I was told that making almond milk is easy, but in truth, I found the process a bit confusing from the “recipes” I read online. So I am writing up my own recipe in the hopes that it will clarify details on how to make almond milk.
Why Make Almond Milk
Best reason: it tastes yummy. It is richer and creamier than what I have purchased in stores. I think I really made almond cream, to tell the truth. Other reasons might be: you want to learn how to make a non-dairy (pareve) creamer from scratch or you like the idea of making a healthy drink. I made it because I usually have oat milk with my coffee, and on Pesach oat milk is chametz (sort of like bread, which we don’t eat on Passover). Almond milk is not, but our family only uses products that are certified kosher for Passover, and the almond milk I bought last year was so, so, so bad I had to throw it out. If you look at the ingredients on purchased almond milk, you will find ingredients other than almonds and water. This recipe is just: almonds and water!
Almond Milk Ingredients and Equipment
water to soak almonds; different water for almond milk
Food processor or other means of crushing the almonds
Cheese cloth bag or cheese cloth on top of a cup – I bought a soup bag at Glatt 27 in Highland Park, New Jersey (they are hanging near the register)
Almond Milk – How To
Soak the almonds overnight (8-12 hours) in water. In the morning, discard the soaking water. Crush the almonds until fine in the food processor. Place crushed almonds in a cheese cloth bag. Add water: the more water you add, the more milk you get, but it will thin the milk. I added about 1/2 cup of water and so I obtained almond cream. Squeeze the bag into a cup to retrieve the milk.
You will then have a bag of crushed nuts, so find a recipe that calls for crushed nuts. We made cookies with our crushed almonds, and that made my daughter and husband happy.
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On a separate note, I have recently set up a subscription by email for the Sketching Out blog. There is also a link on the right sidebar. This was in response to the upcoming “death” of Google Reader – I may write more on that topic in an upcoming post. Thank you to any of you who choose to subscribe.
We just came back from a fun ski vacation at Stratton Mountain in Vermont. The skiing went well, despite the fluctuating ski conditions (rain one night) and up and down weather. My daughter now eagerly skis a longish trail on the side of the mountain called Lower Tamarack.
On the food front, finding food for us to eat for 3½ days is a bit of a struggle. This year, I packed various homemade food over the past two months that I had frozen in advance for vacation. The potato latkes from Chanukah, for example, were OK since I had packed little applesauce cups as well, so they had a nice condiment to go with them. Spaghetti pie (recipe in Honest Pretzels by Mollie Katzen), however, normally one of my daughter’s favorite dishes did not freeze and defrost nicely into a tasty dish. Most of it got thrown out, unfortunately. The homemade mushroom barley soup was a hit, but the prepared Tabatchnick’s frozen mushroom barley soup not as much. My kids normally like macaroni and pizza slices, but how many of those can one eat? Ditto for Streit’s canned minestrone soup – all my kids like that soup, but not for every meal. My family eagerly consumed leftover chicken soup last night when we got home.
For myself, I made brown rice in the crockpot two nights in a row (1 part rice to two parts water). I bought scallions and parsley in a supermarket right before we got to Stratton. Scallions are an improvement over bringing an onion and a knife and then ignoring the onion for the duration of the trip. You can cut scallions with a plastic knife, if necessary. Also, one year I brought lettuce on our winter trip, only to find it had frozen and wilted on the journey. Parsley holds up better in the winter weather. I’ve also learned to bring a few bags of frozen vegetables – easy to store, easy to prepare.
If you bring your own food on vacation, what tips do you have for storing, preparing or serving the food?
I finally figured out how to make a decent bowl of oatmeal. All you need:
1/2 cup steel cut oats (double for more)
1 cup of water (double for more)
Grind the oats – I use my coffee bean grinder. Soak the oats overnight (or longer). Cook for about twenty minutes in twice as much water as the measurement of the starting oats (so 1 cup of water if you started with 1/2 cup of oats). Stir every five minutes, more toward the end.
How do you like your oatmeal? I eat this straight, but my family members like oatmeal with maple syrup. Some people like a pat of butter or a teaspoon of cinnamon in their oats.
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Now I will tell you how I came about this version. A few years ago, my father decided steel cut oats would be a good to try, for nutrition reasons. We found it took about 40 minutes to cook, however, and it was still gritty. Then I was reading a book about fermenting grains, and I decided to soak mine. That helped, but they were still somewhat gritty. Finally, I read this post about a man who had healed his own cancerous tumors with a mixture of grains and seeds, including oats. He ground his first, and in the comments I found this note by Eileen Weaver: “One of the reasons this worked well was that the grains were soaked overnight, after being FRESHLY ground. The soaking activates the enzymes that would have sprouted the seeds/grains.The activated enzymes begin to convert the storage forms of protein/starch/minerals to active forms, and dramatically increase the vitamin content. All seeds, whatever form they are in are better for soaking because of this.” Eileen convinced me. I’ve been hooked ever since.
It is customary to eat foods with oil on Chanukah. However, one is not obliged to eat fried foods on Chanukah. Yes, yes, I will be serving latkes (potato pancakes) as well as sufganiyot (doughnuts, usually jelly doughnuts but we leave out the jelly). For this post, however, we will be creating salad dressing with olive oil. That way, one can fulfill the custom of eating foods with oil in a healthy manner (yes, first cold pressed olive oil, uncooked, is actually good for you). And why do we eat foods with oil on Chanukah? Because of the little vial of oil found in the Temple in the days of the Maccabees – the vial was only supposed to light the menorah for one day, but miraculously, it lasted for a whole eight days (thus, eight days of Chanukah).
So here are some salad dressing ideas:
Olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, sea salt, turmeric, pepper and garlic powder
I’ve been enjoying learning how to sprout brown lentils. I’m thinking of sprouting broccoli seeds next.
1 mason jar
1 screen lid (I bought this green Sprouting Strainer Lid from Amazon)
1/2 cup brown lentils
1 cup water
Place the lentils in the jar and screw on the screen lid. Let the lentils soak for about 12 hours. After that, drain and rinse out the lentils every 6-8 hours (I confess, I sometimes waited 24 though not on purpose and the lentils were fine). You drain the lentils into the sink and then rinse the lentils. You turn the jar upside down unto a plate and let it drain again. Repeat in about 8 hours. The lentils are ready when they sprout little tails (in about 3 days). You can then store them in the refrigerator. They will last for at least one week.
Pictured above, from left to right, are a portobello, maitake, and shiitake mushroom. I bought these at a local Asian supermarket on Route 27 in Edison called H-Mart.
Why use these special mushrooms? Why not just stick to white button mushrooms? In addition to the excitement of having something new in one’s soup, maitake and shiitake have medicinal benefits. Here’s a post on the health benefits of maitake (slows tumors, protects healthy cells from becoming cancerous, may reduce the need for insulin and more). This post on the health benefits of shiitake mushroom is on cancer.org. Susun at Planet Thrive writes about medicinal mushrooms in general.
Here are a bunch of maitake mushrooms.
This is a shiitake mushroom. Sometimes I put a shiitake mushroom in a mug of hot water and drink it the way someone would a cup of tea.
Basic sauerkraut isn’t that hard. You just need sea salt, cabbage and some good glass or ceramic containers. And the patience to wait about two weeks.
This was my first kraut, which had chopped garlic and carrots in addition to the cabbage. Note the large cabbage leaf on top.
Ingredients and Supplies
Cabbage – any kind will do
Sea salt – a few sprinkles for every time you chop up some cabbage
1 large glass jar
1 small glass jar that will fit inside the large jar – I used a baby food jar.
Knife, cutting board, large bowl
How to Prepare the Sauerkraut
Put aside one or two large, outer leaves from the cabbage for later. Chop the cabbage. When the cutting board is full of cabbage, put it in the large bowl and sprinkle on some sea salt. Each time you fill the cutting board with cabbage, sprinkle on some sea salt. If you prefer amounts, in his book Wild Fermentation, Sandor Katz suggests 3 tablespoons per 5 pounds of cabbage.
According to Sandor Katz, you can’t use table salt, as it may not work in the fermentation process. More about sea salt vs. table salt on this article. You can buy sea salt in Highland Park at Anna’s Health Food Center for about $3.
Once the chopped cabbage is in the bowl, you press it with your hands until the water from the cabbage starts to leak out. In one video I watched, the sauerkraut preparer used a potato masher to hasten the process. In another, the person wore plastic gloves while pressing the cabbage. Next, press the cabbage into the large glass jar. Take the outer leave(s) and press them on top of your chopped cabbage. If the brine doesn’t cover the chopped cabbage, add a little water + salt to the top so it does cover. Press your small baby food jar bottle on top of the cabbage. If you can’t cover your large jar with the cap (and you probably won’t be able to until the cabbage has settled more or has been eaten a bit), cover it with a cloth and a rubber band.
Place your jar on a high shelf in your kitchen or in your basement or some other cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate yet – that will stop the fermentation process. Feel free to try the mixture every few days. We ate some after one week, and then we ate the rest after two weeks. If you have the patience to wait a month, maybe it will be even better then!
Benefits of Fermentation
Sandor Katz writes: “Fermentation not only preserves nutrients, it breaks them down into more easily digestible forms.” Some of you may have heard of priobiotics and its many benefits — think of fermentation as creating your own probiotics. A Finnish study found fermented cabbage could be even healthier than raw or cooked cabbage for fighting cancer.
I’ve been experimenting with pickling and fermenting vegetables. I tried a macrobiotic recipe that just called for sea salt, water and kombu (seaweed) with vegetables, but I didn’t care for the result. Then I found a video that shows Sandor Katz teaching how he makes fermented cabbage. I tried it. We will eat the results on Friday night or Shabbat (I don’t care to wait a whole month). Sandor Katz wrote a book called Wild Fermentation. I ordered the book, and maybe after I read it, I will be able to explain why fermenting vegetables is good for you.
Notes: you do most of the work one day, and then a week or a month later you enjoy the results. That works well for those who like to plan ahead. Also, you will note both these videos talk about mold growing in the fermenting process (and Steve’s shows him throwing it away). Hmm, guess one has to get used to such things! My vegetables didn’t produce as much liquid as Sandor’s. But his recipe with cabbage, carrots, garlic and onion already tasted much yummier than the cucumbers in seaweed I tried last week. I hope to update you next week with photos of my finished product.
Bake the potatoes for over an hour. Take them out of the oven when you can stick a fork in them. Eat a few of them, but make sure you have at least 4 large ones left for this recipe. When they are cool, you can either stick them in the refrigerator for a day or two, or continue with the recipe right away. Cut up the potatoes in cubes, without the skin. Toss them in oil and ketchup (or tomato sauce). Sprinkle with salt and spices. Bake for about twenty minutes. Serve warm.
I was going through photos of family for our upcoming celebration of my son’s bar-mitzvah, and I found this one of the road on the way to the Kinneret in Northern Israel. So in honor of my cousin who lives near here and said he is sorry but “he won’t be in the neighborhood” for the bar-mitzvah, here’s the photo.
Reluctant Veggie educates about nightshades and remarks “it makes perfect sense that the food we put into our body has a direct impact on how our body performs. or, rather, how it doesn’t perform. and yet, most doctors have no clue. or would rather treat the symptom versus finding the root cause.”