October 2006

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If you’re like me, you probably create a good deal of sawdust and wood shavings in your workshop. Making compost is a great way to recycle the sawdust and wood shavings you create. It’s great for your garden or lawn, and it’ll help you feel more Earth friendly, too!

What It Is and What It Isn’t

Compost, the other “black gold,” is a mixture of organic materials left to decompose over time. It makes great mulch, and can be mixed with soil as a natural fertilizer. It’s great for either sandy or clay soils, because it helps to more evenly balance the soil’s texture and nutritional value (for plants, that is).

Done right, composting your sawdust or other woodworking shop waste is not smelly or unsightly, and it neither attracts pests nor distracts neighbors. Chances are your neighbors won’t even know you’re doing it until they start seeing your gardens or lawn flourish in the spring.

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If you’re hooked on mochas and you’re tired of paying someone’s salary at Starbucks, then you’ve come to the right place. With a few simple and inexpensive ingredients, you can make a mocha syrup just as good as (if not better) than anything you get at Starbucks or off the shelf — and certainly better than the Starbucks Mocha Powder they used to sell.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need:

English Metric Ingredient
3 cups 0.75 L Pure, filtered water
2 cups 0.5 L Sugar
1 cup 0.25 L Cocoa powder
1/2 cup 0.125 L Dark cocoa powder
2 oz 60 ml Vanilla syrup
1 oz 30 ml Imitation vanilla extract

Cooking Instructions

Before you start, you’ll want to make sure you have the basics: A sauce pan, wisk, rubber spatula, and a couple of squeeze bottles to hold the syrup when you’re finished.

Bring the water to a boil in the sauce pan. Mix the sugar and cocoa together in a separate bowl and work out any lumps. Once the water reaches a boil, turn the heat off and stir in the sugar/cocoa mixture slowly with a wisk. (You can let it simmer for a bit to thicken it if you want, but be very careful not to let it boil over — it will make a mess, and it always seems to start boiling over the moment you turn your attention elsewhere. It only takes a second; consider yourself warned!)

Stir constantly until any lumps are gone, being careful not to let the sugar or cocoa settle to the bottom of the pan. Using a triangle whisk will help incorporate any sugar or cocoa that gets stuck to the side or bottom of the pan.

After it’s mixed thoroughly, and as it’s cooling down, add the vanilla extract and syrup and stir again. Then pour the syrup into a large liquid measuring cup. You can get every last drop if you use a good rubber spatula.

Finally, after it’s cooled down a bit, carefully pour the syrup into the squeeze bottles and store in the refrigerator. Don’t store it at room temperature unless you want it to start fermenting in a couple of days. :-o

Mocha Recipes

To make the standard mochas, you’ll need some good coffee, and an espresso machine loaded with fresh, filtered water.

You’ll want to experiment with proportions, but for a 16 oz (475ml) mug, I like to use a double shot of espresso, 2/3 of a double shot of chocolate syrup, and the rest 2% milk. My wife likes a 12 oz (355 ml) mug, with the same amount of espresso and a single shot of the syrup.

Steam the milk first — it will stay hotter longer than the coffee. Add the chocolate and any additional syrups (like vanilla or cinnamon) to the mug, and then the espresso. Swirl it around or stir it until it’s well mixed. Finally top it off with the steamed milk and foam. To make iced mochas, follow the same steps, but add ice to the top of the glass before adding cold milk.

For quick chocolate milk, just pour a glass of milk and squeeze in some chocolate until the color is just right. If you’re using a squeeze bottle, you might not even need to stir it. The kids love it! It’s also great on ice cream, and it gives an extra kick to Swiss Miss hot cocoa packets.

Barista in Training

Barista in Training

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