December 2, 2018

2nd Hand Stores - My Favorite 2nd Hand Stores in Houston

The Google Map (Click on any of these in the sidebar to get full address)

Favorite 2nd Hand Stores in Houston

Screenshot of the map:

Coffee - Jay's Coffee Smoothie Protein Meal Replacement

I like some breakfast foods but not all. I enjoy making waffles and pancakes for example. And bacon But, for my daily routine, and in an effort to watch my calories, my default is a protein shake for breakfast, clocking in around 300 calories. I find that it will keep me going until noon. My preference is the MetRx Extreme Chocolate meal replacement that one finds on Amazon. You see, I lost 45 pounds last year, like the way I look now, and work to keep my daily calorie intake around 2,500 calories as much as is possible.

Extreme Chocolate

A week ago, I was contacted by Digster to participate in a survey. A survey on smoothies. And for the purposes of the survey about my smoothie habits, I developed my Coffee Smoothie as follows:

Smoothie – Coffee Smoothie

Coffee Smoothie Recipe for two servings

2 cups drip coffee, poured into an ice cube tray and frozen overnight into ice cubes
2 bananas
½  cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (alkali processed “dutched” for smoothness)
2 tablespoons flax seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups almond milk
40 grams of protein (from whey, soy or other protein powder)
2 teaspoons honey

1. How do I actually make the smoothie?

Mise en place: I have found that it is best to arrange all ingredients ahead of time. They can, of course be all placed in the blender at the same time and then processed until smooth.

2. What is your favorite part about making smoothies?

I like that I can control the ingredients: I can control the sugar content, the carbohydrate content, the fat content and the protein content.
I like that I can vary a given recipe or create a new one.
I like that there are a multitude of recipes available to try on Pinterest, YouTube, books of course, and the web in general.

3. What is your least favorite thing about creating smoothies?

Most protein powders cling to the sides of the blender and cleaning takes more time, as scrubbing is involved. Other than that, I have no issues. It is my preferred meal replacement.

4. Is there anything about using your blender you wish you could change?

Two things actually.  Vitamix charges a lot of money for all of its products. Sometimes what they charge is ridiculous. They’ve gotten away with this for years because of the quality of their blender. But to pay upwards of $125 for a replacement bowl for what probably costs them $5 to make is annoying. Next, even though they say that the Vitamix can be used for a multitude of kitchen processes, it really can’t. It will never replace a food processor or a stand mixer. The bowl is not wide enough. It is basically for soups, smoothies, sauces and purees.

5. Anything that would be helpful in your smoothie creation?

Just remember to freeze the coffee cubes and to use a good artisanal coffee from one of Houston's premiere artisanal coffee roasters. No over roasted (burned) coffee for this boy.

Almond Milk: Most of the store bought almond milks don’t really have that much “almond” in them. Because my Vitamix blender is so powerful, I prefer to make my own. This consists of blanching one cup of whole almonds for 3- 5 minutes in hot water, allowing them to cool, removing and discarding the skin, and processing them with 5 cups of water and 1200 mg of calcium (from calcium tablets). Filter the particulate almond meal and reserve for cooking and keep the homemade almond milk refrigerated. Use within three days.

Here follow some photos that I took to turn in with the survey. For this recipe, I used Pure Protein brand whey protein which is available for a reasonable price at Target and Costco. Cocoa powder from Penzey's. Flax from Canino's Farmers Market. Cinnamon stick from Flores Spices (ground and put in McCormick jar). Coffee from Morningstar and/or Boomtown:

Coffee - Summer Drinks - The Greek Frappé Iced Coffee

Summer Drinks: Greek Frappe

The story that I heard while living in Greece was that, in 1957, Nestle's was marketing an instant chocolate milk drink to the Greek market and giving away free cocktail shakers. This gave one of their Greek executives an idea on how to penetrate the Greek market with Nestle's instant coffee: Ice, water, sugar and instant coffee, shaken not stirred.
They had a hit. It's the national drink of Greece, some say. 
I've found two excellent substitutes, readily available at Fiesta and other fine grocery stores catering to the Latin American market, for the Greek Nescafe.
Look for Nestle's Dolca or Nestle's Clasico instant coffees. Dolca is preferred as it contains caramelized sugar and has a richer taste. 


If you want to be truly "authentic", Phoenicia carries the Greek Nescafe at both of their locations!

Here's the recipe (you can use a cocktail shaker, a milk frother or a blender....I prefer the blender):

2 tablespoons Nestle's Dolca (or to taste)
1 cup cold water
10 ice cubes
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)

Shake or whip the until you get a thick foam. Pour into a glass and watch as the coffee slowly separates from the foam. The colors, man, the colors!

O gafes enai kalos! Oraio to frappe!

Food Geek Trivia: When Nestle's started marketing Nescafe in Latin America, they had a bit of a glitch at first as Nescafe sounds a lot like "no es cafe" (it isn't coffee). 

Heinrich Hall wrote in 2015: "There is also some frappé folklore. For example, some websites list colloquial terms for badly-made frappés, like “petimezi” (“grape molasses“), if it’s too sweet, “dynamitis” (“dynamite“) if it’s too strong, or “nerozoumi” (“water-brew“) if it’s too weak. Admittedly, I have never heard any of them used – but I have come across the occasional frappé variation, including additional ingredients such as ice cream, various alcoholic drinks or chocolate. To my mind, they spoil the simplicity. "

Coffee - Brewing Coffee - Your How-To Guide

Along with cooking, baking and music, another of my passions is coffee. I have built up an impressive collection of ways to brew coffee in the home. And if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Additional note: The Katy location of Best Buy has an extensive coffee section. I've added their address to this blog.

Recently, I loaned a Chemex, Sowden, and some other brewing devices and grinders to a friend who is just starting to take her coffee making to the next level. While putting together some favorite instructional videos for her, I decided it might be fun to create a blog with links to some of these.

Rule of Thumb. I weigh my coffee (medium grind, ground with a burr grinder...blade grinders are okay for spices but not for the Chemex video below he is grinding with the Baratza, the same one that I use as my default grinder) and start out with the SCAA recommendation of 6 grams of coffee per 100 ml of water (I use a digital scale...although two of mine have come from resale shops and I also own the $140 Acaia Pearl (super accurate to 1 gram); to save money the OXO digital scale if you are purchasing one new, though it is nowhere near as accurate as the Acaia; so, if money is no object for you, definitely consider that Acaia Pearl digital). I boil my water in a Hario electric kettle that I recently got from a friend. Gooseneck type spout design.

Here is how to test a digital scale that you may be considering. A dollar bill weighs 1 gram. If your scale accurately reads out 1 gram when you drop a dollar bill on it, it's a good one. The OXO that I recommended above isn't this accurate, but is a good scale choice for the price.

If you want a more effortless, easy method for making coffee (but still want more control over your coffee making), consider a Clever Coffeemaker. It has a valve that won't release the coffee until you set it on top of your cup or carafe. This allows you to steep your coffee for four minutes before extraction. Two tablespoons of coffee per 6 fluid ounces of water is what the folks at Community Coffee recommend for their medium grind, to start with.

Brewing with the Clever Dripper

More Instructional Information:

James Hoffman's Technique for the Hario V60 (Recommended)

The Scott Rao Hario V-60 - The "Rao Spin" (Read This First)
Hario V-60 Instructions and the Rao Spin

(Chemex Video : Baratza setting 18.      24 grams of coffee.    400 ml water)

Seattle Coffee's Guide to Pour Over Methods

Seattle Coffee - Chemex

Stumptown Coffee - Chemex

Kalita versus Hario versus Chemex

(I have switched to the Kalita 185 for my daily coffee making. I do a 300 ml to 18-25 grams extraction with it, which is enough coffee for my wife and I to enjoy in the a.m.)

Espresso Machine Review
Espresso Machine Review

A Coffee Expert Will Show You What To Look For In A Coffee

Water for Coffee. Good water is critical to great tasting pour over coffee. You need the right concentration of magnesium, calcium and sodium to make a "slippery" water to extract all the flavor. I make my own water using formulas from the web. There are lots of recipes there but you need epsom salts, baking soda, distilled water and calcium carbonate and a very good digital scale. But there are some other ways to have better water for your drip coffee. Some people speak highly of the Crystal Geyser brand water one can pick up at Dollar Tree. I've used it and like it. Matt Toomey of Little Dreamers Coffee likes Glacier brand bottled water. I've also made excellent coffee doing a 50/50 of filtered Houston tap water and distilled water, probably the most economical route to go other than Crystal Geyser which is a buck at Dollar Tree.

My Kitchen in my Home:

My new, beloved, Acaia digital scale (awesome). Bluetooth. Programmable. iPhone app. My Chantal pour over electric kettle (I came into possession of a Hario gooseneck electric and that is now the one that I use 100%). My Javelin digital thermometer (also highly recommended). And my Kalita 185.

A NEW option for shopping for coffee makers and other coffee related products is Wish dot com. The stuff is really cheap. Your purchases mostly ship from China so be prepared for a slightly longer delivery lead time. Hasn't been a problem so far. Having said that, I have had no problems with anything that I have ordered. Recently, I bought this adorable little mini Chemex knock-off for around $11. It works perfectly with Hario V60 filter paper, and it does come with a metal filter that works pretty well too (I was surprised). I've also picked up a laser digital thermometer for a couple of bucks there and it works great, too. I've seen a Hario V6 knock-off on the site, too (for not much money). Use 'coffee maker' or 'glass coffee maker' as your search words.

The can is here to give you a size perspective. Wish is downloadable as an app or on the web.

The Sowden SoftBrew (as good as a French press) is a favorite method, especially for cold brew. Note: The coffee is a little thinner than with a French press so you will probably need to adjust by adding more coffee.

Note and Update: I recently played around with one of my numerous French presses and found that I needed to revise my previously lower opinion of this method. The coffee silt in the bottom does not annoy me as much these days and I enjoyed my French press brew. If you buy a French press, consider one that is double walled in order to keep the coffee warm. French presses show up ALL the time at 2nd hand stores so don't pay retail.

The Hario product line (V60), et. al. I go to 2nd hand stores a lot and recently found a V60 carafe and filter at the Goodwill on 20th for only $8! You never know where you will find something good!

(More coffee making photos for your viewing pleasure)

Coffee in Houston - Great Artisanal Coffee Places in Houston - Many of Which Do Their Own Roasting

Click on the map in order to enlarge it:

1. Here is the actual link to the map so that you can explore it in greater detail:

2. Here is a link to an excellent blogpost by Carrie Colbert on her favorite coffee spots in Houston:

3. On January 11, 2018, there was a terrific show on Houston Public Media with Eric, Gwendolyn and David on their favorite coffee shops. Here is a link to that show. 

Mexican Market Tour - Houston

Ethnic Market Tour Houston – Mexican Markets

A year or so back, I had the pleasure to put together a little tour of my favorite places for Mexico related food and shopping here in Houston for my friend, Mely Martinez.


Mely and her husband and son had decided to come down to Houston for a few days of vacation. Now, Houston is not really a tourist destination in my opinion; compared to, say, Austin or San Antonio. We do have some wonderful museums and some outsider art venues that are world class. But, Houston is kind of a business and industry kind of place.

However, Houstonians have found that the best way to socialize with friends is over food and this, plus the incredible multi-culturalism of Houston has led to a city with amazing selections of places to dine, of every ethnicity and of every price range.

Whole areas of our town have sprung up around dining:

Bellaire Boulevard – Chinese and Vietnamese (incorporating Beechnut and Bissonnet now)

Hillcroft Street – Indian and Pakistani primarily, but also Persian and Middle Eastern

Long Point Road – Korean and Central American

Airline Drive – Mexican

Harrisburg – Mexican

Scott / Cullen / OST – African-American

But on this particular meet-up with Mely (Facebook friends for several years, first physical meeting), we focused on Mexico!

Our tour began on Airline Drive, and this is the route that I am mapping out for you today:

El Bolillo Bakery (2518 Airline Drive) ( - The person that started El Bolillo had a doughnut shop or two, originally in Galveston. His workers were from Mexico and one day they suggested to him that if he opened a Mexican bakery, they would join him and make all of the types of breads of Mexico. This is the default bakery for Mexican breads and your jaw will drop when you see the selection here. It is a beautiful venue and very pleasing to just hang out.

And then, a walk across the street to the former Canino’s Farmer’s Market complex (2520 Airline Drive).  Canino’s had been Houston’s market since 1958. The Farmer’s Marketing Association was a private corporation whose shareholders are the original farmers or their descendants. As you walked through the complex, you could discover all things Mexican: dry goods like molcajetes, masa grinders, toys, piñatas, and more; food products associated with Mexico like dried chiles, huazontle, flor de calabaza, chepil, cilantro, tropical fruits and more. However, the complex was purchased in 2019 with the intention of converting the area into a new venue with restaurants or food courts. The good news is, many of the small merchants, the fruit and vegetable vendors are still there. And as of January 2020, I still shop there with my favorite vendors.

Next, cross back over the street to now renamed Granel Spices (formerly Flores Spices and still owned by the same family) (1299 Gibbs at Airline). Recently remodeled, the place looks fantastic. Here, you will find any spice you could think of and much more, in the way of specialty products.  Special note: the Houston location of Penzey’s Spices is also located in the Heights at 516 W 19th Street.

And now, across the street again the El Rey Carniceria and Mercado (formerly Carniceria Teloloapan for shopping or something to eat (2430 Airline Drive). I've got to know the butchers recently when I went in for the meats needed to make an authentic posole and, discovered their fantastic made in house chorizo. Family recipe. Highly recommended.And then, next door to Reyes Produce (2426 Airline Drive) for a look see at their extensive collection of cookware, candies, dried chiles, and more.

Finishing up, we now head south on Airline for a stop at the local cheese purveyors: Houston Dairy Maids (2201 Airline Drive) (

And then, across the street to Tampico Seafood (2115 Airline Drive) ( for a huachinango. You will pick your fish from their market section, which will then be grilled a la plancha style and served on a bed of grilled onions and bell peppers with a side of fries or fried rice (a Tampico tradition from the large Chinese population there). They have a full bar and other food choices too.

We continue south on Airline Drive crossing Cavalcade (just to the west on Cavalcade is the Asia Grocers, featuring Thai, Lao, Cambodian goods and serving food as well) and come to the best candy store, Delicias Mexicanas (1777 Airline Drive) (, your one stop shop for traditional Mexican candies including glorias, dulce de leche, cajeta, hard candies, candied fruits and more. Reyes Produce also carries sweets, so you can cost compare at both places if you wish.

Further south, where Airline Drive dead-ends into North Main, three recommended restaurants: Spanish Flowers Mexican Restaurant, Teotihuacan Mexican Restaurant, and Pinkerton’s Barbecue (quickly turning into one of the top five places for barbecue in Houston)

The tour is finished. Turning west on North Main will take you to the Heights via 20th and turning east will take you to I-45. Both of which will have even more interesting places to shop and eat. But we will save those for another time.