How to Make Coffee Without Magic

Getting ready to make coffee

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I have discovered the beverage coffee.

It never seemed like a good idea before, but I understand that humans use it for energy and so I thought I might give it a try because I do need extra energy and the bookstore where I have been reading about cleaning has a coffee shop where they serve all kinds of caffeinated things, it coffee is by far the best. Well, coffee with cow's milk.

Coffee is a lot like tea, really, except it has this stuff called caffeine which is only in some teas, but not the ones made of flowers and herbs that I am used to but it is s lot like tea because it is hot and tastes good, but is much better than tea because it makes you feel very awake and alive and like you could clean all day and never get tired until you run out of coffee to drink.

This coffee with milk i like is called a latte, and it is warm steamed cow's milk and something called espresso which is like coffee only brewed differently, and you can get flavor in it which is a flavored sugar and if you get a big latte with lots of sugar and coffee in it because I asked for extra coffee, it tastes almost like if you heated up ice cream only it gives you lots of energy.

But it is hard to make lattes at home, so I decided to try the other kind of coffee the kind that is roasted coffee beans and they are ground up and hot water is poured through them and it makes a tea-like stuff only much stronger and it tastes bitter but not in a bad way, especially if you add cream and sugar to it and then it still gives lots of energy and I like it a lot. Humans like coffee so much that they make whole businesses called “Coffee Shops,” and I am intrigued that such a simple thing can be a means to generate this money thing humans must have to survive.

But you can make coffee at home too! There are things called coffee machines that you can buy and they make pots of coffee and they automatically drip hot water that they heat up through the machine and it runs though the grounds and coffee comes out the other end.

A whole pot at my disposal seems a very bad idea. I only want a single cup of coffee at a time because after a couple of cups today I am a positively buzzing, which is lovely. I am zipping about like a glow bug and I cannot seem to sit still and my mind is racing fast, and if I were able to brew an entire pot I might drink too much and vibrate into some other form – who knows how well this human body is constructed.

So one cup at a time, then, for me. Despite how much I love this feeling of running around able to clean and do everything I want to do in a day, I suspect there is a crash at the end like the time I accidentally drank an energy tonic my mother was making for my father after he'd been out terrorizing the locals on all hallows eve. I was zooming around nearly at the same speed as sunbeams until it finally wore off and I slept for a fortnight.

I suspect something similar awaits me now, and I really don't have the time to sleep like that when there is so much cleaning to do before my date with Ryan, though my research has been very fruitful today.

Did you know there is a woman named Martha Stewart who knows everything about taking care of a house? She does! Although I am not sure if it is permissible for me to use her book because I cannot tell if she is truly human for all that she knows and how many books of hers are on the shelf. I would call My Dear Sister Flora to ask, but forming sentences without skipping words is kind of difficult right now. I bought the book in any case, and I will use it until the blasted Council decides that I cannot. It seems like they should make a manual for these kinds of things.

It would be genius, wouldn't it? Being a fairy disguised as a human selling tips on how to take care of everything. It makes me think about what it would be like to have some kind of job like that, not that my sister would allow me to sully myself with work as she is so generous with me.

While I was reading and drinking yet another cup of coffee – because they have fifty cent refills and why not take them up on that, yes? – I realized that humans have books on everything, so why not go ask if there were any on coffee. There were a lot!

Some were boring and only about the history of coffee and where it comes from and some story about dancing goats that I found preposterous (don't humans know a sater when the see one?!), I got around to reading a few books about how to brew coffee and there is a method called “pour-over” when you just pour hot water over the coffee grounds and it makes a single cup of coffee at a time, which would be a good thing for me.

How to make “pour-over” coffee:

Tea kettle – electric or the kind you heat on the stoveYou will need:

  • A coffee funnel – it's a difficult thing to describe, but it is like a conical hat sitting with the narrow end stuck in a plate. I am sure thee is some technical term for this item, but I cannot be bothed to find out what it is just yet, frankly. There is so much to get done!
  • Coffee filters – you can find these at most grocery stores it the coffee section. Get the number 2 cone filter. I did the reading because I have energy to.
  • Coffee, ground – there are many roast of coffee and some are light and some are dark and they all taste very different from each other, so you will want to try many of them to figure out what you like. The lighter roasts apparently have more caffeine with seems like an excellent idea to me.
  • A mug – choose a pretty one because they are more fun to drink from.
  • A cup to set the filter thingy on.
  • Cream and sugar if you want, I like my coffee with lots of cream and sugar.

This is luckily a lot like making tea, and I am happy because I have gotten very good at making tea.

Put the water on to boil (I recently acquired an electric kettle with stops heating water after it boils and doesn't make that terrible shrieking noise the stove-top one did).

Put a clean mug down on the counter and then set the cone filter holder thing on top of it with the wide part of the cone facing up, which makes the most sense. Make sure to put a filter inside of it before dumping in coffee.

This makes a big mess otherwise.

So put in the filter and then scoop one to two tbsps of ground coffee into the filter.

Wet grounds

When the water is done boiling, pour it in a thin steady stream over the coffee grounds, making sure to wet all of them and keeping the grounds evenly wet. This takes a couple of tries to get the hang of, but it is worth it for flavor.

Keep checking the mug beneath to make sure it does not overflow, because the brewing thing is not see-through and while you are concentrating on pouring the water evenly over the grounds. Were I still magic-having, I would merely float the filter thingy above the cup so I could see what was going on, but alas I must handle these things the hard way.

Flavor your coffee with as much sugar and cream or whatever that you like and enjoy. Once the cup is as full as you want, you'll want another mug or something nearby to rest the brew basket on while it finishes draining.

Then, go clean the house. Or write a blog. Or read all about how you can clean a living room like I am. (I will get this place clean enough for Ryan if it kills me!)

Mmmm coffee

(1,324 words)

 

 

Popping Corn Without Magic

As I have come to realize I may be living without magic for quite some time, I have decided that humans (the Ryan kind anyway) are actually quite interesting, and so I have taken to studying their ways a little. If I can think like a human, perhaps I might be better able to learn how to do things without magic. I mean, they have been living without it since they were born from mud, right? Surely they have figured out a few things.

And in my study of human behavior, I have two nearby subjects to observe.

My neighbors have been quite interesting the last few days, and I am glad because staying inside of the house and trying to figure out how to best perform the actions of life without magic is becoming most tedious. I am very grateful to them for the entertainment they are providing to me. I can hear them very clearly from my bedroom if they a arguing in their living room, as it is about six feet from my living room window, and though a lot of it makes little sense without understanding what they are really talking about – humans talk in circles so much; I wonder how much easier their lives might be if only they were to speak plainly about things, but instead they insist upon talking about subjects that are quite unrelated.

For instance, I am almost positive that the lady neighbor was not actually upset about having to remove a lipstick stain from the man’s shirt collar, and yet she kept talking about how difficult it was for her to forget about, but how hard can it be to get lipstick from clothing? Surely it is not memorable in difficulty? I will have to investigate.

Anyway, I have noticed that when they don’t want to refer to something very directly, they use the word “It” – that is a word they enjoy using. It and another word that Flora has informed me is not to be used in polite company, so I shall pretend they are saying “puck” instead, since Puck the Mischievous is a greatly admired character among our culture, and from what I can tell to “puck up” is to make a mistake or to mess up things very well, both things Puck of the stories was indeed very renowned for. I believe my polite replacement will work well.

I have also been informed that the backyard is an eyesore, yet again, by the lady neighbor. She marched over here after a very loud but unintelligible shouting match… Well, that is not entirely correct. I have discovered a most amazing human delicacy called “popcorn”, which is dried corn kernels you pop into little crunchy balls of delight. They can be coved in just about any flavoring and munched on, and I have learned they are best enjoyed while being entertained, such as when attending a theater movie or listening to a screaming match while leaning out the open window to hear them better on a lovely night.

So there I was, listening and eating pieces of popped corn from a bowl, (I had these sprinkled with melted cow’s butter and dried lavender blossoms), and the lady walked out her front door in the middle of the yelling. She got to her car and had the door opened when she saw me. I waved and smiled; it really was a pretty evening last night, and if I had a driving machine I would take it for a ride with the windows down and let the breeze table my strange yellow hair. Anyway, she saw me and got all frowny and then walked over to the window and stood in front of me with her fists on her hips like she expected me to do something.

I offered her some popped corn kernels, but she got even more frowny and informed me that the front yard being neat now only shows how awful the back yard has become, and that I needed to get that taken care of very quickly (I was polite and did not inform her I almost have that taken care of).

Then, she turned quickly, making her hair fling out behind her in a dismissive fashion. And believe me, I felt very dismissed. I spent the rest of the night practicing the move, thinking it would be most useful the next time my dear sister decides to share her dear ideas about how I am choosing to spend my time and how I am choosing to live in my humble human dwelling and my “even more humble human body”. She gave a meaningful look to my bosom when she said that, and I did not tell her that many men seem to think my human body is not so humble.

I am improving at not saying things that might get me in hot water, which is useful.

Well, I practiced that hair swing almost all night until I was too dizzy to stand. I even tried it on The Cat, but The Cat was much less than impressed and wanted me to brush her instead. Hopefully my powers of hair dismissal are good enough to work on Flora.

The lady neighbor has not returned yet today, and I wonder if the argument was about whether or not he could track her – according to my memory, she is not due for another “business trip” for at least another day. Maybe she is hiding and he will have to guess where she is? She, at least, is not a Council spy, or she would be friendlier to me, I would like to think. The man, though, he seems to enjoy trying to see through my windows at night. I have taken to wearing a robe instead of walking about in nature’s own for now, but I really must see to getting more secure window coverings. Perhaps this weekend.

 

How to make popcorn on the stove:

You will need:

  • A pot for cooking with a lid – I have a rather large pot that Flora used to make soup in, which was quite satisfactory in this endeavor. I I’d try it in a shallower pan at first, but that ended in a rather messy disaster and I prefer to not have to sweep the kitchen so often as I have been needing to. Plus, if you use a larger pot than you think you will need, you can use it as a mixing bowl as well. I will explain.
  • Popping corn – I found some very pretty kernels that are all different colors and they pop up to be slightly different colors, which is simply charming.
  • Fat that can take high temperatures – I choose a kind of cow butter product called ghee, which is basically butter that has had all the things that can burn removed from it. It is a marvelous invention, and can get very by hot without burning.
  • Butter
  • Seasoning for the popped corn – this can be just about anything edible.
  • A large bowl to hold the pop corn.
  • A mixing spoon

Now, of course, in the store you can buy bags of popcorn that simply can be microwaved and will pop up into a little bag of joy, but they are more expensive and limit one to so few choices of flavoring. Plus, the Internet tells me they might contain harmful chemicals, and after going to so much trouble choosing cleaning chemicals that are not toxic, it seems a shame to ruin it by ingesting poisons.

So I shall pop corn on the stove instead for now. Besides, it is some of the best fun I have had yet in my kitchen. If I ever get my magic back, you will still find me with a pot and fire popping corn, because it is better than poking skeskes with sharp sticks for an evening of enjoyment. And that is hard to beat with how their eyes shoot our purple sparks when they get mad.

Anyway, get your things ready to begin with, because this all happens really fast once you get started. You will want to have your pop corn measured – I used 1/3 cup – and the ghee or oil in your pan – 3 tbsp for the 1/3rd cup popping corn, and the bowl convenient to receive the pop corn once it is fully popped. You’ll also want to have butter and salt and any other seasoning you enjoy at hand.

Put your pot on the stove at medium-high heat and drop in 3 tablespoons of ghee. This seems to be a minimum, but I imagine if you would like, since ghee is basically concentrated unsealed butter, you could add more and leave less work of buttering later. If you like salt, this is an excellent time to add it so it can mix with the ghee and then coat the popped pieces evenly. Don’t add anything that can burn though, because the oil is very very hot.

When the oil seems hot, drop in a few kernels of pop corn, and wait for them to pop. They might jump out of the pan, which makes me giggle a lot. Don’t touch the oil or ghee to see if it is hot. This leads to sadness and hurt fingers.

When the sacrificial testing kernels have popped, then the oil is hot enough. Drop in the 1/3 cup of popping corn and cover with the pot’s lid, or else there will be popped pieces of corn shooting all across the kitchen and getting everywhere. So cover the pot, then pick up the pot (you may want to have some of those protective mittens for this), and shake it away from the heat for a count of thirty, then return to the heat and shake it while the corn pops and makes fantastic sounds.

It really is great fun.

It helps to keep the lid loose for crispy corn, but make sure it isn’t so uncovered that the popping corn does not spring out – it is clever and escapes easily.

As soon as the popping slows, uncover the pot and deposit the corn into your waiting bowl so it cannot burn. Burned popcorn smells awful.

Then, put the pot back on the stove and turn off the stove. Melt your butter with the remaining heat and then mix in whatever seasonings you would like to use before dumping the popped corn back in the bowl and stir with a long-handled spoon.

Pour back into the big bowl, find something entertaining to enjoy (like neighbors arguing) while you eat it, and snack away.

I have made three bowls of the stuff today!

 

If anyone has any recommendations for more flavorings, I would love to know what they are.

 

(1,758 words)

 

How to Bake A Potato Without Magic

I was so excited to find out today that I might be relieved of what the humans call “cabin fever” and venture out alone into the neighborhood in which I live. I wore that little dress I found before, and it felt lively swishing around my thighs as I walked up to a little corner market in the “neighborhood” where I live. Inside, there is a smaller assortment of what I might be able to find in one of the big grocery stores Flora has driven me to.

Anyway, the clerk boy behind the cash register was very helpful in assisting me with buying some small things to bring home for my dinner, and they even had a bouquet of daisies, nice and fresh, for me to munch on with my nighttime cup of foxglove tea (I am much better at making tea now, I might add).

I was most pleased to discover that humans eat nightshades. I thought they might be poisonous, as the foxglove is, to humans, but there in the little vegetable and fruit bin was a bunch of lovely potato roots and even a few tomatoes, though they were already red and not green anymore, so I did not get any. The clerk was eager to tell me that green tomatoes were poisonous unless they were fried, but he did offer to bring me his family recipe next week if I came back. He a lot of this while staring at my breasts in a very flattering way, and I was surprised that I did not mind.

Human men, of course, have an exaggerated interest in mammary tissue as far as I can tell, and a shame it is because human females are forced by this fascination to always wear clothing covering their breasts, lest the men become distracted and crash their cars or what have you. I am so sad for the women that they are restricted so – the feel of wind against your bare chest while flying about in a spring breeze is most wonderful.

(It is a wonder, he is the first person I have come across who was not condescending about my inexperience. Rather, he was excited to share what he knows, and that alone is very refreshing.)

But anyway, the night shades. I told him I would love to try his recipe, and did he have any suggestions for the potatoes. I liked talking to him, he has pretty dark eyes and I kept finding my face getting hot when he would smile at me. Most strange to be attracted to a human. I will have to return to this market often if possible. I am finding it quite difficult to predict the future at all in this human world as things seem to change often. He told me that potatoes need cooking, and that he has many ways he likes to cook them but have a tried them baked?

He has given me his recipe for baked potato, scrawled on a piece of the paper they print a record of what you buy on, along with his phone number at the bottom of the paper, “Just in case I had any questions.” Then he helped me choose a few pieces of meat to try cooking, and I bought them though I don’t have any idea what to do with dead flesh of cow. I will freeze them, though, in case I feel adventurous in the future.

On my way back from the shop, I had to walk past my nosy neighbor’s house. The man was out front, and he stopped me to chat and let me know that I was wearing such a flattering dress (I notice that I do mind when he stares at my breasts, very much, unlike with the boy in the shop). He let me know that his wife was going back out of town on business of some sort. Why does he feel the need to let me know these things? He kept talking about how when she was gone I really ought to come over.

But no, that does not explain the initial invitation. Maybe he really is a spy for the Council, and his sudden insistence upon becoming closer to me is because of my new probationary period. I can only speculate, however. I cannot think of any other reason. And I do wish he would not stare at me so. I also wish I could find a better way to extricate myself from his awkward conversation.

I am running out of polite ways to put him off, really. His wife, though she still has been short, perhaps, with me since the lawn incident – maybe it is because the back part of the property is still overgrown? It is hard to tell, but I really do not understand why he is only interested in me eating with him only when she is away. Maybe she is more angry than I thought?

By the way, the boy’s name is Ryan. The shop boy, I mean, not my queer neighbor.

Yes, my mind keeps wandering back to him. He really is most pleasant to look at and to talk to.

Here is his method for oven cooking or “baking” potatoes, in this case they are “russet”, which means they’re kind of brown and rather large, bigger than my fist. And dirty, so scrub them well before beginning with a brush.

 

Here: Ryan’s method for baked potatoes: (I will leave off the phone number if you don’t mind.)

You will need:

  • An oven – one of those big kiln- like objects in most kitchens, beneath the stove burners. Some Faeries have magic-powered ovens, I know, but these are heated with gas or electricity,
  • Potatoes – I’m using two, but I am sure more would work.
  • A fork – one of those utensils that is used to eat, it looks like a pitchfork.
  • Oil – I am using oiled oil, which is made from pressed olives. The kind I’ve bought is labeled “virgin” which Ryan told me means was the first pressing of the olives, but it still makes me giggle.
  • Salt – I know, the fae don’t react well to salt, but I’ve figured out that it is because it dispels magic and hurts when the magic is taken away. No magic to lose makes salt a rather pleasant condiment.
  • A baking sheet – a large metal tray that you can rest things on and then put inside the oven, and take back out.
  • Oven mitts – padded hand coverings which are used to handle hot things safely.
  • Butter
  • Sour Cream

Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Pre-heating is important, because things don’t start cooking the way you want them to unless the oven is as hot as it needs to be.

While the oven heats up, wash the dirt from the potatoes and dry off, then poke holes in it with the fork to let boiling juices inside out.

Then, rub the potatoes with the oil and sprinkle on the outside with salt. Set the potatoes on the baking sheet and then set this all in the oven when it is 350°.

Wait an hour. Then, check the potatoes by skewering them with a fork. If the fork pokes inside them easily, then they are done. If the potatoes are still hard, then wait another twenty minutes and test again.

When they are done, pull them out with the oven mitts on your hands, and then transfer the potatoes (with something that isn’t your bare hands) onto a plate. Cut open with a knife and then mush the insides with a fork. Spread with lots of butter and salt, and then add a big glop of sour cream.

I usually like my root nightshades raw from the ground, but I must say this was very very delicious. Worth the wait.

Of course, I polished it off with sugar-dusted daisies.

And thought about the boy from the shop. How interesting that I cannot get my mind off of him. Even noticing the neighbor man peeking into my living room window before I shut the curtains (I may need to invest in better window coverings) cannot dampen my spirits,


(1,352 words)




 

How to Make Tea Without Magic

Day Eight, nighttime

Of course, as all magical beings know, there a many ways of getting tea. You can most easily set out all the necessary ingredients and then burn a small bit of incense to power the transformation, you can give up a cup of nectar and receive a cup of tea in return (this is my favorite because the cup and saucer are typically edible and quite tasty – saves all the need to dip sugary discs and the like). My favorite used to be when the humans would leave out cups of tea as offerings in exchange for when the Folk used to come and fix things overnight, but of course the practice is rarer and rarer these days.

Any faerie can also enslave or bribe a bristlebright to come and fix them tea on demand (or any other food or drink, of course. Except mead.) provided they have some human hair to exchange (and who doesn’t with all those hair cutting places that throw it out like it’s not ingredients for some of the most powerful magic in the Five Realms?).

But of course, in the land of humans and blocked magical powers, if a faerie girl wants to relax at the end of a hard day with a cup of foxglove tea, she must endeavor to create it herself.

And thus, I have my first adventure to share with you all.

I have done a little research, and thanks to the Internet and some condescending advice from my dear sister Flora, I have some new information to share with my dear fellows who are cast out from the world of magic.

So here is what I have been able to discover about tea.

First, you must always have boiling water.

This isn’t as easy as it ought to be, because normally all this would take is to suck the cold from the water in question until it has become as warm as desired.

But no. Without magic, the water must be heated, of all things. With an external heat source. It makes me feel like the cavemen of old, huddled around their pots of cooking meat in their naked skin. Personally, I never use fire unless it is for purposes of making magical salves and potions. Of course, unless the Council is kind enough to bestow permission to do so, I shall be using fire to make tea.

Anyway, to heat water:

Some houses have electric coils on stoves, but this house has a “gas range” which means flames shoot out either high or low dependent on the position of a small dial on the front of the stove.

Find a kettle and fill it most of the way with water. The tea kettle is usually made of metal. Anything that looks like it ought to be a tea kettle, but is made of breakable stuff, is a tea pot. If you put this on the stove, there will be breaking and lots of steam, the fire will go out and water will be everywhere and you will get a chance to try out some of those curse words humans are so fond of while wishing for all you are worth that you could use simple water retrieval magic and a repair spell to get it all back to where you wanted it. Of course, if simple magic could be used to make tea, then the swearing and wishing wouldn’t be needed at all.

Now, once the water is mopped up and the correct tea kettle found, heat the water over the highest flames. Most of these kettle things have a contraption that covers the spout and makes a terrible shrieking sound once the water is boiled. When this happens, you can turn off the fire.

To make tea:

There are several ways of making the tea with the newly created hot water. The easiest is to purchase tea that is in little bags on strings. Humans are nothing if not inventive in their ways to get around their handicap of not having magic and this is one of my favorites. You can simply choose the bag of tea which contains the desired herbs and then dunk the bag in and out of a cup of hot water until the tea is as stong as you like. Fantastic.

Sadly, foxglove tea is not readily available in these baggies. Flora insists that this is because it is toxic to humans, but I think that is preposterous–how in the Realms could foxglove be poisonous?

Anyway, I have found some foxglove growing in a cemetery nearby and have it drying for my future enjoyment. For tonight, I have chosen a chamomile tea to drink. It, sadly, is also not in a bag.

If I still had that tea pot in one piece (or if I could repair it with simple magic), I could brew an entire pot of chamomile. There is a basket in the top of the pot, in which the dried herbs are dispensed – about one tsp (whatever this is) per cup of tea. Put in the ingredients, pour over the boiled water until the pot is full, and then wait until the tea is strong.

Luckily, if one doesn’t have tea bags or if there has been a teapot tragedy, there is a funny thing called a tea ball. It hangs on a small chain and is a metal ball that breaks in two in the middle. You can fill it with tea and then dunk it as one might the bags of tea. There are holes in the ball for the water to mingle with the tea, and for all the world this makes me feel like I am dunking a skeske head into my mug (all those eyes the have, you know).

In any case, this is not my preferred method, I now have a cleaned and mopped kitchen floor and a cup of tea to sip while I lay in my bed and wonder what new horrors adventures await me.

Goodnight.

(978 words)