my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

April 25, 2012

frou frou juice

this post, i fear, will be filled with non-sequester craziness, based around a theme. but then, if you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that's exactly what to expect from me. if not, welcome, hold on, and enjoy the ride.

first, a word on the title. frou frou juice is fancy coffee creamer, which is something i love deeply and have very strong opinions on. i call it that because my dad calls it that. and i'm not really sure why he calls it that, other than it's a cheap way to make fancy tasting coffee, and i think frou frou things are fancy things, if wiki hasn't lead me astray.

for many years now, i have loved coffee creamer. it always saved me from having to buy expensive, flavored coffees. in fact, because i felt i was dumping enough sugary milk product into coffee, it saved me from feeling guilty about buying the stuff that is pre-ground in a can. i wouldn't buy the cheapest coffee out there, because it was too dark, to the point of being burnt, for my liking. that's also why i refused to drink at starbucks for many years, but that's a different rant.

anyway, i do know the best way to make a cup of coffee, which i will quickly share. first, you need to buy fresh beans, which means purchasing from a reputable retailer that doesn't let their product sit on shelves for too long or in direct light. which means most of the self-serve stuff from the grocery stores is out. also, when brewing, you should used filtered water. bottled is ok, because most bottled water is just filtered tap water with a huge mark-up. don't used distilled though, because that takes everything out of the water, making it pure water but a very poor flavor delivery system. then, right before you brew, you need to measure and grind your beans. the amount of coffee you use is personal preference, but when they say a tablespoon per cup, that's not really far off. however you brew, though, you need to make sure your machine is perfectly clean. the flavor from coffee comes from the oil in the beans, and oil can become rancid or carry other flavors easily, so cleanliness is next to a godly cup of coffee. auto-drip pots aren't bad, though there are some that say the paper filters also filter out some of the subtle flavors, which is why aficionados invest in metal filters. if i want a really good cup, i have a french press pot, which is as simple as it gets, but it does make excellent coffee. lastly, if you're brewing a whole pot and will be drinking it over the course of a few hours, put it in something insulated. keeping a pot on the heat for too long will burn it, hence the distinctive flavor of convenience store coffee at three in the morning. and those are all my tips for a perfect cup of coffee.

if you didn't know, i was a barista many years ago. it was actually the job i held the longest (2 years), and i think the only reason i lasted there so long is because i have a passion and interest in good coffee. which also means i am a wealth of useless knowledge on the subject. the shortest job i ever held was at the waffle house, where i lasted 5 weeks. i have just realized that my social anxiety has given me an "interesting" job history, 24 jobs in less than 10 years, and all but two i chose to leave for various reasons. and now i haven't had a paying job in more than five years. that's got to be some sort of record. or sign i need medication. or something.

anyway, back to the point of this post, which is that i made my own coffee creamer today. which is kind of funny considering i was ranting on facebook yesterday about how silly it seemed to make your own sprinkles. really, i know homemade sprinkles probably taste amazing, but i don't have the patience or piping skills to attempt such a thing. if there is something that is cheap and easy to acquire at the store, more often than not, i will buy it. i admit, though, i have made my own brown sugar and self rising flour and buttermilk substitute, but that was due to needing it for a recipe and not wanting to go to the store. though i am perfectly willing to de-bone a chicken if it means saving a couple of dollars over the price per pound. then too, i will make certain things from scratch that are much better then their premade counterparts. case in point is icing, because the stuff sold in tubs is just gross.

a few weeks ago, i stumbled across a recipe for homemade coffee creamer. it was simple enough, and included sweetened condensed milk, and we know how i feel about that. it also gave suggestions for customizing the flavor however you wanted. and because i ran out of coffee creamer, but just happened to have all the ingredients called for to make my own, i did. i'm not a fan of vanilla, so i used two cinnamon sticks and a bunch of whole cloves to get that spicy feeling. if i had really been planning ahead, i would have thrown in a chunk of the fresh ginger that is slowly dying in the crisper, then i would have had something similar to pumpkin pie spice. and nothing is better than pumpkin pie spices in coffee.

it turned out well, and makes a nice addition to my morning coffee. my version is much thinner then the stuff i would buy from the dairy section, but then i used 1% milk. if i make it again, i might try using heavy cream, or just half and half, to give it a richer feel. all in all, i am pleased, and will probably make it again. though i'm also the kind of person that always has sweetened condensed milk and regular milk in my house, so for me it's more convenient.

and i'm already thinking about all the different flavors i could add. i don't think melting chips in would work to get a chocolate flavor, but i had other ideas on what might. and i know i could burn some sugar for a caramel taste. it's interesting to think of coffee flavor pairing with certain desserts, like what wine goes with certain meats. even if i never make my own frou frou juice again, all of the possibilities are fun to think about.

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