Dear Barbara: My mom always makes coffee by boiling water on the stove and then pouring it over ground coffee in a coffee filter and basket set on top of a coffee cup. I’ve never seen anyone else make it that way, but she likes it better than a coffee pot. I’ve always wondered, though, does it brew the coffee properly? To get a perfect cup, I feel that you would need to make sure the water is the right temperature and soaking the grounds long enough. Do you have any thoughts?
— Lauren from Stockton
Dear Lauren: Oh my, the perfect cup of coffee is so subjective! It is what is perfect for you. My brother thought a French press was the only way to make a perfect cup of coffee. I didn’t, because I don’t like grounds in the bottom of my cup. A percolator is based on the boiling water concept, and yet I have read that you should never let the water boil to make coffee.
My last coffee maker instructions said that if you are making less coffee, use more grounds than what is called for because of the short time that the water remains in the grounds. The coffee maker I have now didn’t say that.
For that single cup of coffee, I think Folgers has come up with a brilliant idea. It is one that my husband thought of many years ago when we traveled a lot, then we found them in a little boutique. That is coffee bags! They are just like tea bags, but with coffee. You can only use the coffee bag once (I use my tea bag for that second cup of tea), but you can steep it longer if you like your coffee on the bolder side, or less if you don’t care for it too strong. I’ve heard they sell them at Kmart. They are $5.95 for 19 bags.
I think that if your mother feels that she likes her coffee made the way she does it, then to her she has found “the perfect cup of coffee!”
Dear Barbara: My aunt talks a lot about quinoa and how good it is for you. Just what is quinoa?
— Julie from Lodi
Dear Julie: I think I have mentioned quinoa before, but it is always good to mention it again for those who missed it.
If you ask people who eat it (you could ask your aunt), most of them will say it is a grain. Actually it is a seed and has all the elements of a complete protein. Quinoa has no cholesterol, and is gluten-free and organic.
My husband puts fruit bits in his and he eats it as a hot cereal every other morning, but I have also seen recipes for cold salads. You can treat it much like rice. It has a very mild, slightly nutty flavor. You will see more and more recipes for quinoa in magazines and cookbooks. It is becoming quite popular in our health-conscious society.
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at email@example.com. Please include your first name and city.