A hot drink on a cold, rainy day

Today is rainy, dreary, and cold here in southeastern New England, and I’m feeling pretty lazy, darn it. Before I head out to the garden to freeze – and to dig up the leeks for tonight’s potato leek soup – I thought I’d share an old story about a warm beverage.

I drink espresso. I really like espresso, but I really don’t like mornings, so oftentimes, I have to buy a coffee on the way into work because I am unable to get up in time to make espresso and froth milk before it’s time to leave. And if you work with me, you know I’m frequently late, so you’re probably thinking, “what exactly are you doing in the morning?” I don’t know either. But I am not making espresso at home.

One day, I saw a miraculous creation in one of the many food-related catalogs I receive – a stove-top cappuccino maker. It looked glorious. I asked my family for it for Christmas. Then, when I didn’t receive it, I asked for it again, at my birthday, which is in September. Then, when I didn’t receive it for my birthday, I asked for it again, for Christmas. Third time’s a charm, as they say, and my dad pulled through for me. Imagine my glee on Christmas morning (ok, it was like a week after Christmas because my dad is also always late. Ahhh, genetics.) when I tore back the gift wrap to reveal my shiny new stainless steel money-saving gourmet coffee-making toy. Such joy for a 36-year old.

The cappuccino maker came with an instructional dvd, which I promptly tossed into some pile of magazines with nary a thought. About a week later, I got up early, especially to make the coffee. I read the instructions (they also provided some on paper), and found, to my chagrin, that I had to brew three pots of coffee before I could brew the one I would drink. It was 6:30, I was already dressed; I figured 3 pots of coffee would take about a half hour, and I’d still be leaving for work by 7:15.

I brewed the first pot. When the coffee was ready, it made a very satisfying gurgling noise announcing that it was ready to drink. Or not, in this case. I poured the coffee out, and then tried to unscrew the top, where the coffee and milk combine to make cappuccino, from the bottom, where the water is stored. Funny, but I couldn’t for the life of me unscrew the top. I began pushing the top of the coffee maker against a door jamb while trying to move the bottom in the opposite direction, repeating, silently at first, and then much more loudly as time wore on, “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”. This went on for about five minutes, and still the top would not budge. Then, when I had given up hope, the coffee maker made a hissing noise, and suddenly I could unscrew the top from the bottom. Fantastic.

I made the second pot. The coffee maker made the same lovely noise of done-ness, and I poured the cappuccino out. Without incident, I was unable to unscrew the top from the bottom. I made the third pot of coffee, but this time, the unscrewing was more impossible than the first time. I worked to disconnect the top from the bottom for about 20 minutes. Oh, so frustrating. Suddenly, there was the hissing noise again, and I was able to unscrew the pot and make the actual pot of coffee that I would take on the road with me.

I was in the living room, which is open to the kitchen, putting wood in the wood stove when the immensely satisfying “done” noise emanated from the kitchen. I looked up, firewood in hand, and saw a high-pressure stream of espresso shooting up and creating a fountain-like effect on the white kitchen ceiling. I dropped the wood and ran to the kitchen, slamming the lid of the coffee maker shut, and then looked at the words on the valve in the center of the lid: press down. After I washed the ceiling clean and dumped what was left of the coffee down the drain, I saw the words on the bottom of the pot: to lock. Holy smokes – no wonder this pig came with an instructional dvd!

I called JR on my way to work and said, “Do you happen to know the color we used to paint the kitchen ceiling?” He said, “no, why?” I finished explaining why to him as I pulled into the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru, already late for work.

Dinner tonight: potato leek soup with creme fraiche, bacon, and baked potato “chips”, garden salad, and oatmeal bread. I made more oatmeal bread today. That shiznit is good. Oh, right, back to the point of this – estimated cost for two: $7.24. The butter is around 20 cents, the leeks are from the garden, and I am calling them “free”, the potatoes are from the neighbors farm stand and cost $1.50, the broth is $3.19, creme fraiche and bacon are $1.10, and the garden lettuce is 30 cents (but you knew that already!).

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