It's always the little things in life
that make us the happiest ..
like coming home from a week-long business trip .. to a sweet husband waiting for you at the airport (especially when he carries your bags!)
the quiet of my office
(For those who follow The Veggies .. you'll know I work from home for a large corporation .. a career in the field of IT)
Five years had passed since our first face-to-face meeting as a team .. a season following a corporate merger between two companies with very different cultures. New working groups had been formed .. different roles & responsibilities assigned .. no two people from the same background .. name tags were a necessity
This past week couldn't have been more different. The air of awkward .. replaced by a genuine warmth & comfortableness. Over the years strangers had become not only coworkers .. but long-distance friends. We caught up on life .. as we reviewed projects .. listened to speakers .. set goals .. and worked on processes
The conference room we called home .. a tiny sliver of the 2 million-square-foot complex where 10,000 people come to work each day (trivia: it has the 2nd largest footprint of buildings in the U.S. .. right behind the Pentagon!). One could easily get lost trying to find the potty .. much less caffeine!
So once in the morning .. and again in the afternoon .. she would graciously guide me through the maze of stairways .. cubicles .. and nondescript hallways .. to Starbucks .. for my green tea fix. Along the way we talked kids .. her background studying classical piano (cool!) .. and cooking (of course, cooking)
I told her of homemade nut milk .. which has become a staple. During the time I was a part of the Venice Nutrition's 8-week run I'd replaced cow's milk with almond. Once I began a study in holistic nutrition .. I looked at all of the additives on the back of the carton & began making my own
It's a simple process really .. one that requires a little downtime for the nuts to soak. (Note to self .. plan ahead). After they've soaked .. run them through a food processor (or blender) .. along with some hot water .. and strain through a fine-mesh sieve. The milk stays fresh in fridge for 3 or 4 days.
The recipe below represents my most basic .. though I have a few favorite variations
Vanilla Bean Almond Milk
Before blending the almonds .. add 2 large, pitted Medjool dates .. 1/4 tsp cinnamon .. and the seeds of one vanilla bean to the mix
Chocolate Hazelnut Milk
Before blending the hazelnuts .. add 2 Tbsp honey .. and 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder to the mix
Strawberry Almond Milk
Before blending the almonds .. add 2 large, pitted Medjool dates .. 2 cups strawberries, halved .. and the seeds of one vanilla bean to the mix
What to do with the leftover pulp?
When you're finished there will be a lot of pulp left behind. I can't bear to get rid of it .. and have discovered it's quite simple to dry it out to make .. for example .. almond or hazelnut meal (flour) .. which is wonderful in baked sweet treats
To dry out your pulp .. set the oven at its lowest setting (at our house that's 170 degrees F). Spread the pulp in an even layer on a lined baking sheet. Put it in the oven & leave the door cracked an inch or so (this will release moisture & reduce the drying time). Let it bake until it's crumbly (~ 3 – 4 hours).
For a finer flour-like texture .. pulse the dried meal a couple of times in your food processor after it's had a chance to cool.
ps: A few notes:
Some recipes online that mention using a cheesecloth to strain the milk. This will work .. but consider buying a nut bag instead .. trust me on this one
There are a couple of keys I've discovered in my quest for silky smooth .. non-gritty milk. Allow the nuts to soak a long time (I have the best luck somewhere around 48 hours) .. and use hot (but not boiling) water during the processing
No matter how fanatical I am about straining the milk .. sediment will settle as it sits .. so always give it a few good shakes before using
~ Adapted from thekitchn .. here
- 1 cup raw nuts (** a few we've experimented with .. almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, cashews)
- 2 or 3 tsp liquid sweetener (ex: honey, agave or maple syrup, to taste)
- ? teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 3½ cups very hot water (not boiling)
- In a bowl add the nuts along with enough water to cover them by 2” or so. Cover, place in the refrigerator, and let them soak at least 12 hours (I typically let them go 48 hours .. the longer they soak .. the smoother the milk will be)
- Drain nuts and discard the soaking liquid.
- To the bowl of a food processor (or blender) add the soaked nuts, sweetener (if using), hot water, and blend until very smooth (~ 2 minutes)
- Over a medium size bowl .. strain the mixture through a nut bag .. pressing down on solids. (** See notes on drying the solids)
- The milk will keep in the refrigerator up to 4 days.