Milk and Cookies: Homemade Almond Milk and Almond Flour

Right now, I live in an almond milk household. After 25 years of cow milk, I’m living with a couple of lactose-intolerant cuties and so, feeling pretty laissez faire about the source of my milk, I’ve started drinking almond milk.

The thing is, though, I’m kind of almond-milk-intolerant. For a while, I thought my body just didn’t like almonds. Lately, though Trader Joe’s changed the names of all their milks and waters to “beverage” because there’s been all kinds of hubbub about what’s really in the shelf-stable stuff and I started wondering if maybe one of the preservatives was the culprit.

Surprise: It was!

Listen, I’m all about convenience and will continue buying other tetra-brick stuff til the cows come home, but I’m pretty thrilled that I can jump back on the almond milk bandwagon now that I’ve figured out how to make it for myself.

Speaking of convenience, let’s talk about how easy it is. Besides the 4-8 hours of foresight required to throw some almonds and water in a cup, the process of actually making almond milk takes less than 10 minutes and requires minimal clean-up.

The price is pretty good too. Here’s my breakdown:

Homemade Store-bought
Almond Milk $2/L $1.58L
Almond Flour $2/cup $2.95/cup
Total $2  (yay recycling!) $4.53

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Sushi and Morriña

Raise your hand if you’re over winter.

Everyone’s hand up? Okay, good, me too.

This time two years ago I was all warm and cozy in Galicia, the weirdest, most wonderful corner of Spain you’ve never heard of.

Sushi and Morriña

Pontevedra, Galicia, specifically

Ever wanted to visit Ireland but wish you could speak Spanish while you’re there? Come to Galicia. Prefer bagpipes to flamenco? Galicia’s the place for you. Can’t decide between mountains and beaches? Wish you accidentally stumble upon visit 6,000-year-old ruins while you’re out for a walk? Want to go to a pirate parade in the middle of February? Galicia, Galicia, and Galicia. Ai, que morriña.

Galicia has the best tree-climbing, rainbows, and state beer

Galicia has the best tree-climbing, rainbows, and state beer

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it because last night, we had a bunch of fly chickadees over for Bad Lesbian Movie Night and made sushi. And sushi makes me think of Galicia. Not because it’s popular there or anything (as far as I can tell, the only thing Galicians eat is ham, ham, ham, octopus, and ham) but because I learned to make it there.

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Wood Butter: For the Care and Keeping of Your Wooden Tools and Surfaces

During my last semester of college, I lived with a woman named Brenda. I had just gotten back from a semester abroad and all my friends already had homes, so I took to craigslist and found myself a sublet. Brenda had a 3-story row house filled with beautiful things in the Italian Market section of Philadelphia. Her basement (which you entered through a trapdoor in the kitchen) was filled with power tools that she taught me to use and a kiln that she used to fire pottery she made in her studio. In her turquoise kitchen she had a collection of wooden spoons from all over the world and a heavy wooden cutting board that I loved.

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Brenda’s kitchen is all about the details: her friend made her hand-poured concrete counter tops and used real leaves used to make imprints in them

I haven’t seen Brenda since I moved after graduation in 2011, but I made this wood butter thinking about her kitchen. I had always saved pretty things for special occasions, but Brenda used her Japanese spoons and hand-thrown bowls every day and taught me to do the same. Life’s short; use the good china, you know? Using things is part of what makes them special. On a shelf, they’re cold and impersonal, but use them every day and they become part of you: something worth passing on to people you love.

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In the spirit of using the good china every day, I’ve been working on balms and salves that will keep my pretty things pretty, even through lots of use love. This wood butter will keep cutting boards, spoons, hammers, awls, butcher blocks, and whatever else you can throw it at good for years so that one day, you’ll be able to pass them on.

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Conversion Aversion: Dealing With The Insanity That Is the English System of Measurement

 

The other day, I saw this handy conversion chart on The Kitchen:tumblr_n5w9ukYfmz1qzzlrvo1_1280

I loved the idea, but decided that it was a little complicated to read when I wanted to convert more than a single unit. Since I’ve been working on nailing down recipes – and not just mixing a little of this and a little of that and getting frustrated when I end up with exactly what I want and no idea how to duplicate it – for salves, deodorant, and chapstick, I thought I might go ahead and make charts for myself.

The volume chart includes “English” (because as far as I can tell, Americans are the only ones stupid enough to measure in cups and pints) and metric measurements, as well as drops if you’re using something pungent like an essential oil. It also includes common items that approximate each unit of measurement since not all of us know what a quart looks like.

volume conversions

Click for a full-sized image

Luckily, mass is not quite as complicated. Most of us are familiar with what an ounce and pound feel like, if not a gram.

When measuring for body products, mass is really the best way to ensure that you’re mixing proper ratios. A tablespoon of beeswax, for example, weighs half as much as a tablespoon of olive oil if you pack it lightly, but up to the same weight as olive oil if you pack it tightly or melt it. Cooking by mass doesn’t hurt either, but most American ingredients tend to be measured by volume.

Measuring by mass also reduces your clean up at the end. Rather than using a separate measuring cup or spoon or different ingredients, you can tare a scale to the cup you’re using to mix and throw everything in.

mass conversions

 

Tofu For Everyone (Even People Who Hate Tofu)

Tofu is a polarizing food. Between people who are anti-soy and people who are convinced that tofu’s only good for hippies, it’s not exactly the most popular kid on the playground.

The first good tofu I had was made by my then-girlfriend’s dad. Thank heavens for social conventions. If I hadn’t been so polite, I would’ve never known how good tofu could taste. Since then I’ve been on a mission to make tofu as good as his and in the past three years, I’ve developed a fail-proof method.

Before we get started, let’s talk about a few quick tips. Although there are different types of tofu, I start out with a firm or extra firm block. Also, tofu is more protein-dense than most meats, so it shouldn’t be substituted 1:1 if you’re turning a recipe meatless.

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How Do You Peel A Banana?

This week, bananas turned my world was turned upside. See, I’ve always peeled them from the stem bit down to the stump thing. Basing my logic on every picture I’ve ever seen of a banana and the orientation of Chiquita’s stickers, I was going from the top to the bottom.

Sometimes I move these guys around so I get the sticker I want on the banana I want.

Sometimes I move these guys around so I get the sticker I want on the banana I want.

Here’s the thing though: The stem is not actually the top of the banana! Bananas grow upside down!

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Sweet Potato Falafel

Lunchtime: unequivocally the best part of the day. But could it be better? Yes sir, it can. You don’t have to spend gobs of money going out, but you also shouldn’t be packing the same peanut butter sandwich year in and year out; there is a middle way. The path to becoming a lunch box buddha isn’t so hard. All you need is a good balance of inspiration and improvisation.

Spanish food and I don’t really get along. To illustrate my point, I took a picture of the fruits and vegetables section of my grocery last time I went shopping.

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One of these things is not like the other

Spanish people are obsessed with pigs. There’s just no getting around it. Galicians in particular also seem to have a borderline-abnormal fixation on plastic bags. Because I am Captain Planet (and also just because I hate when I have a lot of groceries and my bag breaks on the walk home), I always bring my own bags. Unfortunately, the ladies who weigh your produce at the frutería don’t like it if you try to put your onions in your own bag because it’s “unhygienic” (this coming from a people who think it’s totally 100% no big deal to put a severed pig’s head in a pile of lettuce).

So anyway, lunch! This week I invited my German friend Julia over to make lunch with me because it’s Carnaval so all our friends were glamming it up in the Canary Islands and also because I like her a whole lot. Cooking lunch for the week is a whole lot easier when you have someone cooking with you. Not only does it mean half as much chopping, for this particular menu it means you get done faster because one person can roll the pita/falafel while the other cooks them.

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