Homemade Almond Milk + Black Sesame Cookies

>> Sunday, October 30, 2011

I realised I haven't been updating as often as I used to or would like to! But I want to say if you've been following - thank you for continuing to visit this little space here and your encouraging words. Or just coming as a silent visitor! :)

Life has been kinda pulling me in all directions lately. And so I've just been...waiting. On different things. 

And talking about waiting, while I was tapping my fingers for these black sesame cookies to bake, I picked up my lately neglected camera and took some random shots around the home. I learnt that for me it is difficult to develop an eye to view things so familiar and mundane and capture them through a different lens in a way I've not seen before. A different perspective. I think that's what continues to challenge me and requires me to really stretch my not-so-dominant right brain (aka creative side).

Thanks Julz!

A while ago, I noticed my supermarket starting to stock up on various milk alternatives - like oat milk and almond milk. There definitely has been different 'milk' trends over the years! 

I grew up detesting milk (the traditional cow's milk, that is) yet was forced to drink it as my parents told me it's full of calcium to help me grow taller (it's probably safe to conclude that milk did nothing to my height.) Then later on, there was this debate on why the cow's milk is designed for...uhhh only cows, and not us humans, and how it can actually promote cancer. 

Then the health conscious (particularly those living in the western society) started making the switch to drinking soy milk. Before I knew it, articles after articles were published to discuss how soy milk can lead to infertility and all that kinda bad stuff.

How confusing does this all get? Do these information affect you at all? As for me, not really. I still continue to drink my milk and soy (can't quite imagine a dairy-free or soy-free lifestyle!)...but in moderation like all good things I suppose.

Almond milk, on the other hand, just doesn't seem to have any bad reports (hmmm yet?!) It's full of vitamins and antioxidants, low in fat and calories (compared to normal milk). And contains no cholesterol! Perhaps the only downside that I know of is the cost! At over $5 a litre over here, I can see that not many can afford to make the switch.

And so I learnt recently you can make it at home for a fraction of the cost and it really doesn't require much effort or time too. Just soak raw almonds over night in water, and then blitz it together with water and sieve! Voilaaaa, you've just made fresh almond milk!

Homemade almond milk is soo creamy and very delicious with my morning porridge. 

It makes for the best afternoon tea treat with these buttery, crunchy black sesame cookies too! 

They say milk and cookies make a great pair. They are just meant to be and belong together.

I'd say the same applies for almond milk too :)

Anyways, I hope you have a joyous week ahead! God's mercies are new every morning...even on Monday mornings ;)

Almond Milk
  • Raw almonds 
  • Water 
  • Honey (optional) 
  • A blender cheese cloth or a sieve 
Note: Use almond and water in the ratio 1:4 (I went with 1:3 which was more creamy. You can dilute it later if you wish).

1. Soak the almonds overnight in water.

2. The next day, drain the almonds. Add the almonds and (fresh) water (in the ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 water to almonds), to a blender.

3. Blend well. Add a touch of honey to sweeten (if you wish. I didn't as I found almond naturally sweet already on their own).

4. Strain through either a sieve or cheese cloth.

I've yet to figure out what to do with the left over almond bits...any ideas?

Black Sesame Cookie
Makes 20 6cm cookies
  • 65g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 40g sugar (I used raw)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 egg (~15g), room temperature
  • 1 tsp milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 125g cake flour, sifted
  • 20g black sesame, toasted
1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter until smooth.  Gradually add in the sugar.

2. Mix the egg, milk and baking powder together in a bowl. Add mixture slowly to the cream/sugar in previous step while continuing to mix in a stand mixer (or hand held mixer).

3. Add the sifted flour and salt into the stand mixer and mix until just combined, then add in the black sesame seeds. Let the dough mix for another few seconds.

4. With a spatula, combine the black sesame seeds well into the dough. Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper with a rolling pin until the dough is around 3mm thick.

5. Transfer to a flat cookie sheet and refrigerate for around 2 hours.

6. Preheat the oven to 170C.

7. Use your favourite cookie cutters, cut out as many cookies as you can and transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Remember to pierce the cookies once or twice with a fork before you bake!

8. Bake for around 12-14 minutes. Check your oven and take out if already slightly browned.


Red Bean (Adzuki) Quinoa Muffins

>> Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sometimes I wonder how I've developed a sense of entitlement in various aspects of my life. For example, I think if I work really hard, I deserve rewards or things to go my way. As an educated worker, the privileges which may come with the role seem to overtime turn into something I feel entitled to.

This past Sunday morning, I was brushing my teeth when the lights suddenly turned off and my window-less bathroom turned semi pitch black. As it turned out, there was a power outage in the entire building which caused more inconvenience than I had imagined. Apart from worrying that the food in the fridge may go off, I could not get out of the building as the elevator did not work and the main entrance was stuck (not to mention the cars in the garage too!)

At the end I decided to climb down the fire escape stairs (all 17 levels!) and made my way to the station. Even though I managed to get out in one piece, I was feeling flustered and late for church.  Truth be told, I was annoyed that something like this would happen at my side of town at the most inopportune time, causing me delays. Perhaps because I am a middle-class Australian, at the core of me I feel entitled to never have the power go out on me, to always have enough food and running water and to always have things work out my expected way. 

And then I was humbled when the Lord reminded me that a great number of people in the more disadvantaged side of the world do see the lack of power as their everyday norm. No doubt to have access to any source of power, their heart would be overflowed with thanksgiving.

I do think it can be a 'danger' to have too much of a good thing, be it money, time or other resources. It builds up a false sense of entitlement. So I hope to be always alert enough to notice the things I do take for granted...and be deeply thankful.

Now, as I power-climbed down those flights of stairs, I'm thankful that I had these energy giving muffins on one hand as breakfast. ;)

I made these quinoa red-bean muffins the day before. This is one of my favourite healthy muffin recipes however I normally use mashed bananas instead of the mashed red beans!

Like many desserts on this blog, these muffins don't look pretty or dainty or fine. They are what they are - healthful and wholesome. No doubt delicious too (think soft and moist!)

There was a time in my life I thought the world of desserts/sweets consists of only red beans and mung beans! Those were the days growing up in Taiwan where it was common to have sweetened red bean soup as an after dinner treat rather than ice-cream and cakes and tarts. (Those came into my life much much later!)

Do you know that red beans make for delicious breakfast too? I like to add them to my morning porridge from time to time...yum! 

(You can find more red bean recipes here.)

The flavour of the quinoa flour is quite strong and gives these muffins a delicious nutty taste. Of course, you can adjust the amount of the flour and replace with AP flour if that suits you.

And the same goes with the red beans, if you're not particular keen (please don't fall into this category!) just substitute with fruits and berries...and chocolate. I'm also thinking mashed edamame beans...and salted caramel. Perhaps not together!

Red Bean Quinoa Muffins
Adapted from here
Makes 12 (I halved the recipe)

  • 1 cup all purpose-flour 
  • 1 cup of quinoa flour 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 tbsp white chia seeds
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower oil (or other neutral cooking oil)
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 1/3 cups of mashed cooked red beans
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Place muffin cups in the muffin tin.
3. In a medium bowl combine the flours, chia seeds, sugar, baking soda.

4. In another bowl whisk the milk, oil and eggs.

5. Pour the milk mix into the dry mix. Add the red beans paste.
6. Stir just until the it's blended. Don't over mix, a lumpy batter will make the best muffins.
7. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.
8. Place in the oven rack for 20 minutes at 400°F.

Thanks for visiting with me today.

I know I've been kinda slack on updating this space lately.

Been busy but still got to take some time off to smell the roses! ;)

And now...I can almost smell the weekend. Can you?

See you soon!


Strawberry Buckwheat Scones

>> Thursday, October 6, 2011

The past long weekend totally speeded up my week.

How did Thursday arrive so quickly?

I might still be basking in the afterglow of the weekend.

And how can I not when it looked something like this?

So apart from the usual stuff, this week has also been...

...at times, quiet. Which is necessary for my introverted self, otherwise I'd feel so drained out. I read somewhere that introverts may appear calm on the outside, but their inner worlds are always "noisy". True that!

...mildly confusing. An online personality test tells me a suitable career would be: interior decorator/designer, clergy, child care or office manager...hmmm so far from what I do!

...rather organised. I am in process of categorising my food ideas into tiny boards (aka Pinterest). No more stray bookmarks/labels here, there and everywhere!

...filled with the book of Psalms. So good for the soul. And God blesses me with friends who faithfully keep me in their prayers (even across the Pacific Ocean!) ;)

...disciplined and defining. Somewhat. Or maybe just a little bit. :)

I also had a situation in my fridge. Something along the line of buying too much strawberries and not having enough room to store them.

I knew I had to deal with this problem asap so got my thinking/creative hat on straight away!

The first punnet turned into a rustic strawberry galette as a post-dinner treat...so bloody red!

Another punnet got blended with milk and some other goodies. 

Strawberry milk is THE childhood food memory for me. Obviously non-fresh ones with artificial colours and flavours. So good...yet so bad.

Then the last punnet turned into scones! Buckwheat scones, to be precise!

Buckwheat belongs to the 'eat more of' section in my book. It is known to lower cholesterol and has a rich supply of flavonoids and other good stuff. I love the taste of it (although some might find it an acquired taste). If you like the Japanese soba noodle (made of buckwheat of course!) then you'll probably enjoy baking buckwheat flour too. Oh, the flour make for great breakfast pancakes too!

This is definitely a twist on your normal scone recipe. I like the combo of the tartness of the strawberry with the earthiness of the buckwheat flour, as well as sweetness coming from the honey I smothered on the scones! 

So don't forget to drizzle the scones with some honey because mathematically buckwheat + honey = match!

And of course cream too, if you'd like!

Strawberry Buckwheat Scones
Inspired by 'Wa sweet recipe'
  • 150g buckwheat flour
  • 100g cake flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 75g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 120ml milk
  • 30g sugar (I used raw sugar)
  • 6-8 strawberries, diced
Preheat the oven to 200C.

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, sugar and baking powder.

2. Cut butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with your fingertips. (The mixture should look like coarse crumbs).

3. In a measuring cup with the milk, add the strawberries to infuse for a short while. Then, add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Do not over mix.

4. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently a few times and then pat into a 2cm thick round. Using a round cutter (I think I used a 3cm one), cut out as many rounds as you can. Press dough together and cut out remaining rounds with the dough. 

5. Place scones onto prepared baking tray with baking/parchment paper, at least 1cm apart. 

6. Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. This helps to brown the tops of the scones while baking.

7. Bake for around 13-15 minutes until golden.

Serve hot with honey and/or cream!

One thing I have desired of the LORD, 
That will I seek: 
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD 
All the days of my life, 
To behold the beauty of the LORD, 
And to inquire in His temple. 
For in the time of trouble 
He shall hide me in His pavilion; 
In the secret place of His tabernacle 
He shall hide me; 
He shall set me high upon a rock.
-Psalm 27:4-5

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