The Coffee Habit Unbeaned

I love a good cup of coffee.  Okay, my husband would say that's not accurate.  I love my flavored coffee creamer accompanied by a cup of coffee.   I've never been one of those people who consumes a pot a day... one to two cups is usually my max, in the morning, and I'm done.

That was still enough to cause me to get a raging headache that ibuprofen wouldn't touch by 2 pm if I didn't consume my morning cup.

I got pretty tired of this, so I started investigating alernatives.  I tried chai... not what I was looking for.  I wanted something full-bodied, something... well, something very much like coffee.  And I know that the flavored creamers on the market are not a model of healthfulness, but I LOVE THE STUFF.  More on that later.

Why not decaf?  Because the caffeine is taken out of the coffee with toxic solvents including ethyl acetate or dichloromethane.   They are SOAKED in this stuff, then roasted, ground, and packaged.  According to Toxipedia, "Ethyl acetate is an effective poison for use in insect collector as its vapors are a respiratory tract irritant whose vapors can kill the insect quickly without destroying it, leaving it intact for study."  No thanks, I'd rather not.

So I wanted something UN-caffeinated rather than decaffeinated.  The week I made this decision I was in TJ Maxx (where I often buy my coffee because you can get organic/free trade for way cheaper than normal) and stumbled upon a box of "Caffe Orzo."  It's basically roasted barley, and they've been using it in Italy for ages, serving it to kids instead of "real" coffee. 

I bought a box, took it home, LOVED it, went back and bought all they had.  It's lasted me probably four months.  I cut it with regular coffee about half the time because I don't necessarily want to eschew coffee entirely, I just want to cut way down on my caffeine load and reduce my headaches.  What I really liked about it was that it brews the same as coffee in the beloved coffee maker my son got me for Christmas.  

Well, I've run out, and of course, TJ Maxx doesn't stock anything permanently, and I haven't seen it there since.  So I started a quest online and I can only find a place to import it from England.  A Google search didn't turn much up.  Amazon had it but "currently unavailable." 

So I thought I'd try this Ayurvedic Roast from Amazon.

This is a non-caffeinated blend made from roasted barley (cafe orzo), roasted rye, roasted chicory, ashwagandha, shatavari, brahmi and natural vanilla flavor.  Okay, I don't know what those last four things are except for the vanilla so maybe more research is needed.  

It's good.  It's much less bitter than coffee, brews in a pot, french press or percolator.  It's organic.  It's supposedly vanilla flavored but I'm not getting a lot of that.  I did notice that it does not want to come out of my reusable coffee filter, not sure why that is.  If you're concerned about the acidifying effect of coffee, it's non acid. 

Only one problem:  I paid $16.95 for 11 ounces of this stuff.  Holy moly!  I can't afford this habit, even at two cups a day, even cutting it with nasty bitter cheap coffee (and then what would be the point?).  Also, I find that it takes a little bit MORE of this to make a pot that tastes like it's not watered down. 

So it's back to the drawing board to try to find something I can drink.  Curse you TJ Maxx for getting me hooked on something I can't get more of!

Then I started thinking... barley's cheap.  Why couldn't I roast my own barley?   Mother Earth News came through and here's an article on how to do exactly that (and recipes for other coffee substitutes I may have to try).  I love you, Internet!  I'll be letting you know how these experiments work out.

How about you, what's in your warm morning beverage mug?

Great Backyard Bird Count

This blog is about food.  But it's also about living in harmony with the rhythms of nature.  About eating seasonally.  About walking with your feet on the earth and knowing that you are leaving footprints.  For me, that is a spiritual experience and the way I eat has very much to do with the central philosophy of who I am in this world.

Too existential for you?  Sorry.  But I'm going to guess that you're here reading for a lot of reasons, and that you probably care at least a little bit about the environment and the creatures and plant life that share our world.

To that end I want to talk a little about the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Click to go to site
This makes a great project for homeschoolers or parents of kids, and big kids who get a kick out of watching birds.  It happens every year in mid-February, and this year is this Friday-Sunday (14-16).  It's pretty easy.  You register to participate, tell them where you'll be observing, and then you spend some time (in your yard, or elsewhere, up to you) observing, and log how many birds of which species you see.  You log those findings on the website.  You probably learn a thing or two along the way (last year I discovered that the chickadees where I live in Tennessee are Carolina chickadees, not the black-capped chickadees I was used to seeing in Ohio where I grew up... no wonder they sound a little different!) about the animals that inhabit your corner of the universe.

It's crowd source science, and it's awesome!  Then you can explore the data and see what kinds of birds are being seen where. 

Between this project and my garden, I started noticing things.  I noticed plants blooming that I hadn't noticed before, and I educated myself about what they were.  I started keeping a nature log - the daffodils bloom now, the forsythia blooms then, I discovered that my horses are eating an interesting weed and this is what it is.  And, the robins and bluebirds are back earlier this year than usual.  That sort of thing.  Since I'm a hard core journaler, I love this kind of stuff.  It tunes you in, in a way that just going about your information-saturated, dissociative business and shoving factory food in your face every day can't.

So join me!  Maybe keep a little nature journal of your own.   I have a sketchbook, but I also have a little page on my Notes app on my phone so I can type in what I see when I see it (is there an app for this kind of thing? If there isn't there should be).  Happy birding.  :)