What kind of milk do you drink?

February 22, 2011

We don’t drink a lot of cow’s milk in our house (though the amount of yogurt we consume as a household is staggering). I buy milk about 2 or 3 times a year, usually when my Mother In Law visits.  I always feel like I should have some around for playdates and stuff like that, though.  Note to self – buy some of those individual boxed milk packs.  We usually drink almond milk, but only if I make it myself.  If we drink boxed milk from the store, it’s Living Harvest Original flavor hemp milk.  I buy probably 10 or so boxes of that a year since I started making almond milk.

Almond milk is a little time consuming, but it’s easy to make, and I find it lasts in the fridge (I keep it in glass bottles) for at least 7 days.

I rinse and soak a pound of raw almonds (I prefer the European kind that are not steam sterilized, like “raw” almonds are in the US).  I usually soak them overnight (around 12 hours) and then drain and rinse them one more time before I use them.

Then, I put the soaked, rinsed and drained almonds in the Vita Mix in two batches.  I split the pound, and then fill the Vitamix up to about the 50 oz. mark with filtered water (I filled it up too much in the picture below).  I also add a pinch of sea salt, a pinch of vanilla powder and a few pre-soaked dates.  I usually use 4 or 5 pitted per batch.  I cut up dates and soak them in filtered water for about 20 or 30 minutes and I dump the dates and soaking water together in with the almonds.

I think I might have used a little more than a half pound of almonds in the picture below, because I wanted a richer milk.  But, you can see the ratio.  Oh, and I peeled these almonds before making the milk (which is totally not necessary to make great almond milk).  I peeled them because I dehydrate the almond pulp that is left over and grind it into flour and I wanted a lighter flour for this batch.  The brown parts in the blender are the dates.

Almonds and water in the Vitamix.

Then, blend on high (make sure the lid is on TIGHT) for about 45 seconds.  See how high it gets?  That’s why I don’t recommend filling up past around 50 oz (max) with water.

Post-blending

Post-blending

Then, I pour the blended milk into a strainer lined with cheese cloth.

Sit a strainer in a measuring cup.

Sit a strainer in a measuring cup.

Line the strainer with cheesecloth.

Line the strainer with cheesecloth.

Pour in the almond milk mixture.

Pour in the almond milk mixture.

Allow the milk to strain into the measuring cup, and when it stops dripping (or if you become impatient), you can pick up the sides of the cheesecloth and squeeze the milk from the remaining mixture by twisting the cheesecloth at the stop tighter and tighter until the milk stops coming out.  I had to double my cheesecloth so that the mixture doesn’t squeeze out between threads.  There are also nut milk bags you can buy to facilitate this process.

What is left in the bag is the almond pulp, which I break up and spread out on teflex sheets in the dehydrator.  Once dried out completely, I grind it into flour in the Vitamix dry-mix container.  It’s nowhere near as flavorful as almonds, because the flavor really lies in the milk, but it’s great as a gluten-free flour!

After a while, your almond milk will separate in the bottle.  You need to shake it before you use it.  If you want almond cream, it does rise to the top, so you can scrape this out before shaking.  Removing it does leave you with a substantially thinned milk.  But oh man, that cream is spectacular!


Try any new granolas lately?

February 17, 2011

Yes!  I gave up looking for new granolas for a while after The Great Granola Search of 2010.  However, since going gluten-free, I checked out Udi’s Gluten-Free Original Granola and Gluten-Free Au Naturel Granola.  They’re good tasting, but just a little too sweet for me.  In a 1/4 c (30g), there are 7 g of sugars and 3g of protein and the sweetener is wildflower honey in the latter and wildflower honey and sugar in the former.

But the real winner is a granola I picked up today at Lifethyme.  [Natasha, I know you’re going to look for it, so it’s on the granola shelves, by the freezer that is in the produce section area, either bottom or next-to-bottom shelf.]  It’s Aimee’s Livin’ Magic Livin’ Sprouted Granola.  It was 14.59 for an 8 oz. bag (at Lifethyme), so it’s not cheap, but it is AMAZING!  Seriously.  You have got to try this granola!  I just ate two bowls of it, I love it so much.  It’s 100% raw and sprouted, organic, gluten-free and sugar-free.  The sweeteners are yacon syrup and stevia.   Oddly, there is no nutritional information on the package, so I can’t give you any stats.  Hopefully, they will have some on their site soon.


How do you make egg salad?

February 15, 2011

I just made one, and it is spectacular.  I usually make it for one, since I like it very fresh and no one else in my family likes it.  This is exactly one serving.

  • 1 hard boiled egg (I start in room-temp water and time 12 minutes after boiling starts.  Keep at low boil and cool immediately afterward.)
  • 1/2 or so stalk of celery, chopped fine
  • 1/2 handful Italian, flat leaf parsley, chopped fine (chiffonade)
  • 1/2 handful fresh watercress, chopped fine (chiffonade)
  • 1 Tbs mayonnaise (I use Spectrum Organic in the glass jar – I hate mayo in plastic.)
  • Few grinds of black pepper
  • Pinch of black truffle salt from The Filling Station
  • 1/2 tsp Coleman’s dry mustard – they have it at Whole Foods – this is the key to the awesomeness, methinks!

Stir it all together and eat!  I know typical egg salad usually has onions/shallots/scallions/chives in it.  Sometimes I put them in, sometimes I don’t.  I made it this way (sans onions) and it still came out ok.


Any miscellaneous stuff you’d like to share?

February 10, 2011

Of course!  I was just reading through my current general moleskine notebook (I specify, because I also keep a current improv, music and datebook notebooks) and I this entry on Monday, April 6, 2009 caught my eye:

“… in times of anxiety it is critical to ‘avoid being idle,’ that ‘business and conversation of friends’ were necessary to give the mind ‘rest from that intensity of thought,’ which will sometimes wear the sweetest idea threadbare and turn it to the bitterness of death.”

from p. 100 of Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (it’s the very highly regarded Abraham Lincoln biography)


Good crepe place?

February 9, 2011

I like Bar Suzette in Chelsea Market because the ingredients are fresh and delicious and wherever possible, sourced locally,  cooked meats are cooked sous-vide, there are sweet and savory options, there are many delicious combinations to choose from, and for a “fast food” option, it’s healthy and not very resource-intensive (eco friendly).  I love Bar Suzette because it is very kid-friendly and they also have a gluten-free crepe!

Gluten Free Crepe

Gluten Free Crepe

I have had their bresaola crepe, their smoked salmon crepe and their heirloom squash crepe.

 

Heirloom Squash Crepe

Heirloom Squash Crepe with three sauces (dijonnaise, pesto and balsamic glaze).

 

I have eaten at Bar Suzette prior to eating gluten-free so I’ve tried (and liked) both versions of their crepes.  My son has had the nutella crepe and a regular chese crepe, and my husband has had many of these plus the chicken sausage crepe.  We unanimously agree that we’ve loved everything we’ve gotten there and that Bar Suzette is our favorite crepe place in NYC and one of our favorite places to eat in general.

Be forewarned:  it is cash-only, and the bathrooms are in a different part of Chelsea Market.  Also, Bar Suzette is merely an open counter, not an enclosed restaurant.  You can eat on the run or sit at any of the community tables (or large window seats) in the area.  I’ve never found seating to be a problem.


What do I need to know about buying a humidifier?

February 7, 2011

Treat your humidifier purchase seriously.  I always have, and the success of my many humidifiers account for not only my quasi-superpowers of orchid rehabilitation, but probably also have something to do with my cat-like reflexes and charming eccentricity.

Warm mist versus cool mist – the eternal question.

I like warm mist humidifiers for several reasons:

  1. I use humidifiers only during the winter, and I appreciate the extra warmth.
  2. I use them to prevent cold and flu and/or to soothe cold and flu symptoms such as runny nose, cough, congestion, etc.
  3. I feel like warm mist is cleaner than cold mist.
  4. I don’t feel hydrated or “humidified” at all when I am around a cool mist humidifier.

Here is a good list of the plusses and minuses of cool mist versus warm mist humidifiers.

If, like me, you also like warm-mist humidifiers, here are some things you might want to look for / investigate:

  1. Does the humidifier use a filter?  If it does, consider the cost, duration* of use, and anticipated future availability (does the company often discontinue products?  does the filter fit many different models of humidifier or is it unique to just one?).  Personally, I do not like humidifiers with filters because I have never had a humidifier where the filter worked as it was supposed to.  However, I do like clean humidifiers (see point 2).
  2. How do you clean the humidifier?  The most important thing to consider is can you fit your entire hand inside the humidifier such that you can clean the interior side of the tank opposite from where you stick your hand in?  This is very important, since the cleanliness of your humidifier will determine if it helps you stay healthy or actually makes you sick.  Does the humidifier come apart enough to let all of the elements be cleaned / dry out?  Count on cleaning your humidifier once a week to once every two weeks.  UNLESS (and here is the big caveat)… unless you are using distilled water in your humidifier.  NOTE: I did not say “filtered,” “bottled” or “spring” water.  I said “distilled.”  There’s a big difference.  Do not drink distilled water, and do not use it on your plants.  However, it’s wonderful in a humidifier!  Why?  Because you will not have to clean your humidifier more than once a season if you solely use distilled water in it!  Trust me, I am on the upper-middle end of germphobia and I can tell you – there is no scale build up, no germ build up (as long as you change the water once weekly and let it all dry out once every few weeks).  It’s a pain in the ass to get enough distilled water when you are using about a gallon a day, but oh, it is worth it!  I purchased my own distiller (read through “What’s in my sick kit,” for more info).
  3. Capacity – I don’t know what your usage will be like, but I use my humidifier on high overnight when I use it, and I go through a gallon of water a night.  Because of that, I prefer a humidifier with at least a gallon capacity (2.5 gallon capacity is better for me, so I don’t have to refill it every day).
  4. Maintenance – Other than filling, cleaning and drying out, the other things you might have to do to maintain your humidifier are change filters (if you have them) and get it repaired.  There are pretty much four things that are most likely to go wrong or break on your humidifier.  a.) It will leak.  I sit mine in a rubbermaid tub with plenty of clearance around the humidifier as a precaution.  b.)  The heating element will break.  I know this does happen, but it has never happened to me, in the decade-plus that I have owned and operated humidifiers.  c.)  The switch will break.  This has happened to me.  If you find a humidifier you absolutely LOVE, then buy two and scavenge one for parts.  It was very easy to take the switch out of one and install it in the other for a mechanical failure (the tab broke off on one).  It is more difficult to replace circuit boards or items that are soldered.  d.) The spring gasket (I don’t know if I am calling this the right name) will break.  That’s the thing that allows the water to flow from the tank to the heating element.  You can see what I’m talking about in this picture.  It’s the black thing on the inside bottom of the tank.  If this spring is on the tank itself, it usually cannot be fixed or replaced, but if it is on the removable cap like it is in the the picture I referenced two sentences ago, I would guess (though I don’t know for sure) that it would be easy to replace.
  5. Medicine cup – I am a HUGE fan of the medicine cup (the little area where you would put stuff like eucalyptus essential oil and stuff like that — NEVER pour it into the humidifier water or vent or anything like that).  Personally, I would want a humidifier that included one and I would avoid using some sort of strange insert or packet of gross chemicals/fake essential oils.

The Bottom Line

Based on all of this, my recommendation for a warm mist humidifier would be:

  • The Duracraft DWM-250 2.5 Gallon Warm Mist Humidifier – because it is reasonably priced, Duracraft is a good company, it uses no filter (at least that’s what it looks like, you should confirm this) and it appears to have a tank cap that is large enough so that your hand could get in there.  Also, it has my beloved medicine cup.
    Disclaimer
    I do not own this humidifier and have not seen it in person, so check it out for yourself.  Of the humidifiers I own, the one I like best is an old, discontinued Bionaire model.  And yes, I’m glad I bought two, because I had to replace the switch, and gaskets.

Endnote

* Regarding duration of water filters in general (whether they be for drinking water, showering, for use in a humidifier, etc.), the rule that I follow is whatever the manufacturer says for the duration / capacity of the filter, use half of that in practice.  For example, if the manufacturer says to change your drinking water filter every 12 months, change it every 6 months.


Alert: Big avocado sale Friday 2/4/11!

February 3, 2011

Whole Foods is having a one day sale on organic avocados tomorrow (Friday, 2/4/11).  $1 each!  This is EPIC, people.  EPIC!  Hopefully, I will post my guacamole and chocolate mousse recipes soon.  They are both avocado-heavy and ridick delish.

Also, a bunch of Weleda face creams and Van’s waffles are also on sale right now.  And, when you’re at the check out, make sure you pick up a coupon for $5 off a $20 or more purchase of meat for sometime near Valentine’s Day (I forget the exact time period).


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