Reveler

“A reveler is someone who loves sharing their passion for good times.”

-Ali Larter’s Kitchen Revelry

 

I wasn’t in the kitchen quite as much as I thought I’d be this weekend. I always think I’m going to get in there right away and make every great idea I saw on Pinterest the night before. Reality check. This is where I have to remind myself to slow down. What ingredients do I have on hand and how many different stops in town will be required.

I find myself gravitating toward the lighter recipes in the last couple weeks. Last week, I made a tasty millet salad with a peanut ginger dressing and various veggies. Scott wouldn’t touch it. Anything laced with shredded carrots scares him off. I don’t quite understand that one. Is it similar to those people who can’t eat cilantro because they think it tastes like soap (it’s genetic, right)?

In keeping with the theme of lightness, I’ve been thinking about a good green smoothie. You know, the kind with kale or spinach, or both and chia seeds or flax meal: something really good for me. Many of the smoothie recipes call for water, or coconut water, or various different kinds of milk as the liquid component. I’m not opposed to dairy products (in fact, I probably love them a little too much), but my goal was to cut back. Almond milk seemed the obvious choice. However, a while back I read something interesting about Almond milk found in the grocery store (read about it here). Basically, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of the various preservatives and stabilizers or thickeners found in processed milks. I know, I know, everything in moderation. The more I thought about it, I realized I must have a “pin” with a recipe for almond milk. Sure enough! Martha Stewart to the rescue. Ha! I followed Martha’s recipe with just a few changes:

Homemade Almond Milk

1 Cup raw Almonds

4 Cups water, divided

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1 tsp raw honey

pinch of vanilla salt

In a blender combine the almond and 1 cup of the water (heated to boiling). Let stand for 30 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups of water, teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, teaspoon of raw honey and pinch of vanilla bean salt. Blend until frothy.

Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and slowly pour in the mixture, using a rubber spatula to press the liquid out of the pulp. Using a funnel, ladle the strained milk into a clean glass bottle and place in the refrigerator. The milk will keep in the fridge for about a week. Remember to shake well before pouring.

Here’s where Martha and I differ. She advised to discard the solids. A sense of wastefulness came over me and I thought, “there must be something tasty I could make out of this leftover pulp. It was still full of wonderful ingredients. Little flecks of vanilla bean and the subtle flavors of honey and salt.

I vaguely remembered having read somewhere about what to use leftover almond meal for, but it wasn’t coming to me. A few days ago, I had pulled Ali Larter’s Kitchen Revelry from my shelf and had planned to thumb through it. I finally sat down to it yesterday afternoon. To my pleasant surprise, there it was. She has a recipe of her own for almond milk. Hers calls for dates as a sweetener and less milk, for a thicker consistency. I’m looking forward to experimenting with that recipe too. And then I turned the page and found her recipe for Almond meal cookies (with the leftover meal from the milk recipe). Perfect!  I carefully scooped the meal into a paper-towel lined container and popped it into the fridge, and made my list for the store.

I’m not going to lie. I was somewhat skeptical about this cookie recipe. Mashed bananas and shredded coconut are not exactly my thing. We were very pleasantly surprised. The dough went together so easily and I really like how they bake up without spreading.

Almond Meal Cookies (adapted from Kitchen Revelry)

1 ¼ to 1 ½ Cups mashed ripe bananas (from 3 to 4 bananas)

¼ Cup coconut oil, warmed

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp raw honey

1 ¾ Cups old-fashioned oats

1 Cup almond meal (solids leftover from the above almond milk recipe)

1/3 Cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp kosher salt

¾ Cup vegan carob chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line one or two rimmed baking sheets with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Mash the bananas and mix with the warmed coconut oil, vanilla extract, and raw honey in a small mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine the oats, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt until evenly mixed. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix. Stir in the carob chips. The mixture will be moist. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls on the baking sheet and press to a ½ inch thickness. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes. The cookies should be golden around the edges. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Note: If using store-bought almond meal, add a couple tablespoons of almond milk to make up for the lack of moisture otherwise found in the homemade almond meal.

 

These little treats were delicious. Warm from the oven, they had the faint aroma of freshly baked banana bread. The coconut wasn’t overpowering and the carob chips were a burst of melty, sweetness. We’ve decided they would make a great breakfast cookie, or maybe even a late night snack.

 

 

Catching up

I had the best of intentions when I first posted to this blog back in November of 2014. I was really going to start. That being said, I realized that it’s okay to start fresh.

Where to begin. I suppose where I left off might be appropriate. 2014 was nearing a close and had been overflowing with firsts for me. Scott and I were married in May, had a fantastic reception at our home in August and then flew off to Europe for two full weeks of honeymoon adventure in Paris and Switzerland in September. Sounds like a fairytale when I write it now. 2015 was also full of life events. Some wonderful and some not so wonderful.

Scott and I took a scenic road trip to Banff in February over Valentine’s Day weekend. What a beautiful place. The mountains, no matter where I go in the world, are what feel like home to me. Perhaps that’s it. I felt the same way being in Switzerland and again when we stayed in Driggs, Idaho in June.IMG_2861

I saw Chicago for the first time and am so excited to go back this coming June. What a great city!

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We welcomed a new niece, Cecelia Kay. She was quite the surprise with two older brothers.  And she loves her momma! IMG_2969

We celebrated my mom and Aunt’s 60th birthday at cozy cabin on Georgetown Lake. We’ve never seen so much snow in April, but what fun time we had cooking meals and snuggling up by the fire. There were camping trips, road trips, weekends with family and weekends at home.

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And in the middle of it all, we lost someone very special. My cousin had battled with congestive heart failure for close to eight years. He was flown to Salt Lake the first week in June and passed away the first week of July. While I am grateful he’s not suffering, his loss has affected me in a way I don’t quite understand. He was older and we never quite saw eye to eye in our world views I suppose, but in spite of those things I loved him immensely. He would tease me so and I miss his laugh and I miss the way he loved my sister’s kids and I miss his music.

I would be lost without the love of my family as we navigate this first year without him. It is bittersweet to leave 2015 behind, but there is so much to look forward to and be thankful for.

All the while, I find myself coming back to my kitchen again and again. 2015 was a year for new recipes. My copy of Date Night In got quite the workout, especially the Hemingway Punch (which by they way, is delicious made with blood orange juice and very pretty too). And Hippie Bowls from Bowl+Spoon were a hit in this house where it’s hard to disguise a vegetable on Scott’s plate. We substitute chicken for the tofu and pepitas are great alternative to the spicy sunflower seeds.

Bittersweet chocolate brownies made an appearance more than once, topped with peanut butter icing or whipped cream, strawberries and fresh mint.

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I took my culinary adventure on the road and had my first taste of Chicago deep dish pizza as well as real (to die for) Magnolia Banana pudding (It’s good for breakfast too).

We had a most amazing dinner at a little Bistro in Driggs, Idaho where the chef gave me his recipe for a tangy tomato jam (excellent for lamb burgers and oven-roasted potatoes).

As 2015 drew to a close, we added a Golden Retriever puppy to our family. This completes our zoo.

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Somewhere amidst all of these adventures and goings on, I attempted my first soufflé. An Earl Grey flavor (recipe from Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen). It was not spectacular by any stretch, but it won’t be my last attempt. Christmas (well, my mom) brought me a beautiful Artisan KitchenAid. So far, this little beauty has taken part in pizza dough (more Date Night In), Almond Flour Pancakes (Food52) and a sinfully delicious Rum Cake (Pinterest-inspired).

This brings us to 2016, where a new year offers up so many possibilities. I’m anxious to spend more time in the kitchen and share my passion with you.

“oh sarah”

“I can hear my Aunt Sylvia with laughter in her voice as she tells me about the latest antics of Jude, my very sweet 4-year old nephew…”

“I can hear my mother happily enjoying my latest recipe, or even just my telling her about it…”

“I hear my younger sister (soon to be mother of 3) telling me to stop being so dramatic about something…”

“oh sarah” they say…

They are my inspiration. They are my joy in life. They are my family.

And so, I begin (or rather, continue) this journey. For so long, I was so close to them. And now, a few hundred miles away, I’ve begun a new chapter in life. Together, with Scott and our zoo (3 very silly cats and a sweet Golden Retriever). They are still with me. Encouraging me. Teasing me. Loving me…

I find happiness most often in the comfort of my kitchen. Much of the time, I say “I would so much rather be home cooking or baking something.”

So for now, between work and (online) school, I try my best to carve out little moments to escape to my favorite room in the house. Scott wishes these moments were much more frequent of late. And honestly, so do I.

I would so much rather be attempting my first soufflé rather than writing a response to a discussion about the Interpersonal Divide. Speaking of, I really do have yet to attempt my first soufflé. All in good time I suppose. Perhaps that’s how I’ll celebrate finishing the semester.