Adventures in Iced Coffee (of the home brew variety)

When I first saw Pioneer Woman’s recipe for iced coffee, my thoughts were as follows:

  • Wow!  That looks really good!
  • Wow!  That looks like a lot of work.
  • Wow!  That makes a LOT of coffee!
  • Ooh, I should ask JaNahn to go out for Vietnamese coffee again. 

Then my friend Sara showed up to my house with an odd little container of something.  I felt confused.  She said, “I made that coffee you were telling me about!”  And I got very excited.  It was delicious, and she said it wasn’t too much work.  (Although, Sara is a domestic goddess, so I wasn’t too sure if I should believe her).

Fast forward to me drinking the coffee a few days later, and I had a genius idea – I should bring make it for the lake!  Why didn’t I think of this sooner?!

Pioneer Woman gives really great directions here.  So I will not try to replicate that.  I will, as usual, just share some of the decisions I made that may or may not have contributed to the success or potential failure of my kitchen efforts. We all need to play to our strengths.  Pioneer Woman’s strength is making delicious things, and photographing it step by step along the way and explaining her recipes in a way that makes it seem like you too can whip up amazingness in the kitchen.  My strength?  Living on the edge – walking that fine line between delicious kitchen success and epic kitchen failures.

Tip Number One: Make sure you get ground coffee.  I thought I accidentally had purchased coffee beans, and was not looking forward to the prospect of grinding it all in tiny batches.  My sister suggested just using the beans and assured me it would taste the same.  I did not fall for it, and I bought another pound of coffee next time  I was at the store.  Then I saw that I originally had bought ground coffee.  I should have had more faith in myself.

I was terrified to put the lid on.

Tip Number Two: Make sure your container is actually big enough to meet your needs.  I got out the biggest bowl I had, sure that it would be more than sufficient.  Then I began to get worried.  I took out half of my coffee grounds just in case I needed to make this concoction in more than one container.  As you can see, I decided not to play it safe, and filled this bowl as much as I could.  I was still not able to add all 8 quarts of water, but I had just a tiny bit left in my measuring cup.  I figured it would just be a little stronger coffee.

Tip Number Three: Plan ahead.  For once I did do this – but make sure that you note you need to let your coffee grounds and water hang out and become friends for at least 8 hours.  This is key.  Otherwise you will have slightly flavored water, rather than iced coffee at the end. 

Tip Number Four: Call your mom while you are at the store so that she can help you find the cheesecloth.  I never did find it at Target (although I was in a rush so I didn’t bother to ask anyone).  But when I had to go back to Rainbow for my cake flour on Speed Baking Day, I found it right where my mom said, in the baking aisle, next to the disposable aluminum pans.  The only experience I had with cheesecloth before this day was when I used it to clean my piccolo.

Tip Number Five: Either buy a bigger fine mesh strainer or bring your computer to the kitchen so you can watch netflix while you send the coffee through the layers of mesh and cheesecloth. 

Tip Number Six: Make friends, or make a half-batch.  This makes a lot of iced coffee.  Pioneer Woman promises it stays good for quite a while, 3-4 weeks sealed up tight, but unless you are sharing it like me and my roommate plan to do in the future, consider not making an entire pound of coffee. 

Tip Number Seven:  If you have left over whipped cream from your cupcakes for your grandma’s birthday/friend’s baby shower, you could put it on top of your coffee to make it seem like you are fancier than you really are.  However, if you are just plopping it on top, you will probably want to decorate it with chocolate chips for the sake of the photo.  Then after you have a picture of your finished product, you can go back to drinking it like you normally would: in glass with ice and a splash of caramel creamer, sans whipped topping. 

City Three: Vienna.

Let’s just continue with the sisters walk down memory lane with this photo montage: 

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Please note two things concerning these images:  1)  Rachel has since gotten Lucy (her dog) a set of coordinating pjs, as she clearly felt left out.  2)  We bring these pajamas on every vacation we go on.

**Please also note that while the above pictures are real, the above statements concerning the above pictures are lies.**

Alrighty then, now that we have that cleared up, onto Vienna:

First, I will share some tips, advice, and general knowledge I learned from watching a Rick Steve’s DVD that I checked out from the library:

  1. Europeans love children, and they are a great social ice breaker.  (we will probably find some children to bring along with us.  My cousin’s cute kiddos have already been volunteered, but we will consider some back-up options just in case they have a previously scheduled playdate conflicting with our trip).
  2. We can ride bikes and take pictures simultaneously.  This is how the pros do it.
  3. The Habsburgs ruled Vienna until WWII, but we should not feel pressure to pay homage to all of their body parts, which are kept in various city locations.
  4. Sachertorte is, according to Rick, a tasty chocolate cake that defies description.  It is enough to make a chocoholic tourist burst into song.  We will have our cameras ready if anyone around us begins singing opera like on the dvd.
  5. Schoennbrunn Palace: looks amazing.  I am considering moving in.  It is the only palace in Europe to rival Versailles.
  6. Ringstrasse encircles most of the important Vienna sites.  The tram circles the whole thing, and so should we.
  7. If we are lucky, children dressed in period clothing pieces will come and sing us a greeting to make us feel welcome.
  8. Old ladies will pump water for you if you ride your bike along the Danube to become “intimately acquainted with nearby villages.”

Those are the highlights of my DVD notes.  Here is what I gleaned from the tour books:

  • I will probably feel like I’m back in Buenos Aires, as one local complains of the dog poo all over the sidewalk.
  • Frommer’s asks me: “Would you like to wind back the clock to Imperial times at the Hofburg, visit Mozart’s house, cruise the Blue Danube, or admire Lipizzaner horses strutting to Waltz music?  Or catch a tram along epic Viennesse boulevards and visit the Prater ferris wheel of Vienna’s cult movie, The Third Man?  Hoping to sample some of Viennese legendary coffee houses?”  Why yes, Mr. Frommer, I really am.  How did you know?
  • Remember this picture: The Vienna Boys Choir!  We would love to see them, even just for their costumes alone, but alas, they are on holiday while we are on holiday.  **sad sigh here**
  • The State Opera house looks amazing and will be a must-see on our tour.

After all the Salzburg excitement of sounds of music, salt mine slides, and luging on hillsides, I think that I will be glad that a favorite Viennese past time is sitting at a cafe and sipping coffee.  Can’t wait!