Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cooler ice

How I like my coffee in the summer: ice cold

It sure is hot outside. I usually drink water most of the day, but after sweating a lot, I want something a little more replenishing and refreshing. Something with ice, and maybe sugar.

Plain ice
My freezer doesn’t have an ice cube maker, so I use the old-fashioned kind of ice cube tray. I keep filtered water around the house: one pitcher in the fridge for cold drinking water, and another on the counter for the coffee maker and for cooking. I also use filtered water to make ice cubes, for chilling water, juice, sodas, and iced tea. I only have a couple of ice cube trays, so when a batch is frozen, I crack it into a ziplock bag that I keep in the freezer. When I’m expecting a rush on ice, I stock up.

Lemon ice
I don’t just have plain filtered water ice cubes, either. When my fresh lemons are getting a little soft, I juice them all and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. After they’re frozen, I crack them into a labeled ziplock bag. A typical ice cube is about ⅛ cup, or two tablespoons. You can spoon measures of water into one compartment of your ice cube tray to find out how big your ice cubes are.

Frozen lemon juice is as handy as frozen basil pesto: it’s an ingredient I often want and, unless I’ve planned for it, don’t always have on hand. I can usually melt the cube right into the dish I’m cooking, but I can also put an ice cube into a small, metal bowl, and let it rest on the stovetop while I cook. After it melts, I measure out exactly what I need.

To make lemonade: Put two ice cubes of lemon juice, a couple (or more) tablespoons of sugar, and water in a glass. Stir vigorously until the lemon cubes have melted: in true lemonade season, this will take a couple of minutes, tops. Taste for sugar and adjust, as needed. Add regular ice and serve.

Iced tea and coffee
For iced tea, I brew a strong batch and keep it on hand in the fridge, for pouring over plain ice. To make iced coffee that doesn’t get diluted, I make coffee ice cubes.

Each morning we brew a pot of coffee and drink a cup or two. I pour the rest into a jar and keep it in the fridge. When the jar gets full, I make a batch of coffee ice cubes. Like with the lemon cubes, I crack the frozen coffee ice into a labeled ziplock bag.

To make iced coffee: When I want a glass of iced coffee, I start with either some of the morning’s lukewarm coffee, or if it’s all gone, some cold coffee from the jar. Add sugar and cream and stir: the cream will help the sugar dissolve. Add plenty of coffee ice and serve.
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