Turkish Coffee

This past weekend we were in Paducah, Kentucky. I was looking for a new coffee shop to try since I am always on the lookout for great coffee.

In the old CocaCola bottling plant I found Pipers Tea & Coffee. It is a cute little coffee shop tucked into the side of the historic building. The staff was friendly and the coffee smelled delicious even outside the building.

I spotted Turkish coffee on the menu and decided to give it a try. Turkish coffee has long been on my coffee radar but I’ve never gotten around to trying it. Now I am so glad I did!

Turkish coffee at Pipers

Their Turkish coffee is made with cardamom which gives it just that little spicy kick. They hand brew this with an artisan touch and I found it to be the best cup of coffee I have ever tasted. I even went back on Sunday morning for another cup. I can’t say enough good things about this coffee and the staff who brews it. Just excellent!

Turkish coffee is not for the faint of heart. It is rich, bold and comes with a thick sludge in the bottom of the cup. But if you love rich coffee then this might just be a great drink for you to try. And if you find yourself in Paducah, check out Pipers at 3121 Broadway Street.

I Survived the Holidays!

I survived the Christmas holidays and we are now halfway through January. I packed away the Christmas decorations this week and swept up all the debris left from the Christmas tree shedding. I made my goals list for 2015 and hope to complete everything on that list. Some years it seems like I barely accomplish anything on my big list despite the fact that I am always busy.

This gifts I received this year were very thoughtful and intentional. I tried to be that way also when I was buying for my family and friends. I did not want to buy gifts just to be able to hand someone a wrapped present and fulfill my gift-giving obligations. I wanted to give useful yet mindful gifts. And this seemed to be the year of books as I bought books for almost everyone on my list. You can rarely go wrong with books!

One of my favorite gifts to receive myself was this beer mug:

It is made of pewter and really does keep beer colder. I also received a large batch of random craft beers as a gift and I have been happily sampling my way through them since Christmas. This mug also develops a flavor profile because you first wash it thoroughly, then fill with beer and leave on the counter overnight. Dump the beer and then rinse the mug. It is ready to use after that and you don’t wash it with soap and water anymore. Just rinse thoroughly after each use.

Each time you use this mug, you fill it with ice cubes and let it sit a few minutes. Dump the ice cubes and fill with beer. The beer stays far colder than in a conventional glass or pottery mug. So I’ve been happy with my new beer mug and I can highly recommend it to other beer drinkers out there.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I love the German tradition of kuchen (cake) and coffee in the afternoons. Here is my classic Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs to incorporate. Add sour cream and vanilla. Mix well and set aside.

In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture.

In a small bowl combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts.

Place half of the batter in the bundt cake pan. Sprinkle the nut mixture over the batter. Then pour the remainder of the batter over the nut mixture.

Place in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Invert onto a serving plate and cool. You can also top this cake with powdered sugar once it has cooled.

Serves 8-10.

Molasses Cookies

Molasses cookies are an autumn staple around my kitchen. Molasses can’t be found just everywhere in the world so I am very fortunate to be able to buy locally made molasses for my baking. And these cookies are a family favorite.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup molasses
extra sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets by placing parchment paper on them and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

In another bowl place egg, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and molasses. Stir to combine well. Then add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir just to combine but don’t over-mix.

Scoop out the cookie dough by the tablespoon and lightly roll into a ball. Then press the cookie ball down into a thick disk. Roll the disk in the extra sugar and place cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

Place cookie tray in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies are lightly browned around edges. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Store in your favorite cookie jar.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Smoking Bull BBQ

For my recent birthday I got a new barbecue grill. And not just a plain old grill but a fancy bull grill:

I wasn’t planning on buying a new grill just yet. But I happened to be at a store here in town when a truck pulled in with a trailer load of these grills. I really liked the looks of the grills and got the guy’s business card. He wasn’t from around here but had come to town for the holiday weekend to sell his load of bull grills.

I drove back home, put my groceries away and thought about those grills for the next hour. I finally decided to just get one since it was my birthday week. So I called the guy back and he had already sold most of them. I told him that I wanted to buy two of the grills, one for myself and one to take home to Mississippi. He delivered them right to my door and unloaded the grills (each one weighs 200+ pounds.)

My new grill has been the talk of the neighborhood here. I have had multiple people stop by each day asking where I got such a unique grill. The grills are made nearby in Mexico. I would surely have gotten a better deal if I had driven over the border myself and purchased one. But I’m staying safely on this side of the border because the Brownsville/Matamoros border does not seem at all safe.

I already used the grill to make chicken, burgers, grilled corn on the cob, and I even grilled sliced of sweet potatoes. I never used to grill but the past few years have seen me making a big effort to learn the art of grilling. The next thing I plan to grill will be some fresh Gulf shrimp that we can buy just down the street that is literally minutes off the boat.

And when the grill is fired up and smoking you get to see this:

Isn’t that the coolest? The smoke comes out the nostrils of the bull. They even installed a handy bottle opener right there on the snout.

 

Wild Plums

Our farm has wild plum trees growing in several places. One spot in particular we have allowed the wild plum trees to really spread out. And believe me, they spread very quickly from year to year.

As a children growing up on our farm, my cousins and I would look forward to the wild plums ripening and spend a great deal of time searching for the plums in the thickets that grew between the gardens. The gardens were planted in terraces since it is hilly and the edges of the terraces were covered with wild plum thickets.

This year we have a bumper crop of wild plums. I have never seen the trees produce as many as they have this year. The branches are loaded down with plums and they are delicious.

Last week we were at our home in Mississippi while the plums were ripe and I went out to pick the plums every day. I stood at the trees and ate the plums as I picked them. Just like we did as children. My brother, on the other hand, picked pails full of plums and made jelly which turned out to be delicious.

 

Verismo by Starbucks

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Starbucks. I love their latte and could drink it every day. But I have never lived within easy driving distance of a Starbucks. Right now is the closest I have ever lived which is 18 miles from a Starbucks.

So I’ve contented myself with making my coffee at home. Sometimes I brew Starbucks coffee but most often I brew Dallmayr Prodomo, a German coffee. I have reserved the Starbucks for when I can visit a Starbucks location and let the professionals there brew me a latte.

But when we were making the long and arduous journey back from Mississippi to far south Texas after our Thanksgiving break, we were stuck in traffic in Baton Rouge for hours. Part of that was because we decided to detour into New Orleans and grab lunch at a favorite spot there. That put us coming into Baton Rouge from a different direction and landed us in the worst traffic jam. When we finally got to a good exit, we took the college exit near LSU and went into a Starbucks.

While we were waiting for our drinks, Danny and I looked at the Verismo coffee maker that was on special sale. Now, I had looked vaguely at other coffee makers like the Keurig but never got one because I am rather old-school about brewing coffee and I mostly brew it in a coffee pot on the stove. But something about the Verismo appealed to me. So we got one.

And it fits perfectly in our compact kitchen of our camper trailer! So we’ve embarked on a major coffee-drinking binge for a couple of months now. Simply because it is so easy to drop a coffee pod into the machine and press a button.

My only complaint is the high cost for the pods. It is significantly more expensive than the regular ground coffee per serving. But, we are paying for convenience so, it is worth it. The coffee pods are only available so far at Starbucks stores and on-line at Starbucksstore.com but I bet they will be in grocery stores soon.

So if you are looking at the pod coffee makers, I can highly recommend the Verismo. Especially if you love Starbucks coffee.

 

FCC note: this product was not provided for review by Starbucks or any other business. This is an independent review only.

Slowcooker Italian Chicken

This recipe combines some stovetop cooking with crockpot cooking. I developed the recipe this way because braising in an iron skillet adds so much flavor and then the slow cooking of the crockpot allows all of the flavors to blend very nicely. This recipe takes more time than simply dumping everything in a crockpot and turning it on, but I am sure once you taste the final meal you will be very happy.

Ingredients:

6 slices bacon
1 large white onion, diced
6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced
1 pound fresh carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup (packed) fresh chopped parsley
10 bone-in chicken thighs, fat and skin removed
1 tablespoon cooking oil
28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup water

Dice the bacon and then place in a skillet (I used an iron skillet to prepare this recipe.) Cook over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet but reserve the bacon grease in the skillet.

Add the onion, garlic, and carrots to the bacon grease and cook over medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Remove this mixture from the skillet and set set aside in a bowl. Stir into this mixture the red pepper flakes, dried thyme, and dried basil. Add the cooked bacon also and stir to combine.

Do not clean the skillet yet. Put the cooking oil in the skillet and increase heat to medium. Place the chicken thighs in groups of three or four at a time. Cook 5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken thighs and place on a tray. They will not be cooked all the way through but they will be in the crockpot.

Once you are done with the chicken, drain off most of the oil. Place skillet back on stove over medium heat and slowly pour in the cup of water. Stir the water around in the skillet to deglaze the skillet and pick up all the cooked bits remaining in the skillet. Turn the stove off and leave the water in the skillet.

In the crockpot place a layer of chicken thighs. Top the thighs with part of the onion-carrot mixture. Then place part of the fresh parsley on top. Keep layering the chicken thighs/onion-carrot mixture/parsley until it is all in the crockpot.

Now pour the can of tomatoes (including the juice in the can) over the chicken thighs. Then add the water from the skillet.

Turn the crockpot onto high and put the lid on it. Cook for 4 to 5 hours. (If you want to cook it on low, it will take 6 to 7 hours.)

This chicken can be served with prepared couscous, rice, or noodles. Just spoon the chicken and sauce over the couscous, rice, or noodles and you are ready to eat!

Serves 4 to 6 people.

Berliner Weiss by Full Sail Brewery

Picking up on my beer and ale reviews again. I love craft beers and always pick up something different when I go to the liquor store. This week I got a bottle of Berliner Weiss from Full Sail Brewery.

This wasn’t my first beer from Full Sail. They also brew the line of Session premium lagers which are some of my favorites.

This beer is really good and tart. In fact the tartness almost has a sour taste but in a good way. The taste is dry and crisp and perfect for a summer brew. It is an “unfiltered beer made with 50% wheat malt, a tiny amount of hersbruker hops and a touch of lactic acid to give it a refreshing tartness” according to the brewer Chris Haveman who created this.

It has medium carbonation and a golden pour. The label design is a good piece of artwork reminiscent of a piece of American paper currency.

It is a small batch brew so once it is gone from store shelves, that’s it. The Full Sail Brewing Company is located in Hood River, Oregon and you can bet that the next time I am up that way (hopefully next summer) I will dropping by their brewery for a tour and sampling.

 

FCC note: I was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

Spicy Bacon Cheddar Dip

Ingredients:

1/2 pound bacon
3 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
dash garlic salt
dash freshly ground black pepper
1/2 of a fresh jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped

Chop the bacon and cook in a skillet set on medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and place on a paper towel covered plate to drain and cool. Then place the cooked bacon on a cutting board and give it a rough chop with a knife to remove any larger bits.

In a bowl combine the bacon, green onions, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. Then add the garlic salt, black pepper, and jalapeno and stir to completely combine.

Place the finished dip in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.

Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Serves about 6.