Saturday, March 12, 2011

Eating in Winter

Someday I hope to have the space for such season-extenders as hoop-houses or passive solar greenhouses or even just nice south-facing windows for indoor growing. I do keep a few herbs indoors for sprucing up winter dishes, but I haven't yet mastered the art of 4-season gardening.

Eating as locally as possible, however, is still important to me. So what to do? There are a few winter farmers' markets in the Boston area, but none are particularly convenient to me. I've also heard that a lot of them are meat and dairy centric, which makes sense, but is of little interest to me as a vegan.

Enter Boston Organics. For $29/week, I get a box of fresh, organic, farm-direct produce delivered to my door. My roommate and I split the cost and share the veggies, and there are some weeks that even two non-meat-eating adults can't finish it all up -- right now we kind of have a backlog of potatoes and carrots! As if this weren't already a great enough deal, they have the option of a "local" box. Admittedly, in the depths of winter we're stretching into Quebec and New York to round out the offering, but it beats California or, seen recently on the regular box list, Italy! I know I'm lucky to live in a city where this is an option (and by the way, this is my own support of a company I like; no kickbacks from them behind this plug).

I usually buy some local greens, and maybe a bunch of herbs (for me + the bunny to share). Beyond that, my roommate and I take turns buying staples like beans, grains, canned tomatoes, tortillas, bread, and almond milk. Simple, cheap, delicious. I actually find it difficult to spend more than $20 or so at the grocery store.

Today I made a batch of homemade almond milk. I can't believe how easy this is, or how yummy. There are lots of recipes and personal suggestions floating around online, but here's what I did:

1 c raw almonds
8 c water
a glug of agave nectar (maybe 2 Tbsp)
a pinch or two salt

Soak the almonds overnight. Drain the soaking water, and add to blender with 8 cups of water. Blend until frothy and creamy. Add salt and agave and blend to combine. Strain through cheesecloth. Voila!

I think next time I'll try with 6 cups of water. Most recipes online seem to call for 4, but it was still delicious with 8. A little more thickness will be close to perfection for me -- I probably would not have sweetened it had I used less water.

What really gets me about making almond milk was firstly, how EASY it was, and secondly, how I get almond meal as a byproduct. I *buy* almond meal from time to time (I like to experiment with gluten-free baking, because it can't really hurt to get more grain variety in our diets!). Now I can have fresh, homemade almond milk AND almond meal along with the satisfaction of making a household staple with simple ingredients!

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