Since switching from non-vegan instant hot chocolate to vegan not-instant-but-worth-the-tiny-extra-bit-of-time-it-takes-to-make-it (not its official slogan) Cadbury Hot Chocolate, I’ve been through a lot of soya milk. While I don’t believe the scare stories about soya being bad for you and if you eat or drink it you’ll grow an extra head or whatever the latest rumour is, I still like to make my own versions of shop-bought products when I can because a) they’re purer; b) I get to use my kitchen gadgets; and c) it gives me something to write about on this here blog.
Going back to ‘b’ for a moment, when I received my Optimum G2.1 high powered blender, one of the first things that came into my head to use it for was nut milk, especially as it came with a nut milk bag and the blender itself has a pre-programmed setting for nut milk.
I had a nose around the internet for an almond milk recipe and a lot of them involved dates and vanilla and stuff, so I decided to make my pure almond milk purely out of almonds and water – nut milk doesn’t get any simpler than this. As you’ll know, almonds aren’t cheap, so this almond milk isn’t as cheap as a carton of almond milk you can buy in the shops but you can keep the almond pulp to use in other ways, so there’s no wastage. And in case you’re thinking, ‘I bet the nut milk bag is a pain to clean’ – it’s not. I thought it would be but it’s not like muslin/cheesecloth and it rinsed clean in a bowl of soapy water in a few seconds and if you haven’t got a nut milk bag, you can get one on Amazon for a few quid.
Put the almonds and water in a high speed blender and process on high for 2 minutes (or if you have an Optimum G2.1, choose the 'nut milk' option in the menu.
Strain through a nut milk bag, keeping the pulp for another use and store the milk in the fridge
If the almond milk is too bitter for you on its own, you can sweeten it with a couple of dates and/or a tsp of vanilla extract. Also, you can soak the almonds in hot water for an hour or two instead of overnight if you're in a hurry.
This almond milk is lovely in hot chocolate – just be prepared to be asked ‘how do you milk an almond?’ if you tell your friends you made it.
Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if purchased through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post. For more information about the Optimum G2.1 blender mentioned in this post, you can read my review here.
There’s a local cafe/bistro I go to regularly and although I always order the same meal (portobello mushroom in a bun with blue cheese, wedges and salad), my drink order is always different. Sometimes I fancy a hot chocolate, sometimes I’ll have a glass of wine or a bottle of Peroni and sometimes I have their homemade lemonade. Their homemade lemonade is lovely but because it’s so lovely, it doesn’t last long as you can’t help but drink it quickly. As I was drinking some the other day, I pondered how much it cost them to make (they sell it for £1.95 a glass) and decided it probably didn’t cost much and I’d make some myself. Now, before you get all narky and but-you’re-not-just-paying-for-the-ingredients-you’re-paying-for-someone-to-make-it-and-someone-to- bring-it-to-you-and-then-there’s-rent-and-rates-and-wages-and-stuff-to-pay-for; yes, I agree with you and I don’t begrudge them their £1.95; I just wanted to make some for myself. Which is what I did, and very nice it was too.
And in case you are wondering how much it cost to make over a litre of homemade lemonade – a pack of four unwaxed lemons in Tesco is £1.50 (I used 3 so that’s £1.12 [I think]) and a 500g bag of caster sugar is 99p and the water came out of the tap. I tried to work out how much the sugar cost per gram but my maths is so shit, I couldn’t even work it out on a calculator – so, if you can work out how much 140g cost if 500g is 99p, please let me know.
Although my blender (the Froothie G2.1 Optimum) did its thing and whizzed up the lemons, sugar and water beautifully, there was a bit of pulp leftover, which I threw away, despite a voice in the back of my head telling me I could probably use it in a cake or something. You could also, I suppose, leave it in, if you like your lemonade with ‘bits’ in.
Honestly, this lemonade is so simple – you really should give it a go.
Add the lemons, sugar and half of the water into a blender and process thoroughly
Strain the mixture into a bowl and top up with the rest of the water
*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post.
I love halloumi. I love the saltiness, the squeakiness and the oh-my-god-it’s-just-so-fucking-delicious-ness of it. In the fridge languished half a block that needed to be used up and instead of stuffing it in the portobella mushrooms that are also languishing in the fridge needing to be used up, I decided to batter the halloumi, like they do in my local chippy.
I’ve made Yorkshire Puddings and battered tofu before, but I’ve never made a chip shop type batter. I whisked up the flour, milk and baking powder and seasoned it with salt and pepper but I felt it was missing something. The Meat Eater said it wasn’t and said that was how batter is made so I took his word for it, even though he couldn’t tell me how he knew how to make batter. He also assured me that it’s supposed to be the texture of wallpaper paste.
This battered halloumi was so, so good. It was even better than the chip shop’s. The halloumi had softened and lost its squeak and weirdly developed the texture of fish.
I don’t have a deep fat fryer, so I used the Tefal wok-type pan I use for almost everything. I’ve had it over ten years and I still think it’s brilliant and you can buy one here. (This post isn’t sponsored by Tefal, I just wanted to tell you how much I love my wok.)
I haven’t done any cooking in there for a week or so. Despite the novelty and convenience of having Papa John’s pizza on a Monday night, pre-packaged pasta and couscous salad on Tuesday night and leftover Papa John’s last night, today I craved something not out of a box or a packet, then remembered I had a soup maker somewhere (if you think the kitchen looks bad, you should see the state of the dining room where the floor is covered with the contents of the former kitchen) and looked in the fridge where I found some spinach and carrots.
I didn’t take much notice of how much spinach was in the bag or how much water I used, so all weights and measures are approximate.
Spinach and carrot soup (serves 2-3)
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tsp stock powder
1 onion, chopped
3 dried whole chillies
salt and pepper
Chuck everything into the soup maker and put on the setting that blends as it goes along.