18 January 2012

Lots of Hot Water

I'm not much of a tea drinker, and never had much interest in tea kettles. After all, who needs a special implement just to heat up water? Why not simply use a saucepan and lid? Even Mrs. Yeoman Farmer, who does make large quantities of herbal and medicinal teas for herself and the Yeoman Farm Children, has tended to agree. Besides, given that she usually makes tea in huge (2 qt) jars...the typical tea kettle doesn't produce enough hot water anyway.

Sometime earlier this winter, MYF started thinking: we have a woodstove burning pretty much around the clock. We use a lot of hot water, not just for tea and warming up the baby's milk, but also for cooking. It's time-and-energy consuming, and a hassle, to heat up a saucepan of water every time we need it. Why not take advantage of that constantly-burning woodstove, and keep a kettle of water on it all the time? We could have hot water on demand, basically for free.

The only problem is that the typical tea kettle is so small, we'd be emptying it too frequently. And then MYF found the solution while browsing a Lehman's catalog. Behold, super-sized tea kettles!

They come in 5 qt, 7 qt, and 9 qt...and the picture doesn't really do justice to how big they are. We bought a 5 qt, and it is giant. I can't imagine how big the 9 qt is. Most remarkable is how beautiful the kettle is, and because it's made of stainless steel it is extremely solid. And, at less than twenty bucks, surprisingly inexpensive. I highly recommend it.

One of the most amusing things about this kettle, though, isn't its size. It's the whistle. I hate the typical shrill scream of most tea kettles. So, imagine our surprise and delight the first time we brought this one to full boil and discovered...its whistle sounds like a freight train! Truly appropriate for the thing's massive proportions, and actually kind of fun to listen to.

We basically never run out of hot water anymore. And now that plenty of hot water is available any time, it's become more convenient to make my coffee using a French press. I prefer coffee made that way, and the high mineral content of our water tends to ruin conventional drip coffee makers, but the hassle of heating up a quart of water at a time meant I didn't use the French press very often. Now I use it every time.

Not to digress too much, but I really like my French press. The thing has a beautiful and elegant simplicity to it. And using it couldn't be easier: put 1/2 cup of coarsely ground coffee in the bottom, add about a quart of near-boiling water (to within an inch or so of the top), stir with a wooden spoon, and fit the lid / pushrod / circular mesh filter assembly to the top.

Let it steep for at least four minutes, and then plunge the pushrod / filter all the way down to trap the grounds. The result is a wonderfully rich cup of coffee, with all the oils and flavors still in it.

Perfect for a cold Michigan afternoon by the woodstove of an old farm house. Or anywhere else you might find yourself today.

4 comments:

Kate said...

We love the French press too. Unfortunately, our dish washers have a tendency to break the glass. So we have reverted to an old percolator glass coffee maker and use a strainer to strain out the grounds as we pour. Definitely a delicious cuppa Joe.

John Gray said...

an enjoyable blog you have here.. enjoyed my visit

Homesteading Mommy said...

I so wish you had posted this 2 months earlier!!! We recently invested in a big water purification system which makes our water "fine" to drink. But after 6 years of bottled water, I can't drink it plain. So I make herbal tea in the morning, let it cool and stick it in the fridge to drink the rest of the day. I looked high and low and finally found a tea kettle that was 3 quarts (in the heat of summer I can easily consume a gallon of water a day by myself). And a pot is miserable to deal with because there's no easy way to pour it into a different container. At least not with my pots! And I still spent $20 on the one we now have that's half the size! Oh well. I guess one that big might not fit too well in the fridge. Or maybe I'm just licking my buyer's remorse wounds. :-)

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