Heeeey, I'm back!* This blog is about how to eat good on bitch money.

*This is a lie.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Let's break from convention-talk for a moment

to discuss an idea from treasured commenter, Robin P, who, I'm sorry to have to report, has taken to calling himself "Uncle Robbie."

He's right: this thing


is great. My co-worker has one, so I know. It's small and light, so you can pack it, and it makes perfectly acceptable coffee.

Sadly, though, Robin is incorrect that you can rely on a hotel-room coffee maker to heat water sufficiently for this or any other coffee-making method. Sometimes this might work, sortof, but sometimes those things are made out of petrified bullshit whipped into a froth and they won't even sortof heat water--by the time it dribbles into the miniature mug, it's tepid. The ground beans recoil from it and refuse to release their intoxicating oils. That's no hill for a stepper, though, because our Robin has come to the rescue again. His idea about the risk-addicted-college-student in-cup electrical coil has real legs. I mean to thrift one asap and try it out.

I am happy to report that Robin is also right about French presses. How hard do those things suck?


Robin P said...

Nom-ulus: do this for me the next time you are in a hotel room (who knows, you may be in one now?): a) pour some of the freshly-made hot water from a hotel room coffee-maker onto your hand. Is it tepid? or, b) bring a travel-style food thermomoter (an instant-readout meat thermometer (aboout $5 at 'the Wally') will work fine but find a way to keep the pointy end from doing damage inside your suitcase). Then actually measure the temperature of freshly-made hotel room cofffee-maker hot water, and report back here. It may be suitable for Aerobie-coffee maker-style coffee. 176 degree F ain't all that hot, but it'll burn yer delicate skin.

At a yard sale many years ago, I bought a very small percolator coffee pot that the lady had cleverly filled with all the spoons and gear she would need to make coffee for she and hubby on the road. She had the whole shebang in a cheap, zippered bathroom travel bag. There were even small, plastic cups in there. I never used it, knowing that percolator-style coffee is next in line after French press coffee as a lousy way to make decent coffee.

This method is the king of the over-extracting methods because boiling water, I.E., 212 degrees F is continuously bubbled over the cheap Folgers coffee grounds for about 4 or 5 minutes. My parents are waiting at our green-tiled, wall-hugging breakfast table for it to finish, so they can lap up this vinegary, bitter stuff in order to heroically head off to the rat race every morning.

Oh, er, I guess I went off into a memory reverie there. Anyway, a small, plug-in percolator pot may be available online, or in one the three zillion stores that now have the word "dollar" in their names. This could be used in lieu of a plastic 'electric kettle', although the electric kettle would probably be a better choice if one was going to do much hotel cooking, such as making instant noodles, tea, hot chocolate, etc.

As for being called "Uncle Robbie", why does it never work when I try to be cutesy? And I'm not even an uncle, either. So, because I like the owner of this blog, I may make up another cutesy name in my next blog entry. Perhaps "Cuddly Bunny"...

Roxxy said...

Robin I am so glad to see you back to the Plume de Nom!
One of the best lines in "The Firm" (yes, that Tom Cruise movie) is when Tom meets Holly Hunter and I think the first thing she says to him is--she has one of those dorm-prohibited coil things--"You know what happens when you put one of these in a cup and forget to put the water in it? The lights go out."
OK, first of all, it is worth seeing this movie just for this line because Holly Hunter says it with perfection. When I was dating the guy who is now my husband we watched it and later on I was trying to say the line like she did, only I couldn't get my voice to do the true Southern B-flat uptick on "water in it?" and it drove me crazy that future-husband could. But I consoled myself that I could do the breathy whispery "The lights go out" part better than he could.
There are lots of other funny and unintentionally funny moments too. I've seen it 3 tims I think. I don't know why it's not a midnight cult film.

Nom, nom, nom! said...


Do you know there is another keenoo movie coming out soon talking of idiotic movies with idiots in them that one has to go see seventeen times??? (I know that The Firm must be just a fantastic film, though, so I don't know why I bring up idiotic movies with idiots in them. Sorry.)

Robin P said...

Yes, thank you, Nom-chalant, who is posing as fake poster, Roxxy. I know I am wonderful. Thanks for your well-wishes and hello. (smile)

In this post, I will go by the adorable name of the "Coffee Donkey" in honor of the animal shown in the publicity images of my long-gone gardener, Juan Valdez, whose picture is on the packages of coffee in Wally's World, aka Wal-Mart, that bear his name and likeness. (A bit of fake triva: the drawings shown of Juan on the packages and print ads are based on a photo from a number of years ago. Juan told me that the man in the photo is actually one of his many brothers. Juan was fighting a case of jungle fever the day the photo was to be taken, and so, could not go. He says his brother is slightly more handsome than he is. Very modest of him to say so.)

Our topic today continues to be "Coffee Away", that is, making coffee while away from home. In yesterday's installment, I couldn't come up with the correct tag for the retail item I thought might be a good source of hot water. It is called a "hot pot" by many retailers.

Today's hot pots are almost always made of plastic. There is nothing wrong with this fact. It is the size of most of them that might be a bit unwieldy while packing them in a suitcase or backpack. Here is an example of one by Protor Silex for less than $11 prior to shipping. It has an adjustable temperature dial on it, and is blue (the best color in the rainbow). Copy and paste this link into a blank browser window address bar to view this item:


Amazon is selling the identical item for $21.62 here:


Obviously it pays to shop around on the Internet, but never give your credit card to any online outfit that gives you the slightest pause for concern about its trustworthiness. Too many pop-up ads, too many gaudy, flashing ads, and too much hard-sell going on while you are there, are some of the things to watch out for. Sometimes paying a little more is smarter because the site may take better care of your data and not Spam your email inbox with ruthless amounts of unwanted promotions.

I know nothing about the company, Absolute Home, in the first link, so read their privacy statement, etc. And if you have a choice for NOT permanently storing your credit card with them, choose this option. No use allowing criminal hacker gangs use of something they have no business using.

So, hot pots. In yesterday's post, I recalled having bought a smallish (3 cup, at most) metal, plug-in coffee percolator at a garage sale. Such a thing would be ideal to pack in a suitcase because it is small and durable. Remove the hollow metal stem from its insides (this tube 'percolates' the water into the metal basket that fits on top of it) and you have a hot pot, with an indentation in the bottom of it. Those who love the Salvation Army, the Good Will, yard sales, and estate sales, may be able to easily find such a small percolator, or its cousin, an actual, small, metal 'hot pot'. This unit will have no innards, just a smooth bottom on its inside chamber. Make certain it works before buying it.

Another alternative is a microwavable glass 'kettle'. I owned exactly such an item a few years ago. It was an attractive, fist-sized, pear-shaped Pyrex pot with a tight fitting black plastic top, indented for pouring. It was actually called a "Micro Kettle" by whomever made it. The whole thing would withstand vigorous microwaving, enough to make boiling hot water in about 2 minutes. The fragility of such an item makes it less suitable as a packed item, but it is the correct travel size. This sort of item also shows up at yard sales and elsewhere.

One should ascertain whether the hotel/motel one is staying at has microwave ovens in the rooms. Extended-stay motels, all the rage a few years ago, always have microwaves in their rooms. The motel's Website will tell you whether their rooms feature microwaves in them.

If the room has a microwave in it, various improvised containers may function as hot water containers. Any of them that have pour spouts on them are better than straight sides. Of course, these containers can not have metal surfaces on them unless they are painted in a special enamel. Metal inside a microwave will give you quite a sparkling light show, but it is better not to see such a performance while making tea or coffee. And only plastic of certain types will withstand being in a microwave. The container is often marked as to whether it is microwave-usable. Soft, squishy plastics rarely can be used in a microwave without melting, or deforming.

A one-cup Pyrex measuring cup could be packed in one's luggage and used with the aforementioned dangerous "college-student" coiled-wire cup heaters. Pyrex has the advantage of withstanding high heat, but it, too, would crack if the coil-heater were allowed to boil all the water out of it, and the heater lay against the glass for very long. This method is the least desirable of all of the discussed water-heating methods, in the Coffee Donkey's opinion.

Don't forget to buy and take several sizes of Ziploc© bags with you on your trip. The gallon size bags could be quite useful for storing a wet or grimy water container in them in event of a sudden departure. The Coffee Donkey detests the Ziploc© brand "Easy Zipper" bags, seen here:


The Easy Zip© zippers jam when granular, or powdered, substances such as sugar are stored in them, and the zippers wear out, which forces you to pinch them together manually (difficult to do) or else, put their contents in a newer bag. The Coffee Donkey avoids this supposed improvement and buys the generic, regular Ziploc©-style bags. He thought the former 'Gripper Zipper' Ziploc© bags, with the little teeth that popped closed in a satisfying manner were much better than the stupid Easy Zipper technology that replaced them. Grrrr to "improvements"!

Thus ends today's installment on taking and making good coffee while away from home. In another installment, we may look at thermos bottles and travel mugs, and how these desirable items may help you to never be more than a few steps away from the coffee you love, crave and need to get through "the daily grind". The Coffee Donkey will amble off the trail for now.

Robin P said...

Nom-erator's dream job: professional chocolate taster:


Nom, nom, nom! said...

You know, it's really too bad our relationship didn't work out, Robin, because we agree on so many things. I, too, hate those ziplocs with the stupid useless addition of the plastic closer idiocy that you are so right does not damn work at all and you have to pinch the bag slowly and laboriously closed.

AND I think I would be perfect for Fortum and Mason's chocolate taster for their upcoming break-in to the American chocs market. Especially with my background--I've been arguing about American vs. British chocolate with Jillyflower for like six months now, so I know all about what to expect.

Robin P said...

Nom-de-guerre, we are actually a pretty good match, but we would have to start emailing each other if this were ever going to progress beyond the public blog stage. This is something you don't seem interested in doing. But, you know, I'm not really relationship material anyway, being an troubled, cantankerous soul with no money. So here we be.