I was sitting outside a favorite coffee shop the other morning, I was doing a little bit of networking for my job, but after I talked to the few people that were there … six feet a part … I took time to enjoy my coffee and scone … and to ponder a bit.
Oh, how the world of coffee has changed in my lifetime! When I was a little child, our next door neighbor named Frankie drank coffee all day long! My mom used to ask her how she could drink coffee on a summer afternoon. I can answer that question now. I love coffee and my husband loved coffee.
In 1977, we lived in a beautiful double A-Frame home in the middle of 40 acres of standing oak. Drinking coffee, sitting on one of the decks, was about as enjoyable as any part of our lifestyle! It was also in 1977, when coffee prices skyrocketed. It was so expensive that old-timers were talking about grinding hickory nuts and adding to the coffee to make it go farther. I guess that couldn’t be much different than adding chicory root to coffee. I would have liked it because I love coffee and chicory!
Coffee drinking became popular in America right after the Boston Tea Party, for obvious reasons! During the Civil War, plenty of coffee rations were provided to soldiers on both sides. During World War II, instant coffee was provided to soldiers. My daddy used to tell a story of how he carried a little coffee pot and a small kerosene stove when he was on Okinawa. He also had a frying pan. He would tell us that when he could find coffee to brew, he felt closer to home. For the rest of his life, my dad drank coffee out of mugs he brought back for wartime. If you want to read more about that, click right here.
In my favorite vintage period, the 1950s, coffee was commonplace in most households. Maxwell House and Folgers brands were the most popular. Holiday parties often included “coffees” complete with all kinds of sweet treats and good coffee. Silver coffee urns and glass carafes were popular. Coffee houses emerged in London in the 1950s and set a trend that found its way to New York City. Seattle became the hottest spot for coffee shops in the 1970s. In the 1990s, coffee shops started popping up in cities all over the United States. I’ll never forget a trip I made to Seattle when that was happening. I couldn’t believe how exciting it was for me, a coffee lover, to zip from shop to shop sampling different varieties and strengths of coffee. We had always dressed up coffee! We loved Mexican Coffee flavored with cinnamon and Kahlua and Joe’s Christmas Coffee spiked with bourbon and stirred with a peppermint stick … both topped with whipped cream! I returned home from that Seattle trip, bought an espresso maker, and thus began the world of International coffees in the Moore home! My husband subscribed to a world coffee club, and we enjoyed a new flavor each month, until we found our favorites. My husband died before k-cup makers hit the market, but I’m sure he has one in Heaven, and I’m sure my dad is with him enjoying every cup!
I’m going to share my recipe for biscotti today. It is one of my favorite things to dunk in good coffee. We think of modern coffee shops when we think of biscotti, but it dates to early Roman times. The twice baked cookie, dried to a crunchy state, was initially used because of long storage. It was dipped in wine in those earliest times. Other European cultures have similar cookies. British have rusks; the French have Croquets de Carcassonne; and Germans have Zwieback (which many moms use when their babies are teething).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift all the dry ingredients together. Add the eggs and liquid ingredients to a big mixing bowl and beat until frothy. Slowly blend in the dry ingredients. If you have bread making attachments for your mixer, use them. As the dough begins to stick together, drop in the nuts. They need to be finely ground … but any nuts will work.
When the dough has formed a nice ball, separate it in half. Form each half into a loaf and place it on a well-greased baking sheet. Parchment paper or a silicone sheet works better, but if you don’t have that, use a little extra spray on the sheet.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Stick a pick in the middle and make sure it comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the loaves cool for 10 minutes. Remove them from the baking sheet to a cutting board and cut the biscotti into ½ or ¾ inch slices. If you want a longer biscotti, cut them at an angle across the loaf.
Place the slices back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn each one over and bake another 10 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet.
** There are a few ways to adjust this recipe. You can use different extracts and flavorings or add lemon or orange zest. Dip them in melted chocolate or drizzle them with a frosting of your choice. Sprinkle chopped nuts or tiny chocolate morsels. My favorite will always be anise extract and dipped in chocolate!
I’m posting this as a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable project. Click the menu tab for other old recipes and stories! I’ll also share with a couple blog parties so take a look at my list on the sidebar. Enjoy!