Archive forJanuary, 2012

Hemp Milk and other things I’ve been making in my Vitamix

I had a Vitamix on my wish list for a few years. Every year when I didn’t get it for my birthday or Christmas, I’d spend the rest of the year telling myself that if I’ve lived this long without one, obviously I don’t NEED one. Then I finally got one this year (thanks, Smark!) and it turns out I DID need it. I use it several times a day. I’ve only had it a month and I don’t know what I’d do without it.

One thing I’ve been doing is making myself a smoothie as soon as I get home from work every day, which is great because it keeps me from binge snacking while I prepare dinner, which I’m prone to do because I come home hungry. And the neurologist I’m seeing for my headaches gave me what I consider the most awesome medical advice in the world: “don’t get hungry”. Hunger is a huge headache trigger, especially for me, so basically she just wants me to avoid the situation. So now I go around shouting, “MUST EAT, DOCTOR’S ORDERS!” whenever I’m even remotely hungry. I’m trying not to gain a million pounds while following those orders, though, so a late afternoon green smoothie is super-awesome for me.

Spinach-Pear Smoothie

3 large handfuls baby spinach
about 1 Tbsp flax seeds
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I use homemade hemp milk, recipe below)
1 or 2 dates, pitted OR a sweetener like maple or coconut syrup, to taste
1 pear, stem removed
a few pieces of frozen banana
a couple of ice cubes
contents of a probiotic capsule (optional)

Put it all in a Vitamix and blend on high just until completely smooth.

My other current favorite smoothie I call the “Omega Elvis” because it’s full of omega 3s. What I adore about the Vitamix is I don’t even need to have peanut butter on hand. I just use whole peanuts!

Omega Elvis Smoothie

a handful or two of unsalted roasted peanuts
about 1 Tbsp flax seeds
sweetener to taste; for this one I usually use coconut or maple syrup
about 1 cup hemp milk
1 frozen banana
pinch of salt

Again, put it all in the Vitamix and mix on high until thoroughly blended.

If I didn’t have a constant supply of hemp milk on hand, I’d just put some hemp seeds and water in the blender when making the smoothies. We’ve been through many phases of non-dairy milk. I’ve gone through periods of making my own soy milk and almond milk, but I’ve fallen out of those because they are too much effort and require forethought. So I’ve been buying milk, first almond and lately coconut milk for Mark, and hemp milk for myself. I’ll probably never be able to stop buying Mark milk because he doesn’t actually LIKE milk and homemade milk grosses him out for some reason. And he likes it sweeter than I do, and also vanilla-flavored. But I hate all the packaging we are wasting, and hemp milk is pretty expensive. I actually tried to make hemp milk once before I had a Vitamix and it wasn’t very good. It had to be strained and even afterwards, I just didn’t like it. The Vitamix is amazing because there is no need to strain hemp milk! It’s completely smooth without straining. Check it out:

Hemp Milk

1/2 cup shelled hemp seeds
2 1/2 cups water
1 date, pitted
generous pinch of salt

What hemp seeds look like:

Put it all in the Vitamix.

Blend on high until smooth; 30 seconds is probably enough. It will get frothy.

Refrigerate the milk. High-speed blenders add a lot of air to mixtures, so in order to fit the milk into the jar I use, I actually blend in 2 cups of water. Later after it’s settled back down, I’ll add the additional 1/2 cup of water in and shake it up. I guess I’m obsessed with jars, but something about this jar, with fresh homemade hemp milk in it, makes me very happy. It’s one of my many vintage mason jars, which by the way, Vegenaise lids fit perfectly, so if you have a hard time finding screw-on, non-canning lids, save ’em up. (In fact, Vegenaise jars in general are really nice; that’s what I’m drinking the green smoothie above out of.)

Just shake your hemp milk before using; it does separate (another reason I can’t get Mark to drink homemade milks). This is barely sweet, which is how I like it. Add additional sweetener if you must. Sometimes I omit the date entirely. It also tastes kinda hempy, I won’t lie. If your favorite non-dairy milk is chocolate Silk, this may not be the milk for you. I don’t know that I would relish drinking it straight, but I wouldn’t relish drinking ANY milk straight. I only use it on cereal, in smoothies, and occasionally in cooking (though not often because I don’t like milky things any more than Mark does).

I’ve also been making fermented cashew cheese in the Vitamix, but I’m perfecting that, so that’s coming soon to an I Eat Food post near you.

And now for my latest completely off-topic update. Other than Vitamixing it up every day, I haven’t been cooking anything all that amazing because I have a new hobby I’ve been obsessing over. I know I’ve posted a few sewing tutorials over the years, but I’ve always prefaced them by saying I’m a terrible sewer. Which I am. I don’t even LIKE sewing. I usually only do it because there is something I want that I can’t find to buy. So sewing is kind of a chore for me. Also, sewing machines break around me, which subsequently enrages me. Just over a year ago, I mentioned here that during my annual gift bag-making blitz, my sewing machine broke and I had to buy a new one. Well, guess what happened last month while making gift bags? My year-old machine broke. And it would have cost as much as I paid for it to repair it. Now, since I hate sewing, buying a new sewing machine, especially during the holiday season, is NOT fun for me. Buying a new camera: fun. New sewing machine: NOT fun. Who wants to spend a bunch of money on something they don’t like?

So I decided to do something different this time: buy a sewing machine I DO like. One that won’t break, and if it does, won’t cost a fortune to repair, as computerized machines do. I think I’ve stated here before that I don’t trust new things, that I much prefer old things, and therefore do almost all my shopping in antique and thrift stores. It seemed natural to me, then, to buy an old sewing machine instead of a crappy new one. A mechanical sewing machine. One I can open up and see the parts working. One that’s proven its worth over many years. One that is so beautiful to look at I’ve put it on display in my living room instead of cooping it up in the spare room. THIS sewing machine:

It’s a Singer 15-91; it’s cast iron (my favorite substance!), has all-metal parts, and is completely gear driven. It’s from 1949, fully restored, and complete with table it cost me about the same price I would have paid for yet another piece of crap modern sewing machine that would break in a year. You can actually get them for $50 and under – sometimes free – if you’re willing to put some work into it (they almost always require a re-wiring as the original wiring is unsafe today). It’s a thing of beauty. I’m in love with this sewing machine. Which is a weird thing for someone who hates sewing.

But I’m trying to NOT hate sewing, and this baby makes that task MUCH easier, believe me. I trust it far more than my old machines. It will stitch ANYTHING. It’s amazing in action! I’ve made a couple of rag quilts on it and it stitched through 8 layers of fabric – without me changing from a standard 11 needle – without the slightest hesitation. THIS is a sewing machine meant for Renae! Finally! [Funny: I just read the post I linked to above where I mentioned I’d bought a new sewing machine just before Christmas 2010 – I state in that post that my “dream sewing machine” has “long been an antique Singer”…why didn’t I just follow my dream then?!]

Anyway, THAT’s what I’ve been doing. Sewing, of all things! I’m even more surprised than you are. And here is a fat squirrel:

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Le Creuset Baked Beans

Ugggggghhhh. Saturday was flip-flop weather and today, Monday, THIS:


Here’s why Mark is great, or one reason anyway: Fortinbras was here last week and he and Mark went to the mall so Mark could buy a new computer. I refused to go because I despise the mall. When they returned, I was informed that once they got to the Apple store, Mark abruptly announced, “buying a new computer is stupid; let’s go buy Renae something instead,” so they went to Williams-Sonoma and got me a bean pot for no apparent reason. I hadn’t done anything to deserve said bean pot, especially a mere week after Christmas, when I got a Vita-Mix, but I’m not complaining because I’ve been wanting a bean pot, so yay!

The bean pot I suddenly came to own was packed with a couple of recipes so today I decided to make the included Oven Baked Beans recipe, which is slightly non-vegan with its can of pork and beans (and Worcestershire sauce, but since it’s easy for me to buy vegan Worcestershire, I don’t even register it as a non-vegan ingredient). So this is my adaption of the Le Creuset Oven Baked Beans recipe.

Le Creuset Baked Beans

1 1/4 cups dried kidney beans
1 1/4 cups dried baby lima beans
1 1/4 cups dried pinto beans
1 1/4 cups dried Great Northern beans
1 14.5 oz can vegetarian baked beans
1 medium onion, diced
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses (I used blackstrap; the original recipe didn’t specify a type)
1/4 cup vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup prepared mustard
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp liquid smoke
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
hot sauce to taste – I used homemade sriracha
1 packet Goya artificial ham flavoring (optional, but it’s weirdly vegan, so if you want some of the hammy flavor you’re missing from the can of pork and beans, do it up)

Place the kidney, lima, pinto, and Great Northern beans in a large vessel. Cover with several inches of cold water and soak overnight (or all day). Alternatively, cover with several inches of boiling water and soak for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dice the onion.

Stir or whisk together the rest of the ingredients.

Drain the soaked beans.

Stir together all of the ingredients in a bean pot, Dutch oven, or large casserole.

Cover …

… and bake until done. The original recipe said to bake for two hours, and after two hours it was certainly edible, but I like my beans creamier so I added more water and baked for another hour.

Serve. This makes way more beans than you will probably need unless you are feeding 40 friends.

Moving on to completely off-topic items, the lovely Zoa asked to see some of the infrared pictures I took in Charleston and I can’t turn Zoa down.

Infrared filters work by blocking all visible light and allowing only infrared light to pass through to the camera. Because all visible light is blocked, the filters appear to be nearly opaque and you need to use shutter times of several seconds to many minutes, and thus you need a tripod. The images you make will appear very red with black detail. Usually you’ll convert this to black & white, where things that reflect a lot of infrared light, like foliage, will be more exposed, or lighter in tone, than they normally appear, which can give pictures an otherworldly appearance.

Here’s what a photo looks like before being converted to B&W:

This is the first infrared picture I ever took. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing and just held the shutter open for a random amount of time, so I don’t know how it ended up relatively well exposed. This is from Middleton Place. The South, with all that gorgeous Spanish moss, is a great place for these types of pictures.

Another from Middleton Place.

My tripod boy (Mark, acting as my assistant, is in charge of carrying the tripod) staged this photo. Can you find him? You can click for a full-size version if you need help.

From Magnolia Cemetery:

From Folly Beach:

We got a little silly by this time and started goofing off with the long exposures. This is me and Mark HAUNTING YOU.

Mark calls this one Portrait of an Artist as a Dead Man.

Okay, nothing too amazing, but I had a lot of fun taking them and am looking forward to playing around with the filter some more.

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Happy New Year!

I don’t have any food today, sorry! I know it’s been a while, but we’ve been out of town. I hope to have a real food post soon, but since I don’t know when that will be I thought I’d pop in and wish you a happy new year. We’ve been in Charleston visiting Mark’s family, so I also thought I’d share some of the pictures I took of various animals there to tide you over until I’m able to do some proper cooking.

The first ones are from Middleton Place, which has beautiful gardens.

Lots of water fowl, which I love. I think this is an ibis:

I grew up next to a farm that had peacocks and I’ve loved them ever since.

My first word was “duck”.

Mark has decided that I have “catdar” because I constantly spot kitties. I usually then chase them around attempting to both pet and photograph them. This one was very friendly. Success!

Water buffalo.

I love this and the other sheep pictures I took. The sheep had been driven off from their shady resting spot by a terrorizing toddler. After he left, they wished to return but in the toddler’s place was a much quieter but still untrustworthy Renae, who was trying to photograph the water buffalo. Unaware of this, I started heading back to my group and encountered all of the sheep lined up several yards away staring at me like they were going to eat my soul if I didn’t get out of their spot.

I was reading Folly Beach- and Charleston-themed novels while I was down there this time. I did some reading after returning home from a day of lugging my tripod and camera around Middleton Place and found the narrator of the book I was on at the time taking his camera and tripod to Middleton Place for a day of shooting. Weird, huh?

I recently got an infrared filter for my camera and spent most of the trip taking pictures through it, which then got converted into kinda-creepy B&W pictures that I’m really into right now. My poor mother-in-law had to drag me around town and wait patiently while I set up my tripod and took exposures anywhere from 10 seconds to 5 minutes. It was suggested we go to Magnolia Cemetery for the types of pictures I was taking. It was a great location and I got some fun shots. I wasn’t expecting to run into much wildlife there, but I did. Apparently there are even alligators there, although I unfortunately didn’t see any. I DID see this goose practicing his ballet poses:

Wouldn’t it have been hilarious if after my parents had repeated the word “duck” to me a million times, trying to get me to say my first word, my first word had been “goose”?

Other than the fun infrared pictures I took, the blue heron was my favorite part of Magnolia, though. What a beautiful animal. He tolerated me for a while and let me get pretty close:

Eventually, though, he got tired of me and took off across the water …

… and landed on a tree on the opposite side:

I returned home from Magnolia Cemetery and picked up a different book I was reading, only to have the main character die and be buried in…Magnolia Cemetery. What was going on with the books I was reading mirroring my life?? Well, at least I wasn’t buried in Magnolia.

In more materialistic news, Mark gave me a Vitamix, which I’ve been very much coveting, for Christmas, so if anyone has any favorite things to make in one, please share! I feel I have a lot of blending to do this week.

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