Papa Bird has never been the most enthusiastic of food blogger husbands. He would MUCH rather dig in versus wait for our food to be photographed. But he is also the more talented photographer in the family. (Let’s be honest, he’s a professional photographer and I don’t even know how to use a “real camera.”) Another of his (many) talents: he has the most amazing salmon smoking process. You can see the step by step recipe here. Wait a sec… I suppose rather than say “I won” this fish, really he did… the contest was to share a salmon recipe, and I entered his smoked salmon. So, when he took this beauty (that he won) off of our PK grill [affiliate link to the smoker/grill but it’s legit worth it] and asked, “Do you have to blog about this fish?” I said, “I don’t have to, but what a great idea!”
So, for what it’s worth, I was not obligated in any way to review the fish and do not receive any kind of kick back for you buying or clicking through the seafood links, but I thought it was very much worth sharing. True, I did not pay for this shipment, but I will give my honest reactions.
Any time you cook with kids expect a mess. Multiple your prep time by three. Your results may not be as pretty or as perfect. Then again, kids cooking means kids more likely to try new food, having fun/bonding, and absorbing math and science!
Would you like to see our last project? We made homemade almond milk. And with the unanticipated byproduct of leftover almond pulp, the kids made the most delicious almond granola — too tasty not to share.
Homemade Almond Milk Adventures
When the girls and I decided to try making almond milk at home, we picked up raw almonds at Specialty Produce. After soaking for a day, we ground the almonds in a Vitamix and strained it through cheesecloth leftover from my cheese-making days. If you are serious, you can buy a nut milk bag. If you just want to experiment, you can even use an old pillowcase or dishtowel to strain. It tastes really grainy if you don’t strain. But if you would like to try a nut milk that doesn’t need to be strained, I recommend cashews, like this raw cashew “horchata” recipe.
We made a batch of vanilla bean honey almond milk (sweetened with the vanilla bean honey from San Diego Honey Company) and a dark chocolate almond milk. The basic vanilla recipe I found here and would make again. The chocolate recipe used melted chocolate, and wasn’t as smooth as I would’ve liked. Next time I’ll try raw cacao instead.
Except when you make cheese, the liquid, or whey, is the waste, and the solid is the good stuff you are going for. Making almond milk, the reverse was true. In fact, the leftover almond pulp – which could’ve been just discarded, reminded me in texture of fresh ricotta. Which got me thinking…
Leftover Almond Pulp Makes Great Granola!
We ate a bunch of the almond pulp – which really needs salt – as a snack. I thought it could be interesting as a vegan stuffed pasta filling. Not to mention, it’s a fresher version of the almond meal I buy for baking. However our winning idea was granola!
Drying Out the Almond Meal – Edible Kinetic Sand
The girls had fun spreading out the almond pulp on a baking sheet to dry it out. Use your hands! Such good sensory fun and… it totally feels like kinetic sand! Seriously, you have to try it.
You dry out the pulp in a 200° oven for a few hours, checking it and stirring and breaking it up once an hour. You want the moisture mostly gone. A little browning is fine, but don’t burn any of it.
The result is “healthy looking” aka kind of a bland, crunchy thing. But once you add all the good stuff, it blends right into the granola, giving it extra body.
Making Almond Pulp Granola
Please improvise with your favorite ingredients. We threw in whatever nuts we had in the freezer! Have fun with it.
Don't throw away the leftover almond pulp when you make homemade almond milk! It gives body to the most delicious granola. Not to mention, the granola and homemade almond milk taste amazeballs served together!
Approx 1 cup of pulp from making almond milk from raw almonds
1 cup to 2 cups of raw nuts and seeds (we used a mix of walnuts, pistachios, pepitas, slivered almonds and chia seeds)
¼ cup of unsweetened, shredded coconut (optional)
¼ cup of melted coconut oil
3 Tablespoons of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon of salt
First, if using leftover almond pulp from making almond milk, spread out the pulp in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Bake in a 200* oven. Check it after two hours, breaking up, stirring and flipping the pulp. Bake for another 1 to 2 hours, checking and stirring periodically, until mostly dried.
Next, allow the almond meal to cool, then add it and all of the rest of the ingredients to a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir.
Finally, spread the mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. This time bake at 275* for 15-25 minutes, or until lightly brown and toasted. Let cool.
IMPORTANT: Don't mess with it or break apart the giant granola bar until it has cooled for one hour. Then break it up into big chunks and store in an air-tight container.
Have you ever made homemade almond milk or granola?
I consider recipes to be inspiration, not gospel. This next recipe, a roasted veggie salad, is intended to be a template, not a prescription. I had beets, radishes, summer squash, green beans, dill and oranges on hand. But PLEASE substitute anything you might have.
Since learning about Specialty Produce at this event, we have since ordered their Farmers’ Market Box twice. I’m definitely a fan. You can see a sample below. If you use the group code BABYBIRD when signing up, you will automatically have $2 taken off each box. For $20 – or $18 for you – it is a generous amount and variety of produce. I don’t receive any kickbacks, per se, on your purchase, but it is possible I will get invited to more of their events, so letting them know I sent you is very much appreciated! Enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post to receive a box for FREE.
If you have been a long time reader of this blog, you may remember my focus on the produce of our yard… see this early post on a Three Sisters Succotash, for example. But with the current drought, we have really let most of our garden go. Sadly, for the first time in seven years, there is no summer harvest. Having fresh, local finds from Specialty Produce’s CSA-type box is proving to be the next best thing.
For this particular box, I ended up hitting the road right after getting it to take the Little Birds up to my sister’s house. I didn’t want the produce to go to waste, so I threw it in the car with us. As luck would have it, she had plans for us to go to her friend’s BBQ and asked me to make a “veggie side.” I found some delicious blood orange olive oil in her cupboard, which I used for both roasting the veggies and the vinaigrette.
Roasted Beets, Radishes, Squash and Green Beans with an Orange-Dill Vinaigrette
Author: Abby Burd (Baby Birds Farm)
Recipe type: Easy
Seasonal cooking: take what you find in your Farmer's Market Box, from the CSA, or your backyard, cook simply to highlight the freshness and toss with a light vinaigrette. I list the ingredients I used, but please improvise.
1 bunch of baby beets
1 bunch of Easter egg radishes
1 pound of summer squash
½ pound of green beans
⅓ cup of blood orange olive oil
⅓ cup of blood orange olive oil
juice of ½ an orange
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup fresh dill, chopped
Preheat oven to 400* F. Peel and chop all of the veggies. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 30 minutes or until fork tender. (I added the green beans half way through.)
Mix the oil, vinegar, orange juice, salt and pepper. Toss on the veggies when slightly cooled. Top with the chopped dill.
What are your favorite ways to enjoy summer bounty?
Mild Anaheim or Poblano peppers are roasted, peeled and stuffed with a quick filling of shrimp and gooey cheese. Served with a fresh red pepper and tomato sauce, or a green tomatillo salsa verde, they make the perfect dinner alongside rice and beans.
I am experimenting with a new post format: just a quick look at what we have been eating. I have such a backlog of photos and recipes, and never enough time to write up the posts. I wanted to play around with a quick post, without writing up a full recipe. Maybe the photos and descriptions will inspire your next dinner? Please let me know what you think. I’ll be happy to share the recipes if requested. For tips on roasting the peppers, see this post on Spanish Tuna Stuffed Peppers.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I shared the other day on my mental health blog about loving one’s self. Here I’d like to share one way to love someone special. Bake a cake! And if you are concerned about not feeding your family artificial dyes and ingredients, here’s one way to have your cake and eat it, too. I have made red velvet cupcakes before using beets to color them. This Valentine’s I tried out a red velvet cake with no food coloring.
Last week I was helping Little Bird with a science kit, and we were learning about acids, bases, and ph. We experimented with adding acidity (in the form of citric acid and vinegar) and baking soda (with is alkaline) to water colored with red cabbage powder. The acid made it more vibrantly red and the base made it more purple. No wonder red velvet has something acidic like lemon juice and/or vinegar in it! It also made me wonder if too much baking powder was the reason the red velvet potato bundt cake I tried to make came out purple/brown. (I love learning more of the science behind baking.)
I consider this more a recipe review than a super polished recipe. But I wanted to share none the less. I have only made it one time, and would tweak it some more to make it a little lighter. I used the suggested cream cheese, but found it way too dense, for my preference. I would replace that with buttermilk, and use more eggs. I reduced the sugar by half, in both the cake and the frosting. Next time I might play around with non-refined sweeteners.
This recipe is adapted slightly from a post from sophistimom. I did not change her method, so follow the link for the instructions. Here are my notes, however:
Starting with raw beets seems more labor intensive, but my past results using packaged, pre-cooked and peeled beets did not work as well.
My Vitamix did not process the beets well, as it wasn't full enough or liquid enough. My old Kitchen Aid food processor worked great, and I wish I would have started with it from the beginning.
I found it too dense and heavy with the cream cheese. I suggest buttermilk, which I will use next time.
I used 4 eggs as called for in the original recipe. Next time I will increase it to 6. My mom suggested separating the eggs, beating them separately to give it more leavening from the egg whites, and then folding them in.
Hi! I started Baby Birds Farm after the birth of my first daughter. I started sharing seasonal recipes featuring produce from our garden, eggs from our chicken, and homemade cheeses from our goat milk co-op. Fast forward a few years, another daughter, another business, and now we are just surviving and enjoying our busy life and food as much as we can. Join our journey of good food, farm-to-table restaurants in San Diego and healthy living!
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My Day Job
Abigail Burd, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist, provides women's mental health in San Diego, CA. Specialities include managing anxiety and depression during pregnancy, postpartum and parenting. Learn more about my practice, Burd Psychotherapy, in Clairemont (San Diego) at www.burdtherapy.com.