Isaiah 1:18

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

On a mission... find the best specialty coffee. You know how I like my coffee. I love my coffee. I drink several cups every day. Just regular coffee that I add cream and sweetener to. But today, I am looking at gourmet coffees. I am going to visit one of the local coffee shops and try one of their specials and see how I like them. Guess what, you are going with me! Let's go! My car will hold 5 comfortably so lets take a headcount first. More than that and we are taking the pickup truck. But ladies in the back, when we hit city limits, just lay down nice and quiet and no one will be the wiser. C'mon....
When I first decided to do this post, it was going to be a comparative post. We were going to visit several locations in the area and determine which one we liked the best. The more I hunted and searched and looked, the more I realized that would not work. There is a grave difference between the coffee shop that we are going to and a gas station that has a coffee shop inside its building. The ambiance of a place can make it or break it. Today, we are going to my favorite. It's called Cafe Ameno.
Ahh, see, we are already here. You can have your choice of coffee or tea. You can have a pastry or a snack or you can have a full meal. Today we are just going to test the coffee but I do have to tell you that I came with a friend of mine not too long ago and this is what we ate: Bruschetta ( I LOVE Bruschetta - and theirs is wonderfully fresh and the tomatoes still have that little crispy tenderness of just cut tomatoes so that I knew my food was freshly made. We each had a bowl of broccoli and cheese soup as well. Yes, it does rival the soup at any of the large chain restaurants that everyone hurries to on weekend nights. I do have to tell you that I really wanted to slurp that soup and if I wasn't afraid to be seen, I might have even licked the bowl. They have recently started making Belgian Waffles on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Yep, working on the hubby to bring me here for that. Enough about the food; suffice it to say that I liked it, I will be back and I will certainly spread the word.
Ok, back to the coffee. Everytime I go into a specialty store, I end up getting the same thing over and over because I just like it so much. This place is no different. They do make a mean cup of hot chocolate. I personally love their Cafe au Lait. To be such a simple drink and not even be sweet, it is decadent in the sense that it just simply tastes good. I am an espresso drinker and love that strong bitter aftertaste that comes with it. The steamed milk just really makes it undeniable great. I am making myself hold back here. There are just so many choices to go through. Wonder if they will start a coffee drink of the month club? Hmmm...I'd be a member in a heartbeat. My friend had a Raspberry Mocha. That is espresso, raspberry syrup and whipped cream. The menu doesn't list chocolate as an ingredient but I strongly expect it is or it wouldn't be called a "Mocha." At any rate, she liked it. My mother in law and I plan to go soon as well. She and I both love salmon and they have a smoked salmon salad on their menu that puts weight on me by just reading about it. I think that I want to try the Spring Berry Salad. Anything put on top of a bed of organic baby leaf spinach cannot possibly be bad. Now I am getting hungry as well. May have to plan that luncheon soon.
Well, Cafe Ameno is not just about the coffee and the food. The service has been wonderful every time I have been there. I have yet to be disappointed. I also like the atmosphere. It is so calming and they have music going all the time. I love the way they have decorated; it gives you a feeling of richness. I am not sure that adequately describes it but that is how I feel. As a stay at home mom that has been very involved in her son's schooling, church and activities that come with that and the hectic pace that we, as a family, have set for ourselves, I also have to admit that I feel pretty free when I am there - it's my treat, my pampering. If you see me there, just wave and send over another cup of coffee.

This location looks small from the outside but once you enter the doors, you can see that it does seat several at tables and the little cozy couch in the corner. They have so much to offer. They have a website that you can make special orders from as well. They have some of the cutest tea boxes, several loose tea samples, and, of course, coffee. My husband got a gift card for one of my Christmas gifts. Yes, it will be on my birthday list too. This establishment also offers live music from time to time. I think that is an excellent idea and will help them keep their customers happy and bring new ones in as well.
I can go to a larger city and have more options as far as coffee houses go. I prefer to stay close to home, spend my money here and support the growth of my community. Most of all, I want to go into a place and it feel like home to me. Sort of my "Cheers" for coffee lovers. I guess I just dated myself. You can't get too old for coffee; don't let anybody tell you that you can.
I hope you have enjoyed your coffee break with me today? I would love to hear what you would order off of the menu and why. Give me a compelling reason to try your favorite so that I can make a comment or two about it. Waiting to hear from you. Until then, visit Cafe Ameno's site and sit back and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Full Belly...

It is winter, it is cold and it has even snowed here. On top of that, I am hungry. Hungry for a good hot and healthy breakfast. One that will stick to my ribs. Something that I can feed my family and know that they are leaving for the day with a full belly.
What's your favorite hot breakfast cereal? I have several. I am from the south so one of them is grits but that's not what I am fixing today. I fixed oatmeal. The slow cooking kind. Actually I put it in my crockpot so that it was ready when we got up. If you like real oatmeal, not the instant or quick kind, I would suggest you try this. So easy. This recipe calls for oat groats, the groats are the oat with just the hard outer shell removed. They are much less processed than the oats we normally use for oatmeal and have the nutritional value still intact.

So, all you need:


heat safe dish that fits securely into the bottom of your crockpot
oat groats

You will use the measurements of 1:4. My dish will hold 1 cup of groats and I add 4 cups of water. Set this dish into the crockpot and pour water around the outside of your dish up to the level of the water inside your oat groats dish. You will cook on low for 7 hours. Since this is a waterbath method, be very careful when lifting your dish out. It will be very hot and the water bath will be steaming.

You can then add in any type sweetener that you like. We use honey, brown sugar, turbinado or sucanant. My favorite is the turbinado because it has a milder flavor than the sucanant but still has alot of the nutritional value still. You may add butter if you like. My husband likes to add raisins. I like pecans and a cinnamon blend. At this point, the only thing holding you back is your imagination. These are really creamy but yet really chewy. Just right for my taste. Any leftovers will need to be refrigerated for another day. You can warm them up in the microwave without any problem. Unless your family has a really hearty appetite, you will have leftovers.

Well, now I am really hungry, so I think that I am going to go eat my oat groats. Remember that you can find these at most health food stores and some country markets. You can buy them in bulk and use them a number of ways. As a matter of fact, I grind them in my Whisper Mill grinder and put in breads, pancakes and baked goods. But that's another post...I have to go now, this bowl is calling my name. Can you see the raisins and almonds? Wish you were here to smell it, yummy! Do you use oat groats? Comment below and let me know how you incorporate this very healthy grain into your diet.
Until later, Blessings