Coffee Art

Rooster crowing on roof Yesterday, I thought I would give my wife a treat, so I made for her a bit of art on her latte. We were watching Babe at the time, so I figured it would be fun to make a rooster crowing on the roof of a farmhouse. It wasn't until after I finished that I realized that I should have made a duck crowing instead. For those who are interested in making their own coffee art, check out the instructional post on coffee art that I did a couple of months ago. It will let you know exactly how I made this bit of artwork.

Balloon Animals and Clouds

I was making my wife's usual morning latte yesterday, as is my custom (yes, she is spoiled). After making a certain number of lattes, one starts to play around with the process. In my case, I'm slowly learning to make designs in the coffee. Oh, not well, I assure you, but designs nevertheless. There's a coffee shop down the street that will make the beautiful fern pattern in the latte, and you're loathe to put in sugar and stir, much less drink it. And yet, I both stir and drink, so it can't be that beautiful. Still, I feel a little guilty. I cannot make any patterns like that, certainly not with that kind of repeatability. However, yesterday I made an image of a phoenix rising from the coffee grounds. If you turned the image upside down (relative to the base of the image, not so that the coffee pours out), the negative space looked like a Peep. Yes, I really am that good. Today, I decided to do something much simpler, and just made an ordinary Peep. It wasn't hard, just jiggle the foam in the right way, and voila! "But Brian," you cry out, "you said you weren't very good! How do you do these amazing things? All I get are ferns, or images of the Virgin Mary." There's a secret that you can learn from people who make balloon animals. The important thing, they say, is not to announce your balloon intentions to the child beforehand. If you say, "I'm going to make you a cat", then twist the balloons all up, they'll be like, "no, that's deformed rabbit." However, if you make the balloon animal, annotating it along the way, and say, "So, what does that look like?" They'll say, "That's the best giraffe I've ever seen!" You'll know you were trying for the Fierce Lion, but the kids won't. So they'll be happy, and you'll be a little more bitter inside, wondering why you are still paying those loans on the art college you went to. Coffee art, for the beginner, is just like that. Push the foam a little this way, a little that way, and look at it like you would clouds. If you can spot a design easily, say, "Look what I've made!" If not, don't worry about it. Eventually, perhaps I'll get a degree of control with the whole process, and can make ferns all day long. But I think I'll prefer a bit of balloon artistry to a fern, even if I do become skilled. After all, most of the fun is in the interpretation.

Egg Nog

Nog. Right. They way I figure it, there are roughly 5 types who are reading this article. The first will be ready to read and make this recipe immediately, enjoying the nog and perhaps sharing with friends. Excellent. The second type already has a nog recipe, and may compare notes a bit, but there would be at most tweaking. The third through fifth do not like the nog. The third because of some manner of allergy, which is understandable. The fourth type, and perhaps most common, believes that it does not like nog because it has only had the carton stuff. I say fie on the carton stuff. It's like saying you don't like steak because you've had a McDonald's hamburger and you didn't like that. The fifth type doesn't like egg not because they are outcasts from society and, and I say this without any sort of judgement you understand, the fifth type doesn't like egg nog because it's a freak. No judgement, remember. We can still hang out and play cards together. I know all kinds of people from different walks of life. We're cool. Read on to find out how to make proper Egg Nog. Note: This recipe contains raw eggs. They are pasteurized eggs, so should be perfectly safe, but if you have an allergy, or if you have a somehow weakened immune system, it would be wise to go with another recipe that cooks the nog to kill the critters inside. Also, you'll end up with a bunch of egg yolks at the end of this, because I don't like to add whipped egg whites to my nog. You can either make a heart-healthy omelet, or you could pour the egg whites into an ice tray (an empty ice tray) and freeze them for later use. Equipment
1 large mixing bowl
1 mixer (stand or hand)
2-3 small bowls for separating egg yolks and whites
8 egg yolk, pasteurized
1 cup sugar
½ gallon whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
5 oz. bourbon, (Or to taste - I'll generally add a bit more) (Well, I say a bit...)
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated In the bowl of a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until the yolks lighten in color and the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Chill and serve. Or, as I generally do, just drink it right then and there.