Brown Sugar and Vanilla Coffee

Considering what I have to share this morning, I think I need to do a quick overview of what my food philosophy is.

I went to the library yesterday looking for a cookbook filled with delicious foods I might want to make. The library was half an hour to closing, so suddenly the pressure was on to find something good because they were getting close to chasing people out. Next one I picked up, I decided I would take. I ended up with this one. When I got home and flipped through the recipes, I only found one or two that I had a remote interest in making, and the ones that did look interesting, I wanted to modify quite a bit. The biggest problem? Most of these recipes are significantly outside of the budget M and I have set out for food. Most of the appetizers were made with seafood. There were a few chicken recipes that I might try. But even the pork recipes weren’t regular pork. Pork tenderloin is not particularly cheap! And steak? Not on the menu, except for special occasions. The book is filled with ingredients like grapeseed oil, sea salt, and vanilla beans. I wouldn’t even begin to know where to find some of this stuff in the grocery store! This book is meant for a foodie.

And I am not a foodie. Perhaps this is because I grew up directly in the food industry and developed opinions that go directly against those of foodie culture. I’m not particularly insistent on using natural foods, though I still look for the blue cow on my ice cream and would for my cheese if it weren’t already so expensive. I won’t buy anything but Ontario apples, and if the strawberries aren’t Canadian, I won’t buy them. But all that has nothing to do with carbon footprints: I’m just trying to support the industry that raised me and got me through university.

You may have noticed a trend. Let’s put it this way: M and I are normal people with only a single income at the moment (my job hardly counts: I still have yet to hear about when I’m supposed to be working next) and a well-taught ability to stick to a budget. When we go to the grocery store, we may spend 5 minutes deliberating over three different brands of bagels, comparing the cost to the quality and trying to find the best balance between them. More often than not, our decisions land on the side of cost: we’re willing to take a hit in food quality as long as it’s cheap.

M is more this way than I am. A lot of the blogging I’ve been doing about food lately has probably come out of a response to his ambivalence about taste. Instead of having chicken strips and perogies every night because they’re cheap and easy, I’ve been going back to the beginning, the unprocessed foods, keeping the pantry stocked and some frozen veggies in the freezer for back-up.

I guess all that comes down to this: I want cheap, but I want tasty too. I don’t want spaghetti every night: I want to be able to learn to make new things and develop a better understanding about how our food choices fit into our budget. If that means using margarine instead of butter or No Name cheese instead of Black Diamond, I’m completely OK with that.

Now, to the bit of deliciousness that I have to share this morning: Brown Sugar and Vanilla Coffee. Coffee connoisseurs may turn up their nose when they see this recipe. Usually, I have real coffee. We even have a really good coffee maker we got as a wedding present. But this morning, I was out of ground coffee and, believe it or not, I actually don’t mind the instant stuff. We usually have a bottle for back-up when we do run out of the ground stuff. So, I found this recipe!

If you like bitter coffee and very little sugar, this is not a coffee for you. If you’re like me, however, try this one out!

Brown Sugar and Vanilla Coffee

2 tbs instant coffee
1 tbs vanilla extract
2 tbs brown sugar
1 and 1/2 cups boiling water

Split the coffee and vanilla extract between two mugs. Dissolve the sugar into the water and allow to boil. Add the water to the mugs. Mix. Enjoy.

I thought I was going to have to add milk because it looked really black. But I don’t know whether it was the brown sugar or the vanilla extract, but one of those two ingredients cut the bitterness completely.


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