Tag Archives: homemade

homemade mango lassi

We are smoothie junkies around here, so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner that we could make mango lassis at home. It also didn’t occur to me that they are healthier than they taste. Instead of yogurt and milk, I like to replace some of the dairy with light coconut milk.

mango lassi
Makes a 1-3/4 cup serving.

Per person blend:

1 mango, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup lowfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons light coconut milk
1/4 – 1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
a generous pinch of salt
a dash of cardamom

Optional: sprinkle with pistachios and drink through a colorful straw.

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GTL: Green Tea Latte

It’s finally cold in the Pacific Northwest, which means I have become very fixated on hot beverages. My latest obsession is the matcha green tea latte. You can get this beverage at many coffee shops, including Starbucks. The Starbucks version costs about as much as a day’s worth of food, so I’ve been making them at home. We are nothing if not frugal. Bonus: This is simpler than my coffee rituals, so my morning routine is faster.


Matcha powder is a finely milled, high-quality, powdered green tea from Japan. You can buy cakes, pastries, noodles, ice cream, candy, and smoothies flavored with matcha. It’s purported to have all kinds of health benefits, but I just like the flavor and energizing effect. We sourced this locally from the Tea Lady. You can also find it at high-end grocery stores, food co-ops, and health food stores. You cannot find it at Trader Joe’s. I checked.


I don’t use a lot of matcha in my lattes – about 1/4 tsp. I add the matcha powder to 8oz. of homemade soy milk (measured to fit my favorite cup) in a small sauce pan on the stove. I whirl it with my immersion blender to eliminate clumps. The milk gets very foamy if you use an immersion blender, so I recommend that you blend first, then heat it. The bubbles can mellow out while the milk warms. I greatly prefer the immersion blender, despite the foam. I cannot eradicate the matcha clumps with whisks, forks and sifting. Heat the milk and matcha, but don’t boil it.


Matcha can taste bitter, so I add sweetness to taste. Some coffee shops don’t sweeten them at all, but Starbucks sweetens their GTLs with melon syrup. It’s a little weird. I use plain sugar usually, but sometimes I take advantage of the exciting syrups we keep around. For example, this Ikea elderflower syrup.


That’s my GTL. Pour into your favorite vessel, and enjoy your Kermit-colored beverage.

xoxo,
Jess

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under the bed storage drawers

Awhile back we got a new bed. Headboard, frame, mattress – the works. It was (and still is) pretty luxurious after a long time with a falling apart frame that was the wrong size for our room. The leftover pieces of pine from the old bed frame were so much prettier than the stuff from the hardware store, I couldn’t throw them away. Instead I turned them into something we needed: storage drawers to go under the bed. These simple wooden boxes on casters have proven to be very useful in our little house in need of places to tuck things away.

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food swap scores

When we posted about the stuff we brought to the Oly Food Swap, a lot of you wanted to know what we brought home. I finally got around to photographing a lot of the goods.

This lemon curd was at the top of our swap wish list. We recognized those gorgeous tags immediately! You can get them online here. And if you’re looking for a recipe for canning lemon curd, there happens to be one in Put ’em Up.

Two ounces of dried porcini mushrooms. What a score!

If you haven’t ever tried porcinis, allow me to recommend this recipe for potato gnocchi with tomato porcini sauce.

We have nearly polished off the big hunk of Irish cream fudge we got.

Mmm, salsa verde.

And two jars of this green tomato salsa. I am drawn to all things gingham, but I sampled this stuff and it is amazing.

Almond roca, made by hand.

This nectarine honey is some sort of syrup. Not sure how we’re going to use it, but I’m pretty sure it will be delicious. How can those ingredients go wrong?

I believe the information on this table said this strawberry jam was cooked with bay leaf.

Assorted canned goods. I can’t wait to try that canary melon vanilla syrup!

I know a certain teenager who is going to be eating a lot of applesauce – in smooth and chunky varieties. These giant quart jars are just some of the applesauce we brought home. I know we’ll be swapping again! Go here to find a food swap near you.

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Oly Food Swap

Have you heard about the food trend sweeping the nation, FOOD SWAPS?

Contemporary swappers can thank Kate Payne for this trend. Kate’s book, the Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, encourages people to host these parties and trade homemade food. We went to the second Olympia Food Swap last night. I attended the first one a few months ago, but we took a lot more stuff to swap this time. The swap itself is a bit overwhelming at first. Everyone’s running around, trading blackberry jam for fudge and beer salsa for homebrew, and it can make you a little dizzy. Once you relax into the chaos, though, it is an organic process and a lot of fun.

We took some preserves from our pantry to trade, but we also made some extra treats just for the swap. Krista made a compound butter with organic butter, honey, orange zest and lavender. And whoa, this stuff is delicious. If butter is your favorite food (you know who you are), you should consider making this. And then eating all of it.

We also packed up the brown butter crispy treats that were such a hit when we made them recently. This time around, Krista dipped half in white chocolate with espresso salt, and half in bittersweet chocolate with sea salt.

We’ve been in love with Martha’s southern pralines since we made them as holiday gifts last year. Everyone seems to appreciate their delicious, bourbon-y charm.

We also made my favorite granola of all time. I make this granola every other week or so. We usually make this recipe with honey, but we made organic cane syrup for this batch and it turned out extra delicious. I hope the granola lovers who took it home appreciate it.

We also took some homemade cola syrup, too. That went fast.

I was impressed and excited by so many things that our fellow swappers brought. It’s certainly nice to diversify our jam and salsa collection, but it’s also exciting to get ideas and inspiration. I really like seeing the food other people can make at home. One of the swappers had homemade rainbow sprinkes for goodness sake. I can say with 100% certainty that the idea of making homemade sprinkles has never crossed my mind before. We’re going to try to feature some of our swapped food in upcoming blog posts to keep the inspiration going.

So, have you gone to a food swap? What was the best thing you brought home? If they are happening in the little town of Olympia, there’s probably one near you. If not, you could organize one. Go forth and swap, and report back!

xoxo,
Jess

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homemade organic cane syrup

Oh, the sugar dilemma. I don’t want to use the stuff made of genetically-modified corn, but I also kind of resent recipes that use a cup of maple syrup for sweetener. Who can afford a cup of maple syrup? Agave, honey, and brown rice syrup are also pretty spendy, and often change the flavor of what you’re making. The solution? Make your own organic cane syrup at home.

I tested out this cane syrup recipe from The Kitchn. The organic cane sugar we buy in bulk has a little color to it, so our results were a gorgeous golden. There is a very subtle flavor. Upon first taste I immediately thought of cotton candy.

Ours turned out a little too thick, which I am certain was the result of me needing to calibrate my candy thermometer. Click here for a good set of instructions on how to calibrate yours.

We might just own two identical thermometers. Time to finally calibrate and mark which one is which. And yet still I’m dreaming of a perfect digital candy thermometer with a large display that you can set to beep when it reaches the temperature you need. I might still need to calibrate it, but perhaps I wouldn’t have to bend over and squint to read it so much.

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DIY holiday gift round-up

It’s that time of year. Time to bust out some of those precious canned goods for holiday gifts, or better yet, make some homemade goods especially for gift giving. As we prepare for a food swap next week and plan for the holidays, I have DIY gifts on the mind. Here are some of the links I’ve been looking at:

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brown bag microwave popcorn

Did you know you can microwave popcorn simply in a brown paper lunch bag? This was making the rounds online ages ago, and I finally got around to trying it.

All you need is a standard brown lunch bag. They cost less than two cents each. I love that this package says “Packed with love“. I also love that I didn’t notice it until I looked at the photo I took.

I don’t think we’ve had these things in the house since Levi was little and we made puppets and birthday party loot bags out of them. Nostalgia.

With a little testing, I found 1/3 cup of kernels to be the magic number. Go up to 1/2 cup and you will either waste a lot of kernels or burst open the bag. With 1/3 cup the popcorn fits with a little room to spare.

Simply put the kernels in the bag. Some recipes call for oil or butter, but I wanted plain ol’ popcorn.

Fold twice at the top of the bag. Alton Brown uses staples, but doesn’t that go against the cardinal rule of microwave use? You don’t need staples. Put the bag upright in the microwave on high for 3 minutes. Listen as it pops, and just like store-bought microwave popcorn, you remove it when the popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops. This could happen anywhere between 2 and 3 minutes.

I called Jess at work and said, “Why does anyone buy microwave popcorn?” My mind is blown. This is simple, cheap, and you can compost the brown paper bag when you’re done. It’s nice when the cheapest option is also healthier and better for the planet.

I can’t wait to share what we made with eighteen cups of that popcorn tomorrow.

brown bag microwave popcorn

Makes about 8 cups.

one standard brown paper lunch bag
1/3 cup popping corn

Unfold the paper bag and place the kernels inside. Fold the top of the bag over twice. Place upright in the microwave. Set the microwave to 3 minutes on high heat. Listen carefully, and stop when popping slows to 2 to 3 seconds between pops.

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Make it from Scratch: vegan seitan nuggets

One of our biggest strides this year has been in the “buying less processed food” department. This is an exciting development. If we learned anything when we were eating for $5 a day, it was that making things from scratch beats any coupon hands down. Look at our homemade soy milk. The numbers are in: we spend about 53¢ on a half gallon of plain organic soy milk compared to the $2.69 store bought containers. A little quick math:

($2.69 – $0.53) x 2.5 (average half gallon containers per week) X 52 (weeks in a year) = $280.80 annual savings

Just like that, we trimmed $280 from our annual grocery budget by making one grocery staple at home. The more things we start making ourselves, the more we save. Another big budget saver for us lately has been cooking big batches of beans in the pressure cooker every week instead of buying cans. Organic canned beans aren’t cheap. I haven’t done the math, but there are significant savings there. This is the financial benefits alone. We are also creating less garbage and eliminating weird chemical ingredients from our food and its packaging.

The next step is to keep trying new recipes for food made from scratch. We need to find recipes we like that are easy enough to work into our busy schedule. Yes, our time is valuable, but we’re not superheroes for spending an extra 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there in the kitchen. Or even an hour or two when you are multi-tasking a few recipes at a time and making double batches of them all to stock up the fridge and freezer.

A big budget item for vegetarians can be meat analogues. All those veggie burgers, nuggets, and sandwich slices are spendy. For our budget and our health, we try not to buy that stuff too often. It is processed food, and it is easy to fall into the trap of buying and eating it a lot when things get hectic.

When I came across Joanna Vaught’s seitan nugget recipe, I was intrigued. I’ve made my fair share of homemade seitan, veggie sausage and burgers before. Never nuggets! I loved the way she compared the nutritional values of different nuggets. Hers win! So I decided to test them out.

They were a huge hit with the whole family. We loved them. In all honesty, of course we prefer the texture and the junk-foodiness of some of the store bought veggie nuggets. We don’t allow ourselves to buy them very often, though, so homemade nuggets will be a welcome addition to our dinner schedule. The recipe really was faster than some of my other homemade seitan making experiments. I made two batches pretty quickly, and plan to make more soon to put in the freezer.

Next up: I’m going to test out a couple of Vegan Dad’s lunch meat recipes(Veggie lunch meat and Hickory Smoked Veggie Turkey). Wish me luck.

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baked tortilla chips

This is the latest thing around our house. Baked tortilla chips made with real corn tortillas are nothing like those cardboard tasting “baked” chips from the grocery store. This is the perfect snack with a little salsa and crema, and lately it seems like they make it into taco salad almost once a week for dinner.

Here’s what you’ll need:

12 corn tortillas
4 teaspoons olive oil
smoked salt

special supplies:
Silpat mats or parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Cut the tortillas into triangles.

Next, layer the triangles and olive oil in a large bowl.

Then use your hands to toss them gently until all the triangles are lightly coated in oil.

Next put them in a single layer on cookie sheets lined with Silpat mats or parchment paper and sprinkle with salt. You can either fit them all onto two sheets or bake them in batches. If you want to bake both sheets at once, just check on them frequently. The closer they are to the element the quicker they can get a little too brown.

Bake about 10-15 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

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