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June 2011

Food for Thought

Life without Starbucks
By Lorinda

Food for Thought archive

Latte art: with a little practice you could do this at home.
~ photo courtesy of Tony Serrano, The Serrano Social Club, Modesto, Calif.


When we moved from Seattle to the country four years ago, many of my friends were aghast. They truly thought I was being coerced by my husband, and would be totally out of my element and miserable. Wouldn't I miss the malls, the restaurants, the theaters?

Apparently the friends I'd known for more than forty years didn't actually know me.

When I was a child, my favorite toy was a farm set; I'd play with it for hours. I dreamed of walking down rows of corn and wheat, and because of my fascination with Eddie Albert and "Green Acres," I wanted a pet pig long before the potbellied pig phase became popular. When my family was planting pansies out front, I was planting tomatoes out back.

So it didn't take any persuading at all to get me to pull up stakes and move to twenty acres in the country. I wanted a simpler life and wouldn't miss any of the city trappings. Well . . . that wasn't exactly true. The nearest Starbucks was an hour and a half away. Oh, no. What had I done?

Obviously it was time to give up my white chocolate mochas and just strive for a great cup of brewed coffee. I tried the restaurants. The swill they offered was comparable to the free coffee at a rest area. 'Nuff said. There were a few espresso stands in town, but we try to limit our trips, since we're quite a distance away, and the bumpy dirt roads are challenging any time of year. My quest for self-sufficiency began.

After a discouraging hour on the Internet I was finally convinced . . . coffee beans weren't something I could grow without a really impressive greenhouse. I looked at home roasters, but the ones I liked would break the budget. Costco's Sumatra beans are pretty good, but I felt compelled to look for something that was either locally roasted or organic and fair trade.

So I joined the Camano Island Coffee Roasters' "Coffee Lover's Club," and had incredible, fresh, fragrant beans delivered monthly. Their beans are all organic, fair trade (they pay 75% over the market rate), and shade grown. With the hard winters we experience, having coffee beans delivered to our mailbox was a real lifesaver. The price was very reasonable, and the shipping was free for club members. Check out Camano Island Coffee Roasters if you're interested. (And no, I'm not getting a kickback for this plug!)

Then I decided to jump on the "Buy Local" bandwagon; I switched from having my coffee delivered to buying it from Crandall Coffee Roasters, a little gem of a fruit orchard in Kettle Falls, Washington. They roast a delicious, aromatic selection of organic beans in small batches to ensure an even roast to every bean. To find out more, go to the Crandall Coffee Roasters website.

Maybe I was over-thinking the issue, but trying to decide whether it was more responsible to buy locally or to buy fair trade was a tough call.

Even though there are questionable fair trade practices concerning some of the larger corporations, when coffee buyers are ethical the growers are paid more than the market rate for their beans. This improves the growers' conditions and provides fair wages—a compelling reason to buy fair trade coffee. But in the end, it seemed more important to support a family-run business in our small community. Besides, their coffee was just so darn good! And I recently discovered that they do buy fair trade beans whenever possible.

So I have learned to love a good cup of organic coffee without the white chocolate syrup and whipped cream. No more sitting in a long line at the drive-thru. I don't have to tip myself, or make perky conversation. I'm not tempted by scones and muffins. I just pour it in a mug, sit on the front porch, and enjoy. Ahhhhhh.

The fragrance alone can wake you up.



Coffee-Marinated Steaks

6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup very strong coffee
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2—3 pounds of steak (enough marinade for about 4 steaks)

  1. In a large skillet, sauté onion and garlic in butter until tender. Mix in remaining ingredients and allow to cool. Reserve 3/4 cup—put in refrigerator in small covered container.
  2. Put the remaining marinade in a resealable bag or non-metallic container. Add steak and stir or shake to coat. Refrigerate bag or covered container for at least six hours, or overnight, turning meat once or twice for even coverage.
  3. Drain and discard marinade. Cook the steaks however you prefer. I like them grilled, but they are also very good broiled or pan fried. Warm the reserved marinade and use as a steak sauce or dip.


A relaxing day inside.


Contact Lorinda at lorindamckinnon@gmail.com

Lorinda resides in Eastern Washington, where she joyously combines her love of cooking and gardening. Baking is her passion, and licking the batter off the spoon after making a cake is her reward. When she's not in the kitchen, she's out in the garden pulling weeds and snacking on young peas. Enjoy Lorinda's blog, The Rowdy Baker.


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