Monday, September 29, 2014

But first, Coffee.

National Coffee Day, huh? Most people like coffee, and those who don't are crazy. College students, employees and bosses alike are equally likely to drink coffee—often in different forms and at very opposing times of day. Cream, no cream. 11 a.m., 11 p.m. Hot, cold. No matter how you like it (or if you don't), it's likely that the word "coffee" isn't going to be escaping the English language anytime soon.

So, whether you use four at-home brewing methods like my barista friends, or you like your Folgers Classic Roast watered down a little bit (because the Classic Roast is just too strong), let's ask ourselves the important questions: Why is it National Coffee Day, and where did this stuff come from?

National Coffee Day was first celebrated in the U.S. in 2005, and as is the case with most Hallmark-created holidays, nobody knows where it came from or why it is September 29th. We just do it for the coffee.

The origin of coffee itself is highly debated, but many give preference to the legend of Kaldi. Kaldi was an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed that his goats went crazy when they ate berries from a certain tree. The goats jumped around and wouldn't sleep at night. (Spoiler alert: It was a coffee tree.) According to the legend, Kaldi took the beans to a monk who made a drink using the berries and confirmed that after drinking it, he was easily able to stay alert for his overnight prayer sessions.
If you wanted to go out on a limb here, you could say that drinking coffee is a holy practice. I think that's a logical conclusion from the legend of Kaldi.

According to the LA Times, 1.7 billion cups of coffee are consumed daily, and 35 percent of the world's coffee consumption occurs in the United States. Santa Fe Springs, California, is likely responsible for a good chunk of that statistic, with a whopping 560 Starbucks locations within only 25 miles. Starbucks also claims 87,000 drink combinations. ABC News says that the average American spends $14.40 per week going out to coffee shops, totaling $1,100 each year. That doesn't include the cost of drinking coffee at home, either. The National Coffee Association also tells us (in bold) to "never reheat your coffee." Oops.

Think you might be over-caffeinated? The problem is historical. In the 1730's Johann Sebastian Bach (BACH, guys) wrote a satirical cantata on coffee-obsession. The title is Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, or "Be still, stop chattering" for you non-German speakers.

Translated from German (I didn't translate it… I haven't learned German yet), a stanza in the cantata reads as follows: No suitor comes in my house/unless he has promised to me himself/and has it also inserted into the marriage contract,/that I shall be permitted/to brew coffee whenever I want." Satire or not, I have to agree with this. I couldn't marry a man who won't let me have my mochas!

So the moral of the story is this: Drink and be merry. But first, make sure he likes coffee.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Caramel Apple Parfait

This post was inspired by wisdom teeth surgery (ow), McDonald's, and all the girls longing for fall.

Spoiler alert: It's still summer until September 22. I know we all want it to be fall, like, yesterday, but I personally really love summer. So, this treat is a summery snack/dessert/breakfast (or dessert for breakfast) option for those of us who are enjoying summer yet longing for the upcoming crunchy leaves and caramel apple season.

So, back to wisdom teeth. I had 'em removed recently, and as you likely know, I wasn't allowed to eat anything afterward. I mean, I could eat ice cream, and soup, and parfaits, but that's about it. I couldn't eat apples, or pretzels, or heaven forbid I try to eat a hamburger. It was a low point in my life.

So one day I'm eating a McDonald's Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait, and I decided it wasn't half-bad! (Did I just lose all of my "food blogger" internet cred?) I got to thinking about how I could make an at-home version of the snack, but with a twist.


- 1 cup vanilla yogurt
- Apples, chopped (I used Granny Smith and Red Delicious)
- Pretzel crumbs
- Caramel

Little bit of trivia: "Parfait" got it's name from the French word for "perfect," and their origin dates all the way back to 1894. Parfaits are different all around the world, too. Don't order a parfait in the UK unless you want "a very smooth meat paste (or pâté), usually made from liver (chicken or duck) and flavoured with liqueurs." (Ew, right?) But this recipe won't be like that. It'll be good. Promise.

The best thing about parfaits is that they're so easy to make. That's probably why the French deemed them perfect. They're a quick-fix for a sweet tooth. Or if you're like me, a sweet+salty tooth.


Start by drizzling caramel in the bottom of your dish. Next, add a layer of the yogurt on top. Add some of the apples you've chopped, and sprinkle some of the crumbled pretzels on the same layer.

To finish off the parfait, simply add the same layers again! Caramel, yogurt, apples, pretzel. You could repeat these steps indefinitely if you're really hungry and want to eat a punch-bowl-sized serving, but my recipe only required 2 layers of parfait to fill the dish.

Drizzle some more caramel just for kicks, and you're ready to eat up!

I hope you enjoy this treat, friends! Let me know if you try it; I would say it is parfait for this time of year. Happy late-summer-almost-fall!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What I'm Wearing White Now

Guys. Monday was Labor Day. Yesterday, I wore white jeans. Nobody cared.

I proudly and confidently marched to my closet because I knew what pants I was going to wear (and that never happens), and then I had a small moment of insecurity while I debated how to make the outfit look a little summery and a little fall-y; but mostly, I was feeling like a real rule-breaker. Give me a Harley and a studded collar, folks, 'cause I'm wearing white after Labor Day! But still, nobody cared. Not one person commented on how rebel-without-a-cause I dressed on September 2nd. 

Everybody knows this ancient fashion faux-pas, but then Vogue and Marie Claire and everyone are all "10 Ways to Wear White after Labor Day!" So, how and why did "no white post-Labor Day" become a thing, and then not a thing? Labor Day has been around for a long time, and so has this societal rule. L-Day was declared an official holiday in 1894, but the first two were celebrated on Tuesdays. Can you imagine that? It seems like a bad idea to have a national holiday on a Tuesday because if you don't tack a day off to the end of the weekend, there's just this awkward day in the middle of the week to sit around and eat ice cream or watch The Hills or something. Right? I'm not really sure what they were thinking.

There are several theories on how this whole "no white" thing became a thing. One theory is that back in the day, before Google existed and random girls like me had blogs, the NY-based fashion magazines influenced much of what was worn. Since whites are impractical for a wet fall and winter (nobody wants an accidental 'wet jeans' contest), they were reserved for summer wear only. Another theory involves the snooty society people in the late 1800s and early 1900s: High society was ruled by the mega rich socialites, until more and more people started becoming well-to-do, and started dressing that way. To create a societal divide between old money and new money, the theory is that the "old money" socialites made up a bunch of silly rules to distinguish those who were "in the know" from others who were just dressing the part. I favor this theory because it sounds like Mean Girls, so it's most likely true. 

Now, the "no white" rule is defunct, and maybe that indicates that our society is a little less snooty? I'd like to think so. I think the most important thing to learn from Labor Day is to dress for the season. Pleasepleaseplease don't be the girl who wears Uggs in the summer. Don't wear rain boots if it's going to sprinkle in the morning and then sun for the rest of the day. You can wear white in the dead of winter if you want (winter whites, amirite?) but don't dress like you're about to go yachting (Sperry's and all) in January because you will make everyone jealous and increase their winter-induced depression. You'd probably be cold, too.

So, the moral of the story is this: It's not 1894 anymore, so you can wear white if you want to. White now, even. 

Outfit details: Jeans - F21, Striped top - Urban Outfitters, Sweater - F21, Purse - Longchamp.
Photography by Nick Warnock.