A Homemade Vanilla Latte

Some people drink several pots of coffee a day, and while I don’t really consume THAT much coffee, it’s at least 2 medium lattes a day. One on the way in to work at 6:30am (I can’t even get started cooking without it), and usually one in the evening before or around dinner. I’m lucky to have a simple espresso machine at home, nothing fancy – just an old steam driven Mr. Coffee.

Recently, while playing around with a couple of different simple syrups I decided I needed to keep one of the most basic syrups on hand for my at home lattes – the vanilla syrup. It’s simple and adds just enough vanilla sweetness to my evening coffee. This is a small recipe that will give you enough for at least 10 coffees.

Vanilla Syrup

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
2 vanilla beans, split & scrape out seeds

Put sugar, water, vanilla bean pods & seeds into a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out bean pods and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

I use about a tablespoon per latte. Sometimes two. If the syrup begins to crystallize simply return it to the stove and bring it back to a boil.

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Hurricane Cocktails & Supply Kit

For those of you on the east coast who have weathered Hurricane Irene this past weekend (and those still feeling its effects), by now you’re well acquainted with the things you need for an emergency. Unfortunately, hurricane season has just begun. Fortunately, now is a great time to stock your garage and liquor cabinet with hurricane supplies. Here’s what I’ve got in mine:

Water. NOAA suggests at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days. You’ll need it for drinking, washing up, and cleaning clothes & dishes if your fresh water supply is cut off for an extended period of time.

Cooking Tools & Fuel. We’ve got our small single burner camping stove that sits atop a small propane tank for boiling water and cooking up small meals. Keep the non-perishable foods and snacks handy, as well as disposable plates & utensils for easy clean-up during the storm.

Flashlights/Lanterns & Batteries. Although our power didn’t go out this time around, it’s generally always helpful to have these around. The sooner you buy them the better, because D batteries are always the first to sell out!

Games, Books & Distractions. We played a pretty time consuming game of Scrabble, which I lost 226-266. Nevertheless, it was a good time especially while sipping on Hurricane Cocktails!

Hurricane Cocktails: Makes One

3 oz (2 shots) Dark Rum
3 oz Passion Fruit Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
Juice of Half a Lime (strain into drink to avoid pulp and seeds)
1 Tbsp Simple Syrup
1 Tbsp Grenadine

Mix together & pour over ice! This one would also taste good in slushy form blended up with ice.

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