Here at the cottage, the Beekeeper and I make just about everything from scratch. Granted we don’t grow and grind our own flour, or make our own tofu, but WE’RE PARENTS. We like a bit of Graham Norton
on Friday nights! We do make our own sourdough, muesli, peanut butter, falafel, hummus, wraps… Ah yes I’ve harvested my own rose hips and stinging nettle for tea, preserved olives from a friend’s tree, pickled my own jalapenos…
One of the major changes that’s taken place in our household recently is going dairy free. I wanted to give up dairy for a long time before it actually happened. All the reasons were there in my head – environmental degradation, the cruelty to the cows and their babies, the huge amount of evidence that seems to say dairy’s not actually that good for us… especially pasteurised, homogenised milk.
A vegan friend recently referred to milk as ‘cow pus’.
Sure you could get your own milking cow, like the Beekeeper’s cousin has, but still, dairy just doesn’t make any sense (I know I know, it’s hard not to think cheese makes sooooo much sense). To drink something meant for the baby of another species, a promoter of massive growth… bizarre really. We wouldn’t breastfeed our own babies into adulthood (though I’m sure they’re out there!). As a ‘milker’ myself now (braless and on all fours in the garden yesterday I felt particularly bovine, my udders swinging freely!), the thought of my baby being taken away and of being milked is horrifying.
Even as a kid, I never liked drinking milk out of a glass.
But somehow our family still seemed to enjoy cheese and yoghurt, and baking didn’t seem right without butter. Cultural habits of food have a huge hold over us.
And then at the second birthday party of our vegan friends’ daughter, it hit me. This food was just SO GOOD. THIS was what I wanted to eat.
My tastes changed surprisingly quickly. Now I’ll still grab somebody’s homebaked bikkie out of habit, but then, biting into it, think, uurrrggh.
We used to drink a lot of rice milk, but I was never particularly happy about it. Highly processed, and all those tetrapaks going in the rubbish! So when the vegan friend told me about almond milk, I was so happy! When I wiki-ed it and found that it had been around forever, I was happier still:
In the Middle Ages, almond milk was known in both the Islamic world and Christendom, where its vegetable composition— being a nut that is the seed of a fruit of a plant — made it suitable for consumption during Lent. Almond milk was also a staple of medieval kitchens because cow’s milk would not keep for long without spoiling.
We make it about once a week, and use the leftover almond meal in the Beekeeper’s famous lentil brownies (that’s another story!), though you can use it in any baking. When we run out and I’m too busy to make more we drink soy milk, which I still don’t especially like the idea of: all those phytoestrogens…
So here’s how you do it:
Soak 1 cup almonds in water overnight.
Place in food processor with a few glasses of water.
Whizz the shit out of it. Then whizz it some more.
Strain through a muslin or (ironically) cheese cloth: squeeze every last drop out.
Pour into a litre bottle (glass of course, for smug factor), and top up by swishing out the food processor.
Keep in the fridge. Keep the almond meal in the fridge for up to a week.
You can add salt/sweetener/flavourings too.
P.S. We use margarine for baking now, and it still doesn’t seem quite right. It’s a small sacrifice for smugness …
The Beekeeper’s Wife