Thank you so much for leaping onto the various bandwagons I dangled before you. Every comment, like and follow was a lovely present to open. The winner of the giveaway is Tess, who has a box of treats en route just as soon as she supplies an address to me!
It could have led to a lot of canine swagger, all that fan-love. The dogs have a secure sense of their own good looks and charm, and they do dominate the Instagram feed.
But we ended that ego exercise by taking the suitcases down from the attic and committing the ultimate act of dog deflation: leaving home without them, to head south to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday.
Travel has become a funny exercise in How Much Would You Pay For That Thing You Used To Count On? Is it worth $25 to have the Room To Unbend Your Legs package? How about $25 for the Ability To Take Luggage On Your Trip feature? Will you pay $10 for access to the Swift And Courteous Service line?
With the seasonal DID YOU GET EVERY LITTLE FESTIVE TRADITIONAL THOUGHTFUL COMMERCIAL SPIRITUAL THING DONE overlay, a person can get tired and grim, hauling themself around, ticking obligatory boxes on an endlessly un-spooling list. But it’s also the season when gaps in fortune become abundantly obvious—when I’m keenly aware of having warmth, safety and a roof, plus family, nourishment and room to move freely about the cabin of my life, to contemplate and extend generosity towards others. I was thankful to learn of this opportunity to extend myself across the gap. Certainly there are many ways to do so, but my heart was glad to tick a box marked "We want to be remembered as the generation that chose Love over Fear." Don't we?
Now let's transition to talk of festive holiday drinks (enjoy the complimentary Comes With Soup add-on package, at that last link). I'm not much of a nog person, neither a nog drinker nor maker. But I like to have a little treat around for people, and maybe one that threads the needle between the "nutella-stuffed monkey bread" of this season that my friend the Glutton bemoans and outright refusal to engage in holiday merriment. This was sweet but not too sweet, rich but not regretfully so, and indulgent enough to pass for a treat even though it won't alarm your cardiologist.
It's not absolutely necessary to have a nut milk bag to make this, but it does make for a silky smooth outcome. Butter muslin makes a fine alternative, or a rig up a few layers of cheesecloth in a mesh strainer. If you happen to have a milk frother (we have this one but there are numerous varieties), Bob is totally your uncle. I'd like to be able to tell you I tried whizzing it up in the blender to see what the results might be in terms of frothiness, but instead I packed my suitcase, much to the dogs' dismay.
Wishing you a peaceful holiday!
- 1 c raw unsalted almonds
- 1 c raw unsalted cashews
- 4-6 dried medjool dates, pitted
- 1 dried chile (I used an aji amarillo but endless variety is possible, according to your heat tolerance)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cardamom pod
- 4 c water, plus or minus, divided
- fresh nutmeg, to garnish
The night before you plan to want this, toast the almonds in a small, heavy pan over a medium burner or in a hot oven, until they are fragrant. Place them, with the cashews, in a bowl and cover with cold water. Cover the bowl and leave to soak. In a separate bowl, place the chile, torn in half, the dates, the cinnamon stick and the cardamom pod. Cover these with 2 c very hot or boiling water, and also let them soak overnight.
In the morning, set up the nut milk bag or the lined strainer over a container.
Now drain the nuts and put them in the blender. Strain the liquid from the date mixture into the blender, then pluck the dates from the strainer (leaving behind the whole spices) and toss those in as well. Blend until super smooth. Taste for heat; with none of the soaked chile added, there was just a hint of chile in the mixture. If you'd like more kick, blend in a section of the pepper itself.
Pour this mixure into the nut milk bag, or the lined strainer, and then swish an additional 1 c of water in the blender to get all that's stuck in there, and pour that in as well. Squeeze and press until the pulp is dry (you can do all manner of things with the pulp, or feed it to chickens or other birds).
Chill the milk if you're a cold Nogger, or (my preference) heat it in a milk frother and adorn the frothy top with a scrape of fresh nutmeg. I bet coconut whipped cream wouldn't harm it any, if you roll that way, and ditto a splash of whatever moonshine makes you sparkle.