Archives for category: Drinks

So I was at my happy place yesterday afternoon (the PSFC, which you should know by now is the Park Slope Food Cult), slicing a wheel of Humboldt Fog, bantering with my fellow workers about topics ranging from: if the quality of red meat continues to improve with grass-fed beef and small farmers, will overall meat consumption rise? How to make french toast with tofu instead of bread (tell ya later). And using Tuesday’s general meeting on the Israeli boycott as a venue for one’s performance art. In other words, we were a parody of ourselves, what Samantha Bee called “a diverse group of NPR listeners.” (If you haven’t seen the Daily Show clip on the co-op, click here.)

My little crew of Week-A Friday food processing workers is a delightful bunch of folks including the NYC Bikram Yoga champion; a journalist exposing a cover-up at Fukushima; an event planner organizing a 1,500-person NYC Easter egg hunt next weekend; a midwife; writing professor; and metal-worker jewelry designer. We come together once every four weeks to wrap cheese, package dried mango, and debate things like the Pfizer birth control recall and the best new burger joint in the Slope, for precisely 2 hours and 45 minutes.

We started talking about almond milk and one woman mentioned making her own. I’ve been wanting to try this since I go through about a quart a week and, well, generally prefer making to buying. She told me her method, I committed it to memory, and after our shift I bought about one pound of raw, unsalted almonds, the only ingredient you really need. This is the easiest thing I’ve made for this blog yet (except maybe for one of my first posts, last April, on Vermont Iced Coffee.)

The benefits of homemade almond milk are more about flavor than cost effectiveness. In fact it may even cost more to make it yourself, even when buying from the co-op’s bulk bins, but not much. The price I paid was $4.21 per pound (for organic), and you need about 1 pound of almonds to yield one quart of almond milk, whereas buying a pre-made quart is usually $2 to $3. But the flavor is incomparable. This homemade stuff is rich, creamy, not watery, with a very distinct almond flavor. Buy your almonds from a place with high turnover. Nuts go rancid rather quickly; they should be as fresh as possible, I wouldn’t really bother with stale almonds. The resulting flavor is so good, and texture so smooth, I will definitely finish this quart before next week.

One more thing, in order to do this, you need a powerful blender, preferably one with at least 1,000 watts of power. A VitaMix is ideal, although expensive I know (but such a good investment); I use the Ninja blender I got a few months ago, which makes amazing green smoothies and blends everything from ice to vegetables in seconds.

You can adjust the amount of water in the recipe below depending on how thick you’d like the results. These proportions will give you a creamy-ish milk but not all that thick. Get blending!

Homemade Almond Milk

1 pound (about 3 cups) raw, unsalted almonds
3 cups water (for soaking) plus 2 more cups
a few drops of vanilla extract
tiny pinch of salt (optional)

Place the almonds in a bowl or pot and add the 3 cups of water. Cover with a lid, and let soak for at least 12 hours.

Place the almonds and their soaking liquid in a blender and blend until creamy. Halfway through blending, add the vanilla and about 2 more cups of water, gradually. This will take anywhere between, say, one and two minutes depending on your blender.

Line a large bowl with cheesecloth (or, I used a reusable cloth produce bag) and place the contents of the blender (liquid, almond pulp, and all) into the cheesecloth or bag, over the bowl. Strain the mixture into the bowl, squeezing all the liquid out. You’ll be left with quite a bit of almond pulp – I’m taking suggestions on what to do with this since it seems like a shame to just throw out.

Ode to Milk Thistle Farm – paying tribute by using their old glass bottle to store my almond milk. (I mention here how they sadly went out of business recently.)

Maybe because the weather has been so mild, or maybe because my body is craving greens, I seem to be back to my green smoothie routine. I temporarily left them behind for much of the last two to three months in favor of warm grains in the morning.

The food co-op had beautiful bright green dandelion greens Sunday so I couldn’t resist picking up a bunch from Lady Moon Farms. I’ve learned that dandelions (tampopo, in Japanese—yes, like the movie) are ranked in the top 5 green vegetables for nutritional value. They are incredibly rich in beta-carotene (Vitamin A), as well as Vitamin C, calcium, iron, protein, potassium, and magnesium. They are also rich in micronutrients like copper, cobalt, zinc, and Vitamin D. The vitamins and minerals found in dandelions can reduce inflammation of the liver, stabilize blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of strokes.

Ok, enough of the science stuff. Dandelion greens taste good. They’re slightly bitter—but not as bitter as, say, arugula, and can be eaten raw in salads or sauteed the way you would other greens. I like their addition to green smoothies as much as, if not more, than spinach or chard, in part because they blend very finely. Drink a tall glass of this in the morning to put a little bounce in your step. Works better than coffee in my opinion. (Seriously, green smoothies have helped wean me off of caffeine.)

Go Green Morning Smoothie

2 c dandelion greens
1/2 grapefruit
1 banana
1 ripe pear
10 oz water

Add everything to a blender and puree until smooth, approximately 1 minute. You could also add a little bit of fresh ginger to spice up the smoothie. Makes about 20 oz of smoothie.

The fun continued on Sunday as I met up with my friend Daniela, blogger for Eater LA, and general gourmet extraordinaire.

Sunday 11 am

Daniela picks me up from Maison 140 in her shiny new Prius and whisks us off to Suzanne Goin’s newest restaurant, Tavern, for brunch in Brentwood. We eat lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote and a smoked fish plate with toasted rye and goat cheese. We gawk as servers pass by with house-made desserts like a softball-sized sticky bun and mile-high carrot cake.

1 pm

Off to the main event! Daniela has to attend a charity event for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which raises money for childhood cancer research. It’s a chef’s cookout, bringing out the likes of Gabrielle Hamilton (who’s book I just read), April Bloomfield, Jonathan Waxman, Michael Tusk, Paul Kahan, Nancy Silverton, David Lentz, and more. The event is hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and Jimmy Kimmel and raises over $400,000 in one afternoon.

I introduce myself to Coco alums Russell Moore of Camino in Oakland, Bloomfield, and Tusk (below), and help myself to farro salads, roasted lamb, blue cheese toasts with fennel slaw, and desserts by Zoe Nathan of the Huckleberry Cafe.

4 pm

All chef’ed up and ready to go. The plan is for high tea at José Andrés’s Bazaar at the SLS hotel. When we get there we realize we could barely ingest tea, let alone little sandwiches and scones. Not only am I still digesting pork belly sliders from last night’s meal at Animal I’m also now digesting pork belly from this afternoon’s bacchanalia. So we sneak into the restaurant which we’re told is closed until 5:30. Daniela shows me around the Alice-in-Wonderland-esq landscape of neon skulls, oversized chairs, and general doo-dads. On our way out we shut the door by accident and lock ourselves in. It really is like Alice in Wonderland now. We sneak out through a service door, and a long hallway later slip out through an exit near the dumpsters. I don’t think José wanted us to see that.

8 pm

We’re meant to have dinner at Robata Jinya in West Hollywood, a Japanese grill joint that also promises to serve tofu made before your eyes (as Jonathan Gold found so delightful). But we’re tired (and full) and sore and achy from lots of walking around. I know, walking around? This is LA. I should be in a car. So we book it to Thai Town for massages in a strip mall where all the other businesses are Thai restaurants. Thai Sabai didn’t disappoint, $45 for an hour of pulling, kneading, and hot stones.

We ditched our reservation at Robata Jinya and brought home Thai food from the beloved Jitalda instead, located around the block. We order off the Thai menu instead of the American menu and are practically sweating in the car just smelling the stuff. (If you click on the link to Jitalda’s website you’ll see a post from Oct. 20th that says, “Yes we were robbed again last night at gun point, thankfully no one was hurt.” Interesting.

That’s all she wrote folks. The next morning I was whisked via Prius to the lovely LAX and sent on my way back to New York. Until next time Los Angeles.

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