how, I’d like to submit my map to the really fun website They Draw and Travel.

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Please click on the image to see a larger version!

Now that I’ve written a bit about the Coffee Belt, where most of the world’s coffee is grown, here are twelve of my favorite facts gleaned from Uncommon Grounds:

1. “By 1700, there were more than two thousand London coffee houses, occupying more premises and paying more rent than any other trade. They came to be known as penny universities, because for that  price one could purchase a cup of coffee and sit for hours listening to extraordinary conversations…” (12). “‘The best stories [are told] over coffee,’ wrote a wise commentator in 1902, ‘as the aroma of the coffee opens the portals of [the] soul, and the story, long hidden, is winged for posterity'” (425).

2. “Wherever [coffee] has been introduced it has spelled revolution. It has been the world’s most radical drink in that its function has always been to make people think. And when the people began to think, they became dangerous to tyrants” (17).

3. “The caffeine content of coffee probably evolved as a natural pesticide to discourage predators” (43). “Although some bugs and fungi adapt to any chemical, it is quite likely that plants contain caffeine because it affects the nervous system of would-be consumers, discouraging them from eating it. Of course, that is precisely the attraction for the human animal” (412).

4. During the civil war, soldiers “preferred to carry whole beans and grind them as needed. Each company cook carried a portable grinder. A few Sharps carbines were designed to hold a coffee mill in the buttstock of the gun, so the soldier could always carry his grinder with him” (49). “Real coffee was so scarce in the war-torn south that it cost $5 a pound in Richmond, Virginia, while one Atlanta jeweler set coffee beans in breast pins in lieu of diamonds” (40.)

5. “In eighteenth-century Sweden twin brothers were sentenced to death for murder. King Gustav III commuted it to life sentences in order to study the then-controversial effects of tea and coffee, One brother drank large daily doses of tea, the other, coffee. The tea drinker died first, at eighty-three” (105).

6. A German housewife, Melitta Bentz, created the once-through drip method with a filter in 1908 (117).

7. During WWI, “Brazil also went to war with Germany, but only after the United States promised to purchase a million pounds of coffee for its expeditionary forces” (145).

8. During the prohibition, many coffee men were excited and hopeful for more coffee consumption:

“When there’s such a drink as this,

Liquor never need we miss.

All its virtues we repeat:

‘Coffee! Coffee! That’s the treat!'” (156).

9. “In Europe, economizing on coffee wasn’t so much a matter of choice as necessity. As late as 1947 coffee had been to scarce that it was used instead of money on the European black market” (245).

10. Howard Schultz of Starbucks hired Dawn Pinaud in the 1980’s and, with her staff, they created their own lingo. “…[Service] people weren’t soda jerks or flunkies. They were baristas, spotlighted as though on stage. A drink wasn’t small, medium or large. It was short, tall, or grande. A double espresso with a splash of milk was christened a doppio macchiato. ‘It’s amazing to me that these terms have become part of the language,’ Pinaud says. ‘A few of us sat in a conference room and just made them up’ (369).

11. Caffeinism is recognized as an ailment for those who consume excessive quantities of the drug, and caffeine intoxication is described similarly to a panic attack. “The only difference,” writes author Mark Pendergrast,” is that someone must have recently drunk coffee, tea, or soft drinks, which appears to have a circular diagnostic logic. At various times while writing this book, I have exhibited five of these symptoms, including restlessness, excitement, insomnia, periods of inexhaustibility, and particularly, rambling flow of thought. I drink only one or two daily cups of coffee, in the morning” (414).

12. “Inviting a woman for coffee in Finland is a sure sign of romantic interest. Finnish personal ads seeking a ‘day-coffee companion’ are understood to be ads for casual sex. In nearby Norway, distances used to be measured by ‘coffee boils’–the number of times someone had to stop to prepare coffee along the way” (420).

I hope you enjoyed these segments I learned about from Uncommon Grounds as much as I did. When was the last time you had an engaging conversation over coffee? Would you be satisfied with coffee if you lived during the prohibition? How many ‘coffee boils’ would it take for you to get to where I’m from: Michigan? 🙂

xx

Bookspiration · Food & Cooking

Bookspiration: Uncommon Grounds

I’ve finally finished the behemoth book Uncommon Grounds, and am happy to say that I learned a lot. It’s quite possible my coworkers don’t feel the same joy I do, since upon starting the book I’ve been spouting out all kinds of random facts to them.  In my defense, we are in the coffee business, so telling them interesting things I learned should be perfectly acceptable. I also should get an award for finishing the giant coffee history book, but perhaps that’s just my opinion.

Anyway, in honor of Uncommon Grounds I wanted to do a coffee tasting (I may or may not do coffee tastings all the time, but that’s beside the point 😉 ). I chose to give the medium roast coffee, Guatamala Antigua, a try. I tried this Starbucks coffee in a French press when I first started working as a barista, and after it was mentioned briefly in Uncommon Grounds, I thought I should give it another go. My palette for coffee tasting has improved a bit, so I was hoping to be able to recognize the notes of cocoa and soft spice this time around. Because the Guatamala Antigua pairs well with caramel, I decided to try it with one of my favorite treats: Stroopwafles!

20140428-190055.jpgI found some stroopwafles at my local grocery store, and though they weren’t the brand I normally get, I purchased them. The last time I went to the fabulous DeBoer Bakery in Holland, MI, a cashier recommended putting a stroopwafle on top of a cup of coffee or tea so that the caramel in the center would warm up, so that was a must for this tasting.

20140428-190107.jpgAfter waiting for the press to finish, it was finally time to try my pairing. I poured some coffee into my cup and set a stroopwafle on top. In that moment, it was like dreams were coming true. *sighs happily* I smelled the coffee and slurped it, noticing the medium body and acidity of the roast. Then, I tried a bite of my stroopwafle and…MY DREAMS WERE DASHED! The stroopwafle tasted quite stale, and it paled in comparison to stroopwafles of my past. (Chad and I were fortunate enough to try stroopwafles in Amsterdam a couple years ago, and since then the best brand I’ve tried is Daelmans. I’ve decided to make amends for the serious sadness of this tasting by getting proper stroopwafles and trying them with another press of the Guatamala!)

Despite the heart-breaking taste of the stroopwafles, the Guatamala Antigua paired so well with caramel that it actually improved the flavor of the stroopwafle. Good coffee and food pairings are supposed to compliment each other that way: the food should bring out the best of the coffee, and the coffee should bring out the best of the food, so that you’re sitting there wanting to take bite after sip after bite after sip.

20140428-190116.jpgI didn’t finish my stroopwafle, but I finished the delicious Guatamala. I’ll keep you posted on how the next tasting goes, and I’ll share some of my favorite facts from Uncommon Grounds, too! What’s your favorite coffee pairing?

xx