Almond Mango Lassi

This year we celebrated new years day by doing something rare: going out to eat.  The combination of kids and low-quality food in many restaurants is enough to thwart our attempts most often, but this time we wanted some authentic ethnic food and to just escape the house for a bit before a giant snow storm came and kept us house-bound for two days.  So, out we went and Indian food was on the menu.

Our 4 year old son is all about interesting foods and trying new things, as long as it’s meat of some sort.  Our little girl, on the other hand, always says “no thank you” first, and will maybe try a few bites by the time the meal is over, rarely straying from her standby foods of eggs and bone-broth soups.  While we did get a few bites of chicken tika and korma into her, what she drank down with gusto was the mango lassi.  A whole glass, and then some of the second one we ordered.  She gulped, loudly and with genuine pleasure.  And of course, she now asks for it at home.  Since whatever she likes to eat or drink I like to provide if at all possible, I went to work.

The catch is that she has a cold this week, so I’m trying to reduce her dairy consumption as it can increase mucus when the immune system is compromised.   I never use or recommend store-bought milk substitutes, as these always have harmful thickeners and added sugar.  So after some playing around in the kitchen, here’s what I came up with:

  • 1.5 cups of almonds, previously soaked & dried is best but is not necessary
  • 3 cups of water, use more or less depending on your desired thickness
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup, or more/less depending on your desired sweetness
  • 1 cup of frozen mango, though I’m sure fresh would work also
  • pinch of salt, if desired

Put the almonds, water and maple syrup into a powerful blender or food processor.  Blend until the nuts are pulverized and the liquid is white and milky, 2-5 minutes depending on your machine.   Then, strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl.  Next, add the milk from the bowl back into the blender with the mango and puree until smooth.

The consistency will be thick, so if you want it thinner add in more water.  Enjoy!!

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Soup in the Summer

It’s hot, so why on earth would I dream of making or serving soup?  Two reasons:  First, my children always love soup, particularly things with chunks they can dive their hands into the bowl in pursuit of.  It’s a mess, but they always eat it all and have a blast doing so regardless of the season. I’ll trade a few more dirty shirts for thoroughly nourished children any day.

Second, it’s one of the easiest ways to make and eat real food, regardless of season or weather.  A big pot of soup still goes a long way in the summer, it’s still easy to toss together in the crock pot in the morning and have dinner ready at night.    This weekend,  my hero of a husband whipped up the following chowder, and we just finished it for lunch 3 days later.

One thing first: you’ll notice that I don’t usually put quantities in my recipes (except for baking) which probably frustrates some of you.   From where I stand, quantities in a recipe frustrate me- I generally don’t have the exact right amount of anything and end up modifying it anyway, or I don’t modify and either wonder what-might-have-been or scrap the recipe all together.

My approach, and my advice: use what you have!  Do you have just a few pieces of leftover cod from last night, but some frozen shrimp or scallops?  Toss them in!  Do you have sweet potatoes instead of celery root?  Leeks or scallions instead of onions?   Great, toss them in!   Don’t obsess about the amounts, and don’t be afraid to put in more of what you and your family likes and less of what they don’t.   It’s your kitchen, after all, and there are no rules if you’re eating real food.

Now, for this weeks soup:  Fish chowder

Ingredients
Cod, or any other white fish will work
onions, diced to desired size
celery root, in chunks (potatoes work great also)
homemade stock, fish is best but beef or chicken both work well
raw milk
cream, (non-homogenized, grass-fed)
sea salt and pepper to taste
butter for sauteing

Optional items: Bacon, organic corn, fennel

Process
Saute onions in butter, lightly.  Then toss in fish for just a few minutes- do not over cook.  Take fish out and add the broth and the celery root or potatoes, and simmer until soft.  Add the fish and the remainder of the ingredients and let simmer.  Season to taste.   Serve with sourdough bread and butter.    What could be easier?!