Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade [and learning slowness]

Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade

I don’t really want to go slow. I daydream about slow evenings on a front porch (a front porch I don’t currently have, but would love someday) sipping ice-cold lemonade. But let’s be honest. It makes me anxious. Slow means fewer check marks. It’s unsatisfying and even painful. There’s no instant gratification.

I grew up playing card games like Nertz and Dutch Blitz. Speed is essential in those games. The hustle and the quickness required to win outweighs the importance of accuracy. If you’re fast enough, you can even get away without a few mistakes (or intentional “misdirection”). But that pace is unsustainable.

When I was in eighth grade, my science teacher had us stand on our chairs as we repeated Newton’s laws of motion. There’s something about putting our bodies in a different posture that makes a lesson stick. To this day, I can picture standing up on my chair reciting how an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an external force (and other science-y things I’ve since forgotten).

I view life a little too much like the laws of motion sometimes. I fear once I stop, I may never start again. If I rest, will I stay there forever? Will I become stagnant? So I keep going. Inertia will do its part, and I’ll be able to keep on keepin’ on, right? Moving feels more comfortable, more satisfying—for a while at least. And then I realize I’m moving in the wrong direction, or I slam headfirst into a wall called burnout or sickness or whatever else. I’ve hit that wall enough times in the past to know I’m bound to smack my face again.

I’ve been thinking on Psalm 131 lately, especially verse 2 that says, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

My soul is more often like a loud, screaming toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed. It’s like a kid who doesn’t want to let go of what their doing even though the slowing and stopping is needed and even enjoyable.

What would it take to quiet my soul?
What does it mean to rest, despite what’s going on around us and all that needs to be done?
What if I didn’t have to go so fast and then slam on the breaks to avoid catastrophe?
What if I lived my life with a soul and body that were slow, calm, quiet, rested, and refueled?
And what if, instead of trying to wriggle free, I found complete comfort, contentment, and peace in the arms of God?

I don’t have a five-step plan or an easy answer. But I’m dwelling on the questions. In our harried and hurried world, I think we’d do well to practice the art of slowness—maybe even stillness. I’m (slowly) learning what it looks like for me, and even that’s bound to change with the seasons of life.

It can be scary practice. As we calm and quiet our bodies, we start to see the unrest of our souls. Slowing down forces us to stop hiding our inner chaos behind a wall of to-dos. But I think that’s when we really start to learn slowness and stillness. Our bodies no longer run like a machine but as a sacred gift that points us to an infinite, tireless, omnipotent Giver. As as we rest in him, our souls become calm, our spirits quiet. And like a weaned child with its mother, we get to know the slowness, stillness, and complete peace that comes from being in the arms of our God.

Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade
Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade
Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade
Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade

Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade
Yields about 8 servings

2 ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (fresh really does make a difference!)
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup honey
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger*
6-8+ cups sparkling water**
Ice

To make the base of the lemonade, add the lemon juice, sugar, honey, and ginger to a small saucepan. Turn on medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, and the mix comes to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool. Strain to remove the pieces of ginger. (If you prefer, you can skip this step so the ginger continues to infuse flavor in the lemonade.)

Refrigerate the lemonade base until cold, up to a couple days in advance.

When you’re ready to serve, transfer the lemonade base to a pitcher or individual glasses filled with ice. Top with sparkling water to taste, and stir gently. If you’d like to make it a cocktail, add a splash of vodka or top off each glass with prosecco. Enjoy!

*This gives a subtle ginger taste, but feel free to add more if you want it stronger.

**You can adjust the amount of sparkling water to make the lemonade the strength you prefer. I usually prefer a bit more sparkling water, but adjust it to your taste. You can also use regular water for a non-carbonated lemonade.


How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex

How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing

In high school, I’d swing by Dunkin Donuts early in the morning to get a medium hazelnut coffee with milk. Just saying my old coffee order brings back memories. Even at seventeen, I loved the routine comfort of a hot, caffeinated drink in the morning. Fast forward about fifteen years and three kids later, and I still think there’s nothing like a good cup of coffee when you wake up. But I’ve learned a bit about this drink in the last decade and a half—like what makes a really good cup.

A few years ago, my brother started his coffee roasting business, FreshGround Roasting, and has taught me the wise ways of good beans and good brewing. Let’s just all admit one thing right from the start. The craft coffee culture can be a bit snobby—just like some wine aficionados, craft beer brewers, and any other artisan-type industry. I’m guilty of this in many ways, and that’s unfortunate. Coffee, and food and drinks in general, should be a catalyst to bring us together, right? Alienating each other because of what we eat and drink goes against so much of the beauty of our eating and drinking.

FreshGround Roasting is all about teaching and welcoming people into the coffee world rather than ostracizing them from it. And this post isn’t about touting the way to brew coffee (although if you’re going to master one brew method, I suggest mastering the Chemex). As I’ve learned how to brew better coffee, just like I’m learning to cook better, my old tastes don’t appeal as much anymore. There’s something about taking a little extra care with good quality beans that makes it more than just a vehicle for caffeine or a mindless habit. It’s a gift to savor and enjoy—like a good wine or a perfectly cooked steak.

So if you’re interested in upping your coffee game, try brewing with a Chemex. If it’s new to you and maybe a little intimidating, don’t let that deter you. Honestly, it’s just pouring water over grounds in a cool looking vessel. Each step of the brewing process and the design of the Chemex and filters makes a difference in the end result, but it’s surprisingly simple to do.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for instructions. If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment. You can also find lots more info over at FreshGround, including a demo video.

How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex | Sarah J. Hauser #coffee #chemex #coffeebrewing

How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex

What you’ll need
Whole bean coffee (in this post, I used FreshGround’s Ethiopian Harrar)
Chemex
Chemex filter
Grinder
Kettle (we like a gooseneck kettle because it gives you more control as you pour)
Kitchen scale
Mugs

Weigh out the beans. In a 6-cup brewer we use 48 grams of beans. For the 8-cup use 64 grams, and for the 10-cup use 76 grams (yeah, use slightly less as you make more).

If you have unfolded filters, fold them in quarters. Open it up and put the filter in the Chemex brewer. Make sure the side that has 3 layers of filter paper is against the spout portion of the brewer.

Heat water in a kettle to boiling. Pour a little water in the Chemex brewer to rinse away any of the paper taste from the filter. Empty the water out of the brewer. Don’t remove the paper filter at this point; it’s very difficult to get it back in if you do.

Grind your beans to a medium consistency, similar to what you would do for drip coffee. On my Baratza Encore grinder, I set it to about 19 or 20. Add the ground beans to the brewer.

Put the Chemex brewer on your kitchen scale and tare to zero. Pour about 50 grams of water over the beans making sure they get completely wet. Let the beans “bloom” for about 30-45 seconds. Don’t skip this step!

Slowly pour water over the grounds until the scale reads 710 grams (945 for the 8 cup, 1180 for the 10 cup).

Let it sit until it stops dripping into the bottom part of the brewer. Timing is the key here. It should take about 4 minutes for you to brew 710 grams of water. If it takes longer, your grind is too fine. If it takes less time, your grind is too coarse.

Remove the filter, pour, and enjoy!


Special thank you to Taylor Rae Photography for taking all the photos in this post. Also thanks to FreshGround Roasting for providing the brewing instructions! This post was not sponsored by FreshGround. I just really like their coffee and their mission—and I also happen to be related to the owners. :)


Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda [featuring FreshGround Roasting]

Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser

My three kids actually napped simultaneously yesterday. It was glorious. I don’t think that’s happened in at least six months, because my twins have dropped their nap for the most part—and it came back to bite us last night when they weren’t asleep until 10pm. But for one afternoon, I savored the quietness while my kiddos slept. And by savored, I mean that I didn’t do anything “productive” and read a book the entire time. I sat with my book (If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey!) for over two hours, and I didn’t feel the least bit bad about it.

While I loved reading the whole time, what I enjoyed the most was resting without feeling guilty. I’m not good at that. I’ve talked in the past about my need to feel accomplished, but sometimes letting go of my to-do list proves to be an accomplishment in itself. I constantly battle this inner guilt that’s neither helpful nor even true. Rest isn’t all that restful when we sit there feeling bad about it the whole time. When we do let go of that guilt, there’s freedom and joy to be found. It’s like our soul can finally exhale.

Today I’m back to the to-do list. We needed groceries. The house needs to be cleaned. I have to get work done. That’s okay, because there’s been a break, a renewal, a physical and emotional refueling. I can work from the overflow rather than pouring from an empty cup. That is a gift.

Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser

Need a little pick-me-up, or want to sip a fun drink while you dive into a favorite book? This Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda is perfect for that! You could also make it with decaf cold brew or add a splash of vodka for the grown-up version. Enjoy!


Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda
Yields 1 drink

¼ cup pomegranate juice (make sure it’s 100% pomegranate juice)
¼ cup cold brew coffee (such as FreshGround’s Black Ice Brew)
2-4 teaspoons simple syrup
1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup sparkling water
Ice
Lemon slices for serving

Add the pomegranate juice, coffee, 2 teaspoons of simple syrup, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to a glass filled with ice. Stir well until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Top with sparkling water to taste. (I use about a ½ cup of sparkling water.) Stir gently, and add more simple syrup or lemon juice if desired. Serve with a lemon slice and enjoy!


This post was created in partnership with FreshGround Roasting. All opinions are 100% my own.


(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate [and the gift of play]

(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser

My daughter keeps asking to have a tea party or a picnic or play doctor with her. I oblige when I can, but preschool play is not my strength. But little by little, my kids draw me into their worlds, teaching me how to play again. They show me the joy of silliness and letting go of inhibitions. They help me loosen my grip on practicality. I still fight it every day. I want to see check marks on my to-do lists and know I’m working toward a goal. Those desires aren’t all bad, of course, but we’ve lost something when we let utility push fun completely out of the picture. We’ve lost the joy and beauty of play.

Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, researched how the absence of play contributed to the violent behavior of homicidal males. (Don’t worry. This blog post won’t take a dark turn toward examining the psychology of murder, but if you want to learn more check out Dr. Brown’s TED talk or resources on the National Institute for Play website.) Through years researching both humans and animals, Brown “came to understand that humans are uniquely designed by nature to enjoy and participate in play throughout life.”

We shouldn’t wait to play until all the more important things get done. Play—doing something for the sheer joy of it rather than as a means to an end—is essential for human thriving. It’s something we need in our everyday lives. It cultivates creativity, combats stress, and stimulates the brain. Whenever I watch my kids play, I see them creating, adapting, growing, working together, figuring things out, smiling, and so much more. Yet somehow as an adult, I decided play wasn’t important.

Even when I do try to play, I struggle. I play with my kids but grow easily frustrated by the fact that they’re not following the rules of Candyland or adequately explaining the rules of their own made-up game. I set a mental timer trying to decipher how long I have to sit and eat pretend food or roll cars across the floor before I’ve fulfilled my duty as an attentive mother. To be honest, preschool play can feel utterly mind-numbing to me sometimes. (Please tell me I’m not the only one?) I marvel at the creativity of my kids’ preschool teachers and friends and family who play with my kids with ease. Give me a basketball and a high school kid, and I’m good to go. Give me Play-Doh and a three-year-old, and I’m lost at sea.

When I attempt to play as an adult, I often only do so when there’s a clear goal. I run for exercise. I photograph to get a blog post out. I create a recipe in the kitchen so I can share it online. But what if I did all those things—running, photography, cooking—for the joy of it? What if I allowed myself to do something I love just because? That sounds so...frivolous.

Despite my ineptitude for play, having kids has given me a new chance to learn how to do this. I see them making funny faces, running in circles until they’re dizzy or creating elaborate story lines as they talk to their stuffed animals. They’re learning and growing in many areas that could be labeled as productive. But my daughter doesn’t assign dialogue to her stuffed sloth because she's practicing her language skills. She’s doing it because it’s fun.

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.
— Psalm 104:24-26

God has given us the gift of play—a gift we see his creatures using throughout creation. In Psalm 104, the psalmist writes of the Leviathan in the sea, “which you formed to play in it.” Leviathan (whatever we deem that creature to actually be) was created to play. We see the playfulness of God throughout his world, in the colors of the sunsets or the creativity of the animal kingdom. What was God thinking when he made a platypus? I wouldn’t be surprised if he simply thought it was fun. If we’re to image God, one of the ways we do this is through play. We see and recognize the joy he takes in his creation, and we image that to the rest of the world. If we only ever image our God as practical, realistic, or utilitarian, are we really demonstrating who he is to others?

When’s the last time you did something for the fun of it, not as a means to an end? When’s the last time you allowed yourself to truly and wholeheartedly play? Do you view it as a luxury, or as a necessity? What can you do this week to wholeheartedly, unabashedly play?

(Need some play inspiration? How about playing in the snow and then savoring some hot chocolate afterwards? The recipe below is dairy-free, paleo, vegan, and so, so good! Scroll down to learn how to make it!)

(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | Sarah J. Hauser

(Paleo + Vegan) Maple-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate
Yields 1 large serving or 2 small servings
Adapted from Detoxinista

1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Coconut whipped cream for topping*

In a small saucepan, add the milk, maple syrup, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper (if using).

Turn the head to medium-low. Cook until warmed through, whisking frequently until the hot chocolate is smooth.

Pour into a mug and top with coconut whipped cream. The coconut whipped cream adds an amazing creamy richness, especially as it melts into the drink!

*For full instructions and tips to make coconut whipped cream, click here for a post from Tastes Lovely. Basically, take a can of full fat coconut milk and put it in the fridge for a few hours (I just store a can in my fridge at all times). The cream will separate from the coconut water. Scrape the cream off and add it to a bowl. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat for a couple minutes until soft peaks form, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. I whip in a bit of maple syrup to sweeten the cream. The ratio I like is about 1 tablespoon of maple syrup per cup of coconut cream.