When I was a child, my Dad worked for the Railway Express Co. as a delivery man. Every day, Mom would make a large percolator of coffee (a percolator being the coffee-brewing devise of the day) and I would wake up to the sound of the percolator’s blu-r-r-p-p and the smell of freshly brewed coffee. (Not that I was allowed to drink any -- their excuse was it would "stunt" my growth.)
Most of the coffee was poured into a large thermos that Dad carried to work each day. At the end of Dad’s work day I would often walk down the block to meet him -- and to drink whatever coffee was left in his thermos. I now marvel he saved some for me. Let’s face it: Coffee is the elixir of life and every drop counts.
(Quick side note -- despite my parents’ belief that drinking coffee would stunt my growth, I somehow managed to reach 5 feet 9 inches. So much for that rumor! Or did it stunt my growth and I really should be 6 feet, 2 inches?)
Coffee and I sealed our fate during my college years. I opted for many early morning classes and since 8 a.m. is not one of my better times of the day, I needed a little help from my friends, Maxwell House and Folger’s.
I would have a cup at home, where the percolator had been replaced with a drip coffee maker, I would stop at the cafeteria for coffee on the way to class and for one after class. As a matter of fact, if I wasn’t in class during the day, I was in the cafeteria with friends, chatting over numerous cups of coffee. I think we graduated magna cum caffeine ...
Graduate school was even worse. I don’t think I was ever without a coffee in my hand. I went to class with one, I walked back to my apartment with one. I went to my part-time job with one and kept refilling it from the office pot once I was there.
The coffee addiction -- and it is an addiction -- followed me into the workforce. I’m never without a coffee on my desk until lunch time, which is when I switch over to Diet Pepsi. I fill a large commuter cup at home from our Ke urig machine or stop by a convenience store along the way and fill it.
I noticed last week my stockpile of K-cups was disappearing rather quickly, even for me. Turns out our son is now as addicted as I am. This could get interesting ...
A friend who shares our passion for coffee passed along a recipe for Coffee and Cinnamon Fudge. It’s perfect anytime, but especially for gift-giving this time of year. Make sure you use condensed milk -- not evaporated!
Coffee and Cinnamon Fudge
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals
1 teaspoon hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Line 8-or 9-inch square pan with wax paper. Melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt in heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat. Dissolve coffee in hot water. Add dissolved coffee, vanilla and cinnamon to chocolate mixture, stirring until smooth. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Chill 2 hours or until firm. Lift fudge out of pan with wax paper and place onto cutting board. Peel off paper and cut into squares.
Alice Wrzesinski of Pittsfield was kind enough to send me her recipe for Fig Chewies. Haven’t had a chance to try them, but they sound yummy! Anything with coconut and pecans is good with me!
Combine: 1 cup (8-ounce cut figs and 1/2 cup water in saucepan. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to lukewarm.
Sift together: 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream: 1/2 cup butter and gradually add 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (or half white) creaming well.
Blend in 1 unbeaten egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat well. Add cooked figs, then the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped shredded or flaked coconut; roll to coat. Form into balls.
Place on greased baking sheets. Top each with a pecan half. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.
Judy Spooner of North Adams emailed this week:
"I have been looking for some recipes I used to have, but I cannot find them. Way, way back in Freeman School (yes, Freeman) when I was very young, we made brownies, mac & cheese waffles etc. with a teacher named Miss. Kwazni owski. These recipes were (I believe) all from scratch and I was hoping you might be able to help me find them. I have asked a few former classmates, but without any luck so far. I was wondering if you attended Freeman also and might have these recipes ..."
Although I did have Miss K. as a student at Mark Hopkins School, I was never privy to any of her recipes. Readers, can any of you help Judy out?
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Trans cript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.