Join Me in the Kitchen! – Nov. 26, 2012

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Vicki McGraw
Vicki McGraw, Jamestown Gazette Contributing Writer

As I have written many times before, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee and join me in the kitchen! This invitation is one I frequently extend, be it given at work or at home. I am most comfortable entertaining in my kitchen; haven’t you ever noticed that whenever you entertain, the guests inevitably all wind up in the kitchen? Whether it is because it is where you, the host, are, or it is where the food and drinks are, the kitchen is a hub of activity.

I know some people would prefer to keep their kitchen off limits to guests because it may not be perfectly neat and tidy, or they just want them in other rooms of the house. For me, since my house is rather small anyway, the kitchen merely provides “overflow” space! If we run out of seating in the living room, there always seems to be an extra seat or two around my kitchen table. Even when there aren’t that many of us, the kitchen is our “congregating spot.” My coffee pot is always on, and there is always a mug at the ready if a friend should stop by to visit!

I freely (and frequently) admit to being a big coffee drinker, but I also enjoy most other hot beverages. As I type this article I am sipping on a mug of chai tea, following the few cups of coffee I enjoyed earlier this morning. To me, anytime of day is a good time for a cup of coffee, I just need to beware of the caffeine content later in the day. I am jealous of the people who can drink caffeine anytime of the day or night and still be able to sleep at night! I usually try to limit my “high octane” coffee to mornings only. In the afternoon I will switch to tea or cocoa, (or even decaf coffee, if I must, but really, what is the point if you can’t enjoy the caffeine kick?).

Hot beverages work well to warm you from the inside out on a cold day. I have wonderful childhood memories of sledding at Allen Park with my brother and friends. When we would get home, cold and wet, my Mom would make us warm jello! It sounds goofy, I guess, but boy was it good! Mom would simply dissolve a little jello powder in boiling water, and “VOILA” a warm fruity beverage for her little ice cubes on legs!

Today, as with everything else, we have found a way to get instant “coffee gratification” without having to actually use instant coffee. One of my favorite kitchen appliances is my single cup coffee maker. I can have a cup of regular coffee, followed by a cup of flavored tea or hot cocoa. It is as simple as slipping a pre-measured pod of my desired beverage into the machine, pushing a button and waiting the 60 seconds it takes to brew. I am ready to go in a fraction of the time it used to take my percolator to brew a pot! Drive by any drive-thru coffee spot between 6:00 and 9:00 AM…the line is usually long, rewarding everyone for their patience with a steaming cup made to their liking. Coffee, Latte, Cappuccino, Espresso, grande, tall, double-double, half-caf, skim, soy, oh joy! The lingo that goes with our habit is almost as creative as the drink itself!

You have been working hard and deserve a break, so why don’t you grab a cup, pull up a chair, and let me pour you a cup of coffee!

Chai Tea

  • Bring to just a boil in a medium sauce pan:
  • 3 c water
  • 1 ½ c milk
  • ¾ c sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 16 cardamom pods, crushed (can be found in gourmet spice section of most larger supermarkets
  • 1 t whole cloves
  • ½ inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • ½ t whole white or black peppercorns
  • Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Return to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in:
  • 2 T black tea leaves
  • Cover and let stand two minutes. Strain and serve at once, or let cool and serve over ice.