Friday, July 3, 2009

Libations Friday! Coffee Recipe and Michael Jackson Poem Tribute 3 July 2009

Featured this week is a poem about Michael Jackson’s life, a writing exercise of how to write a poetry version of a favorite person’s biography and a coffee recipe.

Coffee photo by once and future @ flickr

Pot-Brewed Coffee with Raw Sugar and Spices (Café de Olla)

From: by Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless @

This recipe is from the Rick Bayless cookbook - "Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico" (found under the Coffee section of The Social Poets Amazon store or just click on this book link)

Yield: Makes 4 - 5 servings

Commentary from author Rick Bayless: “Today, Mexico's best coffee is ripened and dried along the roadways in the cloud-blanketed highlands of Chiapas and over through Veracruz and Oaxaca. The prime beans are usually roasted a little darker than ours — almost a Viennese roast — and they brew a nice, medium-bodied liquid with some spunk. They tell me it's the second-class beans that get roasted darker, to a mahogany black with a shining sugar coat.

The steam-powered espresso machines in the city cafeterías extract a trio of ethnic brews: espresso, straight, foamy and Italian; café con leche, mixed with hot milk, French-style (but so common one would mistake it for purely Mexican); or Americano, simply diluted with water. The more rural brew leans toward the Spanish, the history books say, but it seems like a Mexican-flavored campfire version to me.

Café de Olla at its best is pot-boiled in earthenware with molassesy piloncillo sugar and spices like cinnamon, anise or cloves. These days, many traditional city restaurants offer the dark, delicious drink more regularly, served in old-fashioned earthenware mugs at the end of the meal.”


• 4-5 ounces piloncillo*, roughly chopped or 1/2 to 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, plus 1 teaspoon molasses

• 2 inches cinnamon stick

• A few aniseeds (optional)

• 2/3 cup (2 ounces) Viennese-roast coffee, medium to coarse grind

• *Unrefined sugar that is pressed into cone or disk shapes. Also called panela.


Boiling and steeping:
In a noncorrosive pan, combine 1 quart water, the sugar, cinnamon and optional aniseed. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring to melt the sugar. Stir in the coffee, remove from the fire, cover and steep for 5 minutes.
Straining: Strain the coffee through a fine-mesh sieve into cups or mugs and serve immediately.

A few reviews from the Epicurious site on this recipe:

"I made this for our dinner club and it was delicious. Just don't burn anyone pouring the coffee through the sieve! by A Cook from Alaska

"I needed a Mexican drink for a coffee where I demonstrated Mexican Appetizers. I put Starbucks in my pot's filter basket, added 2 Teaspoons whole anise seed and a few teaspoons of cinnamon. The smell was fantastic and they drank more coffee than Sangria! I also had dark sugar cubes for those who wanted it! by petitti from Memphis

"Very authentic. The only change I make is to omit the sugar and allow each person to add his own, as this is quite sweet for most North Americans, and nearly undrinkable for those who don't normally sweeten their coffee. Do use dark brown sugar in either case, and piloncillo if available. If you're accustomed to sweetened coffee, follow the recipe,playing with the amount of sugar. by A Cook from Jackson, NJ

"I used the brown sugar with ground Starbucks, and it was extremely sweet. You may want to tone down the sugar to 1/3 instead of 2/3 Cups. Other than that, very nice after dinner type coffee drink. by Tony from Philly"

Color Word Cloud - Michael Jackson: Talk About My Life
Photo by Denny Lyon
Copyright 2 July 2009
All Rights Reserved

From Denny: And now for the poetry section. Prominent on the news this past week is the passing of a music legend: Michael Jackson. I thought I’d use the technique of employing 24 of his song titles to tell his life story, describing his view of the world and how he liked to touch others. I also used a phrase I often heard him say after a performance or in interview.

Try this technique with a favorite artist or historical person using phrases, song titles, movies or book titles for which they were known. The song titles were bolded and italicized for easier recognition. This is like writing a poetry version of a biography in the tightest most concise manner.

When a celebrity dies one of the reasons people are so fascinated is that the event calls them into reviewing their own life because it was affected by and connected to that celebrity. Older people fondly remember the music of their youth; the youth realize that death is closer and more unexpected than they realized.

What I like about my own English language is that it is a conceptual language where often what is said or written can be interpreted on several levels. This poem’s title can be interpreted several ways. On the surface level that every reader can easily see is that the narrator appears to be discussing his own life. The next level is implied. MJ is in the news even after death and people all around the world are talking about him, even gossiping about him if they were not fans.

The third level of interpreting this poem’s title is how Michael’s body of work talks about his life, even speaks for or against his journey through life. This level’s interpretation is dependent upon the reader’s view of him, positive or negative, much like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. It’s where you are standing that determines your point of view.

Black and White Word Cloud - Michael Jackson: Talk About My Life
Photo by Denny Lyon
Copyright 2 July 2009
All Rights Reserved

Michael Jackson: Talk About My Life

When I looked at the Man In The Mirror

There were times when I thought I’d never Beat It.

Working hard to earn my way there was Blood on the Dance Floor.

In those days it was Dangerous - When You Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.

Accused of being a Smooth Criminal and oh, so Bad

I would Scream in pain, “They Don’t Care About Us!"

But Billie Jean told me, “You Are Not Alone; Baby Be Mine.”

My eyes met hers and my heart spoke, “I Love The Way You Make Me Feel!”

“Oh, girl,” I melted, “The Way You Love Me.”

I Wanna Be Where You Are, so I can Rock With You!"

Remember the Time when it didn’t matter if we were Black or White?

We hoped so much we could spend our lives as Invincible…

The ups, the downs, all of my Life was a chaotic Thriller.

It’s time I Got to Be There to hear that beautiful Earth Song.

It’s time to Heal the World. I walked off the stage, waving,

You Rock My World! I Love You All! God Bless!”

Denny Lyon
Copyright 2 July 2009
All Rights Reserved

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