One of the advantages of living where we live is that from roughly December to March, everything outside our home's doors becomes one giant walk-in cooler. I use a table and a cooler on my front porch — which, by the way, makes me look very classy indeed — to hold overflow from the refrigerator.
This seems to happen mostly around the holidays and the many birthday celebrations we have, but it also happens after I do my once-monthly grocery shopping trip.
I phone the house and call out the kids and my husband as I pull into the driveway in the car weighted down with far too many bags. There is a flurry of activity as we all shuttle back and forth, carrying bags into the house and kids dive into those bags looking for "the good stuff."
Hands pop up in the air with favorite finds: "YES! Pretzels!" "Finally, more clementines!" and "We have crackers again!" Every so often a groan and a, "Yuck. Asparagus," peppers the air, but mostly people are thrilled to have the staples and luxury items on hand again.
And almost without fail, it is at this point that I smack my forehead and realize I didn't clean out the refrigerator before I left for the store. This is when my great outdoor walk-in cooler is greatly appreciated.
I take out the odds and ends that I've been saving for whatever reason — the last carrot and stalk of celery (into the soup stock bin in the freezer), the cheese ends rattling around in storage bags (into a bigger bag to deal with later and into the porch cooler) and the armload of almost empty mustard bottles and various other things.
I also set the little jelly jar with a tablespoon or two of sweetened condensed milk and the quart jar with a cup of coffee concentrate outside the front door. When the rest of the groceries are put away and the kids have descended like locusts on the pretzels and crackers and clementines, I crack open the door and stick my arms out just far enough to grab the jars I put out there for just this moment.
A handful of ice, the contents of both jars, a goodly splash of milk, a lid and a shake-shake-shake. That's all it takes to whip up a sweet, refreshing iced coffee to cool me down from my marathon grocery session.
One batch of cold-brewed coffee concentrate yields a little over a gallon to keep you happy and hopping for quite some time. There is a smoothness to cold-brewed coffee that you just can't get from standard heat brewing. Those of you sensitive to the acidity of coffee may find this helps make it easier to stomach, literally. This cold-brewed concentrate is also great in recipes calling for strong coffee.