Monday, May 9, 2011
Come for Coffee!
Who isn’t busy these days? I know I sure am. Between work, family, household, school and various volunteer commitments and responsibilities, there is always something that needs to be done. Many days, I am going nonstop from the time I get up in the morning until past midnight when I go to sleep. And still, there’s often a list of things I didn’t get done that day that I wanted to. I know I’m not alone. Most people I know—men and women alike—tell me it’s the same way for them. We’re just continually on the go.
When life gets that hectic, it can truly be a challenge to find time for entertaining on top of everything else you need to do. If that’s your life, you may not be able to have people over for full meals. You may not have time to do all the cooking, and you may not have a couple hours or more free to just sit and relax over dinner. That said, one thing even the busiest people can still do is have people over for coffee.
This is something I try to do at least once every couple months. It might be just one or two gal friends on a weekday afternoon, and maybe just for an hour. But this short amount of time together can be a real emotional boost—for the host and for the guests. Everyone needs breaks from the routine, to rest your brain a bit, and to be able to catch up with friends. There have been times when I’ve had a major writing project to finish and maybe I was feeling a bit “brain-dead” from staring at the computer screen for 12-hours a day for several days in a row. Allowing myself an hour or two coffee break with a friend is often just what I needed to re-energize myself and feel more motivated about working. Of course, coffee with a friend can also serve as a pick-me-up when the weather’s dreary and gloomy.
Having people over for coffee is a really easy way to entertain. You could just brew a pot of your regular coffee, and get out some mugs, a pitcher of cream and your sugar dish. You might want to serve up some kind of sweets to go with the coffee. This could be something simple, like a dozen donuts from your local donut store, or pick up a bundt cake or pastry at your supermarket’s bakery section. If you’ve got time to bake, you might make a batch of brownies or your favorite cookies, or maybe some coffee cake or cinnamon rolls. It all tastes good with coffee!
You could also get “fancy” with your coffee too. I have a collection of flavored coffees (many of which have the words “chocolate” and “decadent” in their names) that I like to get out for company. Of course, if you have an espresso machine, you could make some cappuccino, Irish coffee or lattes.
I’ve also got a collection of recipes for special coffees that I like to make for company. Here are a few of my favorites:
¾ cup ground dark roast coffee (regular or decaffeinated)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 cups distilled or filtered water
1 cup milk (whole or 2 percent)
1/3 cup chocolate syrup
2 T. light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Garnish: Whipped cream and ground cinnamon
Place coffee and cinnamon in the filter basket of a drip coffeemaker. Add water to coffee maker and brew as directed. In a saucepan, blend milk, chocolate syrup and sugar together. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Combine milk mixture and brewed coffee; stir in vanilla. Garnish with freshly whipped or canned whipped cream and cinnamon. Makes 6 cups. Enjoy!
4 orange slices
16 oz. (2 cups) strong, hot coffee (regular or decaffeinated)
8 oz. prepared hot chocolate
Garnish: Whipped cream and cinnamon
Warm 4 coffee mugs. Place an orange slice into each mug. Pour coffee and hot chocolate over orange in each of the four mugs. Top with sweetened whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.
1/3 cup cocoa
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 can sweetened condensed milk
5 cups water
1 1/3 cups strong coffee, freshly brewed
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine cocoa, salt and cinnamon. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix well. Then add water and coffee. Heat thoroughly over low heat (without letting it boil). Makes 8 cups.
1 10-cup pot of coffee (extra strong)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Mix ingredients together. Refrigerate until cold. Pour into beverage glasses that are 1/3 full with crushed ice. Makes about 7-10 glasses of iced coffee.
Café Au Vin
1 cups strong French roast coffee, regular or decaffeinated
4 T. granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
4 oz. tawny port wine
1 tsp. orange peel, grated
Combine ingredients in a blender and mix at high speed. Pour into chilled wine glasses. Makes 4 servings.
Keep in mind this doesn’t have to be a daytime activity just for home-based moms and wives. I know couples who have friends and neighbors over for coffee and dessert in the evenings after they’re home from work and done with dinner. Some people like to sit out on their front porch in the evenings with another friend or couple and drink their after-dinner coffee. It can be a nice way to unwind after an exhausting day…and still show some hospitality.
Often having people over for coffee is a spur-of-the-moment idea. With my family, sometimes we’ve called friends after dinner to tell them I’ve got an apple pie baking in the oven and vanilla ice cream in the freezer, to see if they’d like to have some coffee and dessert with us (usually I’m motivated by wanting to share the calories—so my family’s not consuming the entire apple pie I just made!). These are friends who live just a few minutes’ drive away, so it’s usually pretty doable to come over for just a bit (especially if we make it “worthwhile” for them!).
Remember, whether you are simply serving up a pot of your regular coffee and donuts or cappuccino and petit fours, it’s all hospitality…and an easy and enjoyable way to make time for friends.