Welcome to the most personal thing I’ve ever written.
Yes, I’m an open book when it comes to answering questions, but surely we all have things in our lives we aren’t immediately forthcoming about… things we consider trivial that we don’t wish to trouble others with. But I’ve been faced with a great many questions lately—rhetorical mostly—as has my wonderful, beautiful mother Bonnie, who is currently battling Stage IV diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. (Very aggressive cancer, in layman’s terms.) And being here now, in this unforeseen reality, the questions we began asking weren’t yielding any kind of reasonable answers. So, we backed up, and started asking all new questions. (more…)
Have you ever made your own almond milk? I hadn’t until about a year ago, and I knew instantly that I’d never go back to the store-bought stuff in the cartons.
This… this had flavor! It actually tasted like almonds, wasn’t cloyingly sweet, and was far more nutritive than anything you might find dead on a shelf.
For optimum flavor and nourishment, I always use raw almonds that I’ve sprouted myself. It’s a fun little science project in a way, and it really is easy to do.
And a word about those raw almonds before we proceed: make sure they’re truly raw. You see, the fine folks at the USDA (in partnership with the Almond Board of California) saw fit to pass a ridiculous law that required all almonds grown in the United States to undergo pasteurization, even those that are labeled as “raw.” And while “raw” organic almonds have to be steam pasteurized, conventionally grown almonds are often sterilized with propylene oxide, a compound that the USDA’s homies, the EPA, call a “mild [central nervous system] depressant” and a “probable human carcinogen.” There is a small loophole that does allow consumers to still buy truly raw almonds directly from a farmer at a farmers’ market, or by purchasing imported raw almonds. (Do try to find and support local growers, even if our government doesn’t extend the same courtesy with legislation like this.)
Anyway, on to how to make the almond milk.
A little over a week ago, I posted a picture of some chopped up cabbage with the caption “Future sauerkraut” followed by some words in obligatory hashtag fashion. (Vegan, raw food, science, etc.) The number of questions I’ve gotten about making your own sauerkraut ever since has been astonishing, so I thought I’d lay out the very simple process for you here. How simple, you ask? Let me just say that writing this post will take more of my active time than actually making a batch of homemade sauerkraut.
You only need two ingredients: cabbage and salt.
Weigh your cabbage. Multiply that number by 0.02 and that will tell you how much salt you need. (If you don’t have a cooking scale, do yourself a favor and treat yourself; I got my digital kitchen scale for ~$25 on Amazon, and I never bake without it.)
Get as much organic cabbage as you like. One head of cabbage is usually all I use for a batch, and I end up with a ton of kraut for less than two dollars. Feel free to use red or green cabbage… your preference, and don’t wash it.
Using a large chef’s knife, cut the cabbage head into quarters, then remove the core and slice the remaining cabbage into thin(-ish) ribbons. Chop the reserved core into smaller, bite-sized pieces. (more…)
When fellow cookbook author Robb Walsh asked if I’d be interested in judging the 2012 Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, I think I had about a millisecond of hesitation before exclaiming “Hell yes!” and booking my airfare. It was kind of a no-brainer; I’d never been to Texas before, and, as you may have guessed by my first cookbook, I’m a sucker for Scovilles. And being the largest hot sauce festival in the world—with an estimated 350 competition entrants and 15,000+ attendees—it definitely seemed like my kinda scene.
Shortly after getting a screaming deal on a plane ticket, this innocent looking email came in from Robb and crew saying something to the effect of, “By the way, it was like 110°F here last year. NBD. Wear light clothes and a hat. Oh, and it’s 143% humidity. See you soon!”
110°F? Humid? What have I gotten myself into?! I’m a Los Angeles native… I don’t do humid. My mind spiraled out of control and I began to question my decision. What if there’s some crazy lunatic who wants nothing more than to punish people with her Ghost Chili hot sauce? Is my tongue ready for that? And am I prepared—physically and mentally—for the inevitable revenge the following morning? Could I handle this? What if… and so on. But eventually, I shut the hell up inside my own head and resolved to stick with it. I decided, once and for all, that no matter what happened, good or bad or otherwise, it would at the very least make a somewhat-entertaining blog post. (Hi!)
A few weeks ago, an interesting writing contest popped up in The New York Times, asking the seemingly simple question: “Is it ethical to eat meat?” My friend Steven Armstrong brought it to my attention, but I have to admit, I wasn’t sure why. (I’m still not, actually, but that’s beside the point.) You see, I became an ardent vegetarian close to two years ago after reading the ever-so-brilliant-and-not-at-all-preachy Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, who also doubles as one of this contest’s judges, to boot!
So what would a chompy old herbivore like myself have to add to a topic such as this? Why did he send me the link? Heh, somebody should totally write a satire. Hey, I should totally write a satire! And off I went, undoubtedly pushing a more pressing project aside for a few hours to craft my cunning snark. (more…)