Making Almond Milk and Almond Meal Off-Grid

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Today I’m going to take a quick break from my “Unplugging” series to show you one of my little projects I managed to accomplish in one of our first couple weeks here.  First, I made almond milk according to my usual recipe:

Soak 1 cup raw almonds over night.

Blend with 4 cups water in Blendtec (this had to be done while we had the generator running–I did not run the generator just to blend my almond milk.  So I don’t think I get off-gridding points for this.)

Drain the “milk” through a cloth and save the leftover meal to dry.

Add a pinch of salt and vanilla powder, mix, and refrigerate.  Or, in my case, put the pitcher in the 37-degree basement since our fridge is not up and running.

Now, back in my “old life,” I would have put a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, spread the wet almond meal on it, and stuck it in the oven on low.  But our oven was not hooked up yet.

I briefly considered just throwing out the almond meal, but that would never do!  I didn’t know where the parchment was, but I did have a baking pan.

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So I left it on the top of the wood stove to dry.  It took quite awhile, but it was easy.  Maybe I don’t get homesteading credit for the almond MILK, but how much more homesteady can you get than cooking on a wood stove?  I folded the cloth over the meal to keep out dust, bugs, flying dog hair, etc.  I opened it up every now and then to stir the meal and break up clumps.  When it was dry, I put it in a mason jar to store.  It made a tasty addition to our pancakes a few days later.  I just substituted the almond meal for a portion of the flour, and it gave it a nice, nutty flavor.

In case you were wondering about that big pot there on the stove, that was to heat up water for baths and washing dishes.  I don’t remember if we had the plumbing working yet at this point, but if we did, there was no hot water yet.  I will tell you the entire saga of our plumbing another day–maybe I will wait until it’s more or less done… and maybe not.  I’ll surprise you.

Until next time…

—Wrangler Mama

My Menu Board

If I only made half the things I pinned on Pinterest… Well, I’d have a lot more things like this:

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It’s my take on the menu boards I’ve seen.  I took an old bulletin board I got at a thrift store for $1 and decopaged it with scrapbook paper.  I painted the clothespins and hot glued them to the board.  The little pockets are boxes from medicine and yogurt starter–any lightweight box that size would do.  Decopage and hot glue, and there you have the little card holders.  One holds blank notecards, and the other is for ones that have dinner items written on them.  Rather than try to make fancy, decorated menu cards, I think the plain notecards fit my style.  I can make new ones easily and even erase.  My menu board was supposed to give me freedom by not having to decide what to make for dinner at the last minute, not constrain me by which recipes I have made into fancy cards.  I’ve been using it for a week and it really works for me.  The organic zucchini in the fridge will not spoil because I forgot it was there–it’s scheduled for dinner tomorrow.  So far, I love this system!

Here it is! The Baked Oatmeal recipe!

Every time I make this, I get rave reviews.  I have promised the recipe to many people and they are starting to get restless.  They want their oatmeal!

I owe thanks to my friend Lisa for passing the recipe my way.  It is a staple in my house!

Here is the basic recipe:

3 cups oatmeal (old-fashioned or quick cook)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup margarine or butter

2 eggs

2 cups milk

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375.   I usually melt the butter in the microwave first thing.  Mix all ingredients together and pour into 13 x 9 greased pan (either use cooking spray or grease it and flour it).  Bake for 25-35 minutes until it starts to look brown on top or around the edges.

Now, I never just follow that basic recipe.  I usually add fruit (fresh or frozen–IT DOES NOT MATTER), nuts, or both, and reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup, and I use white or brown sugar (or raw, or honey, or whatever!) depending on what else I am putting in it.   Here are some of my favorite variations:

White sugar, sliced strawberries, 1 tsp vanilla.

White sugar, blueberries, ground flax-seed (I don’t measure.  I just dump some in), 1 tsp vanilla, sliced almonds.

brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins or canned pumpkin or both.  Or you can substitute 1/2 cup molasses for the sugar.

Get creative–I’ve never had it turn out badly!  Tell me when you try this and what you do to it to make it especially delicious.

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