With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, my mind, like a good Irish girl, goes immediately to whiskey. Honestly, I’m more of a gin gal, but I really love these fun shot glasses nonetheless — and they’d all do fine to toast Erin Go Bragh with a shot of “top shelf” Jameson (though a purist may swear it has to be out of Mullingar pewter to count). — Megan B.
Above: Not so good at sharing? Then the Mine and Yours shot glasses will distribute the hooch between you and your guests “fairly” — $12, from Gama Go.
These Swedish shot glasses by Giarini from huset may be a splurge at $70, but oh, are they pretty. They’d make a great wedding gift, too, just sayin’.
Channel your inner Dillinger with these Mug Shots, $16.95 for a set of 6, at Neatorama. ‘Cause you know all those gangsters drank whiskey.
Or if your tastes tend to the more literary, than combine your drinking with some light reading: Great Thinkers shot glasses, $14.95/4, at Shakespeare’s Den. And what could possibly be more Irish than toasting with a quote from The Emerald Isle’s own W.B. Yeats — “”The problem with some people is that when they’re not drunk they’re sober”. Wiser words have never been written.
In an effort to simplify and be more budget-conscious, I decided not to replace my very loved Gaggia espresso machine when we recently moved back to the States. Instead, I make my morning coffee the Italian way, with a very affordable stovetop espresso maker. And Iâ€™m OK with that. But a girl can still have her thick, luxurious froth, canâ€™t she? With the Capresso Froth Pro, thatâ€™s a resounding “si!” I had been lusting after a Nespresso Aeroccino Plus ever since my friend bought one a few years back. But the Capresso won me over with its lower price (around $50-60) and ease of cleaning (itâ€™s even dishwasher-safe.) Iâ€™ve been using it for about a month now, and I have never enjoyed such rich foam outside a coffeehouse. The unexpected bonus is that it turns a package of Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix into something out of a Swiss aprÃ¨s-ski place. And when iced coffee season rolls around, the Capresso can do cold froth, too. Thank you, Capresso, for putting a little barista-ness back in my morning lattÃ©. — Ginny F.
The winter here in the Northwest can be especially depressing sometimes, which is why I rely on coffee to give me the impetus to get out of bed each morning. Lately, we’ve been lucky enough to be brewing the incredibly delicious coffee grown at Waialua Estate on the beautiful north shore of Oahu; where we were even more fortunate to enjoy a tour and tasting bonanza with the incredibly gracious and knowledgeable Derek Lanter, sales manager and all-around man in charge of day to day operations a few months back.
We arrived right after the main harvest, so at that point they were mostly processing the coffee, a multi-step process that takes some time after the crop is picked. The estate produces two types of coffee: washed process, and natural process. Washed process is the most common method, where the ripe red coffee cherries are pulped in water and then fermented, dried, and processed. There at the estate, they mostly focus on a natural process method, where the coffee cherries ripen to a much darker purple color (called raisin), and are fermented, sun-dried and then processed. This natural process imparts a distinct juicy sweetness to the brew that is unique — and dare I say addicting.
click for more caffeinated goodness from Hawaii!
Of course the obvious choice would be lemonade, which, trust me, I’ve considered. But I’ve got 32 juicy lemons to work through. How did I end up with such a fine cache of citrus? A dear friend and recent Arizona transplant had to strip her tree to avert the impending frost, so a big priority box of fragrant desert sunshine arrived on my doorstep! I’ve been entertaining quite a few options: homemade Limoncello, for one, has been appealing to me; but I’m not patient enough to wait the month-plus it requires. I could whip up a monster batch of Lisa’s rosemary lemon simple syrup and make cocktails and sodas; but I’m really looking for something more substantial, maybe something savory. Readers, what should I make? The best suggestion just may end up featured here as a future real life test kitchen… — Megan B.
Now that Iâ€™ve been working from home more these past few months, I missed picking up an occasional espresso drink on my way into the office. I have a 15+ year old Krups coffee maker that does a decent job making drip coffee, but itâ€™s nothing compared to a really good latte. I used to have a countertop espresso maker, but I gave it to a friend because I hated dealing with dragging it out and cleaning it. This holiday season, my sister brought espresso back into my home life by bequeathing me her Bialetti Musa stovetop espresso maker. I will admit, I was intimidated to use it, but after my first try, Iâ€™m sold! Hereâ€™s how I did it:
1. Fill the lower chamber of the espresso maker with water. Be sure not to cover the brass colored safety release valve.
2. Insert the metal filter basket into the lower boiler chamber.
3. Scoop coffee ground for espresso into the filter basket and lightly push down the grounds with the back of a spoon. (Iâ€™ve read several opinions about tamping the grounds â€“ some say that tamping can clog the filter, other say itâ€™s the only way to go. I decided to shoot for the middle.)
4. Place the rubber gasket on top of the filter basket, then the filter plate on top of the gasket.
5. Tightly crew the upper chamber onto the lower chamber.
6. Place the entire espresso maker onto a burner. Heat to boiling.
7. Once the water begins to boil, and youâ€™ll hear it, let the upper chamber fill with brewed espresso (about a 45 seconds) and take it off the burner.
8. Finally, pour the brewed espresso into a cup and add milk and sugar, if you like.
Enjoy! â€“ Rebecca F.
Photo credit: Rebecca Firlik