Cultivate Good Taste No.1 – Coffee

Coffee. Many of us know this beloved bean by a different name…”breakfast.” We may drink it daily. Heck, we may even drink it hourly. We like it hot, iced, creamy, sweet, black, with foamy milk, with flavored syrups, in ice cream, milk shakes, and even in marinades. A person’s day often revolves around it, and personalities are often affected by it (or at least by a lack of it). The size and importance of towns can be measured by how many coffee shops are located within the city limits. My hometown increased in stature (in my eyes, anyway) with the arrival of its very first coffee bar, and in the city where I live now , you can’t throw a rock without hitting a java-slinging establishment of some kind.

Coffee’s ubiquitous place in our society, though, does not excuse the drinking of cheap crap.

“Good coffee is expensive!” you might say. “If I want organic, fair-trade, fresh roasted coffee, I’ll go to a coffee shop. But I’ll keep my [insert cheap-ass pre-ground in a plastic tub coffee] at home.”

Bull. That stuff is for unsuspecting college freshmen and other adults with the discriminating palate of a Labrador and no sense of global responsibility. Part of being a grown-up is accepting responsibility. Do you know where your coffee comes from? Are the farmers paid a living wage? What are their working conditions? Is the land farmed in a sustainable way, or is it pumped full of chemicals and raped of nutrients? Is the coffee you drink every morning soaked through with pesticides? If you buy coffee (or any product for that matter) that is a result of these types of processes, you are tacitly approving this type of agriculture.

On a lighter note, another part of being a grown-up is cultivating good taste. Your body matures, your mind matures, why shouldn’t your palate mature? Expose yourself to new tastes, and learn to savor them. You’ll probably be amazed by how good a cup of coffee made from freshly roasted and ground beans can taste. I actually still order coffee from a roaster in Boone, NC, where I went to college, because it is honestly the best coffee I’ve ever had. When it arrives in the mail (smelling heavenly, I might add), I know it was roasted just a couple of days ago, probably the same day it shipped. This coffee costs me $10 a pound. That might sound like a lot of money to pay for coffee, but figure out how much it costs per cup. Depending on how you make your brew, a pound of coffee yields 30-40 cups . At $10 per pound, that’s only about 28 cents per cup. You’ll probably spend at least, if not more than, ten times that amount on a similar cup of coffee from the hands of a barista.

So try branching out your tastes a little bit. Nothing says “sophisticated adult” like a steaming hot cup of precision-roasted, freshly-ground coffee. Save a cup for me! (Cream, no sugar.)

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Breakfast on-the-go, No.1

You’ve gotta eat something… it might as well be good! Living on a budget, you quickly learn that it just isn’t feasible to eat out three times a day, but there isn’t always time to cook a full meal, if you can cook at all! While your cooking skills may range anywhere from “master chef” to “barely able to make ice,” everyone needs basic recipes and cooking tips, especially now that you’re out in the real world, and your time is becoming more and more precious.

My rough attempts at food photography — I’m a musician, not a photographer!

Let’s start with breakfast. It really is the most important meal of the day, because it sets the tone for the day. Sure, you can just have a diet Coke and some cookies, or skip it altogether, but are you really functioning at your best after that sort of meal? Personally, cramming in a bunch of sugar just leads to a crash later on, turning yours truly into a raging bitch. I’ve found that the best way to make sure I get a decent breakfast is to prepare something on Sunday that will last me through the week, like a quiche. Then just pop a slice in the toaster oven and go! Here is my recipe, which is easily customized to suite your tastes. Just add what you like! Have it for breakfast each morning, or make it for brunch on a special occasion!

My quiche here has broccoli, spinach, carrots, lentils, and an Italian blend of cheeses. Yum!

My quiche here has broccoli, spinach, carrots, lentils, and an Italian blend of cheeses. Yum!

Crustless Veggie Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup baking mix (like Bisquick, but I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
  • Lots of veggies (broccoli, zucchini, onion, carrot, tomato, sweet potato, etc), chopped to bite-sized pieces
  • Herbs or spices to taste (garlic powder, basil, ground black pepper are good ones.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 9″ pie plate with cooking oil.
2. Pile vegetables into pie plate, until it is about 3/4 full. Top with the cheese.
3. Combine eggs, baking mix, milk, and spices in a blender or food processor. Blend on high for about 15 seconds, or until well-mixed and a little frothy. Gently pour over veggie and cheese mixture.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until just starting to brown on top.
5. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Let cool completely before refrigerating.