During this past chilly week I have discovered a lovely way to make coffee, and it makes me feel like I am sitting in an exotic bedouin tent as opposed to being freezing in a drafty old house mid-winter. Being a coffee fanatic, I drink coffee according to mood. Latte usually in the day as a norm. But I also love those little strong numbers, from gritty thick Turkish coffee served in weeny cups to brutally strong espresso which could put hairs on your chest.
I was at a meeting last week and was served coffee in this way, and it is LOVELY. It smells and tastes heavenly, a bit spiced and moorish. You can have it black or white, and serve it as a strong small coffee or as a base for latte’s and cappucino’s.
The magic ingredient is cardamom.
An aromatic spice indigenous to south India and Sri Lanka, cardamom seeds come from a plant belonging to the ginger family. They are contained in small pods about the size of a cranberry. Cardamom has a wonderful aroma and an enticing warm, spicy-sweet flavour.
You can use either a stove-top coffee maker or a cafetiere.
Use one seed per cup. Using the back of spoon, crush it so it splits.
Add to your normal ground coffee and brew.
Leave to stand for 5 minutes and the flavour and scent is released into the coffee.
Add milk and sugar if desired.
I already have used dried cinnamon in coffee at Christmas before, but this cardamom version scales way higher on the yummy scale. The next trial will be star anise….
Yesterday, my friend Claire and I spent a few hours dabbling in plaster with fabric flowers. The process is really simple and they look like the most delicate bisque porcelain pieces when finished. Claire has taken them off for framing in 3D Box frames, and the picture of the framed end result is at the bottom of the page. They can also be made into tealight holders if you dry them flat and push out a space in the center for the tealight whilst they are still wet, or framed, or just left au naturel. As the Plaster of Paris dries quite fast you only have a small window of time to make the flowers, so work in small batches and make new plaster as and when you need it. In the meantime here is the process: Ingredients: Plaster of Paris Water Fabric Flowers (tighter full blooms like roses and peonies are best) Wire cutters Scissors Plastic container for the plaster of paris which is wide enough for dunking flower heads Greaseproof paper Mixing stick. How to:
Prepare the flowers: Cut off any internal plastic stamens. Pull off leaves from stem, leaving the flower head and stem only.
Prepare the plaster of paris by mixing it in the plastic container and adding water gradually whilst mixing until it reaches the consistency of thick cream.
Take a flower, turn it upside down and submerge in the mixture. Twizzle it about, and pull out to inspect. It might not be totally covered in plaster, but you do another dip in more plaster later when it is dry if this is the case.
When it is fully covered (including the insides of the petals) let drips fall off by gentle shaking it in the container. If you want just the flowerhead cut off the stem, but you can leave a length of stem and also dip that in plaster. Cut off the stem to the length you want with wire cutters and place it face up to dry on the greaseproof paper, or in an empty foil pie dish is also good. You can also peg the flowers out to dry upside down on a line, (we tried this way too for the really full blooms and it keeps their shape tight). We dried some of ours flat on newspaper and it stuck and had to to be peeled off when dry, so greaseproof paper is the way to go if lie them down to dry.
Leave to dry thoroughly. If bits look patchy, make up another mix of plaster and do a second dip.
Here is the framed finished version of the flatter dipped flowers:
I have more recently used the flowers on plaques as pictures show below, here is a link to the post about them: