Homemade Coffee Creamer

You know what drives the husband nuts? "Lady coffee"--that is to say, any coffee that has a creamy look and is flavored. He fears it, this lady coffee. It's like he thinks it will make him grow a uterus or something. Anyway, he can smell that such a coffee beverage has been created in our kitchen before he even enters the house and his disdain while walking in the door is loud and extremely negative, cursing and shouting, "Ack!! LADY COFFEE!!", as though he's discovered something unsavory on the sole of his shoe. It's all quite dramatic.

Unfortunately for him, I happen to looove lady coffee. For a while, the only thing that kept me from always making lady coffee (besides the Man Whining about it) was the high price and somewhat questionable ingredients in the flavored coffee creamers from the supermarket. It's almost kind of amusing to learn that most store-bought coffee creamers don't actually contain any milk or cream, plus there's lots of other stuff in there I can't quite pronounce. But recently I learned that I could make my own fabulous flavored coffee creamer for a fraction of the cost with a much simpler ingredients list, and it is awesome.

Basically, it's just sweetened condensed milk (which contains only milk and sugar, by the by), milk (or half-and-half or heavy cream, depending on how rich you like your lady coffee), and whatever flavorings you like. So let's get to it. What kind of lady are you?

Spicy and sweet? Hot! Just throw in some cinnamon (ground or a whole stick), ginger (fresh or ground), nutmeg—any combination of spices that you like. Just be sure to add them when the milk is hot and give them time to steep along with the vanilla bean.

A chocoholic kind of lady? Get it, girl! a few tablespoons of high-quality cocoa powder in the mix for a mocha creamer is simply divine.

Like to mix things up when you place your latte order with all those wacky syrups? An artsy lady--I love it! Try extracts like peppermint or almond, added to taste right before straining. You could also add a dash of flavored syrup in whatever flavor you like to the creamer as well.

But for me, I'm a Classic Lady, and a sucker for vanilla-flavored coffees of all sorts. I make mine with a heady, sweet whole vanilla bean and call it done. And I've got lady coffee at the ready for weeks! Sorry, honey.

Homemade Coffee Creamer

Makes about 3 cups

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 1/2 cups milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream

1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Pinch of salt

In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Set the pot over medium heat and slowly heat the mixture until it is hot and steaming, but not simmering. Cover the pot and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain into a jar or another container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.