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Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

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I recently read a short story, by an unknown author, that teaches a simple, yet incredible lesson about life.  Since I’m sharing a recipe for coffee with you today, I thought this would be the perfect time to share this parable with you as well.

Life is Like a Cup of Coffee

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

“Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

“Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.

“Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups! The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.”

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

~Author unknown


Since we’re concentrating on the coffee here, let’s talk about this recipe, which really lets coffee shine.  Allowing the coffee to steep at room temperature overnight yields a strong brew devoid of any of the usual bitterness you get when percolating it.  I have never been able to tolerate the bitterness of strong coffee, which is why I steer clear of Starbucks.  I still prefer a milder coffee, but cold-brewing makes it so much smoother that I can even enjoy a strong cup prepared this way.  You can control how strong your cup is by adding more or less water to the coffee concentrate.

Unless you are averse to sweet coffee drinks, I highly recommend you use some of that leftover sweetened condensed milk from my pound cake recipe to try a Vietnamese-style iced coffee.  It is out of this world!

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 cups water
2/3 cup ground coffee

Optional additions:
Milk &/or Sweetener
Sweetened Condensed Milk

In a 4-cup measure, add 3 cups water and stir in coffee.

Unless you are super cool like me (are you laughing?!?!) and have Tupperware measuring cups, you will have to measure two 1/3 cups, or use one of those one-cup measures that have marks on the inside/outside to show where 2/3 is.  I’m so happy to now have 2/3 and 3/4 cup measures for the first time since I left home!! Thank you, Tupperware! (Wait, am I already losing sight of the lesson by concentrating on the measuring cup and not the coffee?)

Cover your measuring cup with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.  Line a sieve or colander with a large coffee filter, cheesecloth, or a double layer paper towels, and prop inside a bowl.  Strain coffee through the sieve.

As you can see, my measuring cups are way cooler (why are you laughing?!?!) than my colander, which I’ve had longer than I’ve been married, and I’m pretty sure I bought it for 10 cents at a garage sale, where the owner was getting rid of it because it was the first colander ever made.  So, you see, I can’t get rid of it.  It is a piece of living history, in my very own kitchen.

Besides, it’s all about the coffee (or life, if you will), so whatever colander I use really doesn’t matter because it won’t alter the resulting brew, or my life. Wow, this “life is coffee” philosphy is so empowering!  :)

Pour strained coffee concentrate into a jar, or rinse out the measuring cup and pour it back in to store.  Keep refrigerated.  To serve, fill a glass with ice, and add equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste.  Stir in milk and sweetener, if desired.  For a Vietnamese iced coffee, stir in a tablespoon or two of sweetened condensed milk.

Bada-bing, bada-boom!  If you like sweet stuff, you have to try it this way!  I’m hooked.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups coffee concentrate, usually good for 4-5 servings.

Recipe source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen


Condensed Milk Pound Cake

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This is how crazy I am.  I made this pound cake for the first time last September and, without tasting it, submitted it to the state fair for judging.  I didn’t take a photo and haven’t made it since, even though it won third place for pound cakes.  The first two looked like they were made with browned butter, so I thought this must be a pretty good pound cake to get a 3rd place ribbon when this Plain Jane was up against some jazzed-up cakes.

I thought this was a good time to finally try the recipe for myself, while fresh berries are in season, because they make a nice topping for such a heavy cake.

If you aren’t already aware of it, you can confirm my undying love for cake by just taking a look at the long list of recipes I have posted for them (I have more cake recipes than anything else!).  But pound cake has never been my thing.  Which is just weird, because when it comes to cake, I’m all about the richness, and pound cake certainly fits that bill.  Perhaps it’s because pound cakes are served without frosting, and unlike certain aliens living among us (Ahem, my sisters! Imposters, I tell you.), I value my frosting and cake equally. However, this is one good pound cake.  Totally crazy-buttery with that soft and dense pound-cake texture.  A perfect base for a sweetened-berry topping and a dollop of whipped cream, or for a red, white and blue trifle, cubed and layered with berries and whipped cream.

I hope you try this pound cake.  I know I’m glad I finally did! :)

Condensed Milk Pound Cake

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Generously butter 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.

Stir the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl and set aside.  Fit your food processor with the blade attachment and add the sugar, butter, and salt to the bowl.  Process until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally.  Add the condensed milk and pulse until well incorporated, about 15 times, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Add the sifted dry ingredients and pulse until no traces of flour remain, about 10 times. Add the eggs and vanilla, and pulse just until combined, about 5 times. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and finish mixing by hand to fully incorporate the eggs.

Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan. Bake until the top is dark, golden brown and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for ten minutes, then unmold and allow to cool completely on the rack, bottom-side down.

Recipe source: Mocha Me

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