even when it comes to making a good cup of joe!
This morning, while searching for a chocolate zucchini cake recipe, I came across a list of hints from Heloise that were once copied by my grandmother in her looseleaf binder slash recipe book. Her children and grandchildren each have a copy shop bound 8 1/2 x 11 book of her recipes in her handwriting. My father and brother put it together so that there would be no squabbles among the womenfolk in our family; everyone treasured Gramma’s recipes.
The tip that stood out to me today was this:
Secret of Instant Coffee: Bring water to boil. Then put instant coffee into water. Bring water to boil again. Let coffee sit for a minute or two. Then pour.
Interestingly, that is the same way you make Turkish coffee. My mother in law taught me some sixteen years ago in the same manner. Turkish coffee is a finely ground blend of medium and dark roasts mixed with some ground cardamom for flavor. However, it is not instant; you end up with those fine grounds settling like dregs in the bottom of your demitasse cup. In polite society, you can hold your saucer in one hand, cup in the other with your pinky raised to the heavens. Small sips from small cups, big flavor. If you are a smoker, like a large percentage of the population here in Jordan, it is ritual, a moment to be savored.
An interesting fact about coffee is that it is an Arabic invention. According to1001inventions.com:
The earliest cup of coffee was made in Yemen by a group of Sufis, who boiled the beans and drunk it to help them stay awake all night in prayers and remembrance of God (Allah) as early as 9th century. A group of their students took it to Cairo using it in their study circles at the al-Azhar university. From there the habit of drinking coffee took off in most Middle Eastern countries and by 13th century it reached Turkey.
Europe did not taste coffee until the 16th century first landing at Italy imported by Venetian merchants, who traded with Muslims in North Africa, Egypt and the East. The merchants first introduce the drink as a luxurious beverage destined for Venetian rich, charging them a considerable amount of money. This is how coffee first appeared in 1570 in Venetian ports quickly spreading to Venetian markets.
Now if you go out to a restaurant here and order an American coffee, you better specify that you want it brewed or you might end up with the double the amount of the worst brand of instant which could only be consumed with large amounts of sugar and milk. Don’t be fooled by the beautiful cup in which it is most likely to be served. If you like black coffee, you may as well forget it.
The lack of great brewed coffee at ordinary prices is why gatherings among my mostly American friends here in Jordan would not be complete without American coffee. Personally I prefer instant, in my case it truly is. I have a water cooler with constantly hot water available at all times. I have a coffee pot reserved for the special times that my friends come over. This week, though, my friends caught me off guard with an impromptu surprise birthday party at my house. They were forced to drink instant. Yesterday, I also had some friends over, but still no coffee.
If this keeps up, it looks like I will have to use Heloise’s tip and force them to take the Folger’s challenge. I really need to get to the grocery store more, I can’t leave important decisions like coffee up to supermarket delivery. Well, the cake is ready. You better hurry on over if you want a piece. I’ll make you a cup of coffee to go with it. It’ll be ready in an instant. Really.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup yogurt or sour milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
6 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated or pureed zucchini
Beat eggs. Whisk in sugar. Add oil, yogurt and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to egg mixture. Fold in zucchini, mixing well. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. (I do not take responsibility if you decide to use a Bundt pan.) Bake for 50-60 minutes in 350 degree oven. Let cool 10 minutes. Remove from tube pan. Enjoy!