March5 — thoughts in the kitchen

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March5 — thoughts in the kitchen

I spent most of today in the kitchen.  It isn’t very hard to get carried away and spend hours doing a constant stream of kitchen projects!  I thought I would write some of my thoughts, while they are still fresh in my mind: I have always been a big believer in making from scratch, but I have gotten so reliant on products designed to make my life easier: boxes of almond milk and broth are things that come immediately to mind. However, at the same time, I really hate that those things come in wasteful packaging. I buy in bulk when possible, but still. Hate the tetra paks. (We actually use them to collect trash, so at least they serve a second purpose.)

In addition to the waste factor, I also worry about ingredients.  I try hard not to be totally pessimistic about our future, but I do worry about the long term health of myself and my children. 

So, I have been focussing more on making whole food.  I have been making vegetable broth from scraps, and I must say it is possibly one of the most rewarding things I have ever made.  I still buy dehydrated veggie broth powder, but it isn’t very complicated to make the broth from scratch, and I love that I am getting a second benefit from foods that would otherwise just go to compost.  (or waste)

And now, I have also mastered making almond milk!  We generally only use nondairy milk – for baking or cereal.  Almond milk just strikes me as insanely wasteful, but the teen loves it.  We drink less soy milk, mainly because of all of the controversy regarding soy, and we really like tofu.  Rice milk is watery, and nobody liked the hemp milk.  So, after a couple years of complaining about buying almond milk, I finally got serious.  

IMG_7462Today, while the kids were playing outside, I donned my cotton gloves, nitrile gloves and an apron.  You see, while I may have fantasies of being Donna Reed, my skin issues prevent me from doing much of anything in the kitchen (touching food, washing dishes …) without protective gloves, which also irritate my hands.  I also don’t like using gloves, in general.  Once or twice a week, I will take the extra precautions and really do stuff.

My goal for today was to make almond milk from the 2 cups of almonds I had soaked in salt water.  As is typical, I did abut 42 other things at the same time.  First, I had to wash the dishes.  The almond milk is a cinch to make in the Vitamix.  There are lots of tips on the interwebz, but I have found this page to be the most informative and least intimidating.  I made milk from most of the almonds, but I toasted some in the toaster oven.  Apparently, they are healthier that way.  I tried one, and it wasnt as disgusting as raw almonds. (I don’t like almonds, but since they are nutritious, I am trying.)  Annie said they were squishy, and Zoe thinks they needed salt.  At the same time as this was happening, I had to coerce the kids to do their chores. What is with the arguing about doing the Tiniest Task?   I also had to do laundry.  And I dont even remember what else I did today.

After the almonds are blended with water, they have to be strained.  I do this with a washable mesh hops bag from the beer-store.  Once all the milk is squeezed out, you are left with almond pulp.  So, of course, I have to do something with That!  It can be dehydrated and used in baking or in oatmeal or many other things.  So, I dehydrated it in the toaster oven (because I was too lazy to empty out the oven).  Once it is dry, it can be blended to make almond flour.  Yippee!  I finally used the dry-grain-container we got with our Vitamix over 6 years ago!  

Then, I started experimenting with milk flavors.  I made some of the milk “sweetened” with vanilla and dates.  Meh.  Then I added cocoa and more dates.  Mmmmm.  I also made some with strawberries and dates.  Zoe particularly likes the strawberry mixed with the chocolate.  

IMG_7455

Now, I was faced with a blender with some leftover food in it. I really hate wasting food. I really love my Vitamix, but I sure do wish it were easier to get the last remnants out of it. So, I decided to take this opportunity to clean out the fridge: a failed attempt at cucumber water, almost dried out oranges (the juice was still tasty), squishy kiwis, the center of a pinapple, the last bits of superpower baby greens, and some dates. I tasted it, and it was ok, but I wouldn’t want an entire cup of it. It is now freezing into green cubes we can add to stretch out fruit smoothies.

For a brief moment, I contemplated making almond butter with the toasted almonds, but I quickly stopped myself.  Instead, I cut the moldy bits off of a loaf of bread and made myself a toasted peanut butter sandwich and some leftover green bean risotto, and I called it a day.  And a bottle of local blackberry hard cider.

Donna Reed may be too lofty of an aspiration.  I will have to settle for just being Me.

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