Tips for Making a Great Cup of Coffee

January 28th, 2012 by Clifford

sb10063626az-001Coffee is that instant pick-me-up that people use to balance their busy online college and work lives. Many people assume that a good cup of coffee simply involves tossing some coffee grounds into a filter and brewing them with a coffee maker. However, when you want an outstanding cup of coffee, a little more effort needs to go into making your brew.

Starting with the Beans

A good cup of coffee starts with the beans. If you want a fresher tasting cup of coffee, you should consider getting a coffee grinder and grinding your beans before you brew each pot or cup of coffee. Pre-ground coffee beans go stale faster than if you grind the beans fresh. Whether you grind your coffee beans yourself or purchase pre-ground beans, store your coffee in the freezer or the refrigerator. The cooler temperature will keep your coffee fresher for longer, which means you get a better tasting cup of coffee each time you brew a pot.

When you want to make a good cup of coffee, you need to measure your coffee grounds correctly. For stronger coffee, you need more coffee grounds. Typically, for optimum taste, you should measure around 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds per cup of coffee. If you want a stronger taste, use more grounds, for a lighter taste, use less than 2 tablespoons of grounds per cup.

Brewing Options

The kind of coffee brewer you use will depend entirely on your preferences. Some people prefer single cup brewers, while others prefer coffee pots that yield four to six cups of coffee per brew. However, you must remember that the longer you leave coffee on the burner, the more it will burn and change tastes. For a good cup of coffee, immediately pour yourself a cup as soon as it is done brewing.

Another option for making a superior cup of coffee is to use a French press. With a French press, you must use coarsely ground coffee. You put the coffee into the French press along with the water. The coffee slowly plunges down through the water. This method allows the water and coffee to properly combine. Many people believe that this is the best way to make a cup of coffee. However, with a French press, it can take practice to find the perfect taste for you.

Many people prefer to add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar per 8 ounces of coffee. For the richest taste, use heavy cream or liquid half and half. Certain people also put a dollop of whipped cream on top of the coffee and simply mix it in. Using whipped cream gives you a slight hint of sweetness and richness without overwhelming the taste of the coffee.

Getting started and relaxing can both be very difficult when balancing life, work and online schools. So using something as everyday as coffee and making it yours by understanding your personal taste preferences, can quickly and easily make a good cup of coffee an important and fun part of your day.

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Foods to Keep You Warm in Winter

January 21st, 2012 by Clifford

dv030978During the cold winter months, we all long for ways to stay warmer, especially when we are constantly on the run or studying hard for our next online final on the couch. But did you know there are actually a number of foods that can help the body warm itself, naturally, from the inside? The next time you find yourself longing to cuddle up with a blanket and a laptop, try fixing a meal using some of these ingredients to get your body running in a warmer gear.

1. Pepper

This might seem like a no-brainer, but try adding more pepper to your meals. In addition to warming you up, pepper can spice up nearly any bland food.

2. Onions

Few things are more comforting on a cold winter night than a big batch of French onion soup. You can also add fresh raw onions to your sandwiches for extra bite and heat.

3. Garlic

Garlic is a great go-to herb. It not only heats your body, but it also has antibacterial properties to help you stay healthy.

4. Ginger

The zing of ginger is a great warming flavor. Try adding it to some of your favorite baked goods, or fix yourself a tasty — and healthy — stir-fry.

5. Fennel

Fennel is soothing to your stomach and has a unique licorice-like flavor. It is delicious roasted with carrots and potatoes or sliced fresh into salads.

6. Cumin

The flavor of cumin is often associated with Tex-Mex dishes like chili or tacos. For a great dinner to warm you up, fix a huge pot of chili using additional ingredients from this list like onions and garlic.

7. Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds can be added to almost anything. How about that stir-fry? You can also try sesame seeds as tasty tahini paste. Hummus uses tahini paste and is a delicious protein-rich snack on a cold day.

8. Cinnamon

As if hot cocoa wasn’t warming and soothing enough, try adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your next steaming mug for a flavor boost. Another great warming cinnamon trick is to shake cinnamon over your coffee grounds before you brew. This will add a wonderful aroma and flavor to your next pot of coffee.

9. Almonds

Almonds can be eaten raw or added to just about anything. Try adding sliced almonds to your salad or cereal. For an extra warming treat, mix them into a bowl of oatmeal. They will add extra flavor and texture to an otherwise boring food.

10. Fruit and veggies

Fresh fruit and vegetables help your body warm up and are good for you any time of year. Make a fresh vegetable salad, with radishes for a little extra heat, or serve sliced fruit. Combine some of the other ingredients listed above for more warming power, like sprinkling fresh apple slices with cinnamon.

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Keeping Warm in January and How To Make Tea

January 14th, 2012 by AmyH

ts-78033207Few things are more soothing after a long day of classes than a cup of hot tea. Whether I’m curled up on the couch relaxing with a mindless magazine, or I’m working my way through my online school homework for the night, a cup of tea can help calm me down and ease the stress of my busy day.

Some people have told me that they don’t much care for tea, saying that it’s bitter or not flavorful enough. My answer to them? You’re doing it wrong! Although it might seem like there isn’t much more to making tea than dunking a bag of leaves in a cup of hot water, the truth is that knowing the proper way to make tea will enhance your tea-drinking experience and help you get all the health and stress-relieving benefits available.

1: Choosing the Perfect Tea

Do you prefer an aromatic green tea? A strong and flavorful black tea? Delicate herbal teas? Whichever tea you prefer, purchase your leaves from a reputable brand and retailer. You don’t want old, musty leaves that have spent too long in a box on a shelf. You want your tea to be fresh to get the best flavor. While tea bags are fine, loose leaf tea tends to be fresher and more flavorful. Look for tea that is finely ground, for the best aroma and flavor.

2: Prepping the Water

If you live in an area with chlorinated tap water, use filtered water to avoid tasting the chemicals. Boil the water in a kettle. Both electric kettles and kettles on the stove will work well. Don’t microwave your water because it heats unevenly, which means your tea won’t steep properly. If you are making herbal tea, you want your water to be just slightly below boiling, otherwise you will cook the herbs and flowers, and they won’t infuse well.

3: Making the Tea

If you are making an individual cup of tea, measure out an appropriate amount of leaves, about 1 teaspoon per 6 ounces of water. If you are brewing tea in a pot, add 1 teaspoonful of leaves per cup to the pot, plus an additional teaspoon. Now pour your boiling water over the leaves. Allow your tea to steep for about three to five minutes for the best taste. If you brew for too short a time, your tea will be weak and watery. If you brew for too long, it becomes bitter. Remove your tea bag or strain out your leaves, and enjoy the best tea you’ve ever tasted.

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