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Thursday, July 9, 2009

back in the kitchen again

i realized yesterday morning, as i trotted happily out of starbucks with my grande iced nonfat upside-down caramel macchiato, that i was falling into an old bad habit. one that was way too easy to get sucked into, as well as bad for the ol' checkbook. and as i took my first sip of that delicious concoction, i vowed that it would be my last - at least for a while. i decided right then and there that i was going to start making my own homemade iced coffee.

not exactly the same, i know, but i was also finding myself quite addicted to the iced coffee at mcdonald's. it's about half the price of my favorite starbucks drink, but still - those $1.99 drinks add up after a while. and i knew i could make my own version at home for way less money. hell, one bottle of torani syrup could be recouped after, oh, 2 or 3 homemade drinks!

after posting a cry for help from my friends on a nest message board, i remembered that i'd bookmarked a recipe from one of my favorite cooking blogs - smitten kitchen. i also got a lot of really helpful responses and links, so i pored over all of the info and waited for the clock to strike 12:30.

i came home with, among a bunch of other stuff, this:

as i've mentioned before, i'm pretty good at following a recipe, even when it just looks or sounds funky. and look at this shit - it is definitely nasty looking.

cold brewing seems to be the way to go when it comes to making iced coffee. you mix the ground coffee with water and let it sit for a few hours before proceeding to the next step. so i did just that, and then joined the bean on the floor for a little playtime.

my friend amber sent me a link to a fantastic-looking recipe for a crab, corn and tomato salad a few days ago. realizing that my cooking efforts earlier in the week had led to a super sweaty wan and a hot ass kitchen, i thought it would be a great time to give this a shot. plus, it was fairly healthy and made for a nice, light, cool dinner on a warm summer evening.

not having access to fresh lump crabmeat out in BFE, i settled for buying a pound of snow crab clusters and pulling the meat out of them with my own two hands. i'm an expert at this, so it didn't take me long to get through the task, and i was happy to see that i'd managed to accumulate a nice pile of delicious, succulent crab. and it took all i had not to pop chunks of it in my mouth - if you know me well, you'll know how hard this was for me. gosh, just looking at the pictures is making my mouth water all over again. damn.

i'd found cute little slipper lobster tails on sale at the grocery store during my iced coffee shopping extravaganza, so i decided i'd make a few minor adjustments to the recipe. i took them out, boiled a couple of inches of water, placed those tails in my steamer basket, and covered the pot.

this is how i killed time while i waited for the timer to go off.

about eight minutes later, the lobster was all nice and pink and perfect. i cooled them down by giving them a nice cold bath.

i pulled the meat out of the shells, chopped it up, and added it to my lovely seafood pile.

when i was all done manhandling the crustaceans, i remembered something i'd read a long time ago. my paws were all fishy-smelling, and normally i'd just rub some lemon on 'em and call it a day. it never took the smell completely away, but i was okay with it. but i decided to try out something different, so i washed my hands and then rubbed them on the stainless steel sink. supposedly, this neutralizes the odor regardless of how rank it is.

i am pleased to report that this little trick works like a charm. i still used a little lemon juice, just for good measure, but it wasn't necessary - my digits were odor-free. yay!

grating lemon zest without benefit of a cool microplane thingy is a pain in the ass. i only had a mini grater (yes, i suffer in the kitchen with my scaled-down utensils, but there's no freaking storage space in the thimble we live in, so there), so i made do. and my reamer (heh heh) made an appearance for the second time in one week.

i love using my whisk to mix shit.

then i was done for a while, because the hub wasn't due home just yet. so i put everything in the fridge and then realized that the bean was...occupied. poop. literally.

finally, the hub arrived and i put the finishing touches on dinner. since i'd left out the onions and red pepper, i chose to add some crunch and color by adding some chopped cucumber. my grocery store sells freshly baked french bread, so i'd picked up a loaf [snicker] (remember, i'm, like, 8) to serve with the salad. isn't it pretty? some of the very best things on earth, all on one plate.

it was a HUGE hit. we scarfed up every last bit on our plates and managed to go through at least half of the loaf of bread. it was so good - all soft and chewy and fresh. mmm.

after i'd done the clean-up, it was time to tackle project iced coffee. i poured it through my mini strainer, and was kinda grossed out by this:

i pulled out a coffee filter, shoved it into the strainer, and poured the coffee through again, to make sure there wasn't a single speck of grounds left in there.

now this is some deep, dark stuff. it smelled really good, though. i was totally excited for the morning, when i'd mix it with the vanilla syrup and a shitload of milk and pour it over ice, just like they do at mickey d's.

and this morning, i got up and did just that - i threw in some french vanilla creamer, skim milk, and a couple of shots of that torani syrup, and mixed it with ice.

the hub took one sip and said "mmmm, that IS good." and i had to agree - it was super delicious.

SO worth the effort! i'm totally making this part of the morning routine. yay for coffee!


  1. i'm taking you to the buffet next time you can shell all my shellfish for me. i suck at it but LOVE eating them.

    can you make the coffee concentrate ahead? that seems like too much work to do every. single. day. but i'm lazy.

  2. Ah, there's that "super delicious" phrase again. Long live T-Mobile.

  3. Our salad was damn good, too. Couple of differences - added the chopped tomato to the mix, along with avocado and plated it on a bed of spinach. Added some slipped Filone bread with sea salt and a glass of white wine and voila! I'm so glad you guys liked it - I want to try it with the lobster next time, too.

    And now, the recipe for the coffee concentrate, por favor. :)

  4. Yeah, I want to know if you can do the coffee concentrate ahead, too. I loooove McD's iced coffees, but now that there's not one on my way to work (nor a real paycheck to support my habit), I should look into an at-home version.

  5. The Barista in me highly recommends you get a French press for ease of straining and measuring :)

  6. The salad looks awesome. I'm def. going to try to make this. Oh! and the iced coffee.. thanks for the link. Seems weird, but your blog changed my mind! :)

  7. The lobster looked so good and looks so easy to prepare at home. For some reason I thought it was a lot more complicated.

    Question: where did you get that cute strap for your camera?

    Oh & I agree with Sarah - get a French Press. It'll totally make the job easier.

  8. What does it mean when you order your Starbucks drink "upside down?"

    P.S. How did you run out of coffee already if you bought an all new bag?

  9. tater and nanette - i think that the freshness contributes to the scrumptiousness of it. but i'm sure you could make it in bulk and store it in the fridge. i'll try and report back.

    sarah and michelle - i might give the french press a try. they're cheap enough even for this tightwad! and the strap is from etsy - it was a gift, so i'm not sure which seller it was from. i can check for a tag when i get home though.

    cagequeen - "upside-down" just means that the caramel macchiato is mixed together vs. layered. i hate taking a big sip and getting a mouthful of espresso. and i only ran out of my iced coffee for the day - not the bag of grounds :)

  10. There's no way I would have had any crab left for the salad after all that work.

  11. I love using my whisk to mix shit too!

    In regards to your delicious food...the mouth waters.

  12. Please let us know if the coffee keeps well in the fridge - I'd make enough for 3-4 days at a time if that was the case (well, decaf). It looks divine & would save me the time of going over to Starbucks to get a decaf non-fat iced coffee.

  13. Hmmm that salad looks amazing. Yes, recipe for coffee please.

  14. French Press - good, my sister can get me a deal on a good one you know.

    Also, remembering the time that we hoovered 2.5 pounds each of all you can eat crab at Red Lobster - AWESOME!

    Souplantation and Home Town Buffet - are we thinking of the same person?

  15. French Press - good, my sister can get me a deal on a good one you know.

    Also, remembering the time that we hoovered 2.5 pounds each of all you can eat crab at Red Lobster - AWESOME!

    Souplantation and Home Town Buffet - are we thinking of the same person?

  16. I still think the secret to ice coffee is coffee ice cubes. With a little bit of vanilla in the ice cube, you can have flavored ice coffee whenever you want since you can always keep coffee ice cubes in the freezer.

  17. Mmmmmm....crab and homemade iced coffee? I am so moving into your thimble.

  18. I'm totally going to try making that salad and iced coffee, YUM!


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