In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Make Better Coffee

My friends Ben, a former Secret Service sharpshooter who can drop a man at 1,000 yards, and Meg (who cannot) make delicious coffee. I slept over at their fabulous Chesapeake Bay home during Thanksgiving weekend and Ben showed me his trick.

(I have a bedroom in their house, it is known as "Pam's room." Meg has a room at my house, known as "Meg's room." We were roommates for 5 years in our 20s... the separation has never quite been complete...)

So the secret, which I tried at my house:

Salt. Just a few grains over the coffee grounds before you brew it.
The science: salt inhibits your tongue's ability to taste bitterness (that's why you should generously salt your roasted Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe and the like. You taste the vegetable instead of the bitterness. Don't over salt it, use more than you would normally think would work. It really improves the flavor.)
So a few grains of the stuff -- a tiny pinch between your finger and thumb -- takes the edge off your coffee. Don't try this with iodized salt. Use large grained sea salt -- it's mellower and has larger crystals.
I made coffee this way for my boyfriend last weekend without him knowing -- it was like an awesome commercial about decaf coffee from the 70s -- and he loved it. It really was delicious. We had leftover coffee that we reheated in the microwave the next day and it was still awesome -- smooth and nutty. Give it a whirl.
You're welcome.


  1. No shit, indeed. Would I steer you wrong?

  2. That's probably why your coffee tastes so bad Blackbird. I'd try the salt instead.

  3. hahahahahahaha. it is rare I laugh out loud at the written word. Anonymous! Reveal Thyself (or at least keep commenting. Please!)

  4. Anonymous is right. I make shitty coffee.