What am I eating? Homemade Almond Milk

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Image courtesy of tasty-yummies.com

In a bid to try new things and learn about how to prepare fresher foods, I came across the idea of making my own nut milk. This is not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination, but new to me. I was always under the impression that doing things like making your own nut milk or coconut butter required a lot of machines, know-how, and time. All of which I am in short supply of. I do like almond milk from the store, but I find that I am getting really picky with it. If it isn’t one particular brand that I like it tastes metallic and almond milk is not supposed to taste like a copper penny right? bleh.

13701634563_457dec5e49_z.jpgA few days ago, I found a very easy guide (which I will post below) and gave it a go. What came out was the most delicious creamy wonderful almond milk I have ever had. I am digging it, plus it is fun to try out new and sometimes better ways of doing things. Give it a try. If you can use a blender you can do this. Pistachio milk?! Yes, please!

 

 

 

 

 

How To Make Various Milks

Homemade Nut Milk
makes 1 quart

  • 1-2 cups raw unsalted organic nuts*
  • 4 cups filtered or purified water

Optional:

  • pinch of himalayan sea salt (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoon local raw honey or other sweetener (optional)
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1) Soak your nuts and vanilla bean (if you are using one) for at the appropriate amount of time (see above chart for appropriate soaking times)

2) Discard soaking water and rinse your nuts and the vanilla bean.

3) Place soaked nuts, the whole soaked vanilla bean (you can chop it up or split it open if you wish) or vanilla extract, honey (or other sweetener), a dash of sea salt and 4 cups of water in a blender. Cover and blend on high for 1-2 minutes. It will be milky and have a bit of foam on the top.

4) Strain milk through a nut bag and squeeze into a bowl. (see my suggestions below on what I use)

SERVE.

I Try Ras el Hanout

#715 of 1001 Foods to Try Before You Die

 

 

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Image courtesy of genius kitchen

 

 

I have decided that I am going to tackle the aromatics section of the list. I figure aromatics ship easier and I can make recipes at home for the fam. Much easier than say trying to ship a weird type of fish only found in Iceland. Why don’t I ever make things easier for myself?

I found a little baggie of this spice at the local World Market for 2.99. Duuuuuuuude. I was absolutely shocked. I have been looking and looking to get my hands on any of this and was sadly resorting to ordering from Amazon and their prices for it. I love trying new things, but 12.99 a little steep for a spice I may never use again. This was a great find.

Let me tell you about the glory that is this spice. Close your eyes.. they closed? OK.

Imagine that you are walking around a long street made of cobbled stone. You are in a Morrocan spice market. People are hustling around you hawking their wares. You are being bombarded with foreign (to me a least) sights, sounds, and smells. Especially, the smells that permeate the air are a concoction of all things deeply spiced. Not hot spices with their peppery overtones, But things like cinnamon, and cardamon. Deeply comforting spices that you want to roll around in and sip in tea.  This is what this spice made me think of when I smelled it, and the glory of it when I tasted it. I don’t know if it is accurate. I have never been to Morroco. But man, this is one of the best things I have ever smelled. It tasted even better.

I made a recipe I found on Pinterest via genius kitchen that used Ras El Hanout with potatoes. I can see how this spice could lend itself to pretty much anything. It is very versatile. Make sure you boil the potatoes first. Good luck! Make it, your house will smell amazing.

READY IN:

30mins

SERVES:

4

UNITS:

US

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g white potatoes
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice mix
  • olive oil

 

DIRECTIONS

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C/Gas mark 7.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes in half and boil until ‘al dente’. Make a dressing by mixing the juice of one lemon, garlic, and Ras El Hanout. In a hot oven, pre-heat oil in a baking tray.
  3. Once par-boiled, drain the potatoes in a colander and toss the potatoes to encourage a fluffy outer. Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl with the dressing and ensure that the potatoes are covered. Transfer the potatoes into the hot tray and roast for 25 minutes.

What am I eating? Cultured Butter

Sour Milk Never Tasted So Good

Cultured butter is not something I have scheduled on any list. It is something I have wanted to try for some time, and I decided to take the leap after watching a youtube series on fermentation.

 

I like this series quite a bit. He is a pretty unassuming guy who wants to ferment stuff. He made making cultured butter look pretty easy.

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After doing the simple steps, I set it on a shelf in my kitchen and waited. Two days later, and some blending I had amazingly good butter and some delicious buttermilk that I turned into buttermilk ranch dressing.

See, the thing is butter in the US is awful for a variety of reasons. Firstly, we graze cows on corn. Corn is not a natural food of cows, so it throws all sorts of things off biologically. Butter that is made from milk from cows that graze on a variety of grasses tastes fantastic. It is more buttery in flavor and consistency. It is shocking the difference when you do a taste test. I feel like if I am going to put something like butter in my body, it needs to be of high quality. Butter is quite the indulgence when you get down to it. So I have started a bit of a butter quest, taste testing different kinds of butter. Cultured butter far surpasses much of what I have tasted, and it is cheaper to make.

Check out this article on butter tasting


Cultured Butter

Recipe from New York Times Cooking

  • 4 cups good quality heavy cream
  • ½ cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste

PREPARATION

  1. Combine cream and yogurt in a large jar or bowl. Seal jar well and shake aggressively until combined, or whisk well if using a bowl. Cover jar or bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let mixture sit in a warm area of your kitchen for 18 to 36 hours; it should thicken and taste rich and tangy.
  2. Seal the jar or cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it reaches 60 degrees, 1 to 2 hours. If you refrigerate it longer, allow mixture to warm slightly at room temperature before proceeding.
  3. Line a fine-mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Make sure there is plenty of extra overhang of cheesecloth.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor, add the thickened butter mixture and process on high until the yellow curds begin to separate from the buttermilk, 2 to 3 minutes. It will have the appearance of liquidy cottage cheese
  5. Slowly pour the buttermilk through the mesh sieve and then dump the butter curds in. Let sit for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing buttermilk to drip through. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth up and around the butter, pushing the curds down and into a ball. Twist the cheesecloth and squeeze the ball to extract as much buttermilk as possible. You will be left with a butterball.
  6. Pour the buttermilk into a separate container and reserve for another use. Place the butterball in the empty bowl. Be sure to squeeze out all excess butter from the cheesecloth. Pour 1/3 cup of ice water over the butter and, using a spatula, “wash” the butter, folding it over itself and pressing down to extract the extra buttermilk. Drain off the milky liquid and discard it; repeat this process until the liquid is clear, 4 to 6 times. The butter will start to harden; at that point your hands may work better than the spatula.
  7. Place the butter on a clean kitchen towel and pat lightly to remove excess moisture. Knead a few times with your hands and pat dry again; this will help extend its storage life. Sprinkle the finished butter with salt and knead a few more times to combine.
  8. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper, or two if you would like to divide the batch in half, and place the butter on the paper. Form the butter into a log and then roll it up in the paper and twist the ends to seal. Make sure the log has a uniform thickness throughout. Refrigerate until ready to use. The butter will last about a month in the refrigerator.

I built a Pagoda on the Cheap

Or as I call it, an Insta-goda.

God who doesn’t love Pinterest? Heathens that’s who! I get so many great ideas off of there that I have neither time nor money to do. But every now and then I see a pin and it sparks an idea that I could whip up and get a little spark of self-accomplishment from. This happens to be one of them. Originally it was an instructables.com link (another fantastic site for no time or money ideas) called “Easy Garden Pagoda.”  I am in amidst the slow process of transforming my former overgrown cesspool of a backyard into an Asian inspired zen garden.

Stacked the parts till I got a semblance of a pagoda, stole some large rocks from my mother-in-law’s house to give it that added panache, and voila. Insta-goda.

I have a lot of appreciation for Asian landscape architecture, specifically the Japanese gardening style. It is calm amidst chaos for me. One of the features used in Japanese gardens is pagoda-like statues. They all vary in cost, size, materials used etc. But generally, they are out of my budget. What is important is the shape. The stacked tiers are a mainstay in Japanese landscape architecture. I wanted one and could not afford it. That is when I came across this brilliant how-to.

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This is a rather fancy one, for around 400 bucks.

I am not going to rehash the step by step process of me making it. I did essentially what the above link did. Found the parts at Walmart and used what I had laying around the backyard. Stacked the parts till I got a semblance of a pagoda, stole some large rocks from my mother-in-law’s house to give it that added panache, and voila. Insta-goda.

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Here is the one from the instructable. I don’t trust wood legs in my climate, so I opted out of them.

The most important part of her instructable is the level surface you build something like this on. I used an actual bubble level on the first paving brick to make sure that it was perfect, otherwise, you will have the leaning tower of a pagoda. That is not a good look and could crush a small child or raccoon or something if it falls. Screw raccoons.

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Just FYI

Stupid old-timey trash bandits.

It might even be a good idea to use a construction adhesive when you have the design you like. Also, this Mother-f@#$% is heavy. Like brute strength on PCP heavy to move it. Figure out where you want to put it, and think of it like you built a house. A small house made of lead that is not going anywhere unless you smash it with the wrecking ball.

Here is the finished product. Please ignore the gorgeous fluorescent tag I left on it.  At the time I was thinking: “color, color, color!” (I forgot to remove the tag.)  Now I just think, “god so last season.” (Tag is still there and probably will be forever.)

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Damn, I am pretty.  Oh, and “hello pollen you mother-#$%^&.”

Eventually, my pretty pagoda will be surrounded by the lovely shape of river rock and sedum Angelina adding color to the base. But we are not freaking made of money, so that will happen when I decide that eating is less important than doing my garden. I am almost there, it is a sickness really. Anyone want to start a gofundme for my plant buying sickness? I think I need about twenty bucks in plants to go around the base. (I kid, I kid. Don’t get your panties in a twist.) Next garden ornament is a Foo dog as an homage to Mouse from Dresden Files. My geekiness seems to leak out into every part of my life.

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Here is a picture of sedum Angelina for the lazy.

I am Going to Fail Spectacularly

 

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Hi, yall. I am so pretty. Image care of http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/plants/african-protea

My life’s obsession with books and reading is only eclipsed by one thing and one thing only, and that thing is gardening. Maybe books about gardening? (As I stare at the six gardening books I have on my bedside table) My obsession with gardening is only from January until September every year so it is not so bad. Really really, promise. I am one of those people that get giddy when I get new seed catalogs in the mail and instead of buying new shoes or something, I buy a plant. I went practically apoplectic today when I discovered a local nursery had tiny and cheap Japanese Painted Ferns. A plant that I had been looking for for the last 5 months for six freaking dollars.

 

 

Today in the mail I received a teeny tiny packet of protea seeds that I ordered from a dealer in Quebec.   Protea is a type of flower that looks like a Hibiscus and a pincushion had a baby, then spray painted it neon. It is all spikes, and color while being delightfully and garish and tacky. I freaking love everything about proteas. If I had a spirit flower it would probably be them. Here is the kicker. They are ridiculously and stupendously difficult to grow. Sunset magazine says that if you don’t have perfect soil and perfect climate, and perfect gardening practices; give up and enjoy cut flowers. I am never one to shy away from a challenge. CHALLENGE! I throw down my shears and hoe in the face of such a farce of a seed. It will not beat me!

 

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Ohhhh king Protea, you are one sexy bitch.

 

(it totally isn’t going to grow)

But, I will try and it will be a unique and fun experience. Proteas along with the Black Magic Rose are the two Unicorns that I have always wanted to try and grow, succeeding doesn’t really matter. I’ll add updates as this experiment goes along. I think it will be a damn success story if I can get one seed to germinate, like at all. Here goes nothing.

 

I built a Thing. It’s Spicy.

 

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I actually have that quote painted on a board and hanging above my new spice rack, I think that It combines my favorite things, science fiction, and cooking. Only about 1 in 40 people who have seen it know where it comes from so all my smug coolness of it is really only in my head. Garbgeek.com

We decided not long ago that we needed a spice storage solution to the million spice jars that I have in the kitchen. No joke, but I think I have close to seventy. I like to cook, and that requires a lot of different spices. Garam Masala to Chinese five spice, I have quite the collection and before you ask I have used them on a least one dish at some point in the past.  I make killer tea eggs with the Chinese five spice.

A previous solution we had been using utilized the spice holder Bekvam from IKEA just hanging by its lonesome on the wall. It got ridiculous with all the spice. It was almost like a shrine to IKEA. Plus,  they are hard as hell to hang. IKEA totes itself as being easy to build and hang, but I call BS on it. Most of the stuff I have gotten from IKEA has been difficult and required a youtube video to get together.

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Not my hack, but you get the idea. This times 10. 

I had gone through a teal phase with them, then a coral phase. The spice holders were a bevy of different colors by now. Much to the chagrin of my husband, it looked like the seventies threw up in my kitchen.

This is what I did. I took all the myriad of spice racks I had and some scrap wood. screwed them all together. Tried to get it true, then painted it. Voila! Insta-spice rack. The wood I screwed it together with was kinda warped, and the spice shelves are not perfectly level. But it is off my counter and hanging beautifully up. Obviously, this isn’t as a tutorial. I kinda winged it. You get the idea.

 

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Here it is in all its glory. Be awed. Be Amazed. Be jealous. Make one yourself. 

 

One of the things I am going to do in the future is to do a background on the spice rack. The periodic table of spices appeals to my inner geekiness. Also, having it organized and a spot where I can find them easily is a must. Baby steps. They are off my counter.