Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lean and Lush Latte

I want to do a plug for a terrific site called The Lean Times written by Viviana.  Lush Living  Her motto is Lush living made simple.  The Lean Times is one of the first bogs I stumbled across before I ever knew what blogging  was.  The message is simple- living lean does not have to mean living always without a touch of class and splash, and occasional indulgences.  She writes weekly menu plans, ensuring little waste, but has some really delicious recipes made with simple fare. She writes about dressing with style-not trends. She's not at all a fashion or food "snob", but she does highlight how sacrificing all the time makes life pretty dull.  As other  writers have said frugal living, simple living, and priorities are all relative to an individual. I like a good deal, but not at the expense of others-whether that be cheap clothing from questionable sources, or food loaded with unrecognizable ingredients, or from animals kept in squalid conditions. I'd rather have less things of quality, than more of crap, at least in theory, but so hard to sometimes stay true to in practice when trying to stretch a budget. It is about intentionality with our money, and aligning the money with our own values.  But I digress.

What I really wanted to write about is how I think there is nothing more lush than a rich and frothy latte, being sipped from a generous sized mug, with great music on, and a good book in hand. Earlier this week there was a story link going around the internet on how to make a Latte or any other espresso drink at home without the expensive machine and gadgets. I tried to find again, but couldn't find the same one, but there were a dozen others. While  I love a good coffee, I am not a fan of the high coffee house prices for the specialty drinks. On vacation last spring, our hotel had a Nespresso pot in the room, and every day housekeeping filled it with  new pods.  It was so delicious and creamy, and as the only coffee drinker, all mine.  It probably saved me over $100 in coffee house expense over two weeks of mornings. If you haven't seen it, the hot water  pours through the pods and it creates a  creamy coffee drink that  looks and tastes like espresso made with steamed and foamed milk.  I never remember what is a latte,  cappuccino, café au lait, or café Americana.  Whatever it should be called, it was awesome, except for the little pods. I looked on line, only way I could buy them at home, and not only are the pods pricey, but the single use container is wasteful.  I guess they can be recycled at Sur La Table stores, but no multi use alternative.  My hubby bought me a Keurig a couple Christmas's ago, and there are a variety of reusable filter baskets.  I love the Keurig for getting that quick cup, so using it with my own bagged coffee, I set out to make my version.

Here is my Keurig, with the little red basket for holding my own coffee.  I used clearanced $1.48 bag hazelnut. A couple months back I scored 4 at that price at Target.

Next was getting my milk ready.  The article said to use 2%, but I only had skim.  I forgot I did have 1/2 and 1/2 so could have put a little in to give some fat. The directions called for shaking the milk up-I have dandy covered glass tiny bowls for this, until foamy then heat in the microwave. 

I brewed on the 10 ounce setting to get a nice strong cup.

Here is the steamy frothy milk, and the strong rich coffee.  I simply poured the  bowl of milk probably a 2:1 coffee to milk ratio, into the coffee mug.

The finished drink had the nice caramel color, and the foam did stay on top.  If I had used some fattier milk, it would have been foamier and richer. I would say not quite Caribou or Starbucks, or Costa, but pretty darn  lush. 

To estimate cost, I'll use about  $ .10 for coffee, and $ .25 for milk, so $ .35  latte. If using a coffee house premium full price bag of coffee at $8.00 a bag, still under $1.00 compared to $4.00 prepared by a barista.  I think from start to finish, including clean-up was under 5 minutes, so beats the clock compared to waiting in line.  There are many recipe's out there if you want to try some variety.  A women at work squirts Redi-whip on her break room brewed coffee and calls it cappuccino. I'm pretty plain Jane-just milk or cream with regular coffee most days, mostly because I am a multi-cup a day consumer.  But for a change and a little special treatment,  this was a fun little test to see if a home concoction really could compare to coffee houses. While not quite the same in taste, I think my reading nook in my living room has more ambience in which to sit, sip, and indulge my caffeine fix.
What about you?  How do you reframe saving pennies in ways to add richness and lushness to your life?

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