March 30, 2012

How to clean a French coffee press

Well, there's just no way to avoid a little mess when cleaning your coffee press. Reason being: no coffee filter that neatly holds the grounds. No doubt you're going to get coffee grounds on your hands, but that's just the nature of the beast. I assure you, making coffee in a French press is sooooo worth the little bit of mess for clean up. It's just the best cup of coffee you can make at home!

So here's the deal . . . the wet coffee grounds are stuck way down at the bottom of this 9 inch glass carafe. You DO NOT want to rinse the coffee grounds down your sink. I have read that this can eventually clog your drain! Coffee grounds should be disposed of in trash or added to your garden, flowering bushes or compost bin. I usually try to whip, flick and shake the grounds out of the press into the trash, but I always end up getting coffee spatters on the wall behind the trash can. Of course, who wants to clean up that mess!  

Here's my new way of doing it!

small colander in sink

place coffee filter in colander

remove plunger from press and set aside

find wet messy coffee grinds at bottom of carafe

dump and shake wet grounds into filter


ok, still some left . . . no problem

pour small amount of water into carafe to capture grounds

swish and swoosh water around 

pour out into coffee filter

disassemble plunger, scrape or tap off extra grounds into coffee filter and rinse well

wash all parts in warm soapy water or put in dishwasher

tilt colander to dump liquid otherwise it will take forever to drain

throw away filter full of grounds

All done! And your drain in your sink is safe!
Enjoy your coffee!
Well . . . drink your coffee first, then clean your press! 

March 27, 2012

How to use a French coffee press

Ah yes! 
The French coffee press, a thing of beauty! 
I've wanted a French press for quite some time now, and I finally broke down and bought one. I think I am becoming a real coffee snob...but, I just love GOOD coffee done right! 
If you've never used a French press, it may seem a bit intimidating, but really, there's nothing to it!
Let me show you!

First, take the top and plunger out of the glass canister and set aside.

You will need a course ground coffee. I like to grind whole coffee beans so I can control the grind. However, I have used ground coffee straight from the still works and tastes's just not the optimum grind you should use.

Heat water in a kettle to just shy of boiling. For approximately 2 servings of coffee, I heat  approximately 2 1/2 cups of water.

Pour your coffee grounds right into the bottom of the glass canister. I use 2 TBSP. of ground coffee per serving. In this photo here I used 4 TBSP. of ground coffee, because I was making 2 servings. I do not have a formula for how many beans to use....I just know from experience exactly how far to fill the beans in my coffee grinder that yields me 4 TBSP. of coffee grounds. If you are not sure, just ground up some beans, dump out the grounds and measure.

Just like coffee filter is needed.

Pour heated water directly into glass canister slowly, covering all of the coffee grounds.

Stir coffee grounds with wood or plastic. You can use a wooden chopstick or a bamboo skewer. You can also use a handle to a plastic rubber spatula. Do not use a metal utensil such as a spoon or a knife. You run the risk of cracking the glass canister.

Fit the plunger down inside the canister.

Put the lid and plunger on and down into the glass canister. Notice the strainer on the lid of the press is turned away from the spout. 

Leave the plunger in the up position. 
Let your coffee steep for 4 minutes.

This is what the coffee and grounds will look like. That's normal.

After 4 minutes, start to gently push down on the plunger.

Here's the plunger half way down.

Almost down to the bottom...push til it completely stops. The fine screen in the plunger traps all of the grounds in the bottom of the glass canister.

Allow the coffee to sit for a few seconds. Get your mug, cream and sugar all ready! Oh here's a tip: run some hot water in your coffee mug to warm the mug, then dump it out. This just helps to keep the coffee hot...especially after you add the cold cream.

Turn the strainer towards the spout and it is ready to pour.

Pour yourself the most delicious, smooth, aromatic, flavorful coffee ever!

Oh yes, it is a very good cup of Joe indeed! 
I love it!
By the way, the brand of this press is called Bodum. 
I bought this particular model at Starbucks for $20.

P.S. Just a side note: here is what the French press looks like disassembled.

It is very easy to take apart to wash and reassemble. 
Stay tuned for tips on how to clean your French press.
You don't want to rinse those coffee grounds down the drain.

March 21, 2012

Welcome Spring

We've been having perfectly beautiful Spring weather, and I am loving it! I cannot believe how quickly winter has left us! The weather here in SW Pennsylvania feels more like June than March, bringing yesterday to a high of 80 degrees!

The gorgeous sunlight put me in a good mood and got me motivated to mop my kitchen floor, do my dishes and tidy up! I felt like baking, which I haven't been motivated to do so in a while. It's that sunshine I tell ya! I was in the mood for something sweet, pretty and uplifting...and what could be more uplifting than a birthday cake?! . . . so I went with that! No . . .  it's no one's birthday . . .  but there's nothing like the taste of  REALLY GOOD birthday cake!

While perusing Pinterest, I came across a beautiful cake from  Sweetapolita  and fell in love with her photo and her recipe! I was definitely making this cake! I knew it would hit the spot . . . and it did!  It turned out wonderfully! I love the texture, the density and the flavor . . . it's just perfect! The frosting is killer! So sweet and light!

What a great way to welcome in Spring with this beautiful, perfect cake!

recipe slightly adapted from Sweetapolita.

4 eggs, separated, room temperature
3 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three, 8 inch round cake pans. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In bowl of electric mixer, using paddle attachment, beat butter for 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at time. Add vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and the milk, in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

In separate clean bowl, using whisk attachment, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until egg whites have soft peaks. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until egg whites form stiff peaks.

With a rubber spatula, gradually fold egg whites into cake batter being careful not to over mix.

Divide batter evenly between the 3 cake pans and level each with an offset spatula. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool cakes, remove from pans and frost cakes with Buttercream frosting.


1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon water
pinch of salt

Using electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and powdered sugar for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the whipping cream, vanilla, water and salt. Beat for 3 minutes. If consistency is too thick, add 1/2 tsp. of water at a time to thin.

March 2, 2012

Just a little of this and that

Yesterday I was busy putting away STUFF. There's just STUFF everywhere. Jackets, pencils, mail, coupons, quilting thread, tweezers, scrapbooks, notebooks, cookbooks, candles, baby toys, tennis shoes, snow boots, clothes, earrings, atlas maps, Boy Scout stuff, old homework papers, old report cards, video games.....STUFF.

I kinda feel like I want to clean like I'm moving to another house. When you prepare to move, you pack away all of the extra, unnecessary stuff . . . . and you're left with clutter-free furniture, counter tops and living space! I love it! I wonder if I'm getting that Spring cleaning feeling.

When I looked at my bookcase yesterday, the sun was shining through the window and highlighting the magazines and printed recipes tucked here and there . . . and I was perturbed. It looked so dusty and disheveled. Then, I put away all of the snow boots and extra shoes gathered by the front door and found a few dried leaves and lots of crumbly little pieces of dried mud and dirt that had been stuck in the thick treads . . . and I was like it. . . . errrrrrr!

Yep! I think I'm getting that itch for Spring cleaning. It will be nice to get that first warm day of the season when I can open a couple of windows and let some fresh air in!

Amidst cleaning, I did find time to take a little walk and enjoy that sunshine. I noticed white feathers peppered the landscape everywhere I walked. Chicken feathers. Not sure if they're from the Leghorn named Crystal Gale, or the Americauna named Sleepy. They were so pretty and fluffy, dancing softly in the breeze . . . glad I took a few photos because it is really raining out there this morning! No fluffy, puffy, pretty white feathers floating on a breeze today...everything is washing downstream today! Our creek is up sooooo high it will probably crest by afternoon. Our basement will undoubtedly flood {minimally} and that is quite normal for us...especially in Spring!

This is Sleepy. 
She wants to know why I'm poking around in her business!

I realize she looks a little scary up close...but really, I love her the most! She is the only chicken that willingly lets us pick her up.

Today I will continue with a little cleaning. I've planned to use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on the finger prints left at the edges of walls, openings and door frames. I'd also like to take a little time to do some quilting, drink some coffee and watch the rain from my living room window.

We are having dinner guests this evening . . .family . . .I'm making spaghetti with homemade meatballs and sauce, garlic bread and salad. Dessert is chocolate pudding pie with whipped cream! Yum! Well, I've got my day planned so I am off!

Aw, come on Sleepy! 
Don't go away mad.
Let's talk about this.
I need material for my blog!

Until next time!