Making an Iced Coffee / Latte

Posted in Food at 9:01 pm by Acorns

I’ve never been a fan of straight coffee (it tastes kind of stale to me) but I love coffee as a flavoring. About a year ago I started getting McDonald’s Iced Coffees. Easy to get and very good. But not healthy and not easy on my pocket book. A little research on the internet turns up a few hundred DIY Iced Coffee recipes. Here is what I settled on as working the best.

Start with cold brewed coffee. Cold brewed coffee is coffee made without heat; it turns out you can get the flavor of coffee into water without heat, it just takes a long time. The advantage of doing it this way is the flavor is less acidic – the part that always tasted stale to me. It is easy to make too.

You need:

1. Coffee (Ground; fresh course ground is best, but anything will work. The quality of the coffee is important, but much less so than heat brewed coffee)
2. A container of any sort with a cover
3. Another container that can hold as much or more as the covered one. This is just for sieving.
4. A sieve, the finer the better (To some degree…)
5. Some coffee filters

Fill the container with water. Filtered or bottled will taste better. Add between 1/4th and 1/8th as much coffee grounds as you add water. 1/8th works fine, but needs to soak longer. Cover the container and let it sit out, at room temperature. If you use 1/4th, you can do as little as 6 hours but I recommend 12. 16 hours for 1/8th. Some recipes recommend using the fridge, but then it takes even longer (24+ hours).

After it is done soaking, just filter the grounds out. I poor it through the sieve into the second container, then empty the sieve and the first container of grounds. This takes care of most of the loose coffee grounds so they don’t clog up your coffee filters as bad. Now add the filter to the sieve and pour through slowly again. If the filter clogs up, you can squeeze it to get the remaining coffee out and then switch to a new one. When you are done, the refrigerate the coffee in the covered container. It can be stored for around a week at most before it starts getting weird flavors.

You can drink the coffee right like it is, and it is good (but VERY strong). Dilute it with water 1/1 for a better flavor. Heat it up for an amazing, not-stale tasting coffee. Supposedly the caffeine content will be about the same as a normal cup.

For Iced Coffee, use 3/5ths water to 2/5ths coffee, poured over ice. Add some sweetener for something similar to what you get at StarBucks.

My favorite is an Iced Latte. For this you need:

1. Cold Brewed Coffee (I find a flavored coffee works best; Cinnamon Hazelnut is amazing)
2. Milk. Even fat free works fine, but the more fat the better the taste, obviously 😛
3. Sugar or a sweetener
4. Vanilla Extract (Real has the best flavor, as always)

Fill a cup or container 2/3rds full of milk. Add sugar; I use two heaping spoonfuls for a 1.5 cup glass. You might have to experiment to find your preferred sweetness. Add  several drops of vanilla extract; not too much or the drink will taste sharp. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Fill the remainder of the cup with the cold brewed coffee, and stir a little. Add an ice cube or two to chill the drink (it tastes better cold!). If you want to, you can freeze the cold brewed coffee and use half water, half frozen coffee. This way when the cubes melt you can drink the result. I don’t usually bother because I drink it really quick.

Enjoy an amazing Iced Latte at a fraction of the cost (both $$$ and health) of a McD, BK or StarBucks Iced Latte!


So I bought some legos…

Posted in Legos at 10:56 pm by Acorns

Legos are one of the toys I always loved playing with as a kid. They were usually the most exciting thing under the christmas tree and one of the most played with toys in my closet. They are also very expensive. One of the biggest advantages of growing up and getting a job is being able to afford things though, and a few weeks ago I realized that I could now afford legos. Lots of legos. After two weeks of shopping on eBay, I now have about 65lbs of them. Ebay is nice because you can get bulk lots, instead of sets. Sets tend to cost about $20 a pound, where you can get bulk for $5-7 per pound. Since I wanted bulk lots with lots of castle pieces (which are highly desirable) I ended up paying an average of $6.10 for mine.

The first thing I did upon receiving my legos was to rebuild some of the more complete sets that were in the pieces. The spider, offroad vehicle and submarine seen in the pictures are three of these.  Of course, the main thing I wanted the bricks for was to build my own creations (MOCs), and first off is a castle! I’ve never built anything large with legos before, so I’m learning a lot about what designs work well and what don’t as I build. I started with only the most basic idea for the castle; my next one will be designed rather than just thrown together, but I wanted to start simple.

1 – The start of my castle’s rocky base. On the left. I was already planning for a den/cave of some sort.
2 and 3 – building the dragon’s lair. I ended up replacing two of the cliff blocks inside with “mossy” versions, as I ran out of cliff blocks to use on the outside.
4, 5 and 6 – a rough outline of the cliff’s base. The individual cliff blocks will be moved as I actually build it in. It takes a TON of gray blocks to even just fill in between the cliffs. I’m amazed at the size of the collections of the people who build without cliff blocks. The inside cliff blocks are just supports, so I used blocks of odd colors and ones with stickers on them there.

1 and 2 – The dungeon of the castle. Used a ton of black bricks, as I didn’t want to be able to see the cliff blocks around it when it was done.
3 to 6 – Finishing building the outer cliff, and using black plates to cover the top. I chose black just because it was the only color where I even began to have enough plates. Even with 65lbs of blocks, I continually run short on certain things.

1 to 4 – Building the pathway up. There will be a drawbridge connecting the two cliffs at the top. I’m nearly out of dark gray bricks now, so the other side of the pathway will be filled in with whatever leftovers I can find. My camera really doesn’t like it when I take pictures with the lamp shining on the legos.

At this point, my castle weighs 10.8 lbs and has roughly 3000 pieces in it; 5 times as many as my largest official lego castle. And almost all of them are dark grey. Fun!

My cat doesn’t like legos. When you dump them out, it makes terrifying sounds. Here, he shows his mastery of the dreaded legos, while also showing his love of boxes.

Legos – sorted. This took about two days. Some of my legos arrived pre-sorted, but most were all mixed together. I sorted by type and color. If you have ever done inventory, this is a lot like that; only everything is all mixed together to start with.

I’ll update again when the castle is done or near done!