So I haven’t blogged for quite a while, sometimes life gets busy and your attentions diverge but, as a friend said to me only yesterday, 2020 has begun by being hard on everybody. I read that the bushfires around Australia impacted almost all of us on some level and while we were still reeling, along came the corona virus and knocked what little stuffing we had left right out of us.
I see this when I head out to do my shopping, empty shelves and scurrying shoppers, many will smile and have a joke, this is our way as Aussies, but many are angry and some are just so scared. I had a man in the baking aisle tell me the other day that his wife had sent him out for bread, if there was no bread, buy flour, but there was no flour either, he smiled and joked that she, wife, would kick his bum when he got home. I hope she didn’t kick too hard, by 10am there was no flour or bread for anyone.
So now I see that people are turning back to their homes, heading into their gardens, adopting some chickens so they can be a bit less reliant on others to meet their needs. I say, good on ya Australia, it isn’t hard, for most of us this way of life, called homesteading in the USA, is hardwired into our DNA. My Nanna had an enormous veggie patch, and my Mum bottled and jammed from two vast and prolific plum trees every year. My own husband and I began our homesteader journey as soon as we got married. We have raised poultry and sheep for eggs and meat, we have a large and varied orchard and veggie patch, we ran a jersey cow for milk for many years, Rest In Peace Rose, you were treasured. I spin and weave and make baskets out of farm rubbish, we swap and trade with some friends who, like us, grow their own. It can be very addictive, this way of life, but for someone who has never done it, where do you begin?
You begin here.
Over the next little while Convalita Gourmet is going to post some tutorials on how to get back to basics. There are plenty of books and internet sites that can help you do this. This is how I do it, in between running a household, two businesses and a weekly coffee date with my best buddy Dee.
And so, we begin at the beginning, with something I make and use every day and am lost without.
I have been dairy free for a number of years, actually anyone who follows this blog probably knows that I am dairy, gluten, grain, soy, refined vegetable oil, artificial additive and preservative intolerant. It always reminds me of that joke by P.G.Wodehouse, glass of water and a dog biscuit, except I couldn’t eat the dog biscuit.
Anyway, just after the fires last summer that came scarily close to my home and destroyed the farms and homes of so many around us, I decided that I was going to reduce my impact on the world. My first decision was that if I was heading out for anything but shopping and was on my own I would ride my motorbike, Big Gwyn, instead of taking the car as only one bum needs only one seat.
The next thing I looked at was my rubbish. Cast your mind back a few months, before the COVID 19 virus, before the fires, everyone was talking about rubbish and the lack of recycling we are doing in this country. So I began to separate, bottles, jars, cans, they went into the boot and got dropped off at the local recyclers, soft plastics, well, both Woolies and Coles will take care of them for you, green waste is easy, once you have chickens, worms and food gardens, green waste becomes green gold, but what I couldn’t find was anyone to take the tetra packs that my almond milk came in. My husband and I are both dairy free, so we go through five or six of these litre packs a week, I closed my eyes and imagined them banking up behind me to the skyline.
So that was my next step, I have not bought nut milk since December and I find that I value and enjoy my own milk so much more.
It took a bit of tweaking to get it just the way I like it, and there are a billion recipes out there, but this is how I do it.
CG Nut milk
75g natural almonds
25g raw cashews
1 tablespoon sunflower kernels
2 pinches salt
1/8 teaspoon maple syrup
Soak the nuts and seeds for a few hours in the fridge, the longer you soak them, the creamier your milk will be, don’t leave them too long though, the cashews don’t like it, I have soaked mine overnight and that was fine. Drain the water, add two cups of fresh water, the salt and maple syrup and blend in a high powered blender, I use a NutriBullet.
Pass the mixture through a clean nut bag or a double layer of chux that has been thoroughly washed to remove any soap, you can reuse these until they disintegrate, just wash and boil them after use, make sure you dry them between uses. As you can see from the photo, I strain through chux sitting in a funnel, straight into my milk bottle. When you have strained half, top up what is left in your blender with another cup of water, whiz it again, strain the rest. Top up your bottle with water, pop on the lid, give it a shake and store it in the fridge.
This milk can split in your tea or coffee if the liquid is too hot, the lecithin in the sunflower kernels helps give it a bit of resistance but I find if I don’t make my beverages too hot it stands up fine.
Now, give everything you used a good wash in hot soapy water, rinse, boil your nut bag or chux and dry to use again tomorrow.
This makes 750ml. I use a heavy glass bottle from Gala Imports in Adelaide, these bottles stand up to repeated hot/cold very well, when I have finished my milk I wash the bottle and lid in hot soapy water, rinse and then scald it or put it through the dishwasher. I use two of these, turn about. If you don’t want to buy them in bulk, contact Karen, you can buy a pair directly from us.
With all things homesteader, make sure your hygiene is impeccable, food poisoning is dangerous and so easy to cause if you don’t follow correct procedures!
Otherwise, enjoy, I will be back soon with some DIY breads and pizza bases for the freezer, just make em, load em up and slide them in the freezer until needed, Take Away from Home, that’s next family movie night covered!