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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Summer Grilling

It’s summertime and like most people world wide, we like to cook meat over over a fire. Perhaps what’s most attractive is the primal aspect to it, an ancient connection to the elements that lures us outside on the hottest of days to stand over a flame.  Or maybe it’s simple cost efficiency- cooking inside causes the AC to go into overdrive.  Either way,  many nights a week we find ourselves at the grill, explaining the properties of fire to our 3 year old.

In light of this habit, I decided to take an adventure into the heart of southern cooking.  Ribs.  Beef ribs, no less.  They looked amazing, and how hard could it be, right?   And even if it went bad, I was comforted by the idea of bone broth after the meat was gone- that’s how I can justify such expensive cuts, by making several meals out of it.  Truth be told, I was still daunted by these ribs.  Little frightens me these days, as I’ve hacked my way through heart, liver, kidneys, and slurped bone marrow over the last several years.  Yet, beef ribs caused me angst.

After some recipe searching, we settled on a rub and then a low-and-slow bake in the oven, to be finished on the grill.   Creating the rub was fantastic.  I’m not a fan of measurements or exactitude, so the experimentation with a variety of vivid and fragrant spices was thrilling for the senses.  Rubbed on (quite a fun activity), I was ready to roast.

With the oven prepped to 225 degrees, the ribs were to cook for 3 hours.  Leaving the oven on for any length of time in the summer is counter-intuitive to me, but I went with the recipe, something I rarely do.  3 hours later, with the AC on overdrive, we put the ribs on the grill to finish.

The taste?  Well, it was fantastic.  Pure, sweet, juicy delight.  Though I’ve far from perfected ribs as the texture wasn’t the melt-in-your-mouth I was going for, it was a delicious dinner which was confirmed by my 16 month old sucking on the ribs.  But that wasn’t the best part.

It came 2 days later, when all of those immense, thick rib bones were turned into bone broth, together with some onions, carrots & garlic.  Thick, rich colored, gelatinous broth, which my children gulped down with loud slurps.  They fought over the globs of bone marrow, with the little one happy to have won the bone to suck on and nibble any last bits of meat off.    I couldn’t help but beam with pride.