Cooking + Baking

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Hiya! After having quite a few friends and family ask how I make my super creamy barista style almond milk, I am here with a tutorial. There are a lot of directions, but don’t worry. It really isn’t very difficult.

First off, to toot my own horn, this almond milk is the best you will likely ever taste. Second, unlike many store bought milks, you choose the sweetness. I choose not at all, so you’ll have to figure out what you’d like to try and in what proportions on this front. Third, this milk doesn’t separate in the bottle or your favorite hot beverage. Finally, if lectins from almond skins make you break out in a rash, like they do my husband, or upset your tummy, like me, use blanched, as I do. They cost more but are totally worth it.

Now, for supplies:

A high speed blender is an absolute must

Large – 8 cup – glass measure

rubber gloves

glass container(s)

clean nut milk bag, cotton bag, or t-shirt


filtered water


xanthan gum

Just in case you are thinking, like I once did, that using your favorite stainless steel water bottle is a fine option for storage, please don’t. I have zero understanding of the chemistry, but no matter how freshly sanitized with boiling hot water, our precious milk promptly went bad. Giant sad face. Use glass. Read all of the directions, then get the proper sizes washed and ready.

Okay, let’s go! To make what we use over a week, we use these measurements, but, obviously, scale to your needs. The ratio is 1 part almonds to 4 parts water.

4 cups almonds, at room temperature

1 1/4 teaspoons salt (just over 1/4 teaspoon per cup of almonds)

3 cups boiling water, plus a little more

13 cups water

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (1/8 teaspoon per cup of almonds)

Now that you’ve decided on your ratio, wash your hands. If you’re using gloves, wash the gloves, too. Don’t chance the milk going bad. Put the almonds and salt (to help preserve it; I don’t know how it will last without it, and it won’t taste salty) in the blender. The almonds need to be room temperature, or your yield will drop. Add the boiling water. Let sit one minute.

While the almonds, salt, and boiling water sit (we’re softening them up and hopefully killing any stray nasties), pour the other bit of boiling water over whatever cloth you’ve decided to use and your glass containers. Swirl the water to get the sides and rim. Pour out. Add three cups of water to the blender, and turn on high. Blend for one minute.

Turn off the blender, and carefully pour the thick mixture into your bag or t-shirt over the large measuring cup. It will be HOT!! Use gloves if you are sensitive to heat. The amount you pour will vary, depending on the volume you made and size of the bag. This picture shows about half.

VERY gently squeeze the bag. If you are too aggressive at first, the almond solids can literally burst through the seams or the fabric. Squeeze until you feel the majority of milk is in the measuring cup. Pour that milk into your clean glass container. Add more of the almond water mix, if you have any remaining. Gently squeeze again. Pour into the glass container(s). Repeat until there’s no more almond mix. Pour some of the remaining water in the blender to get every bit off the sides and pour it over the solids in your bag. Now, pour the remaining water through the almond pulp, in whatever proportion works best, and pour that into your glass container. It’s okay to be agressive at this point. Use those muscles. We want to get every last drop!

Once you feel you’ve gotten all that you can, wash out the blender container. The next step is to add the xanthan gum. If you’re like us and use 16 cups of water, this will be done in two batches. Since there is less almond and more water with each progressive squeeze, we make sure to mix all of our glass containers equally into the blender, so none of the bottles are watery. Don’t worry about being exact, just do the best you can.

Alright, your blender should be full of almond milk. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over the top. If you are doing the full recipe, this will be 1/4 teaspoon. Put the lid on and blend on the lowest setting for one minute. Any higher, and you’ll make a frothy mess. Pour proportionally into your glass container(s). See photo below. Pour the remaining milk into the blender. Add the xanthan gum. Blend on the lowest setting for one minute. Fill your containers.

As you can see, there might be a little more than you initially intended. A bonus to drink first, since you probably did not pour boiling water over the container. Refrigerate. Use within a week. Most of all, ENJOY!

I simply cannot resist the beauty of a perfect burger, grilled by the G-Man, of course. I am grateful he took up the mantle. I bake, broil, braise, and saute with the best of them indoors, but do not enjoy outdoor cooking AT ALL. Number 1,460,000 we are a match made in heaven.

In an effort to use a plethora of petals and keep our high desert skin as dewy as possible, I found a recipe for easy hydrosols and made a batch of rose. It left behind this gorgeous pink rosewater, and, as you well know, I hate waste, so I whipped it into a lemonade. It was delicious, a singular flavor I fail to find the words to exactly describe.

Blueberry Lemonade Cookies, the perfect summer treat, even though we are almost full on Fall, eek! I used the Cloudy Kitchen Funfetti recipe, substituting 3/4 cup dried blueberries for the sprinkles, one tablespoon lemon juice for the vanilla, and the zest of one large lemon. Highly addictive, they are delightfully tart with a crispy edge and soft middle. Even Greg, mister chocolate, loves them.

It is canteloupe season! This year has been especially flavorful.

You know how sometimes you forget the resources you actually own and look for the new? In one such fit for salad recipes, I was scouring the interwebs before remembering a Williams-Sonoma cookbook sitting right on the living room shelf. This is my riff on their Caesar Style with Poblano Chiles (page 23). I didn’t have poblano but a plethora of diced green chiles and Costco shredded rotisserie breast, so here we are. It was most delicious! In true Southwest style, I paired it with a glass of fizzy prickly pear lemonade. Yum-yum.

As somewhat of an organization freak, I enjoy me a well organized shelf and drawer. I had a hodge-podge of bottles, jars, and zip-top bags here, and it honestly made my head hurt. I found some snazzy jars with bees on them at Sierra (since they were closeouts and could run out at any moment, I am not including the link), bought a boat load, and got to work. I also have a slightly embarrassing number of washi tape rolls and made the most of a cute polka dot pattern. How wonderful to easily find what we are looking for!

Sunflowers, sunflowers, sunflowers!

The horsetail milkweed blossoms are so tiny in comparison to the bees but no less favored for their sweet nectar!

My mom gave me some old seed packets she had lying around, and this zinnia is one of the few that sprouted! It grew into an amazingly large bloom in a fuscia hue.

This plant-filled stock tank hides our unsightly gas meter and is looking its very best. Also, how cute is the volunteer marigold?!

In an effort to save birds from an untimely death by flying into our sliding door when we first moved in, I bought a roll of polka-dotted film that prevented the glass from reflecting. It worked quite well until this summer when it started to flake and peel. I found the rainbow reflecting adhesives (“sticking” with water!), and Greg and I did the not-so-fun job of removing the old and replacing it with the new. How about that beautiful rainbow in the morning light?!

The World War II Aviation Museum here in Colorado Springs flew these planes over the weekend. The first is a North American B-25 Mitchell, and the second is a Grumman TBM Avenger. Pretty cool! I love how they have the ability to keep this history alive.

I think Juniper knows, even in sleep, what the sound of a lens cap being removed means. Mama, are you trying to take my picture???

More garden shots for you. The desert willow has hundreds of blooms and a near constant stream of bees, hummingbirds, and hummingbird moths. I often sit mesmerized at the living room window watching the spectacle.

I can’t believe the robins and squirrels haven’t gobbled all of the choke cherries, but here we are with an intact bunch.

Aspen leaves quaking in the breeze. With an abundance of rain this season, this tree, transplanted from a sprout in the front garden, has grown an astounding three feet this year to make it about 10 feet tall. Fingers crossed it makes it through winter!

Our reddest sunflower. Have a wonderful week…

Hello there! Bebe’s son-in-law came for a visit and brought a whole passel of back yard pecans(!!). Greg and I are grateful she decided to share and equally so for the shells, as the work at getting them off prevents us from eating too many at once.

We’ve had quite a bit of Pacific Northwest style rain, as of late, greening pastures and shrouding Pike’s Peak with snow later than any time in our memory. How gorgeously fantastic it has been!

When my parents visited, my dad bought some orange juice and never drank it, so I fashioned cocktails, tequila sunrise style. Pretty and tasty!

After watching Leguizamo Does America, I was inspired to check out Diasporican, a book on Puerto Rican cooking. Especially intrigued by any endeavor that eliminates the need for wheat, I dove headlong into the making of a jibarito, a plantain sandwich created by Puerto Ricans living in Chicago. They deep fry their plantains, but I am not interested in any such mess or fuss, so I did a little pan fry. Next time I will pop those babies into the oven because it was still a little more work and oil than I was after. Anyhoo, the sandwich was muy delicioso, but very filling, so I’ll do it open-faced next time.

In the same cookbook, I saw a recipe for shrimp and chorizo over polenta. I returned the library book before I made it, so I was without an actual recipe, but Greg and I had no complaints about the end result. What a marvelous flavor combo.

A little garden tour completed while sipping my morning coffee. With all the rain we’ve been getting, it is looking rather lush.

The top blooms are penstemon that volunteered in the garden. My delight is magnified by the fact they are volunteers that I transplanted from another spot. They did some nail-biting dramatic drooping, but are super champs now. Huzzah!

The second photo is the stunner of a view from the back door. My heart swells each time I see it. The weird ring of rocks in the foreground surround a clutch of sunflower sprouts I hope to keep Juniper from trouncing.

Speaking of Juniper, how about our cute explorer? She’s simply the best. I’m wearing my space sandals, named so for their neon quality that is surely visible from on high.

A question: has any other fellow gardener had lousy luck with true red peonies? Three photos from the bottom are my three plants. All planted at the same time, the two on the left have been going like gangbusters, while the red one, just like it did in Portland, is minuscule. So disappointing.

Luckily there is much to keep me distracted from the peony plight, like the hollyhock grove in the bottom photo, all of which are also volunteers. I can’t wait for their colorful show!

Hello, and happy Tuesday! We have had some pretty spectacular clouds of late. Summer storms are springing, for certain.

I read about strawberry infused tequila and decided to try it, pronto! I used 1.5 cups tequila in a pint jar and filled it to the brim with quartered strawberries. I kept it in the fridge for three days before straining it and making the most deliciously dangerous margaritas, probably ever. I used my recipe, omitting the lime juice (I might try half next time) and adding 1.5 cups quartered cold strawberries. The height of splendor, dear peeps.

Lilac season has been amazing this year. This bouquet scented the house for days. The fab vase is from Liz Kelly. Oh, how I love her work!

Juniper is an odd bird. When other dogs are freaking out at the sound of thunder, she is super chill, but at the first hint of high winds, our girl gets anxious. Enter the Mr. Sandman weighted blanket (we bought the seven pounder) and she is instantly worry-free, thank goodness. I hate to see her suffer.

My parents came for a visit a couple weekends ago, and I, as per usual, made a feast! This was the prettiest of the lot, a rum cake from The Red Truck Bakery cookbook. It was also rather amazing in the flavor department.

I have seen this gorgeous style of banana bread all over the internet and decided to try it. Not gonna lie, I would not do it again. For someone whose fresh preference is on the firm green side, it was basically two large chunks of overripe ickiness atop every slice. Juniper was happy to take those bites off my hands, just in case you were wondering if I suffered any.

Yet another treat! Cloudy Kitchen’s Funfetti Sugar cookies. Very, very good (I will reduce the sugar a touch next time, however), and no refrigeration required!

Our library, perched atop a windy hill, has, hands down, the best view of the west side of Colorado Springs!

At our local Lowe’s parking lot

The wild penstemon is in bloom!

Have a wonderful day…

My best love is doing pretty amazing in the guitar department, becoming the king of riffs and lovely melodies. I’m not sure he’s ready to play an entire song, but what leaps and bounds he’s traveled these two years of learning. I am so proud of him!

Another point of pride! My dear friend Liz (Guerra) was a presenter at the El Pueblo History Center in Pueblo last month. It was a real moment of triumph, with a room full of eager listeners, after a long journey of creating unique spaces for healing and teaching. I wish I had gotten a picture that better captures her dynamic energy and enthusiasm for her Mind-Body work.

Mushroom Taco Tuesday! All the homemade things, yes ma’am.

We grilled green chile burgers burgers on the first nice day. I put the chile in the burgers and on top for double happiness and topped it with a chipotle sauce!

If you recall, I am not a cooking show person. I do, however, like cooking on a show, sometimes, if all the elements are right. Like Stanley Tucci’s tour of Italy (I am a sucker for a fine landscape!) or the wonderful Vivian Howard’s A Chef’s Life, which probably went off the air five years ago? Anyhoo. I stumbled upon a few episodes of Ina Garten hosting famous people. I caught Emily Blunt’s giant sleeved appearance and thought her recipe for turkey bolognese looked pretty tasty. My friends, this is (mostly) it and quite delicious, to boot! I shockingly only made one change, which was a reduction of celery to a single stalk. I had an unfortunate pasta dish at a short-lived Italian restaurant in Portland (a connection, methinks), that had a ridiculous amount of it, which obviously made an impression, and wanted no such repetition. Make it and be glad, though it will test your patience, aromatically bubbling away in the oven.

Snow in April, twice. The first was a regular storm. The second started as three hours of rain, followed by fat fluffers accumulating into eight inches overnight. Delight of delights, which melted by the end of the day. That, my friends, is springtime in Colorado!

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