do it yourself

Recipes for a Revolution

Friends, I’ve been keeping a pretty big secret from you. It’s a good one, though, and now that I’ve finally going to spill, I don’t think you’ll mind too much.

This summer, I’ve been writing a cookbook.

Correction. This summer, I’ve been procrastinating, suffering from writer’s block, stressing, furiously writing, recipe testing, mumbling to myself, and taking up the booths at Bardo Coffee for literally entire days–the result of which is a cookbook.

Recipes for a Revolution: A Practical Guide to the Care and Feeding of Activists, is part cookbook, part pep talk, for those of us who have heard the call to speak up and to act up– on behalf of equality, the protection of human rights, the protection of the environment, better education, better healthcare, a better food system, and to stand in the way of those who may be threatening those things. But, it’s not a book on how to be an activist. Rather, it’s a guide for activists who find themselves trying to juggle work, school, family, and the important work they do for the causes they believe in.

So many times, we find ourselves giving all our energy to everyone else, and not saving any time to care for ourselves.  As we set aside our own needs for healthful, nourishing food; for time to recharge; for the simple act of staying hydrated, we become more run down, more tired, maybe even sicker. This book serves as a gentle reminder that we must prioritize our physical, mental, and emotional well-being if we are to stay strong as activists and advocates for the issues that are important to us.

Recipes for a Revolution contains over 50 recipes, all carefully designed and chosen to provide an approachable, accessible, practical way to set ourselves up for success as we do this work of resisting. Whether you’ve only just heard the call to act, or your activism is much more developed, I believe this book can serve as a reference, a check-in with yourself, to help get your kitchen calibrated with that activism.

RFAR is available for pre-order in Kindle format for $13.99. If you buy now, it will automatically be delivered to your Kindle device when it releases on September 20th If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read it by downloading the free Kindle app to your phone or tablet, or reading it on your desktop through Amazon. However, I will have a .pdf version available for purchase, as well. You can pre-order now, and receive it the same day it releases for Kindle.

To pre-order the Kindle version, Just click here!

To pre-order the .pdf version, please e-mail gonnacookthat@gmail.com with “Cookbook Purchase Request” in the subject line, and I will send you a pre-order payment link through PayPal.

For those of you wondering, I will be creating a funding page to help cover the cost of generating a paperback version of the book later this year.  If you’re like me, cookbooks are just a thing you want to be able to hold in your hands, make notes in the margins, and keep close-by in the kitchen. Self-publishing a printed version of a book can be expensive, but it’s something I definitely want to make happen.

Thank you, so much, for your support!

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Let’s Get Funky!

I don’t know why I’m so fascinated with the thing I’m so not very good at, but here I go again, starting another baking project.

Did I tell you guys I made gingerbread cupcakes in class last week, and when they sunk in the middle I cried? Yeah, I know that school is for learning and learning means messing up, but this is something I’ve made at home before a few times and never had an issue and I was just so upset about it I made a big ole fool of myself. Snotty and red faced and the whole nine. But then three different chefs came over and gave me pep talks, really good ones, and I’m over it now. Mostly.

And now headlong I’ve gone into this thing… a sourdough starter. But not just any sourdough starter… one made with bottle dregs from this beer:

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If you’re not familiar with bottle dregs, here’s the scoop. Sometimes, you’ll drink a beer that has “stuff” floating in it. Usually, unless you shake up the liquid, the stuff sinks to the bottom of the bottle and never makes it to your glass. Contained within that stuff, the dregs, are bacteria and yeast that were used in the beer making process. Those dregs still have live “bugs” in them, and can be reused to make more beer, or, in this case, give a sourdough starter a big ole kick start.

To make mine, I used the basic process laid out here, at thekitchn.com. They do a great job of explaining what a starter is, and why you’d want to make one, but I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version.

When you make bread, you need a leavening agent to make it rise. Most of the time, you’re going to go to the store and buy the yeast that has been grown and cultivated specifically for the purpose of baking. You don’t have to corral all those little yeasties yourself because someone has done it for you. Essentially, by growing your own starter, you’re creating a medium in which you can cultivate and grow all the wild yeast that’s already in the flour to use as your leavening agent, versus using the stuff from the store.

I started with a 1:1 ratio of flour to liquid– 4 oz. flour, and 4 oz of a combination of the bottle dregs and water. The moment I put the two together, I already started to see bubbles. That’s a good sign.

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Every day for the past five days, I’ve been feeding the starter with fresh water and more flour. Here it is on day two:

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And day four:
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It’s a little hard to tell, but it’s starting to get frothier and just generally gooey. It also smells kinda sour at this stage (duh), and at day five, closer to being ready to use, I can also smell that lovely yeasty smell. What you don’t want to smell is acetone. If you smell that, it means things have gone a little sideways and you probably need to start over. But, as long as you feed it every day, and store it in a spot with a consistent temperature of around 70°F, in about 5 days you should have a healthy starter that you can use to make everything from bread to pizza dough.

I’m in school for the next three days, so the first opportunity I’ll have to test out my starter in a loaf of bread will be late Friday evening. Of course, I’ll take pictures and tell you how it goes.

Have you ever made your own starter? How do you use it? Leave a comment and let me know!

Milking this for all it’s worth

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaack!

After a week off from blogging to wrap up Finals at school, I now have a week off of school so I can get back to blogging. Synchronicity? Or something. There’s a word for it.

Anyhoots, I’ve actually missed writing and I’m glad to be back to business.

I’ve decided it’s long past time for me to get started on that culinary bucket list. One of the items on the list was to start making my own almond milk. So… for the past couple months I’ve been buying up almonds and I now have quite the little herd and I go outside and milk them every– not buying it, are you?

Fine. I went and bought some almonds. Happy?

Seriously, though, I’m actually kind of embarrassed about how long it took me to tackle this particular item because it’s so freaking easy.

Equipment:
fine mesh strainer
cheesecloth (probably optional, but it actually made things a little easier)
medium sized bowl
spoon of some sort
blender

Ingredients:
almonds
water (to soak, plus more for the blender)

I used about 8 ounces of almonds, which got me about a pint of almond milk. I made the switch from cows milk to almond milk about three years ago, but one of my biggest pet peeves about buying it is that I don’t use it all before it goes bad. If you’re a regular drinker of almond milk, you know how long it takes for that to happen, but for some reason I just forget about it. I’m not a regular cereal eater, so unless I’m on one of my smoothie kicks, I really don’t use it all that much. It’s just one of those things I feel like I need to have around. Now that I know how to make my own, and make only enough for what I actually need for a couple days, I can cut the cord and stop relying on the stuff from the grocery store.

Instructions:
1. Soak your almonds in water at least overnight, or for as long as two days. The water should just cover the almonds. As they soak, they’ll absorb the water and get bigger and plumper. All the recipes I’ve read said the almond milk will be creamier the longer the almonds soak, so if that’s important to you remember that you’ll need a two day head start before you can actually make the milk.

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2. After they’ve soaked, you can just dump the whole she-bang, water and all, into your blender. Some recipes say to drain the almonds and start over with fresh water. I’m not sure why. I’ll try it that way next time and see if it makes a difference.

3. Pulse the blender a couple of times to break up the nuts a little, and then blend the water and almonds on high for a couple of minutes. The almonds should be pretty much pulverized, and the liquid should be… well… milky. If it looks a little too thick, you can add more water. I think I added about 1/3 of a cup.

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4. Line the fine mesh strainer with a pretty large square of cheese cloth, and then strain the liquid from the almond meal a little bit at a time. You can stir it with your spoon to get most of the liquid through, and then gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze the rest of the liquid out by hand. Just repeat that process until all the liquid has been strained.

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5. I drink mine plain, but if you want to add some flavor/sweetness, you can add a little vanilla extract and/or some agave nectar or maple syrup.

Now that I’ve tasted it, I think I really do like the homemade stuff better. I am going to play around with amounts of almonds and water and flavorings a little in the future, but as first batches go I’m pretty happy.

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Bear in mind, the home made stuff will only be good for 3-4 days, but since I’m doing this in smaller batches and “as needed,” that’s actually perfect for me.

And that, my friends, is how you milk an almond. Enjoy!

P.S. You can throw out the leftover almond meal, or hang onto it to add into baked goods or smoothies. I hung onto mine.