DIY Almond Milk

Emma here. My dad and I ventured down south to UCLA last Saturday for a college preview day. The countdown to the May 1st decision deadline for schools is creeping closer and closer…Well, at the end of the day, we were sufficiently exhausted, physically and mentally. In Sunset magazine, I had read about a juice shop nearby, and a refreshing drink sounded good to both of us. After some weaving in and out of side streets, we found the quaint little shop, Moon Juice. It literally looks like the Moon on the outside. Quite exciting. We went in and were given a detailed explanation of the benefits Moon juice beverages have to offer and then given a menu to peruse over. We selected several different drinks that I would definitely say made us just that much more gorgeous and balanced, but their homemade almond milk definitely took the cake. They call it a milkshake. While I wouldn’t go that far, it is quite creamy and satisfying, with light froth bubbling on top. The lone $9 bottle was downed way too quickly once we got home, and my mom made it her next task to master the art of making her own almond milk.

I came home from school a few days later to an odd bowl of nuts floating in water on the kitchen table. After a skeptical inquiry, I was informed that it was part of the almond-milk making process. After the nuts soaked, my mom threw them in the blender, added more water, and walla! Almond milk. Add a dash of sea salt and some honey, and you are good to go. She used a post from Sarah Britton’s website My New Roots to get started. I highly recommend Sarah’s blog – she has great recipes and interesting information on general health.

The video on Sarah’s posting is very helpful in its explanation of the process. It can be used to make any kind of nut milk; the only things you need are nuts, water, a blender, and a strainer.

This does take some time, as the first step requires soaking your nuts overnight. Once that is done, however, the remainder of the process only takes several minutes. The milk only lasts a couple of days as the ingredients do separate, so drink up and make small batches!

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Squaw Valley

Emma here. My sister and I were on spring break this week, the last spring break that we will share as I will have a new collegiate schedule somewhere next year. Ever since I was eight, our family has spent a week skiing at Squaw Valley, in Tahoe. There is something about making turns off of Shirley Lake, Granite Chief, and KT-22 (best chairlift in America) that make me feel at home; Squaw was where I went from bunny slopes to my first black diamond, groomers to heading off of the beaten path. It has been a week each year that I cherish like no other. Facing possibly our last year to carry on this week-long tradition, my parents took turns pleading Olympic Village Inn to allow us to bring along our precious ten week old pup, Scout Louise.

She is our family’s bundle of love and joy, and when the OVI staff said no, we decoded that we could not leave her for an entire week. To compromise, my dad and sister and I decided to make a quick two-day trip followed by a preview day at UC Davis for me. My mom, a little under the weather anyways, offered to stay at home with Scout.

This year’s trip definitely wasn’t the same as in year’s past, but it was still so special in its own way. After weeks and weeks of warm weather and quite a few rain showers at Squaw, we didn’t expect to get too lucky with the snow conditions. Well, we got more than lucky (thank you La Niña weather cycle). We were blessed with two days of winter wonderland: a fresh blanket of snow covered the slopes in the time it took to go back up the lift.

As we do love to share our food findings on this blog, I must share a few of our special traditions with you. If you are ever near Truckee or Squaw Valley, I highly recommend them.

Our favorite aprés ski spot is Fireside Pizza Co. in the Village at Squaw. In my opinion, Fireside is the best pizza on the planet earth. Of course, I am sure this is a highly controversial claim. Nevertheless, I am standing behind what I say, because their pizza is out of this world.

You really can’t go wrong on the menu. This trip, my dad and I ordered the Fireside Roasted Medley – thin crust pizza topped with roasted garlic and onions, peppers, tomatoes, basil, and normally goat cheese. (I, for one, am a huge fan of goat cheese. My father gags at the site of it. The omission was a huge labor of love on my part.) Fireside’s cheese is a medley of  mozzarella, provolone, fontina, and parmesan. It is in perfect proportion; not too much, not too little. And DELICIOUS second day. We ate leftovers in our condo the second night, mine cold (my favorite way to eat pizza) and my dad’s heated up in the microwave.

Our other personal favorites from Fireside are the Mediterranean and Pear and Gorgonzola pizzas, both equally scrumptious. May I also highly recommend their Pear and Gorgonzola salad, and of course a mug of root beer to accompany your meal. I am not a big soda fan. But the root beer here is just too good to miss, especially in their unique jugs.

If you like to keep things plain and simple, my sister swears by Fireside’s garlic cheese bread and their plain penne pasta topped with butter and parmesan.

After our second day of skiing, we crawled off the mountain sore and exhausted, with aching cold fingers and toes. This, however, didn’t stop us from ordering Le Waf’s and enjoying them by the fire for a while.

What are Le Waf’s, you may ask? At first glance, they appear to be extremely expensive and overly glorified European waffles. But in reality, they are utter perfection. Sweet and gooey, soft on the inside while crispy on the outside – did I mention, utter perfection? Stop by the EuroSnack cart at Squaw or a few of the other Tahoe resorts to pick one up. And be prepared to go back for another in the very near future, unless you are able to exercise an inhuman amount of self-restraint.

On our way out of town the next morning, we made a stop at our favorite Wild Cherries Coffeehouse in Truckee.

Wild Cherries is quite the popular place in the morning, for locals and out-of-towners heading up to the mountains. We have numerous Wild Cherries souvenirs around our house. This year, we added two water bottles and yet another coffee mug to our collection.

We ordered bagels to go: Dad got a sesame bagel with egg, ham and cheese. Livvy, our simplist (is that a word?), had a plain bagel with cream cheese and bacon. Brokenhearted that they didn’t have their chocolate chip bagels on the menu, I got a wheat bagel with cream cheese and topped it with blackberries – still delicious.

We rounded off our order with a large coffee and two Kitchen Sink cookies that were devoured several hours after breakfast. Wild Cherries’ Kitchen Sink cookies are a new discovery of ours. Basically every nut and dried fruit you can think of plus oatmeal and chocolate and I have no idea what else thrown into a cookie. You taste a slightly different flavor with every bite. Watch out on our blog for my attempt at recreating these morsels – I am sure I will discover a halfway decent recipe with some experimentation in the kitchen over the next few weeks. Although I’m not sure anything will ever top Wild Cherries’ version.

We are back home now and just had a relaxing day shopping for Easter presents in Santa Barbara and enjoying the sunny weather and beautiful blue ocean water. Although I already have an empty spot in my heart, yearning to go back to Squaw Valley. I suppose I will have to hang on until next year, when hopefully we will get to sneak up there as a family for a few days again.

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

Emma here. Spring skiing is just around the corner. My dad, sister, and I are heading up to the mountains of Tahoe for some much anticipated slope time. At 11 a.m. this morning I was already packed and ready to go, so I decided to make some cookies for the road. We have had a lot of chocolate chip cookies at our house lately, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with chocolate chip cookies, I decided it was time to switch it up a bit. (On a side note, if you would like to check out the best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world, look no further than Not Without Salt’s “the last chocolate chip cookie…”.)

Today, I branched out a bit and made peanut butter cookies. The result: delicious and fairly wholesome. They are soft and peanut-y, but also satisfyingly sweet. The dough stuck together very well, much better than other vegan cookie recipes I have experimented with.

Peanut Butter Cookies (vegan):

1 cup flour (you can use any combination; I used 3/4 cup white and 1/4 cup buckwheat, may up it to half and half next time)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Trader Joe’s Crunchy Salted)

1/2 cup maple syrup

3/4 tsp vanilla

1/8 cup milk

1 tbsp olive oil (Increase this amount if your peanut butter isn’t very oily, I had just opened a new can)

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top

*Adapted from 17 and baking.

Combine peanut butter, maple syrup, milk, vanilla, and olive oil in a bowl. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt on top and then stir until just combined.

Chill dough for 10 minutes, and then place tablespoon size dollops of dough onto a cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork and sprinkle sugar on top.

Bake for 9 minutes until golden brown. Once the cookies are out of the oven, allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack. I know, I know. That one minute feels like a lifetime. But it is worth it, unless you like cleaning multitudes of cookie crumbs off of the flour. At the moment, half of our cookies are on a plate for my mom’s sewing class, and the other half stowed in a cooler ready for the road. Squaw Valley, here we come!