How to Brew the Best Cup of Coffee

If you enjoy coffee as much as I do, then coffee is on your mind throughout the day. Finishing one cup just means the pleasure of looking forward to the next has begun.

Enjoying coffee to the fullest requires care in choosing the perfect mug. Don’t just grab something from the cupboard. Think. The handle, weight, lip, and appearance of the mug are all very important.

Are you most comfortable using the same mug every day, or do you prefer variety? I could live with two or three rather than a cupboard full.

The most important factor in choosing a mug is the thought and feeling it inspires. Do you prefer a message on your mug, or do you like blank space? Your mug should not contribute to the pressures of the day. It should comfort and calm. My first mug of choice is tall, with a pleasing weight and handle. The inscription is, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey.” My second choice is my tall mug that simply says, “Papa”.

However you choose to brew your coffee, it should provide you with a steaming, flavorful, cup that tastes great from the first sip to the last.

This antique Pyrex percolator works perfectly on our gas stove. The brewing coffee fills the kitchen with an incredible aroma.

For a six-cup pot, fill it to the line with fresh cold water. Add the stem and basket. Place a round paper filter in the bottom of the basket. Use three heaping teaspoons of ground coffee, maybe a little more, or less, depending on your choice of strength. Place the cover on the basket, and the top on the pot. You’re ready for heat. Put the pot on a medium flame, and wait for the magic to begin.

The beautiful thing about our Pyrex percolator is watching the coffee drip through the basket and slowly turning the clear water to brown. Once the perk is constant, the flame should be turned down to low, not simmer, because the perking will almost stop completely. The coffee should be allowed to perk for five minutes and then removed from the heat. Delicious!

A perfectly brewed, delicious pot of coffee.

Do you enjoy your coffee black, or do you use cream and sugar, or just cream, or just sugar? Do you really doctor it with flavored cream? If so, what is your favorite? We used cream and sugar for many years, but now prefer black.

Are you okay with coffee that isn’t hot? When my coffee begins to lose it’s edge, I nuke it. I know, I know. To some people, nuking coffee destroys it. I don’t believe so. I prefer sipping hot, hot coffee. Nothing tepid.

When I do have the pleasure of going to Starbucks, I usually order a Grande Mocha, Extra-hot. I used to request 190 degrees. One time the server said, “And here’s your insanely hot mocha.” What can I say? I like it hot.

The Keurig coffee maker is an easy and fast way to a good cup of coffee. It does provide aroma, but not as much as a percolator on the stove.

For coffee to be enjoyed fully, thought needs to be given to the brewing process. A clean coffee pot, or automatic coffee maker, is very important.

Coffee is a partner in life. If it is given time, is appreciated, and thoughtfully enjoyed, the pleasure returned will be amazing.

Oh wow, my cup is cold.

Ice Cream Research

We lived in Texas for several years. While there we were surprised to learn the term “Cokes” refers to any carbonated drink. At a restaurant, the server asked, “What kind of Cokes do you want?” We’ll have Sprite, or Dr. Pepper, or Root Beer. Sprite Cokes, Dr. Pepper Cokes, Root Beer Cokes. That was Texas.

There are two things you don’t mess with. One is coffee, the other is ice cream. I have had coffee all over the country, and a few other countries. The coffee in Louisiana is served “dark” or “light”. The dark is heavy enough you can almost stand a spoon up in it. Good stuff. In Australia we asked for coffee with cream. The waiter looked at us like we were crazy. She brought us coffee with a bowl of whipped cream. There, you ask for flat white, long black, short black. Not coffee with cream. Gracious.

Ice cream is a serious matter. So serious, that recently we began doing research. We investigated local Dairy Queen’s to discover whether they were creating a proper Mocha-Chip Blizzard. The first time we asked if they could make a Mocha Blizzard, since it wasn’t on the menu, they said, “Sure!”, like it was a stupid question. We were delighted. When we received the non-turned-upside-down blizzard, we were less-than thrilled. It was vanilla ice cream with little flecks of chocolate. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, we thought maybe the chocolate flecks were mocha flavored.

The unset of the research project required us to search out other Dairy Queen’s to discover whether the first Dairy Queen had made a mistake. When we visited another DQ, we asked the same question, and received the same response. We were thrilled to receive a golden-brown swirl of ice cream, standing tall in the cup, about a half-inch above the rim filled with the familiar chocolate flecks. It was delicious! A rich espresso flavor. We knew we were on the right track.

So, that meant we were required, of course, in the interest of proper scientific discovery, to revisit the original DQ, to inquire about their ingredients for what they called the Mocha Chip Blizzard. Obviously, to do a proper statistical investigation, to find whether the null hypothesis was true with regard to the number of chocolate flecks that were in each blizzard, we would have to completely melt the blizzard, count the chocolate flecks, then do the same with a Mocha Chip Blizzard from the first DQ. We decided our research would not reach to that depth. Taste preference would be enough.

At great risk, we took one of our grandsons with us, back to the original Dairy Queen, for the final test. We ordered two Mocha Chip Blizzards, and an Oreo Reeses-Pieces Blizzard for our grandson. When we arrived at the drive-thru window, I asked how their Mocha Chip Blizzard was made. The server said, “With Tiramasu Sauce and Chocolate Chips.”

Once again, we were disappointed. There was no noticeable espresso or tiramisu flavor. Only the familiar chocolate flecks.

At long-last, our ice cream research was complete. The second Dairy Queen served a proper Mocha Chip Blizzard, with a deep and wonderful coffee flavor, enhanced by the chocolate flecks. The original DQ needs to work on what they refer to as a Mocha Chip Blizzard. Like I said, don’t mess with ice cream.

Speaking of coffee, I need some.

How to Eat McDonald’s Pancakes in Your Car

There is a proper way to eat pancakes in your car. Get it wrong, and you’re going to have a mess, all over your lap. You’ll have to go home and change and be late for work.

Eating pancakes on your lap is not for the faint of heart. You have to be bold, willing to take a risk, unafraid, ready for action. You’ve come to the right place to learn the steps to successfully enjoying McDonald’s pancakes, in your car, regardless of weather, while listening to your favorite radio station, savoring each bite, and overcoming the sadness when it’s gone.

The photo is a little deceiving. McDonald’s pancakes only come in threes.

Step one: Find the right McDonald’s. You have to know where it is, how to get there, when it opens, and where to park. You don’t want any sense of anxiety before you even get your pancakes.

Step two: Your order – “I would like pancakes, without sausage (that’s important), EXTRA SYRUP, and a medium coffee with two creams.” It’s best to memorize the script before you order for the first time. If you stumble during the order, you might end up with donut.

Step three: Sitting up straight, remove the pancakes from the bag, and place the plastic tray on your lap. No need to put a napkin tablecloth on your lap. The container is tough enough to keep anything from seeping through onto your clothes.

This is vitally important! Do not open the flip-top on your coffee until you are ready to begin eating. The proper coffee temperature is necessary for the entire experience to be enjoyed fully. Preparation, ready, set, flip-top, eat. In that order.

Step four: (The remaining steps should be completed quickly, so it is important to have everything at hand before you begin.) Open your knife and fork. Unfold your napkin. Pull the tops back on your two packs of butter. Carefully open ONE syrup. Now, and only now, remove the top from your pancakes.

Step five: Place one dob of butter between the pancakes, place the remaining dob on top. Pour the entire syrup container over the pancakes.

Step six: Enjoy your delicious, mouthwatering, perfectly prepared pancakes. Only after a few bites, open the second syrup pack and pour it onto the area you have already cut. This will cause the syrup to seep into the pancakes.

Warning: I do NOT recommend using your knife. You will risk cutting through the plate without knowing it, and a small seepage of syrup will drip onto your clothes. You will not discover this until you are in your business meeting and doing your presentation before the board of directors. They won’t be listening to you. They’ll be staring at the syrup.

Step seven: When you are finished eating, you will obviously feel a sense of loss. This is to be expected. It is normal. However, what you do now will determine how the disappointment affects you long-term. Here is the key: As you sip your still-hot coffee, immediately begin thinking about the next time you will have pancakes in your car at McDonald’s. If it helps, write it down on a sticky-note and put it on your dash. Now you will begin to feel better as you look forward to your next trip.

The world would be a happier place if everyone took time for McDonald’s pancakes!

There you have it. You can now enjoy McDonald’s pancakes in your car, on your lap. Savor it!

You’ll have to excuse me now. I have to find a McDonald’s.

Loving Tennessee

Recently, we enjoyed a week in beautiful Tennessee. While we were there, we visited the Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park in Manchester, TN. What a fascinating place!

The early morning air was cool, but by the time we had been exploring the park for an hour, it was plenty warm. I did purchase a “Old Stone Fort” hooded sweatshirt, just to be sure.

The Old Stone Fort was built hundreds of years ago. The land in the area was used by Native Americans. It is incredibly interesting, and somewhat haunting to walk through what is left of the building. To think that the stones were placed so many years ago, and remain where they were carefully laid is amazing.

While we were there, people were fishing along the river. I don’t know whether they were successful or not. The beauty was smudged just a little, by some careless folks who decided to toss sandwich bags and plastic bottles along the rocks. Some thoughtless parent even left a dirty diaper laying by the water. Unbelievable.

Wooden stairways say so much. How many feet have used these steps? I wonder what the people were talking about. How many children complained of sore feet?

I was intrigued by this old sickle bar mower that was left to rust into oblivion along the river. I actually looked up the serial number and Google returned actual photos of the old machine. History.

If you make a trip to Tennessee, take some time and travel to Manchester. The Old Stone Fort State Park is well worth the drive. On a sunny day, the beauty is unmatched.

It’s time for coffee.

Lonely Docks and Sea Glass

I have always loved wooden docks. I love looking down at the water, watching the fish.

There is nothing quite like climbing into a boat while it is tied to the dock, starting the motor, untying, and heading out onto the lake. In the early morning, the quiet sound of the water curling back from the bow is so relaxing!

Lake life is wonderful. The beauty of the water with the sun glistening off the ripples is unbeatable. Walking the beach while no one else is around provides a quiet time for thought, or just time for nothing at all.

I don’t know what fascinates me so much about this pole with the light. I don’t know if the light works. There is an antique wooden pulley hanging from the top. At one time, it probably held huge sharks recently caught. Except it’s on a lake. So, forget that.

With the Great Lakes water levels being higher than they have been in many years, the beach has changed drastically. Some people don’t have a beach in front of their cottage at all. The lonely tree out in the water (above) was totally out of the water just two years ago.

We love searching for sea glass. Some people call it beach glass. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful and we have a jar of pieces we have found. These were taken from the lakeshore just this morning.

This morning the lake was so calm we could hear the sounds of boat engines far out on the bay without being able to see them. The water was like glass. So beautiful!

The water, the sun, the sand, and a few clouds passing slowly overhead provide a gentle rest from the noisy world around us.

It’s time for coffee.

How Did You Find Your Niche?

Do you have a niche? How did you know it was right for you?

I need your help. I have been writing for many years. I have written four books, somewhere in excess of a thousand total pages. I have been published many times in curricula and periodicals. I had a weekly column in a local newspaper for two years. Writing has never been a problem, except for maybe being too wordy. My motto has always been, “why say something in ten words when you can say it in forty?” I’m like a friend once said, “The only way that guy could have said less is if he had talked longer.”

Blogging is driving me crazy! I can’t seem to get it right. Maybe I have read too much and I’m making it too hard. I read, “Don’t be personal.” Then someone else says, “Make sure it’s personal.” A blog authority says, “Keep it short.” Another says, “If you’re saying what you need to in five paragraphs, you don’t really have anything to say.” Someone with a ton of followers says, “Be passionate!” A writer with even more followers says, “Make sure you’re not too passionate about what you’re saying. You don’t want to drive people away.” Ahhhhhh!!

This whole thing about “niche” is mind-boggling! I know the definition. The problem is I can’t seem to find mine. I’m a pretty smart person. I’ve had a ton of experiences in many things, probably most of which no one would care about. I’m pretty talented. (Someone said, “If you don’t toot your own horn it won’t get tooted.”) But there are lots of really talented people around no one has ever heard of.

Not only have I done a bunch of writing for readers, I’ve written a big boat-load of music. Most of it absolutely worthless, not worth the space on the manuscript paper. Putting words together isn’t the problem. My problem is settling on something as a niche and sticking with it.

I’m not interested in writing a public diary as a blog. I don’t understand people who take pictures of what they’re eating and write about it. I don’t want to be like a pinball, bouncing around from one topic to the other.

So, I need help. I’m sincerely asking you for your advice. A plebe, a freshman, a neophyte, a beginner humbly asking for assistance.

How long have you been blogging?

What was your experience when you were first getting started?

Where did you find inspiration?

How did you keep going when it seemed like nothing was working?

I’m not trying to make money. I don’t have a website to which I’m trying to drive traffic. Is blogging worth the effort just as an expression of yourself?

Anything else you can offer that you think would be helpful, I will appreciate. Thank you for your time. And, thank you for being an example of how to be blogger.

Travel to Australia

Have you ever been to Australia? Do you have a desire for LONG-distance traveling? If you do, Australia is a terrific destination.

We had the incredible privilege of visiting Australia. It was our first trip half-way around the world. Our son and daughter-in-law were married in Queensland and we were thrilled to attend.

We were able to make all connections originating with our local Flint Bishop Airport in Michigan. From Flint we flew to Atlanta, then on to Los Angeles International (LAX). Our flight from home was mid-morning, but we didn’t leave LAX until 11:00 p.m., which was 2:00 am home time. Obviously, by the time we were in flight to Brisbane, we were exhausted.

We flew Qantas Airlines round-trip from LAX to Brisbane. The attendants were wonderful and made our flight as comfortable as possible. We were offered dinner as soon as we boarded, but we were too tired to eat. We immediately fell asleep and awoke some hours later, far over the Pacific Ocean.

Qantas food was very enjoyable, and plenty of coffee and other drinks were frequently offered. We were able to walk around the cabin as needed to stretch our legs. There were many choices of entertainment including movies, music, comedy, and, my favorite, watching live progress of our flight on a digital map.

Being international travel rookies, we made a couple significant mistakes. We didn’t purchase our visas until we were at LAX, which maybe wasn’t a problem, unless it had been. I don’t know what we would have done if they had said, “Uh, you were supposed to get these weeks ago.” When we arrived in Brisbane, it was immediately apparent we had no phones. We didn’t know about purchasing an international travel option from Verizon. Luckily, our son and his fiancé arrived pretty quickly.

The family we stayed with provided a car for us to use. Driving on the left side of the road from the right side of the car was tough at first, but we managed. However, I soon discovered my “I know where I’m going” attitude didn’t stretch from the US to Australia. We left the rehearsal dinner and were quickly lost, but just happened to see a couple from the party on the road. We followed them to their house and they told us how to get to our home.

Our host took us to a local country club to see the resident wallabies that were everywhere. They were lying in the grass just feet away from our golf cart and couldn’t have cared less we were there.

It would have been great fun to see a koala, but it didn’t happen.

We were only able to stay in Australia for five days due to work schedules. Our trip was amazing, just not long enough. Someday it would be fantastic to return.