Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Starbuck VIA vs. Nescafe Clasico

Instant Starbucks, I thought I would never see the day. Well VIA is here and a whole new world is opened up to me. I went into my local Starbucks, which is like the modern day version of Cheers (you know the place where everyone knows your name). I went in to have my usual cup of black coffee and low and behold there it was calling out to me like a candle in the window on a cold dark winters night. I however was not sold on this idea, really instant coffee, which tastes good. So the superhero behind the counter offered to save the day and let me try a cup for free, so I said yes. The next few moments sent me on a journey that would change my coffee passion forever. I watched the black apron wonder open a package, pour its contents into a cup, add water, and then in his words of wisdom “stir gently”. I walked away and with the first taste I wasn’t sure, so I tried it again… after a few more tries I found the cup empty and myself wanting more. I am usually a two to three (8oz) cup of coffee drinker in the mornings. I went back for seconds and when I saw the price I about fell over, $2.95 for 3 packages what a rip off! I know that is only a dollar a cup, but it’s instant coffee. So I ordered my normal and walked home with a mission to find out if other instant coffee was just as good, and more importantly could I find it cheaper.
A few days later I went to Walmart and selected Nescafe Clasico, which was only a dollar for 8 cups. I ran across the parking lot to Starbucks and picked up a package of Colombian roast VIA. I rushed home, obeying all the laws of course… and fired up the electric kettle with great excitement. I put the cups side by side and examined the two competitors. The Starbucks opened like a dream, however the “micro-ground” coffee was difficult to get into my cup, and took almost 30 seconds to get all of it out. The powder was dark and smelled like fresh ground coffee. The Nescafe was not hard at all to get out of the package at all. I opened and poured it in no problems. The Nescafe was more corse and lighter in color with an almost sweet smell. The water came to a boil and then I poured in the water and “stirred gently” (thank you my Hero of the morning). I walked away and had Paige (my wife) mix up the cups and then I walked up with my eyes closed and felt around for the first cup. I first brought it to my nose and inhaled deeply (unlike our former president) then I took a drink, it was satisfying. Then I tasted the other the same way. The second was very different, not horrible, just different. I knew which was which with out being told the first was the VIA and the second the Nescafe. I walked to the coffee table with both cups and started my blog. I was up and down putting my oldest son down for his afternoon nap. I was upstairs when it dawned on me of how clean the Nescafe finished, it was almost none existent just a sweet coffee after taste. I came back downstairs and took a big drink of both coffees.

Could it be, I liked the Nescafe just as much as the VIA? Yes! Now, If you like Starbucks then you will enjoy the VIA very much. It tastes just like you got it from the shop, so good job to those coffee scientist there in the Sirens secret underground lair. You did it! Starbucks anywhere you go that has hot water and a cup. For only a dollar a cup, that is far cheaper than having your personal assistant fly the jet to Seattle for that awesome taste. However, if you are one of those people that just wants a cup of coffee and you do not have to have Starbucks. The Nescafe Clasico is a good cup of coffee and is so much cheaper.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blackberry cobbler 2

So I tried a different recipe for cobbler and it is just as easy but tastes better! More cakey pudding type stuff around the blackberries, although I think maybe I just need to make a sponge cake and have blackberries on top of it to get the feeling I wanted with this the first time. The recipe:

4 c berries
1/4 c sugar
1 T lemon juice

1 egg
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c melted butter
4 T milk
1/2 c self-rising flour

mix berries, sugar and lemon juice in a 8x8 square baking dish, them mix all the other ingredients in a bowl and pour the batter over the berries. Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes or until done (like every other recipe, this takes at least 20 minutes more in my oven.)

I didn't have self-rising flour so I substituted 1/2 cup all purpose flour with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda added.

I have lots more blackberries that we canned so I can try other things throughout the winter!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blackberry picking

We went blackberry picking. There is a nice spot about a block away from our house that has lots of berries, and we love some free food! The picky eater was sent to get some containers for picking and was very ambitious:
Mr. eats-alot just thought the wagon was cool. We took the baby backpack, too because he is crawling and climbing and once he got bored with the wagon we needed some way to contain him. We ended up with that container on the right almost full.

Every time we go picking, the picky eater says "Let's go home now" after about 10 minutes. We usually just push through this, with encouraging him to pick berries that are at his level. The place where we go is just an empty lot with a drainage area that has cattails and other grasses growing in it. We have seen bunnies and frogs down there, plus the usual bugs and whatnot, so we will also get him to search for small critters as he gets bored. A great benefit of this is that he has started eating berries this year. Last year when we would go he would put the berries in his mouth and then spit them out, now with him being able to do some picking himself, he is eating them, too. Yay!

Once we got home, the berries went into the fridge until we could get to them. So, we have family coming into town this weekend and I wanted the house clean, but I had thrown my back out and I didn't want to vacuum. (I have gone to my chiropractor and am feeling much better, but I didn't want to push it) Hence the comment may have come from my mouth "I'll make you something yummy if you vacuum for me" and I was off making blackberry cobbler at 10 at night. (and there was some vacuuming going on)

So I searched the internet for a quick and easy recipe, and I ended up randomly choosing this one because they all seemed very similar.

3 c. blackberries
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. milk
1/4 lb. butter

Melt butter in 8 x 8 pan. Mix blackberries and 3/4 cup sugar. Mix flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and milk. Pour mixture into melted butter; spread evenly. Pour berry mixture on top. Cake should cover the berries and be golden brown when done.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour. Serve warm with milk on top or ice cream.

I cut the sugar down to 1/2 cup to mix with the blackberries because it seemed like a lot of sugar.

I made the batter as written, but used 1/4 cup butter in the dish 'cause 1/4 lb seemed like a typo.
before baking below
I baked it at 400 for 35 minutes because it was 10:15 by the time I got it in the oven. when it came out, I was kinda disappointed. This was not at all what I was hoping for. It tasted good and was ok-looking, but I was hoping for more sponge cake like stuff around the blackberries. Well, we still have plenty of berries and I can try again. Maybe it will taste better for breakfast.

No bake cookies

This is one of my all time favorite recipes. My mom used to make these for me when I was a kid, and I was craving some all this week but every time I had the urge to make them it was like 10 at night and I am trying to not eat past 9 so I sleep better. (which is kinda ironic because as I write this it is 10:42 and I have a blackberry cobbler in the oven.)

So anyways the ingredients:
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter/margarine

1/2 cup peanut butter
dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal (Not instant!)

Put the sugar, cocoa, milk and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute then remove from heat. Add the peanut butter, salt and vanilla and stir until the peanut butter melts. Add the oatmeal and mix until the oats are evenly coated. At this point my mom lets it sit in the pan for a few minutes so it starts to set up a bit, I am usually in too much of a hurry to eat the scraping of the pan, so I just charge right ahead. They will taste the same, just if you give it a few minutes to start setting up the edges won't run and be super thin. So, scoop out cookie sized amounts onto waxed paper or plastic wrap on your countertop, let them cool and harden, then enjoy! This batch that I made I used all-natural peanut butter, didn't wait for them to set up at all in the pan, and they didn't get thin edges.

I would make these for every church bake sale I was part of and would get rave reviews. Some people would even buy a whole plateful. They're also really easy to make in large amounts without turning on the oven. Yum Yum.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon

Ok so normally this would not fall into our budget, but I'm not one to turn down free food, especially salmon fresh from Alaska.

cedar plank
1 tsp dill
½ tsp salt
½ tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp thyme
one lemon, thinly sliced
a few thin slices yellow onion

soak plank for at least an hour, then lightly dry and sprinkle one side with salt. Place salmon skin side down on salted plank, and sprinkle with spices. Put onions and lemon on top. It should look like this at this point:

Place whole plank on the gas BBQ on high. Have a clean spray bottle filled with water and spray the plank every time you open the BBQ to keep the plank from catching on fire. Cook until the salmon has reached your desired temperature. (131F rare, 138F med, 145F med-well)

Root Veggies

OK so obviously we just used carrots here, but you could use any combo of carrots, turnips, rutabagas, or potatoes in this side dish.

mix these spices:
½ tsp thyme
1 tablespoon basil
1 ½ tsp granulated garlic
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp pepper

and set aside.

In saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, then start sautéing 2 cups veggies and spices. Cook until veggies are al-dente (still slightly crispy), then at the very end when the veggies are done, turn up the heat to high and brown the garlic. Be careful not to overcook and burn the garlic.

Pasta and Marinara

We love cooking and eating great food, but sometimes the simplest meals are the best. An easy dinner, we love penne pasta because it is so much easier to handle on a fork than spagetti. Sauce made from scratch in a huge batch, then frozen in quart size baggies makes a great fast meal.