Black Forest Iced Coffee

Black Forest Iced Coffee (86)a

Summer. You officially arrived yesterday, to the ostensible delight of many. I am not among those many. You see, when you come to my hometown all full of humidity and high temperatures and unbearable air like some kind of hotshot, I really don’t appreciate it. You make everyone uncomfortable, and we all just want to get away from you. We retreat indoors, to the pool, to the beach, wherever to avoid or at least alleviate your heat.

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And when all else fails, we drink. You’re hot and you make us thirsty. I know that probably makes you think you should be in a boy band or something, but no. We’re all dehydrated and we need to get hydrated again.

Water water water, it’s healthy and awesome but sometimes we want something more. And sometimes we need a sweet coffee treat that can be easily made indoors, and trust me, the trip to Starbucks is not worth it-for our health or for our wallets.

What we need are some dark sweet cherries, some cocoa, and we’ve got Black Forest Iced Coffee. No barista experience required.

Summer, bring it.Black Forest Iced Coffee (92)a

Ingredients:

1 c. strong black coffee

1 c. dark sweet cherries

1/2 c. maple syrup separated

2 T. cocoa powder

dash vanilla

milk

ice

Directions:

In a small saucepan, heat cherries, 1/4 c. maple syrup, and a dash of water until bubbly and thickening. Remove from the heat, let cool. Mash cherry sauce down and strain, add cocoa, vanilla, and remaining maple syrup.

Layer syrup, milk, coffee, and ice cubes in 2 large glasses. Enjoy!

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Rum Chocolate Mousse

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So college. College is now very much a thing. This first year was such a whirlwind. A crazy, beautiful, wonderful whirlwind. I feel like I grew so much in what feels like such little time. I’m trying as hard as I can to hold on to these moments fiercely because they do pass away like dewdrops in the sunlight. Or like chocolate at a potluck. This metaphor is obviously incomplete without chocolate.

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This mousse is just my kind of dessert—easy enough to complete with just few utensils and minimal effort, but ostensibly hard enough to impress people and convince them that I’m really very swanky. It’s also conveniently dairy-free and contains no added sugar. The inspiration is from the ridiculously simple yet also weirdly intimidating chocolate-and-water mousse, I just added liquor and coffee because swank guys.

Now it’s a good thing we’re not British, because when the British call something “rum” it isn’t a compliment—it means odd or strange. Which I suppose isn’t such a bad thing, but let’s keep in mind here the original meaning of rum and if you’ve never had it with chocolate I pity you. If anyone asks you why the rum is gone, just tell them that you took it to make chocolate mousse. As long as you share, all should be forgiven.

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Chocolate-and-water mousse does seem intimidating in theory, but in practice it couldn’t be easier. Just throw all the ingredients in a medium pot, let them melt together, then throw them in an ice bath and whisk until smooth. Once it’s all thickened up, chill it in pretty glasses and you’ve got yourselves a party.

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RUM CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Ingredients:

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

8 oz. water

1 T. rum (dark is best, but white will do)

2 T. strong coffee or espresso

pinch of salt

Directions:

In a medium pot, combine all ingredients Set over a moderate fire and whisk until everything is melted.. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl with ice water and set a smaller bowl within it. When everything in the pot is melted, pour it into the ice bath bowl and whisk until thickened. Transfer to small glasses and chill until set.

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Advent Musings

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I recently read a wonderful blog post from Hayley Stewart on Why Advent Should Terrify You, and it inspired me to jot down some of my own thoughts on Advent. Also, if you’ve never been to Hayley’s blog, you should go visit!

I realize this is primarily a food blog, but at this stage of my journey it’s just not feasible to bake healthy food and take pretty pictures. So instead this is a space for me to write non-academic, non-required, and probably nonsensical.

So…Advent. A lot of non-religious people have now assimilated the tradition of the Advent calendar, and it really bothers me. Especially when they start on December 1st. That’s a 25 day countdown, it’s not an advent calendar. And how many of these people have more than a superficial knowledge of what Advent really is? Why does everything have to be stolen from religious tradition and secularized?

What is more sad is the ignorance inside the Church of what Advent means. Who knows that if it hadn’t become a “Christmas countdown” within the Church we never would have seen such a secular version outside of religious belief? If we don’t start turning back to the real meaning of Advent, how can we hope to save the real meaning of Christmas? Advent is a vital to our faith. I think there’s a great tendency to forget that it is the beginning of the liturgical year. The first Sunday of Advent is the New Year of the Church.

“Be comforted, be comforted, my people, saith your God.  Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her: for her evil is come to an end, her iniquity is forgiven: she hath received of the hand of the Lord double for all her sins. The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain.” (Isaiah 40:1-4)

These verses from Isaiah are kinda paradoxical, right? At first it sounds great. All that glory and exaltation and saving. But that voice of one crying in the desert (John the Baptist) is kinda bothersome. The wilderness is in fact our own hearts, and we are being exhorted to make straight in them paths for our God. This sounds like a whole lot of uncomfortable. But if we consider Advent as being a New Year, it’s the perfect time for resolutions and repentance. Making sacrifices and re-converting aren’t reserved for Lent alone. What better way to prepare for the birth of our Savior than renewing and strengthening our faith?

My theology course this semester was (wow…was? That’s weird….) on prayer and the sacraments, and I really loved how much emphasis there was on our relationship with God. That’s all He wants-to love us and to have His love returned. Why else would He send His only Son to save us? He gave us literally paradise and we threw it away because we have authority issues. Still He would assume humanity and die for us. Still He would seek us relentlessly. Preparation for Advent shouldn’t be empty self-mortification and abasement, it should be a joyful return of God’s love.

Of course we should still make sacrifices, but we should strive for a right understanding of sacrifice. God desires “sacrifices of praise”, and praise is an expression of joy and love. If we do mortify our flesh, it is only in order to bring us closer to Him. Tying this all back into Advent, make the focus of this preparation for Christmas prayer. Cultivate a deeper relationship with God, even if you don’t feel like you have anything to say, if you have the desire to grow closer to God you’re already doing it. Even setting aside moments of silence and mediation can be extremely fruitful.

Finally, we’re still “social creatures” and once we’ve received the Good News, we’re obliged to share it with others. The nature of God’s love doesn’t permit us to keep it to ourselves. That’s another thing to strive for this Advent: bringing God to others through your actions. Don’t leave it all up to God, but don’t try to think you can do it all on your own. These two things: prayer and charity, can make a huge difference in the spiritual abundance that is always available but rarely used during Advent. Remember: if there was no one else on the earth except you, Christ still would have come just to save you. Doesn’t that already make Christmas so much more special?

-Little Nothings-

Listening to repeatedly: Come and Get It- John Newman

Streaming on Netflix: Merlin & Supernatural

Staying up reading: Lois Lowry

Stalking this blog: A Beautiful Mess

Obsessed with this board: Paquets Cadeaux

Random thought: why do we say “a whole ‘nother”? It’s like we inserted “whole” right inside “another” and It’s really disturbing. Nother is not a word. English, what are you doing?

Laterny Night (182)ab