Thursday, October 28, 2010

An hour and a half, a bruised lip, and a pound of coffee later . . .

Finally, this coffee lover has bought her first espresso machine!! It's a Rancilio Silvia with the Rocky doser grinder, bought from (And aside from my college education, this is the most expensive thing I've ever bought. Eek!) These machines are pretty much the same price everywhere online, but Seattle Coffee Gear offered the most "freebies" with it. Like: shot glasses, a thermometer, cleaning supplies, a milk steaming pitcher, a tamp, and a free pound of coffee. Everything to get you started as a home barista. Thanks Seattle Coffee Gear!

It came in the mail yesterday and I spent the afternoon figuring it all out. Espresso is a very temperamental thing, even the slightest change of bean, grind or temperature can change the way the shots pull. My first shots were really bitter, but an hour and a half and a whole pound of coffee later . . . I finally had some semi-usable shots!

And the bruised lip? I was washing the tray and when I was drying it, somehow I pushed my hand off of it, and then the tray swung back and the edge hit me in the lip. So then I had a painful bruise, coffee and coffee grinds splattered all over my walls, counter and floor. But it was worth it! The learning curve can be pretty steep with a machine like this . . . but I was thrilled with the progress of one afternoon. It's only going to get better from here!

I can't wait to make you some coffee! Come on over :-)

So excited that my espresso machine is here!

This is the first time I've tamp'ed espresso since I left Coffee Bean 2 1/2 years ago. It was a great feeling!

The first lattes

Progress. These aren't perfect shots, but after a pound of coffee worth of bad shots, these looked really good and tasted waaaay less bitter than the earlier ones!

The fabulous duo!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall in my Backyard

Since I've gotten my motorcycle I haven't done as much walking around. So today I did a little exploring in the forest next to my house. There are not a ton of trees and plants that change color here in the Sierra Nevadas . . . but the ones that do look amazing right now!

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Fall is my absolute favorite time to bake. Flavors like pumpkin, cinnamon, and gingerbread are just fabulous. The cooler weather means more time inside with friends, games, movies, good cups of coffee . . . and yummy treats. And if you hadn't noticed already . . . my baking tends to revolve around the things that go great with coffee and tea. This week I made some chewy molasses cookies. They are quick and easy to make. Feel free to be generous with the spices. I always add a little more.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Ready In: 1 hr 20 minutes
Yields: 30 Servings

3/4 cups melted butter or margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ginger

1. In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Blend in the molasses mixture. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

3. Bake 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven until the tops are cracked. Cool on wire racks.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Walk Around the Lake-Less

Every fall the lake here is drained in preparation for winter. I think it's so that the ice doesn't put too much pressure on the dam. Anyways, this year the lake is being drained basically to the bottom (normally there's a stream that runs through it) so that a valve on the dam can be fixed. Nathan and I took the opportunity to walk around the lake . . . actually rather in the lake, to see what there was. Here's some pictures from our afternoon. Nathan took all the pictures on my little camera . . . so I can't take credit for these.

Bears! There were tooooons of bear prints. Mountain lion ones too!

All the snails get left when the water goes down.

Cool shadows.

More snails.

Lakeweed and a stump that's always under water.

I found some crawdad looking thing.

It was very muddy. I didn't do so well. Thank goodness for Gore-Tex shoes.

Hmmm . . . umbrella in a tree stump?

The sign above me is the measure of how low the water is at the dam.

Us and the pretty sky . . . which you can't see here.

Ahhh, so pretty!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My First Loaf

I have just entered into the world of baking loaves. I bought a loaf pan last weekend, and here is the result of my first attempt. Its a recipe for molasses spice muffins. I doubled the spices, added some ground cloves, made a crumbly top and then made a light vanilla sugar glaze (I think I'd do that a little thicker next time). Overall, I think it turned out great for my first loaf. Hopefully it will be the first of many more!