Friday, October 27, 2006

Shannon says...

Since my granddaughter has decided to practice her writing skills once more, I was browsing through her Blogger profile and ran across the fact that her favorite movie was The Notebook. I rented it via Netflix and we watched it last night.

Caution! This movie shouldn't be viewed by old married us. It makes us cry.

Good acting by all, and though it seemed to drag at times, it was an excellent movie overall.

Other criticisms; the editing was sloppy, causing me to question "what", "how" and "why" in more than a few scenes... And since I was born in 1940; the ficticious date that the film began, some of the scenes from 7 or 8 years later didn't ring true for me. But who would notice that but the old folks, like me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


We’re beginning to get ready for winter around here. I think I will see about getting ½ a cord of firewood just to be certain that we have enough. And I have been trying out some soup recipes lately. The usual winter diet is all about “comfort” foods and we need to change a few things about that. Soups can be just as comforting as macaroni and cheese on a cold winter evening, but they can contain about a 1/3 of the calories and fat. We both want to stay as slim as we can this year and not have to fight to remove the weight in the spring.

A 1,100 daily calorie diet is not that hard to follow if you use soup as the entrée of one of the main meals. And soup can contain all of the necessary elements of a healthy meal. Case in point; I made a chicken chowder last night, all from scratch and it probably contained about 350 calories or less.

I started with a basic recipe and then modified it as I prowled through the refrigerator and cupboards. Here’s how it came together… first I sautéed ½ cup of chopped sweet onions along with some thyme and a few bay leaves. When the onions were translucent I poured in 1 can of non-fat (99%) low sodium chicken broth and brought it up to a simmer before adding about 4 red potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces. About ten minutes later, when the potatoes were starting to become tender, I added 2 cups of non-fat milk, a cup of chicken pieces, (I used thighs, cut up into bite size) a cup of frozen mixed vegetables, a ½ cup of mushroom slices and ½ of a red Bell pepper, seeded and chopped.

After simmering for another 15 minutes, the chicken was done and the potatoes were tender while the mixed vegetables were still crisp enough to be flavorful. It was great. If I make it again, I will probably add a spicy element; maybe a few sprinkles of hot sauce. I was expecting a bit more flavor from the chicken thighs but it didn’t happen. (The original recipe called for celery and not mixed vegetables. Low fat milk, not non-fat. And it called for chicken breasts, not thighs.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Teastick -

Great Design!

I didn't even look at the price? Design is everything...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Stay tuned

We are trying out a bread machine...our daughter has loaned us her fine bread making machine (Zojirushi) and we're experimenting with it. So far it has been simple; plain wheat. And it was good...good enough to make us want to try something a little more exotic. So we've bought some raisins (Sorry, Kitty) and the raisin bread is our next target. Pictures to follow the tasting...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Testing...3, and the last

Though I always love the taste and aroma of fresh ground coffee, I hate the grinding! Especially at this early hour. The grinder emits a dreadful howl along with a small cloud of very fine coffee dust. You really don’t see the coffee dust until you run your finger over the tile near the grinder.

But I have completed that chore and have brewed a pot of Folgers Gourmet Selections (whole bean) Vanilla Biscotti coffee.

When I opened the package I was able to enjoy that rush of complex coffee scents. Lovely. Then, when the grinder finished, the kitchen was filled with the aroma of freshly baked biscotti. Really! The Folgers chemists seem to have found the right stuff.

The first cup of coffee was sipped. And I enjoyed it, from first to last sip. The taste was quite pleasant and it seemed to remind me very much of biscotti. The vanilla taste was harder to identify, but it was definitely there.

The second cup (20 minutes old) was better. Richer, and the aroma was more pronounced. The vanilla was now easy to find.

The third and final cup (45 minutes old) is still very much a sipping cup. Good flavor and good aroma. It really hasn’t changed much from the taste of the second cup.

This is certainly the best of the three coffees from Folgers. But it is a whole bean coffee and although I love it, would I buy it? I certainly would if the taste and aroma could come through in a ground coffee package. For that first cup in the morning, I’m looking for great taste and a pleasing aroma and not having to switch on a grinder to get it. This would be a great coffee for later in the day…

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Testing...2, 3

This morning’s first task was to try out the second of three offerings from Folgers Coffee. The coffee for the morning tasting is Folgers Gourmet Selections Lively Columbian Medium Roast. And once again I carefully measured the coffee and the water.

First impressions; the coffee bag was sealed and when I opened it, I didn’t get the expected aroma “blast” of fresh ground coffee. Getting closer, I was able to smell it but it was faint. Of course it’s a medium roast and that will reduce the liveliness of the aroma. The first cup was quite smooth and it had a pleasant aftertaste, but there was nothing special about it. The second cup was more to my liking. It was probably 20 minutes old and in that time it had developed some body and a richer flavor. Now that is nice! And the third cup…my limit, was even better. This cup is probably an hour old, but there is no hint of burned coffee taste or smell. The flavor is even more fully developed and is quite pleasant with no bite to it. This is coffee you can savor.

These first two coffees from Folgers are ground coffees and there is always a question of freshness when buying ground coffees. I know that the packaging is high tech and when opened it should be the same as freshly ground. But there is always the nagging suspicion that it just might be a little bit older than you want it to be. Of course the same can be said about the age of the beans when you buy coffee to grind for yourself, although the bean is still a better package for holding flavor. There is only one coffee left to taste and that’s the one that will require my grinding the beans. I will wait till Monday morning to try that one.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Testing, 1, 2, 3...

Let’s see, it’s a little after 4 and the moon is making it a bright morning long before the sun has a chance. And I have a good cup of coffee in front of me for a change. How did that happen? Well, my cooking blog was noticed by “someone” and I was given three types of a new Folgers coffee to try. By accepting the coffee, I also have an obligation to review it and to post that review on my blog. The package arrived in the mail yesterday and this morning I have brewed a pot. The coffee pot is finally silent and so I’m ready.

Now I must be critical of the coffee and what credentials do I have for that? Let me review them for you; I began drinking coffee at the age of 14, sipping percolated Hills Bros. with plentiful helpings of sugar and ½&½. That was my parent’s drink and I hadn’t developed my own taste at that age. But it didn’t take long before I was avoiding all additions to the brew and was drinking it “black”. It seemed like the manly thing to do and I was into all things “manly”.

By the time I joined the Navy, I was a fully developed coffee drinker. I had even joined a private coffee house in 1957; a place where I paid my dues to sip exotic drinks such as cappuccino and latte. Espresso was not a foreign word to me. But the Navy helped me to develop the ability to drink any kind of coffee. Luckily I survived the experience. And I did it without a “parachute”, the addition of cream and sugar. Although there were times when faced with a cup of foul and bitter dregs that I craved that sweet comfort of my youth.

After the Navy experience and for the next 30 or so years, I was pretty much a pedestrian coffee drinker with only occasional forays into the world of gourmet coffees. I still drank it black, as it should be. I owned a coffee grinder for those times when I felt driven to experience a new taste in coffees. I even had a small espresso machine, though it wasn’t often used. And I had moved beyond Hills Bros. I moved easily between brands and wasn’t afraid to try a different one. Although I must admit that the use of coffee during these years was mainly for therapeutic reasons (waking up) and not esthetic ones.

The late 1990’s was when I began to enjoy the taste of coffee once more as coffee shops returned to popularity. And I began to be more critical of what I was given to drink.

Today, I will probably drink four cups of coffee. Three of them in the early morning hours and then a cup from a local coffee shop at a later hour. That’s a normal day for me; though I can have another cup in the evening and it won’t bother me at all. So yes; upon review I can say that I’m qualified to judge a cup of coffee. 52 years of coffee drinking has to be worth something!

This morning’s coffee is Folgers Gourmet Selections, Morning Café. It’s labeled as a light roast and upon opening the bag; I could barely smell any aroma at all. Yes, that’s certainly light. I carefully measured the amount of coffee per cup and added the proper amount of water to the coffee maker. I’m not usually that careful in the morning, but I thought that in all fairness, I needed to make the brewing conditions equal for all three selections.

The first sip was uneventful. No rush of flavors. But it was pleasant enough. I waited for the aftertaste and it came slowly. It was certainly not intense but it was a little more complex than I thought it might be. The first cup was good and I went for the second one. Perhaps, 15 minutes had elapsed since brewing and the second cup was developing some additional flavors; but certainly not strong ones. OK, it’s time for the critical third cup. It’s been an hour since the brewing and if the coffee is going to develop some real character, it has to do it now.

The cup still has a pleasant aroma, but not much strength to it. The flavor? It’s still quite undeveloped. But of course it’s labeled as a “light roast” and so it isn’t going to suddenly grow stronger; it will remain a simple (and boring) but pleasant coffee.

Tomorrow’s choice will be the Columbian and perhaps I can find some character there. The label says, “Medium Roast” and that may be more my style.