Friday, September 29, 2006

It's STILL Coffee

As an update to my previous post I have learned the following -

Pumpkin Pie Spice Frappucino (the cold, slushy version) can be made with cream instead of coffee. I will have to check it out.

Also, my friend Jill, the one that shall not remain nameless since she caused my addiction to Chai, has been explaining to a few people my aversion to coffee. She received the following response

Has she tried decaff?

Ummm, yeah.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

It's Coffee

The local coffee mega-store (which shall remain nameless) introduced a new flavor recently: Pumpkin Pie Spice, Latte or Frappuccino. I have been eyeing it for some time and wondering how much I might like it. But before I launch into my findings (which you must recognize are note worthy) let me give you some back ground on me... and coffee.

I grew up like many of you, I would imagine, with a mother (or father, as the case may be) who drank coffee just about every morning. She still does. "Nothing like that first cup of coffee, " she is known to say. She is a coffee purest and drinks it black. I have overheard many people compliment her on her coffee. I have distinct memories of my mornings beginning with the sound of the automatic coffee mill grinding the beans before brewing them at exactly 6:05am. My mom transferred her creation into a thermos promptly after brewing so the bottom didn't burn but the temperature stayed ideal - hot. And each night she set the whole process up for the following day's ritual. On the weekends she would sit in the over-sized lounge chair in our living room, watch out the window for any happenings on the street, read the previous week's worth of papers and magazines, and drink her thermos of coffee. I slept in, so she was always up before me. But every Saturday looked almost identical to the one before - me shuffling out at 10am to see my mom buried under papers (ostensibly stacked "read" and "unread" on either side of her legs, which were stretched across the ottoman) with Albert our dachshund curled between her and the chair and her thermos of coffee sitting on the floor with her cup perched on the table lamp next to her. This was adulthood. It embodied everything I found utterly boring or unappetizing. Somehow I knew that I would have to start liking these things before I could grow up.

I have still been unable to complete this rite of passage. And as a result my nearly 10 years of marriage and 5 children do not cut the mustard in making me feel like an adult. If I could sit down for one Saturday, read an entire newspaper, and drink a pot of coffee, I truly think the heavens would part and I would be accepted into the Fraternity of Adulthood. Oh well. You see coffee doesn't taste like it smells (and the French Roast my husband likes can stay in France for all I care). My mom says it does. My girlfriends who drink coffee say it does. My husband says it does. They are lying. It doesn't. If it did, I would drink it. So needless to say Starbucks, or any other shop painted in muted tones with too-obvious hints of Parisian sidewalk cafes, had gone rather unnoticed by me. I didn't worry about how much money I was spending at them. I wasn't embarrassed that the barista knew my name AND my order before I could take my place in the back of the line. No, I was naive. Innocent. Free.

Then my dear friend, Jill (she shall not remain nameless since it is to her that I owe my utter destruction) introduced me to Chai. Just the name rolls off my tongue like butter. It is a tea with a heavy spice component making it taste very similar to pumpkin pie (without the pumpkin, as Jill would point out - she dislikes pumpkin pie). I liked it the first few times I had one. Then I began to learn the ways of the Jedi in ordering my Chai. The Starbucks version of Chai is actually a Chai Latte, meaning they mix a liquid tea & spice concentrate with milk and water. If you omit the water, it lends itself to a creamier and richer drink. I like that. Then I learned that for a Tall they use 3 pumps of mix, Grande equals 4 pumps, and Venti is 5 pumps. If I added an extra pump to the drink, I got a zing of flavor. I like that, too. The barista now knows my order - a five-pump, no water, grande chai latte. But I haven't entirely capitulated. And after my experiment with the Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte, I am in no danger of totally selling out. So now we may return to the original post...

A couple of weeks ago I noticed the new flavor being tauted as a "slice of Paris." I have been to Paris. That is beside the point. The point is that I like pumpkin pie and its spices, and I LOVE Chai (which is, as I stated above, pumpkin"less" pumpkin pie). So I asked the barista what the difference was between a Chai Latte and the new Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte. The following is a general gist of her response:

"The Chai houses a more dynamic and robust spice blend, using a base more like allspice or cloves, while the Pumpkin Pie Spice has a subdued flavor with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. They each have their own distinct taste."


I was a chicken to try it then. But just today I decided I was going to find out what this, "...subdued flavor with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger" was all about.

IT'S COFFEE. Yea, coffee. I took my first sip and about spit it out. I took another sip, still gross. Coffee. In my utter forsaking of the coffee world, I had forgotten that a latte traditionally means espresso with milk. Espresso - the mother of all coffees. When I asked for a description between the two drinks, the gal forgot to mention that the Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte was ultimately a base of espresso. No wonder her appraisal of the flavors were more "subdued." Um, yea. You simply can't overpower the taste of espresso with a few drops of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger - I don't care if your cinnamon does come from Madagascar.

So, I am once again reminded that I am still not an adult. Who decided drinking coffee and reading the newspaper was grown up, anyway?

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Leah has many idiosyncrasies that make us laugh heartily on a daily basis. For instance, she can not allow the buckle on Mary's bouncer seat, or swing to remain open. The INSTANT (I mean this quite literally) Mary is removed she is seen bent over and re-buckling the clasps. It proves annoying when you are trying to get the baby back in the seat.

Leah loves to love her baby dolls and insists on bringing one down every morning (usually every time she comes downstairs from anything). Did you hear that... every trip a NEW baby doll must be brought downstairs. So each night the gang rounds up all her dolls and carries them back upstairs to start the process anew the following day. She carries the doll hooked in the crook of her elbow and pats its head cooing, "s'okay".

We have to keep Leah locked in her crib using a special tent or else she would be out in a jiffy. And since she can't climb out she has taken to jumping up and down while in. She can do this for hours. And of course her favorite time is not at nap time when she would not be bothering any one, but rather bedtime after the girls have crawled in and the light is off. Oh, and she squeals with delight while jumping.
Abeba da goo buds
Nice. We have tried scolding, spanking, ignoring, laying her back down, scolding some more, ignoring some more, another spank... it doesn't work. She goes to sleep when she is ready.

Leah sucks her thumb and cuddles, which is so precious and completely disarms us. She knows our weaknesses and has no qualms in using them to her advantage. Daddy will play "chase" with her and when she has had enough she just turns around and puckers up for him to give her kisses (a rare treat for him) which successfully stops his game. When she wants my attention she turns me towards her, using her hands on my chin or pushing against my legs so that I am forced to acknowledge her. She does not accept defeat gracefully.

Recently her words have given her a new weapon in the fight for absolute dominion over our family. She hones them to a razor sharp edge. And if that doesn't work volume does. Just yell louder, more. Just Yell Louder, More. JUST YELL LOUDER, MORE. You get the idea.

Christopher and I often wonder what we would do for entertainment if we didn't live in Odd. It would be boring to go back to checking the newspaper for show listings. Heck, who needs a movie - we have front row seats to comedy, tragedy and drama every 5 minutes.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Recipe Exchange?

I recently hosted a Pampered Chef party and purchased several new pieces for my collection. My enthusiasm to use the cookware has led to more baking and recipe experimentation than usual in my home. Add to this my "mother of the year" award for baking mini cookies with my girls on Sunday (we used their bakeware set given to them at Christmas and I even let them crack the eggs) and you can begin to see that the children have baking on the brain.

Especially Bethany.

"Mama, I have a new recipe for you that I think would be really good."

"Oh yea, Bethany? What is it?"

"Well, you start with some water and you boil butter into it, until it is all melted. Then you grate some yellow (cheddar) cheese and some of that hard cheese that you can cut using that special thing you could have bought from your cook party you had - what is that?"


"Yea, parmesan. So you grate some of that with the special cutter (you would have to buy that one, but I would cut it for you because I loved that cutter and when I get married I want one of those. So you can just buy me one when I get married.)"


"Then you put the yellow cheese and the, what's it called again, parmashun? Yea, parmashun cheese into the water with the butter and you let it cook in the microwave for about 10 minutes. But you don't want it to cook for too long."

"Of course not! "

"So after you take it out of the microwave you mix in some flour, and some of that special chocolate we used for my cookies. What was it called?"

"Baker's chocolate."

"Yep, that's it. You mix in some of that and then you crumple ritz crackers into it and stir it up. And after you stir it you put in just a little bit of salt and sage. And then you put it in the oven and you bake it at, ummm, about 50 degrees for 2 hours. Doesn't that sound delicious?"

You have no idea, Bethany.