The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Description: F Train, Manhattan-bound, 17 May ...

(Wikipedia)

In most major newspapers, Wednesday’s edition includes a food section and recipes and coupons and how-to’s on cooking etc.This was a really bizarre day in “Food News” at the Albuquerque Journal.  I mean really . . .it was the good, the bad and the ugly.

I was glancing over the newspaper and the first piece of “food news” was really great:

“Elementary School Goes All-Vegetarian”

“NEW YORK – A New York City elementary school has adopted an all-vegetarian menu, serving kids tofu wraps and veggie chili.

“Public School 244 is the first public school in the city to go all-veggie. The animal-welfaregroup People for the Ethcal Treatment of Animals says it might be the first all-veggie public elementary school in the nation.”

That’s pretty cool! It said later in the article that the kids gravitated toward veggie offerings. Three cheers for PS 244!

Encouraged to keep reading, I saw another article called, “Acclaimed chef and dad Bill Telepan takes on lunch in New York City public schools” about a non-profit group started by Moms called, “Wellness in the Schools,” dedicated to bringing better food and fitness to public schools in NYC. A Manhattan chef was working with 47 of the schools to incorporate more organic and made-from-scratch menus.

Not vegetarian or vegan, but still that’s pretty good news. “Two stories about school lunches in one day!” I thought.

That was the good. But there was even more food news in today’s paper. There was the bad:

“USDA ready to OK horse slaughtering in Roswell” (that’s in New Mexico.) Subtitle: “Unless Congress intervenes, Valley Meat will get to open.” Remind me PLEASE if I ever decide to eat meat again not to buy anything from them!

And in the very same day’s paper, it went from bad to worse:

“Murder charge in juice poisoning.” Perhaps you heard about this one. A lady in San Jose, California who allegedly poisoned two bottles of orange juice and placed them at a Starbucks has been booked on suspicion of attempted murder. Poisoning by rubbing alcohol. Sheesh!

And then there was the very ugly which you probably don’t want to hear about—but . . . food related once again—“Meat-plant worker killed in blender.”

I am reminded why I like packing my own lunch so much!

Lunch boxes

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Coffee Man (sigh) My Hero

Coffee for Love

Coffee for Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is dedicated to my husband who is a hero in many ways.

I had never really learned how to make coffee.  Until about 2 BS (Before Starbucks*),  I didn’t even like the stuff and never drank it.  But it was about 2 BS when I went away to college and took to drinking a little coffee in the college cafeteria.  My appreciation for coffee grew during those college years (enhanced by caffeine-laden stay-awake remedies) until I graduated and was no longer eating in anyone’s cafeteria.

Back at my parents’ house, my mother, who was always on top of the latest food inventions, was convinced that freeze-dried instant coffee was the way to go.  I didn’t like that at all so I didn’t drink it.  I relied on the local diner.

As a young adult on my own, there were no drive-thru coffee places whatsoever except in the land of Seattle where we heard exclusive brands of coffee could be had in stores built just for that product.  This was in the newspapers.  Where I lived, one went to the corner deli or lunch counter and ordered a cup of coffee.  I drank it, but I still didn’t own a coffee pot.

Fast forward a decade or so and there I am, a mother and a wife and I still don’t know how to make coffee.  In fact, there were several years in there when I didn’t indulge in caffeine of any sort because I was nearly always pregnant and/or nursing a baby.  And there were many years when the only caffeinated drink I would take was a little green tea.

Eventually the hankerin’ for some coffee returned and it was off to Seven-Eleven for the best coffee around.  $.79 for a huge cup!

One time I got my own electric coffee pot.  I gave it a good effort—trying to make coffee as good as Seven-Eleven’s.  It wasn’t.  It tasted like coffee that could have been this:

Liquid Mud

I tried to make good coffee.  Sort of.  I tried other people’s electric coffee maker coffee too and didn’t like theirs either.  What I really enjoyed was going out or having someone go out to Seven-Eleven and buy it ready made.  I did this for about twenty years having sold my electric coffee maker in a yard sale.

I’m not sure when I came across my first retail designer coffee outlet, but it was probably around 20 AS (After Starbucks) when I started shopping for hot coffee somewhere besides at a gas station.  Starbucks had oozed out from the land of Seattle and had arrived in my neighborhood!

I got into it.  And even though it sounded absolutely CRAZY to think of making coffee and then “watering it down” to make something called an Americano, I got talked into trying it and loved it.  More and more of it.  With extra shots.  I was so hooked and it was costing me a fortune and making me feel like an addict.

Until finally I decided enough was enough.  I was determined to find a coffee pot that even I could make good coffee with.  I deliberated for a couple of years about this–all the while still ordering at good ol’ Starbucks and pooh poohing my old haunt, Seven-Eleven.

Mind you, I had by that time done a LOT of cooking and knew how to make all kinds of healthy foods, teas, medicinal remedies and drinks—but still not too sure how to make coffee.  So I went to my favorite gourmet cooking supply store, Williams & Sonoma.  They had so many coffee makers!  I didn’t even waste time looking at most of them because I intuitively concluded that the best kind of coffee pot for me was a French Press type.  This is the kind where you put the ground coffee in the bottom and pour very hot (but not boiling) water over it and steep it after which you press down on a plunger that sends all the grounds to the bottom and all the coffee is above the plunger and ready to pour.

There were beautiful French Press Coffee Makers on display all filled with whole coffee beans.  Hmmm I thought.  A young man helped me and showed me the different styles and I chose an excellent mid-priced model and asked him how to make coffee with it.

“Simple,” he said, “You put the whole beans in the bottom and pour the water on top and you have to let it sit for a while and stir it a lot so it will make the coffee, then you press down the plunger and it’s ready to drink.”

“Whole beans?” I asked.

Afrikaans: Geroosterde pitte van die koffiepla...

Roasted coffee beans  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I purchased the pot and took it home.  The directions didn’t really say anything about the coffee beans.  “Nah!”  I thought, “That can’t be right.  That doesn’t make sense.”  I was pretty sure you didn’t use whole beans but after all, this is Williams & Sonoma and they ought to know.  I called my youngest son and he set me straight.

So, the upshot of this saga is that the French Press Coffee Maker turned out to be a wonderful way to make delicious, fresh, non-bitter, heavenly-smelling coffee in minutes.  I save so much money and time!  And I can have coffee whenever I want, though I am no longer a coffee addict and don’t overindulge in caffeine anymore.

But about once a week or so, I get a visit from an All-American Super Hero who brings me a ready-made serving of my favorite Americano after he has driven not to Starbucks but to a local coffee specialty store that has the best.  And I always say,

“Coffee Man, (sigh) My Hero!”

(*The first Starbucks opened in 1971)