A Beef with Milk

Coucou Cherie!

Can you believe that a year has come and gone since we started formally blog-letter writing?  I know we haven't written as much as we had planned, or probably cooked as much as we had hoped, but we have created an excuse to eat a little too much (and then talk about it) and we have done it for a whole year, so I'd say success all around! This calls for a drink!!

For a long period in my life, I couldn’t drink regular old cow's milk. Maybe couldn’t isn't the right word -  wouldn’t is more accurate.  Because, we, like every other household in America, were on this nonfat milk craze.   Which, lets be honest, is a sad substitute for the heavenly creaminess of whole cow’s milk. It sort of feels like grey/white water with which you sadly moisten your sugar-free cereal.  If you dip your warm cookie in it, the chocolate chips cry out in protest. 

Then, years ago, our local grocery store in Philly started stocking this crazy stuff called almond milk (I think Almond Breeze did it first, no?). I was stoked.  Though it definitely has more of a flavor than milk, its creaminess made it great for cereal and smoothies. And it was healthy to boot!

Now, of course, almond milk is everywhere.  So is hemp milk, rice milk, goat's milk, cashew milk, and just about every other kind of non-cow milk (this scene from Parks and Recreation says it all). 

Meanwhile, I’ve had two kids, which means I was re-introduced to the perfection that is whole cow’s milk.  And though that has taken over my oatmeal bowl and my cookie-dunking cup, I still like almond milk for smoothies and iced coffee drinks, which means I am going on 10 years of almond milk drinking.

So I'm a little surprised at myself as, up until about a month ago, I had never made my own.  Then Tygh saw a recipe, which got us both inspired.  We made it.  We changed it.  We made it again. We added some stuff.  We took away some stuff.  And now, I think we’ve got it.  At least, a version we like. 

We do it a little differently, because we roast the almonds first, which gives the milk a lovely toasty flavor.  Then, I add a little cinnamon and honey, although that’s totally optional.   Blend, strain, and cheers!

Toasted Almond Milk

1 cup almonds, roasted in oven (375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until fragrant and nicely toasted)

2 C cold water for soaking, plus 2-4 cups more for blending

1-2 T honey (optional)

1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Soak nuts in cold water overnight and up to 24 hours (I keep 'em in the fridge, but saw plenty of recipes that don't). 

Strain the nuts and place in blender or food processor with about 2 cups of fresh water.  Blend until completely pureed.  Add raw honey and cinnamon, if using, or keep as is.  Blend some more.  Add more water (up to 4 cups in total) if you want thinner milk.  Once completely blended and homogenous looking, strain over fine mesh sieve or any strainer (I love these) covered with a few layers of cheesecloth (which you can get at any kitchen store or at Amazon).  This may take some time, so pour in a bit, then stir and press mixture through cheesecloth to help it along.  When much of the liquid has been removed, lift the cheesecloth out of the strainer and, being careful not to spill any of the puree, squeeze cheesecloth by hand to remove any remaining liquid.  Use immediately or refrigerate up to 4 days.