beverages, dairy free, personal, recipes, Uncategorized

Cashew-Almond Milk

In the last year or so, my cooking has slowly gravitated towards staple-making. I like the idea of preparing the things that Jon and I eat super regularly, that form a sort of foundation from which we can assemble other dishes. Nothing super complicated.

I credit the origin of this idea to a few years back, when I read Tamar Adler’s Everlasting Meal.  She writes, “Cooking is both simpler and more necessary than we imagine. It has in recent years come to seem a complication to juggle against other complications, instead of what it can be – a clear path through them.” Though I’ve loved food for a long time, reading this is one of only a small handful of moments that I can credit with changing my approach to cooking entirely.

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Around here, staples include almond butter, milk & cheese; various salsas, tomato sauces, pestos, aioli, hummus, etc.; granola bars and granola; roasted and puréed vegetables; brown rice, soba noodle, or quinoa salads; and always something sweet- chocolate chip cookies and almond butter cups are the most popular. The process of staple-making has taken me through a rhythm of refining, adventuring out with new flavors & combinations, and returning to old favorites. These are the things I enjoy making the most and, time willing, will continue to make.

So, here is my process for making almond milk. Since almonds can be pretty expensive, even more so now that I’m not living in California, I’ve switched to a 50-50 cashew almond blend, which I find to be even creamier than straight almond milk.

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Cashew-Almond Milk
Makes 2 quarts

1 cup cashews (unsalted)
1 cup almonds (unsalted)
8 cups Filtered water
4 Medjool or 8 deglet noor dates, split between two batches
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, divided

Tools you’ll need: a high-power blender, and nut milk bag or tight-woven linen cloth 

Place the cashews and almonds in a large bowl and cover with water. Soak for at least 24 hours, but up to 48-72 hours if time allows.

After soaking, pour the nut mixture into a strainer and rinse under cold water, stirring with your hand, until the water runs clear.

Combine 1/2 of the soaked nuts with 4 cups water, 2 (or 4, depending on the variety) dates, 1/4 tsp. salt & 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, take a clean bowl or wide-mouthed pitcher and line with the towel or nut milk bag. Pour the blended milk into the bowl, being careful not to let it spill over the edge. Gather the ends of the towel and, working slowly, squeeze to filter the milk out of the pulp.

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Once you have a roughly 1/2-3/4 pulp remaining in the towel, you should be done. Pour the milk into an air-tight storage container and repeat the process with the remaining ingredients.

Store the almond milk in the fridge. I find it tastes best when consumed in the first 4-5 days. Since there isn’t a preservative other than the salt, it will start to turn around then, but if it does and you haven’t used it all, it can still be used in place of a buttermilk in baking.

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A few other notes:

C O F F E E : I drink this almond-cashew milk almost every day in my coffee. It froths really well (maybe best 1-2 days after making it). Some separation happens after it sits in the coffee for a bit, but you can quickly stir to recombine and it tastes exactly the same.

D A I R Y  S U B S T I T U T E S: If I know I’ll be using this almond-cashew milk as a substitute for milk in a savory recipe, I’ll just use a little salt and leave out the dates. If you make it this way, it’s worth removing the skins (from the almonds) and using the pulp to make cheese. Season with lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast & chili flakes and it makes a pretty convincing goat cheese substitute- especially if left out to ferment for a few days at room temperature.

V S .  S T O R E  B O U G H T : This is definitely a recipe that is worth every bit of time and effort. Those of you who have already made almond milk at home may not need convincing, but homemade has been a total game changer for me. The best store-bought version I’ve found is Marin Living Foods, which, to my knowledge, is only available in the Bay Area. Until I find something that compares, I will be making my own!

V A R I A T I O N S : Cocoa Almond Milk – blend 1 cup of this cashew-almond milk with 2 tsp. coconut butter, 2 tsp. dutch process cocoa powder & 1 date

Please email me with questions! I’ve been making this once a week for the last year (ore more!), so am happy to help however I can.

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dairy free, events, gluten free, personal, recipes, snacks, Uncategorized

Curate Chicago Pop-up in Kalamazoo!

This weekend I’ll be in Kalamazoo for Curate Chicago‘s Holiday Pop-up shop! My cousin Christina is the talented co-founder and owner, and decided to host her first ever holiday pop-up in our hometown.

I am really excited to be joining her on Saturday and Sunday to sell some of my favorite food “staples” – almond milk, granola bars, and almond butter cups. For those who are or were able to attend, I wanted to share some information about ingredients and sourcing here. Details about the event are also included below. Hope to see you!

Curate Chicago Kalamazoo Pop-up

  • Location: 116 W. South Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • Date: December 1 – December 7
  • Hours: 10am – 5pm

Here’s a list of everything I’ll be selling:

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Cherry Almond Granola Bars 
Ingredients: gluten-free oats, brown rice cereal, slivered almonds, dried dark cherries, cocoa nibs, homemade almond butter*, Fase Apiaries wildflower honey, cinnamon, sea salt. Allergens: tree nuts.

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Toasted Oat Tahini & Hazelnut Bars
Ingredients: gluten-free oats, brown rice cereal, hazelnuts, coconut, raw tahini, Michigan raw honey, Dutch-process cocoa powder, coconut oil, Michigan maple syrup, Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract. Allergens: tree nuts.

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Salted Almond Butter Cups
Ingredients: Enjoy Life chocolate chips, homemade almond butter*, Fase Apiaries wildflower honey, organic powdered sugar, Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract, sea salt, Maldon sea salt (for finishing). Allergens: tree nuts.

Cinnamon Date Almond Milk 
Ingredients: California almonds**, medjool dates, cinnamon, sea salt. Allergens: tree nuts.

Cacao Almond Milk
Ingredients: California almonds**, medjool dates, sea salt, coconut butter, Dutch process cocoa powder. Allergens: tree nuts.

*the almond butter is made with almonds only – no oil or salt added
**the almonds were purchased from D&S Ranch in Oakhurst, California, and are from a crop harvested in September.

All ingredients and packaging were sourced from small businesses or farmer’s markets in Southwest Michigan whenever possible. For the almonds, I purchased them directly from D&S Ranch in California for two reasons- 1) to support the grower! and 2) freshness matters so much, especially when it comes to the almond milk & almond butter. The almonds are the foundation of every one of these recipes, so starting with a quality ingredient makes for a much more delicious finished product.

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One final note: shelf life! Almond milk is best consumed within 4-5 days, the granola bars will keep in the fridge for at least 3 weeks, and the almond butter cups can be frozen & consumed whenever!

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personal, places, san francisco, sunday hikes

port costa

7×7 has a series on their website titled “Ultimate Sunday Hikes.” I always find them during the week, when I’m most anxious to spend more time outdoors and making plans for the weekend. Fitting. This week, the feature was an East Bay trail, touted as the “hidden gem of Northern Contra Costa County.” I was sold. So today, Jon and I drove up to Crockett to follow the recommendation.

The trail was easy, dotted with cows and Eucalyptus trees, and ended in one of the cutest towns I’ve been to in such close proximity to San Francisco. If you live in the Bay Area and haven’t walked the trail from Crockett to Port Costa, now is the time. To get there, take the last exit off I-80 East before you cross over the Carquinez Bridge, then take a left onto Pamona Street. Follow Pamona through downtown Crockett until you reach the Bull Valley Staging area. Take a left, and park on the lower level. There are two trails that lead to Port Costa, so use the trip as an excuse to make the complete loop- both sides are gorgeous. Already looking forward to going back, and staying at the The Burlington Hotel.

Day hikes are one of my favorite ways to explore the Bay Area, so I am hoping to spend more time documenting my favorites here.

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personal, travel

point reyes

 

 

for our first anniversary, jon and I went to inverness. it’s a tiny little town, and one of only a handful or so that can be found dotted along the point reyes national seashore. it’s quiet and beautiful and there are so many places to wander.

some of my favorite things from the weekend: the drive on pierce point road out to mcclures beach (pictured below); dinner at sir at star, oysters and garlic fries at nick’s cove, and the hike to bass lake. on the list for the next trip: rent kayaks on tomales bay and hang out on those deserted beaches with a picnic and a book, eat at saltwater oyster depot, and hike the tomales bay trail.

gulls

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elk

trees

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personal, recipes, san francisco, sandwiches, travel

avocado BLTs

last weekend, jon and I drove to big basin redwood state park.

we made our way there and back on highway one, starting south out of san francisco on 280 – through pacifica and half moon bay – until we reached la honda road and wove east on skyline boulevard to highway 9.

it’s been a few months since our last trip out of the city. at the end of july, shortly after arriving in california (and newly married), we took a week to drive to and from portland. while the trip to portland is one that could be done in a day, we decided that we’d rather take our time and see the coast – stop at state beaches and visitors centers along the way, really take things in – so with a back seat full of camera equipment, books, and food, we set out across the golden gate bridge toward eureka.

10 miles shy of the oregon border, we cut east on highway 199 away from crescent city per the suggestion of a national park employee in orick. using our phones as a guide, we took a few turns off the redwood highway into jedediah smith redwood state park, and landed on an almost single-lane road that snaked through the giant trees. compared to being 10th in a line of cars along a two-lane highway, the byway felt like a well-kept secret – the ability to stop underneath the trees was something I’ll never forget about that drive. and just as easily as we had found our way onto this road, we made our way to the other end  – into oregon.

on this recent weekend trip, all it took was the thirty-minute stretch on skyline boulevard to make me feel the same as I had in jedediah smith state park. the narrow road linked jaunts through the tall trees with stretches along the crest of a hill by way of tight turns and ascents away from the ocean. when we arrived in the park, jon cooked bacon in our new dutch oven, and we made these sandwiches. every once in a while, it feels really good to get away.

avocado blts

makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices country bread (we used semifreddis sweet batard)

6 slices thick cut bacon

1 cup roasted cherry tomatoes (see below)

1 medium avocado

sea salt

2 handfuls of arugula

We packed all of our ingredients – some prepared, some not. Start with the bacon – cook over the fire (or on the stove) in a cast iron pan (we cooked ours on the lid of the dutch oven) until crisp. While the bacon is cooking, mash the avocado slightly and season with sea salt. spread the avocado mash onto one side of the bread, layer with 1/2 of the roasted tomatoes, then arugula. When the bacon has finished cooking, break each piece in half and layer on top of the arugula – 3 slices per sandwich. Top with the other slice of bread & cut in half.

roasted tomatoes

(inspired by these from heidi swanson)

1 1/2 – 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2 T. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2-3 T. olive oil

On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, then sprinkle with sugar and salt. Roast at 400 for 30-40 minutes. Once the tomatoes have cooled, store them in the fridge in an air-tight container.

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