This blog is coming to you from Cottage Grove, Oregon where I am a columnist for the local newspaper. My 'Chatterbox' column chronicles life's ups and downs while the 'Cook's Corner' segment features updated, country-style cooking. The recipes are family-style: economical, fresh, tasty and simple. Enjoy!
Monday, January 17, 2011
Coffee, coffee filters and chewy chocolate coffee brownies
1/05/11 Cook’s Corner
Well, here it is a new year and I don’t know about you but I’m stuffed. Over the holidays, I ate too much, I ate too fast and now I’m tired of cooking! So, we’re going to change gears today and talk about coffee. Well, a little bit about coffee as a beverage but mostly some really interesting household hints on different ways to use inexpensive coffee filters.
At our house we brew coffee in a Mr. Coffee drip machine. I think. Maybe it’s a Black and Decker. Whatever kind of machine you use, the experts at the Coffee Association of U.S.A., say it should be thoroughly cleaned after every use. Be sure and check that no grounds have collected on any part of the equipment and there is no build-up of coffee oil to pollute future pots.
Once your machine is spic and span, they say that to brew a good cup of coffee you should then check your water. Softened, distilled or chlorinated water is not good. Filtered or bottled water is good if you’re not sure of the quality of your tap water.
The coffee grounds themselves should be purchased freshly roasted and used as soon as possible for a superb cup of coffee. (Wow. I’ll bet there’s a lot of mediocre coffee being drunk in this country!) Our grounds are freshly frozen and then ground with a blade grinder. That, however, according to the experts is a no-no. A burr grinder at the grocery store is better. Or so they say …
Now, according to the experts, you should use 1-2 tablespoons of coffee grounds for every six ounces of water to brew the coffee. That’s a bit strong for me. In fact, that’s really strong for me so I use way less grounds and tap water and it comes out fine for my taste.
Finally, you need to drink your coffee as soon as it is brewed. True coffee aficionados will tell you that brewed coffee begins to lose it taste moments after brewing. They say you should only brew what you’re going to drink and never, ever, ever reheat it.
Well, I’ve sipped many re-heated cups of coffee in my lifetime and while I prefer fresh brewed, it’s a shame to throw away relatively fresh expensive coffee. At one time we had a contraption that made coffee syrup that you refrigerated. When you were ready for a cup you added water and microwaved your brew. We didn’t care for that.
Now, there’s lots more to know about brewing coffee but we’re going to move on to ways to use those humble coffee filters. Yep. Those cute little cups (or cones) that you can buy for practically nothing can be use for many things other that straining coffee beans. Check out the following ideas and then mix up a batch of INSTANT coffee flavored brownies to go with that brew.
Coffee filters make excellent covers for bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave.
Protect your dishes by separating your good china with a coffee filter between each dish.
Filter broken cork from wine. If you break the cork when opening a wine bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter.
Protect your cast-iron skillets. Place a coffee filter in each
skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust during storage.
Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a
sieve lined with a coffee filter.
Weigh chopped foods by placing ingredients in a
coffee filter on a kitchen scale.
Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods. Use them to hold tacos!
Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a planter or
pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.
Put a few filters on a plate to soak up the grease from your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc.
Keep in the bathroom. They make great "razor nick fixers."
Use filters to strain soup stock or to tie fresh herbs in to put in soups and stews.
Use a coffee filter to prevent spilling when you add fluids to your car.
Use them as a spoon rest while cooking and clean up small counter spills.
Save on having extra bowls to wash and use filters to hold dry ingredients (flour, sugar, etc) for baking projects.
Use filters to sprout seeds. Simply dampen the coffee filter,
Place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a plastic baggie until they sprout.
Use coffee filters as blotting paper for pressed flowers. Place the flowers between two coffee filters and put the coffee filters between pages of your phone book.
Use as a disposable "snack bowl" for popcorn, chips, etc.
And finally, my favorite idea: use them to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage.
Now, that you’re all organized, try out the recipe of the day. Enjoy!
CHEWY CHOCOLATE COFFEE BROWNIES
1-1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2-1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs (or 3 small)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2-cup semisweet chocolate morsels
Vegetable cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine sugar, margarine, and coffee granules in a small saucepan. Place over low heat; cook for 4 minutes or until margarine melts and the mixture is smooth, stirring frequently.
Combine sugar mixture, vanilla, egg whites, and egg; beat at low speed of a mixer until smooth.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate morsels. Spread batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 18 minutes; let cool in pan. Serves 12 or more.
Keep it simple and keep it seasonal!
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.