brew a cup of coffee

cappuccino and chocolate covered espresso beans

Who does not feel ahhhh……

When they smell a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

I did not grow up in a coffee-drinking home; however, my grandparents daily stirred instant coffee into boiling water. As a child, the coffee smelled bitter and I had no interest in tasting.

Many years later, I learned to appreciate coffee enhanced chocolate brownies (thanks to the Barefoot Contessa), a small cup of espresso with a chocolate croissant (thanks to CIA in Hyde Park, NY), and a Starbucks creation (thanks to My Friend A).

Inspired by my coffee-loving sister-in-law, V, today I ground coffee beans!


Visiting Niece A in St Louis, we strolled through her neighborhood market – Soulard Farmers Market (visit this market if you are in the area!!!). Our first stop was the Soulard Spice Shop, a local business since 1914.  As I walked through the coffee section (buying beans for Brother R) and absorbed the aromas, I knew I had to try brewing the coffee.

The baker in me wants to measure everything!

coffee beans



  • 15 grams Chocolate Fudge coffee beans from Soulard Spice Shop, Soulard Farmers Market, St Louis, MO, freshly ground; medium grind
  • 200 grams of 200 degree F water, not allowed to boil
  • 1/3 cup of 2% milk, heated and frothed
  • 1/8 teaspoon cacao nibs, optional (as they sink to the bottom of the cup, they will flavor the drink)
  • sprinkle of cocoa, optional
  • 3 chocolate covered espresso beans (surely you don’t want these to be optional!)


  1. Moisten paper filter and fit inside top of 2-cup drip coffee pot
  2. Heat water to almost boiling
  3. Add ground coffee to moist filter
  4. Pour 50 grams water over coffee grounds and allow to bloom for one minute
  5. Pour remaining 150 grams of water over grounds and allow to steep for about a minute
  6. ENJOY!
  7. Or…….
  8. Heat 1/3 cup 2% milk and froth with Nespresso Aeroccino machine,  whisk or hand held mixer.
  9. Pour hot milk into freshly brewed coffee
  10. Sprinkle with cacao nibs
  11. Dust with cocoa
  12. Serve with chocolate covered espresso beans on the side

It all seems rather simple, and actually it is.  But, I had a few ‘trial and error’ moments

moisten the filter:

drip coffee

coffee beans

Conical burr coffee grinder

water at 200 degrees fahrenheit

medium grind

coffee grinder

freshly ground coffee beans

ground coffee beans bloom ground coffee one minute

bloom coffee grounds

add remainder of water

drip coffee


(Leave the coffee grounds sitting on the counter for a while; the aroma will drift through your kitchen!)

fresh cup of coffee

cappuccino & cacao nibs


(iPhone 4 photos)


cheese tray

Family – Fun – Food – Fellowship…
and a cheese tray

Going home….
We went home last weekend to celebrate the February 7th birth of Hudson Blake.

As you can see, the cheese selections were extensively nibbled by the family. All selections were delicious!

11:00 position: Barber’s 1883 English Vintage Cheddar ($11.99/lb at Whole Foods)-aged for 20 monthl-slightly brittle almost crunchy texture-pasteurized cow’s milk, starter cultures, salt, rennet {England}.

 ”Barber’s 1883 Vintage Reserve Cheddar, a mature farmhouse cheese from Britian’s longest operating cheddar family. For six generations, since 1833, the Barbers have made this cheddar on their Maryland farm in Ditcheat, Somerset. Barber’s cheddar is made from fresh milk from the family’s herd of grass-fed cows. Traditionally the cheese is made by “cheddaring”, hand-turning the curds to give the cheese exceptional body and character. According to their website, the Barber family and a cheese grading team taste the cheddars throughout the aging process to ensure that “only the very best leaves with the 1833 stamp.”Aged at least 24 months, this cheddar has refined notes of sweetness to balance out its tangy sharpness. Barber is perfect for enjoying with apples on cheese platters, sandwiches (especially grilled cheese ones) and adding to your favorite potato or noodle dishes.”

Spicy Plum Chutney (purchased at Whole Foods) was the prefect blend of sweet and spicey to compliment the cheese selections, especially the  Sartori Balsamic Bellavitano and the English Vintage Cheddar.

4:00 position: soft, creamy; Saint Andre ($12.99/lb at Whole Foods)-Pasteurized cow’s milk, salt, enzymes, bacterial cultures {France}

“Saint-andré is a high (~75%) milk-fat, triple crème cow’s milk French cheese in a powdery white, bloomy skin of mold. Traditionally crafted in Coutances, in the Normandy region of northwestern France, the cheese is also made internationally from both raw and pasteurized milk. It has a soft buttery texture, tangy edible rind, and tastes like an intense version of Brie. Extra heavy cream is added to the cheese during manufacture, and the curing process last approximately 30 days. A wheel of Saint-André is smaller and shaped higher than the familiar flat wheel of Brie. It is sold all around the world.
The cheese is highly perishable and should be consumed within a week of its purchase. The fat content of Saint-andré is so exceptionally high it can make awhite wine taste sour and metallic: a crust of baguette and a light beer or simply a slice of pear are often suggested as better complements”

Sartori Balsamic Bellavitano ($14.99/lb at Whole Foods)-pasturized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, balsamic vinegar {Wisconsin, USA}
“From Sartori Cheese in Wisconsin comes the award-winning Balsamic Bellavitano. Inspired by the flavors of classic hard European cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano and Aged Gouda, the Bellavitano is a wonderfully sweet and buttery cheese accentuated by its balsamic-rubbed rind. Hard enough to grate in place of Parm or Romano, and complex enough to enjoy all on its own, Balsamic Bellavitano is another example of great cheese made right here in America! Enjoy with a pinot noir or a bright chardonnay, on its own or wrapped in prosciutto!”

Humboldt Fog ($26.99/lb at Whole Foods)- pasturized goats milk, rennet, vegetable ash, salt {California, USA}

“Humboldt Fog is a goat milk cheese made by Cypress Grove Chevre, of Arcata, California, in Humboldt County. It is named for the local ocean fog which rolls in from Humboldt Bay.
Humboldt Fog is a mold-ripened cheese with a central line of edible ash much like Morbier. The cheese ripens starting with the bloomy mold exterior, resulting in a core of fresh goat cheese surrounded by a runny shell. As the cheese matures, more of the originally crumbly core is converted to asoft-ripened texture. The bloomy mold and ash rind are edible but fairly tasteless. The cheese is creamy, light, and mildly acidic with a stronger flavor near the rind.”


sour cream pound cake

This recipe for sour cream pound cake has been in my hand written recipe file since the early 1980s. I must confess I didn’t know such cake existed until requested by one who passed through my life for a time.

Sour cream…I’m not a fan.  As a young, country homemaker, I could not imagine a cake made with this ingredient. My pallet has developed extensively over the years.  And, it all began with this cake.

The sweet, cracked, crunchy top of the sour cream pound cake is extraordinary.  It’s delicious!  The pound cake shines with a hint of lemon and a soft texture.

This sour cream pound cake is delicious eaten alone; however, topped with fruit or jam or caramel or ice cream or chocolate sauce or-or-or…. would be delicious.


 gently fold in beaten egg whites:

 sour cream pound cake batter ready for the oven:

Sour Cream Pound Cake
(unknown original source from 1980)


  • 1 cup (two sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Grease and flour a 10″ x 4″ tube pan
  3. Cream butter and 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar until creamy; about 7 minutes
  4. Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing at least 30 seconds between yolk additions
  5. Add extracts and beat until mixture is light and creamy
  6. In a separate mixing bowl, add egg whites; whisk until foamy
  7. Gradually add 1/2 cup granulated sugar to egg whites; whisk to soft, glossy peaks; sit aside
  8. Stir baking soda into sour cream
  9. Add flour and sour cream alternately to butter/sugar mixture, mixing well between each addition
  10. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into cake batter to lighten batter
  11. Fold in remaining egg whites, turning carefully
  12. Bake 1 1/2 hours, or until cake tests done
  13. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely
  14. As cake cools, the top will crack and become crunchy – this is the best part!!!! 
My brother cut and served the sour cream pound cake cake.  His version – the manly version…
(quick, iPhone photo while serving)