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Coffee Klatch

Welcome to Coffee Klatch, my new blog that promises a little bit about a lot of things.

The term “coffee klatch” comes from the German word, kaffeeklatsch, a compound word that means, “an informal social gathering for coffee and conversation.”

The coffee klatch has always held an appeal for me because it combines so many of my favourite things: coffee, nostalgia, friendship and, of course, snacks! Mostly, it evokes to me a sense of community that includes intimate, vulnerable and meandering conversation on all manner of topics.

Coffee klatches were born out of the German coffeehouse culture of the mid 17th century. At the time they were the domain of the upper classes who could afford coffee and had the time to sit idly with friends and discuss all manner of topics spanning philosophy to scientific discoveries.

By the 1950s the social ritual had been appropriated into mainstream middle class North American culture – with stay-at-home moms regularly hosting midday get-togethers for their friends. In my mind’s eye these women all showed up spectacularly coiffed in their 1950s swing dresses or cigarette pants (à la Miriam (Midge) Maisel), recklessly devoting their attention to personal grooming and nonchalantly neglecting to pay heed to their children (who somehow survived without those helicopter blades incessantly rotating above their precious heads).

I also suspect the postwar coffee klatch was a diversion for housewives who felt bored and trapped trying to live up to some kind of warped Leave it to Beaver ideal and craved intelligent conversation as a respite from the social expectations of the day. If I had to guess, I imagine that in this period “coffee” may have been a euphemism for “double martini with a twist”.

I also like to think the outwardly harmless coffee klatch served as a perfect breeding ground for the second-wave of feminism that took North America by storm in the 1960s. Regardless, at that time, with women seizing hard-won opportunities in the working world, the above-described coffee klatch went out of vogue – replaced by frantic attempts to juggle childcare, housework, cooking and a career.

But all was not lost for coffee! The resurgence of coffee shop culture that began when Starbucks transformed its Pike Place Market location into a multi-billion dollar industry in the 1990s, and (mercifully) has evolved into ubiquitous warm and inviting independent coffee shops, brought us the third wave of the coffee klatch.

Today’s indie coffee shops are virtual living rooms. Most are vibrant centres of social interaction. They are places to fuel up, work, read and congregate with other human beings in an increasingly individualized world.

I named my blog Coffee Klatch because I want to create a space to explore and express the many disparate thoughts that cross my mind on a weekly basis. I hope to do it with a community of readers who will share their opinions and ideas with me – and maybe even a snack or two.

To get us started, here’s the recipe that perfectly captures my warm nostalgia for the notion of the 1950s coffee klatch, my mom’s amazing Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

Judi’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake

My mom is not a baker, but she makes a mean coffee cake!

Ingredients

Cake

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Topping

  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans Optional
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Thoroughly grease and flour a small bundt pan or 9" x 9" pan
  • Mix topping ingredients, set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.
  • Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.
  • Pour half the batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with half the topping mixture. Add remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining topping.
  • Bake at 350º for 40 – 45 mins

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