We are officially settled in to our little modular home on the farm. The appropriate items have been put into storage for the time being, the rest of the boxes are unpacked, and we can actually walk through the guest room now. My husband is hard at work at his new job, and my teaching job starts again in about three and a half weeks.
What do teachers even do during the summer? you non-teachers may ask. Well, I wish I could tell you. Every year when school gets out, the summer seems to stretch before me like an endless dream. Time! I think. Time to do all my projects, all my trips and travels, all those units I’m going to plan for the next school year. And every summer, suddenly it is nearly over and I think I might have done a project or two, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. I know I haven’t planned any units for school. That one’s for certain.
What I’ve really done this summer, besides a bit of travel and running around to family events, is move to our new home in western North Dakota and drink a lot of iced mochas. And you know what? If I don’t have much more than that to show for the summer, I guess that’s ok.
Right now, I’m going to share with you how I make these iced mochas. They are delicious and cheap. Kind of like my time this summer. Sigh.
How to Make Delicious Iced Mochas at Home (or any other variations of iced coffee!)
Step 1. Cold brew coffee. I learned about this method via Pinterest and Pioneer Woman. For those of you who haven’t heard of her, she is a ranch wife and mother with a brilliant blog and show on Food Network. Cold brewing means that rather than brewing a hot pot of coffee the traditional way, you pour cold water over coffee grounds, let it soak or “brew” for several hours, and strain the liquid out. This method is great for iced coffee in the summer because 1) you can make a large amount of iced coffee at once and 2) the coffee is strong and cold enough to handle ice cubes without melting them and getting all watered down.
Here is the link to the instructions on Pioneer Woman’s blog that first led me down this wonderful iced coffee path: “The Perfect Iced Coffee.”
A few of my own tips to add to her instructions:
First, I’ve experimented over the last couple summers with different types of coffee — extra dark roast, French roast, breakfast blend, medium roast, etc. Although right away I went all out to create the darkest, strongest coffee possible, I found the taste to be a little too overpowering and backed off to a less intense blend. Honestly, though, I think I use a different brand or type of coffee every time. It depends on what’s on sale and what I have in my cupboard when I get a hankering. You may have to experiment to find your own personal preference. I typically just dump whatever grounds I choose into a large Tupperware container that looks like this:
Second, Pioneer Woman recommends straining the coffee through a cheesecloth. However, the cheesecloth I had on hand was not fine enough to actually strain out many coffee grounds, so my first attempt ended with a pile of coffee grounds on the bottom of my pitcher. The next time I tried it, I didn’t feel like running to the store to search for finer cheesecloth, so I rummaged through my supplies to see what I could use instead. I was delighted when I found an old sheet I had recently ripped up to use for rags (it was very clean, I promise). The piece of sheet, draped over my big strainer as I pour the coffee through, lets through the liquid without letting a single coffee ground escape. Perfect! It’s not just an old sheet anymore – it has a special place in my drawer as a very important kitchen tool. And yes, it is in fact an old Sesame Street sheet, so Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, and the Cookie Monster are there to help me every time I make iced coffee.
Final tip: I used to pour the cold coffee into a pitcher. But then I decided to splurge on a beverage dispenser at Target for about $16, and it was the best decision I ever made. (I say that a lot). Walking to the fridge and dispensing iced coffee into my glass is a breeze. It’s also helped a lot as I’ve slowly transitioned into my family’s iced coffee lady. Summers ago, my little brothers started to realize that when I’m around, the fridge ALWAYS has iced coffee in it. So when they’re out working in the hot sun, they stop in for frequent “coffee breaks.” It was a problem when I just had coffee in a weenie little pitcher and didn’t know about the cold brew method. I would make a pot of coffee in the coffee pot, wait hours for it to cool… and it would be gone before I even had a chance to pour myself a glass. But now, with my big, tough drink dispenser that can hold up to two gallons of cold brewed iced coffee, it’s no deal at all! The boys get their coffee, and I don’t get grumpy. I like to think the cold brew method and my beverage dispenser have improved family relationships around here.
The coffee dispenser, of course, has a prominent place in the refrigerator:
Ok, I think I’ve spent enough time discussing cold brew coffee. But it’s a serious matter, you guys.
Step 2: Once you have your jug of iced coffee, pour the desired amount into your desired drinking container.
Step 3: Add whatever it is you like to add to your coffee. In recent summers, I have kept a carton or two of International Delight’s Iced Mocha on hand.
I pour a mixture of about two-thirds iced coffee and one-third ID Iced Mocha into my glass. Then I top with a little splash of half-and-half and a handful of ice and end up with a creamy, delicious, refreshing iced coffee drink. My husband adds a splash of flavored creamer, such as French Vanilla, instead of half-and-half. Some of my brothers add only cream and no Iced Mocha. It just depends on what you like! Pioneer Woman even recommends using sweetened condensed milk, which I haven’t tried yet but which sounds delicious.
If you like iced coffee as much as I do, this method might be worth a try. It’s made my summer iced coffee habit so much easier and economical.
Now to those unit plans… Aw, maybe tomorrow.