Making Espresso Drinks at Home

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After much experimentation in the kitchen, I have finally found a way to make frothy espresso drinks at home. The credit goes mostly to my lovely sister-in-law, Amy, who introduced me to this awesome little milk-frother that has basically changed my life. Confessions of a true coffee addict, right? She let me use hers several times while visiting family at Christmas, and I knew as soon as I got home I would be ordering one for myself. You can get them on IKEA’s website for just $2.49! I paid $6 on Amazon for mine (including shipping), so not bad at all.

I also have a little Krups espresso machine. Just a tiny one that sits on the countertop. It is very simple to use and only costs about $35 on Amazon. It has a milk steamer on the side that I sometimes use as opposed to the IKEA milk-frother, but it takes a little more practice to get the steaming technique down than the IKEA handheld version. If you don’t want to invest in an espresso machine, extra strong coffee works, too, although I wouldn’t suggest using coffee from a Keurig. I’ve tried it once or twice and the only way I can think to describe the taste is “weird”. Probably not what you want. Just your average coffeepot or a French press would do the job, as long as you have good quality coffee grounds to work with.

So how do I make my homemade espresso drinks?

I start by heating 6 ounces of milk (usually organic cow’s or non-GMO almond) in a pot over the stovetop. Sometimes I put non-GMO stevia or organic sugar, if I’m in the mood for a sweet drink. Meanwhile, I pour my water in the top of my espresso machine, put good quality grounds into the portafilter, tamp them down, lock it in, and turn the dial to the espresso option. Once the espresso is finished and the milk is heated to the right temperature, I set my espresso aside and pour the milk from the pot into a glass Pyrex measuring cup. I froth the milk with my nifty handheld device for about 12-15 seconds. I always beat my Pyrex glass against the counter a few times, just to make sure all the big bubbles are burst. Mine has a rubber ringed bottom, so I don’t feel like I’m hurting it or making too much noise. Then I pour my espresso into a coffee mug and pour the milk on top. I have big dreams of one day discovering how to make latte art, but I haven’t figured out how to do that quite yet. When I do, I will be sure to share it with you! I need a barista to teach me. YouTube isn’t working. At least not for me anyway.

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Well, I hope this has given you an idea of a few tools that will help you make delicious lattes at home. I remember thinking before the days of having these nifty little gadgets that if I wanted a latte, I would either have to go to Starbucks and spend five bucks or invest in one of those $2,000 machines that I had neither the money nor the room for in the kitchen. I am glad there are much more economical options for the frugal.

Homemade Whipped Cream

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A few days ago I saw this video on how to make whipped cream at home. I am a big fan of whipped cream, but knowing all the chemicals and artificial junk that are in most store bought brands, I had not had it in a while. I rarely have heavy cream in the fridge, but I just so happened to need it for a dinner recipe and had just enough leftover to give this a try. All you need is a mason jar and 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1 Tbsp of powdered sugar, and a small drop or two of vanilla extract. Put your ingredients in the jar, secure the lid and shake for forty-five seconds.

I shook my little jar and then hesitantly pulled the lid off thinking, “There’s no way that this worked after only forty-five seconds.” But sure enough, I dipped my finger in and gave it a taste and discovered that I was holding a jar of whipped cream in my hand! And it was good! I had just made espresso and heated up some milk, so I frothed up a latte and put a dollop of my delicious whipped cream on top. This beats Starbucks any day, and think of all the time and money you are saving and the artificial ingredients that you are choosing not to pump into your body if you made this your morning routine instead of running through the Starbucks drive-thru?

Why I Changed My Name

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I changed my name. My blog name, that is. What did you think I was talking about? Let me give you a little update on my life over the last two years. Other than my marathon post last month I haven’t blogged since November of 2013. You may have been wondering why I stopped and why all the sudden I am starting again. As many of you know, I started my blog as a way of sharing with family and friends what I was learning about our food industry in the United States and why I had begun to eat organic as much as possible. My first post was in March 2013. In June of that year we moved from South Carolina to Delaware because my husband was hired as a youth pastor.

This brought many changes in our lives. Since I didn’t initially look for a job, I should have had more time to blog, but I spent most of my days being a full-time painter and interior designer in my own home. As first time homeowners, we were always working on our latest big “fixer-upper” project. We still have a few of those, but most of them get smaller as we go. There were many firsts for me to work through, from trying to figure out this ministry wife thing, to trying to drive on ice and snow, to trying to not get run over by crazy fast northern drivers, and just learning how to survive in the freezing temperatures that this Carolina girl had never experienced. My blog just wasn’t a priority anymore.

I was also running a lot more. I actually starting training for races for the first time since high school cross country meets. In January 2014, I started working at a fitness center. It was awesome to have access to treadmills when the roads were icy. With a new job, which I love by the way, there was even less time for blogging.

But I missed writing. I didn’t really realize how much I missed it until after I ran my first marathon. All I could think about was how I needed to record every thought that I could remember from it because I never wanted to forget such an incredible experience. I wrote down my thoughts with the intention of keeping them to refer to before my next marathon. I knew it was highly likely I would forget everything wonderful about it and have the thought every runner has during training, at least a few times: “Why am I doing this to myself…again!?”

But after writing it, I couldn’t keep it to myself. I knew there were too many people out there that could benefit from reading it. I wanted to inspire people. Whether that was to take that first step or to keep pushing through a training plan or to not give up through injury,  I wanted runners everywhere to know that if I could do it, they could too.

But then I didn’t know where to post it. My blog was Coffee and Turquoise: all things natural and organic. A post about running didn’t fit. Or did it? The original idea for my blog was to write about what we put in our stomachs and on our skin, but didn’t taking care of our bodies with the food we eat and the lotions and make-up we choose to wear include taking care of them with our fitness as well? That sparked an idea of expanding my blog, to make it a place where I could write about all the areas that I was learning and growing.

So, as my readers, I hope you don’t mind if I broaden the topics that you will find here at the new runningtoturquoisecafe.com. I chose this name for several reasons. Firstly, coffeeandturquoise.com was already taken by a lovely artist who just so happens to have a brilliant name for her website. Secondly, I wanted to put running in the title. Thirdly, with Turquoise Cafe in the name, I wanted to give it the feel of a lovely little escape away from daily life. A place where you can read and find encouragement, education, and hopefully laugh a little, too.

The picture in my mind is of an exhausted runner finishing his run and stumbling upon a cute little cafe with turquoise-framed windows and a turquoise door. I can see him running through cold rain, and as he opens the door and hears the little gold bell above his head ring, he is greeted with friendly smiles and the delicious aromas of espresso and warm muffins. That is what I want this to be for you. I hope that no matter what kind of day you are having, I can brighten it just a little bit by using my love of writing to lighten your burden. So grab your coffee and pull up a chair. I hope you enjoy your experience at Turquoise Cafe.