As most farmgirls, I am generally the first one awake and the thought of rich, dark coffee fuels me through the herd of hungry cats, antsy, barking dogs, and the mental check list for the day. Oh coffee, my love, my sweet, black and aroma-rich, I will take another sip and organize my thoughts.
Little House on the Prairie fueled the homesteader in me, my mother and a menagerie of farming books introduced me to the joy of fresh soil in my hands, but about three years ago Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich sparked another passion. She mentioned in her book the sweet moment when she was standing in her kitchen with her pups on the floor, candles burning, hand cranking a coffee grinder to prepare the percolator, while listening to a hand cranked radio. She says the whole world could stop and they would just go on cranking, listening, sighing and she wasn’t using any outside power to perform those tasks. I do want to use less petroleum, less electricity, less destructive forces. I know that these days there is an environmental cost to everything I do, but some things have less costs than others.
So, I decided to start using non-electric items. I already wear aprons everywhere, how cute would I be holding an egg beater or a whisk while standing at the counter? Wooden spoons and whisks replaced the blender. My arms got stronger. I picked up a sieve, a hand cranked food processor (which really in the time it takes, I could have chopped everything!), and a Dutch oven.
But the first thing I tried to replace was the coffee maker. It is large, takes up the whole counter, and makes the brew have the essence of plastic in it. I tried the percolator. I ground the beans, placed them in the proper compartment, placed it on the stove. In the morning I turned it on. If coffee can be a thousand degrees, then that is what it was. It was weak, freakin’ hot coffee and my family revolted. They don’t like much change. I have to be sneaky about it.
I was discouraged. How can I ever go off grid (yes folks, someday I will) if I don’t have coffee? Well, two things happened: one, the coffee maker broke. Two, I was in bed reading a French cookbook (not recommended before bed, it makes you quite hungry!) and there was a lovely French press on their quaint breakfast table. It’s so easy, why didn’t I think of it? It makes tea, the richest, freshest coffee, and is ready in a pinch for company. Best of all, when I go off grid, all I need is a teapot on the wood stove to make it! Yeah sustainability and coffee!
Since then, as things break, I replace them with the non-electric version (the kind my great-grandma might ask, “What the heck are you thinking?” or be very pleased, I have no idea). I can’t wait to tell you about my “washer” and (hehe) “dryer”, but in the meantime, I need to pour another cup.
Flavored Coffee: place any of the below in the French press (or coffee filter if you must) to make wonderful coffee concoctions.
- Add a 1/8 t of cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and if desired an 1/8 of a teaspoon of nutmeg and ginger
- Grind any nut and place in pot with a little spice
- Add cocoa powder and sugar
- Add a few candy canes
- A teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Mix and match!