A lotta latte for less

I’m addicted to McDonald’s iced coffee. At $2.13 for a large, it’s a bargain compared to Bigbucks and the flavors are good — lately I’ve been into caramel (and I’ve been hoarding dollar bills, dimes, and pennies in the car). It’s not low-fat, but you can get sugar-free vanilla if it makes you feel better — sometimes I do. I love that it’s big enough to make the 36-mile, 1-hour drive from my mother’s to home a lot more enjoyable.

An even better bargain is this recipe I found a couple years ago in Better Homes & Gardens magazine. It makes a whole pitcherful of iced latte, is easy, affordable, and gets rave reviews from friends, and most importantly, from me.

The worst part is you have to be patient and plan ahead — it needs to steep for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Here’s the recipe as presented in BH&G — with my variations in italics.

Cool Coffee Latte

  • 1-3/4 cups (5 ounces) good-quality medium roast coffee beans
  • 5 cups cold water
  • 4-1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk (I use the “enriched” skim we buy)
  • 1/2-cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk (I freeze the remainder from the can in a 1/2-cup portion to use next time)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (I use 1-1/2 to 2 tsp. vanilla)
  1. Place coffee beans in a food processor (I use a coffee grinder) and process 45 seconds or until coffee is coarsely ground and no whole beans remain. (This takes much less time in the coffee grinder.)
  2. Combine coffee and 5 cups cold water in a medium bowl, stirring to combine. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Combine low-fat milk and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; add seeds and bean to milk mixture. (I just use vanilla.) Cook 8 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do not simmer), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Strain coffee mixture through a cheesecloth-lined fine sieve into a bowl. Discard cheesecloth and solids. (I skip the cheesecloth and strain a couple times, using a fine metal strainer first and then a reusable coffee filter I have — actually that I bought just for this purpose.) Pour coffee mixture into a pitcher. Yield is approximately 3 cups coffee extract. (I always seem to get more — 4 cups at least.)
  5. Remove vanilla bean from milk mixture, and discard. Add milk mixture to coffee mixture just before serving. Stir well to combine.

Yield: 8 servings (about 1 cup per serving) (Again, I always end up with more.)

The recipe says this is best if used within 2 days, but I usually have it on hand longer — a week or more — since I’m the only one drinking it. It still tastes great.

I love it so much I bought a pitcher on eBay just for it.

Sure makes opening the fridge a whole lot more exciting on a warm summer day. And it makes everything else a little more exciting, too. Try it — you’ll see!

straining combining 2
ready to go
hello beautiful
work aid

He was my cream, and I was his coffee —
And when you poured us together, it was something.
~ Josephine Baker


In honor of “Tomato Thursday” at A Way to Garden, I’m offering up my favorite thing to do with a batch of tomatoes…never fails to get rave reviews…never fails to surprise people used to only processed salsa.

I don’t measure when I make this. You can mix/match proportions to suit your taste, but be sure you have more tomatoes than anything else. And, the chopping gets old, but I never use a food processor — too mushy. It’s worth the effort to chop by hand.

Crazy Good Fresh Salsa
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped, maybe seed a few if they seem too sloppy
1/2 cup chopped onion (more to taste, can mix & match sweet, red, green)
1/2 of a green pepper, chopped (can also add half of a red pepper and/or yellow pepper too)
1/2 of a large cucumber, peeled, seeded, & chopped
1 or 2 jalapenos, minced (to taste, seeded or not to suit your heat preference)
big handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
small glop of olive oil
fresh ground pepper
sprinkling of coarse salt (I don’t use much)

Combine chopped tomatoes and veggies. Stir in a glop of olive oil. Season with pepper and salt. Stir in chopped cilantro. Let the flavors meld for a while. Chill or serve at room temperature with tortilla chips (my favorite is Snyders low fat or multigrain).

Eat yourself silly — it’s a healthy addiction.

Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love and home grown tomatoes
                          ~ John Denver, ‘Home Grown Tomatoes’
                                          (song and lyrics by Guy Clark)