Now that may be of some help when planning that next RV trip. If March arrives like a roaring lion, then plan a trip toward the end of March when it is supposed to be nice weather. And if March arrives like a lamb, pack up and head out real soon.
Whatever the weather, March is when I always get a hankering to hit the road. Even when I lived in Southern California and the weather was most always good for weekend outings, there was something about March that made me itch to go.
There’s something so invigorating about standing beside a roaring campfire in the morning hours bundled up like a burrito and hugging a mug of hot coffee while smelling the smoke and listening for the world about you to wake up. In my youth, we tent-camped and the pot of coffee was put on the fire, and an eggshell was dropped into the pot—to settle the grounds? Surely not to improve the flavor.
Then later in the day, again beside a cozy wood fire, but curled up on a chaise and reading, it was so relaxing to sip a mug of hot coffee, maybe with a splash of brandy in it.
Then there’s the fun campfire—the one after dinner when everyone gathers around the smoldering coals and shares old stories or sings songs of our youth. Here, again, the pot of coffee is on the fire and poured often.
A great cup of coffee is a revelation. Can 130 million Americans be wrong? Morning, noon and night we sip and slurp our coffee. We like it hot or iced, poured from fine china or a rugged thermos bottle, to the tune of about 400 million cups a day—two-thirds of the world’s supply.
For many, the day can’t possibly begin until we’ve had our first cup of coffee—and so many brews to chose from. There is espresso, cappuccino, caffe latte, espresso macchiato, latte macchiato, espresso ristretto, and caffe americano or caffe lungo.
And then which country the coffee beans come from is important—Colombia with the heavy body, Costa Rica with the medium body, Guatemala and Kenya with full body, Hawaii light body, Indonesia dry, and Tanzania sharp. A great cup of coffee starts on the land. Like wine grapes, coffee beans from different soils and climates have varying characteristics. As with most things in life, the best coffee is the one you like best.
“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.” That’s how Talleyrand, the French diplomat, described the perfect cup of coffee. To make the perfect cup of coffee you must follow certain rules. First, match the grind to the method: percolators use regular grind, automatic electric drip and filter cones take drip, vacuum coffee makers a fine grind and espresso pots a very fine grind. Always use two level tablespoons of coffee to six ounces of freshly drawn cold water. Too much coffee makes a bitter brew, too little a weak one. One thing about camping out, it all tastes just right.
Over one hundred years ago, fleet clipper ships laden with choice Arabic coffee beans regularly sailed into the small port of Gavle, Sweden. There they unloaded precious beans gathered from East African mountainsides and steamy South American forests into the Nordic chill. Horse-drawn carts transported the exotic cargo over cobbled streets to the quarters of Victor Theodor Engwall & Co. Engwall spent years stubbornly roasting and blending and tasting and testing the finest beans, creating the Gevalia brand.
Good coffee came to the West in 1850, when The Pioneer Steam Coffee and Spice Mills set up shop in San Francisco. It had three assets—fresh beans shipped directly from the Pacific coasts of Central and South America, coffee roasted and ground on the premises, and an ambitious teenager named J.A. Folger. He took Pioneer’s coffee directly to the goldfields, made a tidy profit, and went on to own the company.
There are things to do with coffee other than simply drink it. Hear are two:
1 egg white
1 tablespoon of instant coffee
Dash of salt
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons of sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/8 teaspoon of almond extract
1/4 cup of toasted almonds, finely chopped
Combine egg white with coffee and salt; beat until stiff but not dry. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar; beat until stiff and satiny. Beat cream, 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla and almond extract until stiff. Fold with nuts into egg white mixture. Makes 8 2-ounce dishes or 4 parfait glasses.
BESS TRUMAN’S COFFEE DESSERT
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of instant coffee
8 ounces of marshmallows
1 cup of heavy cream
In a medium saucepan bring water just to a boil; off heat stir in the coffee until dissolved. Shake off as much as possible of the marshmallow coating and add marshmallows to coffee. Over low heat stir until marshmallows melt and mixture is smooth. Chill until slightly thickened. In a medium bowl whip cream until stiff; gradually fold in marshmallow mixture until blended. Using one-half cup for each, ladle into sherbet cups and chill to set. Serves 8.
Coffee is one of life’s true pleasures.
HINT OF THE MONTH: Over the years hundreds of studies have been made on the health effects of coffee—from headaches to heart disease. So what’s a java junkie to do? Switch to herbal tea, or live dangerously and continue guzzling with gusto? Nothing is quite as good as a mug of hot black coffee when sitting around a campfire.
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Marian Platt's regional narrative cookbook of Washington’s Sequim Valley, From My Kitchen Window, can be ordered by sending cash, check or money order for $25 (includes tax and handling/mailing costs) to Marian Platt, 434 Chicken Coop Rd., Sequim, WA 98382. Phone (360) 683-4691
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