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Category: Tips & Tricks

You’d Be {Nuts} Not To: DIY Almond Milk

Last weekend, I made my first foray into the world of homemade nut milk.

Everyone who ever told me nut milk is “easy” was a hipster, vegan skinny minnie, so I was pretty convinced it wasn’t at all easy.

Turns out, I was completely wrong.

Here’s what I learned:

I got the basic recipe from TheKitchn.com. Basically, you’ll need 1 cup dry (i.e., pre-soaked) almonds to 2 cups water.

Measure your almonds.

I bought a package of almonds from Whole Foods and made the mistake of not measuring them before I soaked them. The result was a slightly wetter version than I’d have wanted.

Soak your almonds.

I did it for two days, but you can do just overnight.

Drain well.

Add almonds with water 1:2 (i.e. 1 cup almonds with 2 cups water) and blend thoroughly.

Strain almond meal/water mixture.

Use some sort of meshy material to get out every last drop. I used my new nut milk bag from Ellie’s Best which is a million times easier and cleaner than pretty much any other type of straining material, is reusable, and only costs $10. I’ve tried making ricotta and butter with cheesecloth, and it was messy and challenging and I never removed all the moisture. If you decide you need one too (hint: you do), use code “threetimes” for a discount!

Add a little sweetness (optional).

I added a drop of vanilla and some of the honey from my aunt and uncle’s beehives and voila! I am set for a week of overnight oats!

The whole process took like 5, 10 minutes tops of hands-on work. I definitely need to perfect my balance, and I’ll be sure to share when I do! Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!

 

Disclaimer: Three Times Per Day is committed to only marketing products I personally stand behind. Ellie’s Best kindly sent me over their nut milk bag to try, and they were seriously amazing. For more info about them, head to ElliesBest.com and remember Three Time Per Day readers get a discount! Use threetimes a checkout for 10% off!

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How to Revive Leftover Rice That’s Gone Hard

Image result for chinese take out

After a long day, you head home, pick up the phone (or more likely, place an order online) for heaping quantities of Chinese food. You’re convinced you’ll devour it all since your day was really shitty and you’re starving. About a dish and a half in, you realize there is no way you’re going to finish it all. You pack it all up and put it in the fridge for tomorrow.

Tomorrow comes, and you can’t wait to dig into your leftovers! You pull out that little white box, open it up, and…alas!…your leftover white rice is hard as a rock.

After a few seconds of severe depression and disappointment, maybe you just call the loss and toss it. But you don’t have to! Hard rice is super easy to revive.

Just put the leftover rice into a microwave-safe bowl, add a few splashes of water on top, and microwave ’til it is nice and hot. Your rice should fluff up and be good as new!

Now go enjoy those leftovers!

Sugars in White Rice

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What To Do With Those Old Brita Filters (and the Pitchers)

recyclebrita

A few months ago, I got a Brita water filter. Today, I replaced the filter. As I stood there with the empty cartridge, I thought, “this doesn’t seem like something you should throw away or throw in the recycling can either…”

So I did a bit of research. Here’s what you can do with your cartridges:

Mail into TerraCycleTerraCycle turns old Brita filters, pitchers, and faucets into outdoor chairs, bike racks, watering cans, and park benches. Just collect 2 lbs. of Brita products to recycle. Then, using the free shipping label they provide through their website, mail in the box.

Drop off (or mail) for Preserve’s Gimme 5 program. Preserve recycles #5 plastics (which Brita products are made of). Drop your refuse off at one of the 250 drop off locations nationwide or recycle by mail so that your trash can be made into a wide variety of treasures, like mixing bowls, toothbrushes, and bags and totes (just to name a few).

 

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My Favorite Podcasts

Favorite Podcasts

My name is Rachael Nass. And I am a podcast addict.

Every day, I commute 30-60 minutes to the office and another 30-60 minutes home. Two or three times a week I go on a run. Every so often during work, I am stuck doing mind-numbing data entry or formatting exhibits in Excel. And while I love music and often listen to it while exercising or working, there are times when I just want a little something extra — a story, a history lesson, comedy. Like many people, I don’t get to read as much as I would like to, and podcasts help to fill that void. Here are some of my favorites:

This American Life

As far as I’m concerned, This American Life is the original podcast. My mom used to make sure we were driving somewhere on Sunday mornings just so we could listen to it on the radio. Every week, the show is centered upon one theme and shares stories, from journalism to fiction to stand up, on that theme. The show is expertly done and every episode is interesting. I would know — I’ve heard almost every one, and trust me there are A LOT.

Serial

Created by This American Life veteran (and fellow UChicago alum, woot woot!), Sara Koenig, Serial is true crime at its finest, a whodunit full of loose ends that are constantly making you second guess your opinion on who’s guilty. Season one follows the store of Adnan (my personal fave) and season two the story of Beau Bergdahl (PIF’s fave).

The Splendid Table

Another one my mom introduced me to, The Splendid Table is the foodie’s podcast. The endearing Lynne Rossetto Kasper has taught me so much about food and cooking and makes the most complicated dish seem totally doable. Just make sure you have paper and pencil on hand to scribble down recipes.

Fresh Air

Headed by the best interviewer on earth, Terry Gross, Fresh Air features guests from all walks of life and thoughtful interviews. I end every episode with a little note about some book I need to read, movie/show I need to watch, or historical event I need to research more.

Code Switch

If you enjoy thoughtful commentary about issues around race and identity, then Code Switch is for you. A newer addition to the podcast game, NPR’s Code Switch has gotten up to speed very quickly. Episodes cover things from the dearth of Asian-American representation on TV and the Indian accent and always leave you with something to think about.

RadioLab

Headed by the totally lovable Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, RadioLab is totally unique and its theme is hard to pinpoint. Usually, the show explores a story, bringing in experts or weaving in testimony from those who were there. The topics can vary widely, but the shows are clearly carefully put together. Because they’re so carefully thought out, these episodes don’t come often, so this show is better savored than binged.

Planet Money

Econ buffs, rejoice! Non-econ buffs, rejoice, too! Planet Money makes economics easy and fun, exploring the economics of the world around us, including one of my favorite areas of study, behavioral economics. Past episodes have explored the Wells Fargo scandal and how to get a Hermes Birkin bag. The episodes are short and sweet, so expect to binge.

99% Invisible

PIF’s favorite podcast, 99% Invisible, explores everything design. And not just around architecture, but how design plays a roll in everything, from public policy to the products we use to the places we vacation. Plus, host Roman Mars has THE best radio voice ever. (PIF’s favorite episode is about Rajneeshpuram.)

Two Dope Queens

Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson took the world by storm when they began Two Dope Queens, a podcast which features stand up comedians, many of whom are women or people of color. While, admittedly, sometimes a bit #basic, the totally goofy Two Dope Queens is a refreshing change of pace that often makes me laugh out loud on the L.

Sooo Many White Guys

Phoebe Robinson’s gone solo on Sooo Many White Guys in a show that features sooo few white guys. Instead of stand up, as in Two Dope Queens, expect instead casual interviews with women and people of color, like Lizzo and — one of my favorite people — Hasan Mihnaj.

Don’t know where to start? How about this:

My Favorite Podcast App: Pocket Casts ($4.99 in the App Store)

I’m a huge fan of Pocket Casts’ interface. It may be the only app on my phone that never freezes or crashes, and it’s Discover feature makes it super easy to download podcasts or find new favorites. Plus, the jump forward and back feature makes it easy to rewind when someone interrupts your listening.

 

This post was non-sponsored.

 

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What I Learned From a Weekend of Cooking

I’ve only mentioned briefly on here how so many life lessons can be learned, or at least reaffirmed, from food…which is a shortcoming on my end. Since I started cooking and became a more conscious eater, I’ve acquired so much more than just technical skills and have seen a noticeable difference in how I act in my day-to-day life. 

Over Labor Day weekend I took advantage of the extra day off to try a ton of new recipes: bread, a fig tart, jam, pizza, whipped cream, and ice cream. Not all were successful and none were perfect. However, every single one taught me something far beyond the recipe itself and that is applicable to aspects of my life outside of cooking and eating. And that’s really the intent of this blog at the root of it — to explore the beauty and, dare I say, meaning of life through food and how we can maximize our happiness while we’re occupying our teeny weeny space in this universe. 

(Enough hippy dippy shit! Get to the good stuff already!)

Okay, okay! Let’s do this, and in list form since everyone loves that these days…

1. Stop rushing and stay in the moment.

Every time I made an error, it was because I was rushing or not focusing, and as a result I missed a step, or used granular sugar instead of confectioners sugar, or didn’t let the jam boil down enough. Long story short, these mistakes were completely avoidable.

Cooking, especially baking, is an irreversible reaction. Remember that concept from high school chemistry? It means, just like Eminem, you have one shot, one opportunity. By taking your time and focusing on the task at hand, you avoid having to redo the steps you’ve already completed and are more likely to get a satisfactory product. And if you do make a flaw, you’re also more likely to know what exactly you did wrong so that you can avoid making the same mistake twice. All in all, the few extra minutes you take to read the recipe in full could save you hours (and dollars spent on ingredients) in the long run.

Fig Tart

2. Everything is a learning experience.

We often consider mistakes, imperfections, and failures as a solely negative occurrence. And, of course, it’s not *ideal* when your tart crust crumbles upon slicing it — but it’s far from without merit. We are too quick to give ourselves a hard time when things go wrong, which can take the joy out of the process itself. When we only consider what we’ve lost — time, money, reputation — we forget what we’ve gained — experience, relaxation, a positive memory. As someone who naturally tends to stew over negatives, I’ve found adjusting my outlook to embrace slip-ups has improved my ability to learn, has actually reduced the number of mistakes I make, and has just increased overall happiness.

I noticed this is a highly transferable skill (and, indeed, letting go is a skill) while reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The book is essentially about “trimming the fat” — purging all of the material items from your life that no longer bring you joy. She notes that people often get hung up on unused items or things they feel they should keep rather than want to keep. Take unworn clothing that still has tags on it. We are primed to think that even though it’s not been worn for years, we should hold on to it. Instead, Kondo recommends recognizing that it has already served its purpose, even if not the obvious one of being worn. Rather, one should think back to when it was purchased and recall the retail therapy you got or the good memory you made with the person you bought it with, thank that item for it’s service, and then LET IT GO.

Do this same thing when cooking and baking. Do it when studying. Do it in relationships. Recognize that every experience serves SOME purpose. That you don’t just benefit from doing something well or right. Every failure can be a success and SHOULD be viewed as such. (Ugh, does this sound like a poster that should be hanging in a high school guidance counselor office?) Anyway, my point here is stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Kick back and enjoy the ride.

No use crying over broken crust...
No use crying over broken crust…

3. Reflect and Embrace Feedback.

The weekend prior to Labor Day weekend, I had orientation for business school, which was essentially a 3-day immersive period of self-reflection and feedback. I learned more in those 3 days than I had over the past 6 months at work. It solidified for me that the most important part of learning and growing is reflecting upon experiences and embracing feedback.

I had been realizing this more and more often in the kitchen. Instead of rushing through the prep, eating, and then going “oh, okay, that was good/bad,” I’d begun t0 think about why it was good or bad. Doing so has allowed me to get so much more out of my cooking. Instead of simply learning something about that particular recipe, I can glean generalities that I can then transfer to other dishes.

I’ve also gained a far greater appreciation of feedback and the importance of it. For a while, when I put a ton of effort into a meal that PIF contributed zilch to, the last thing I wanted to hear from him was “eh, needs more salt.” But, despite what we tend to think, criticism is a good thing. It helps fast-track improvement. An outsider is able to objectively offer suggestions that you may miss because you’re blinded by the effort you put in. They also have a whole other lifetime of experiences that they can contribute. For example, if PIF has eaten more tarts than me (which he definitely has), he may have a better idea of what an amazing tart tastes like and be able to offer suggestions to improve the one I made, which — although good — could be better.

All successful chefs know this. All successful people know this. Without embracing feedback and reflecting on one’s actions, one’s improvement will be hugely stalled, if it even happens at all.

Heirloom Tomato Pizza

4. Celebrate your victories.

The more I cook (and watch the Chef’s Table), the more obvious it is to me that we fail, or at least fall short of expectations, as often as we succeed. But that’s why it’s all the more important to celebrate the times the times we take the risk, let alone the times we succeed. Embracing the adrenaline rush and warm fuzzies that come with a personal victory helps keep us going. Over the weekend, I attempted my first heirloom tomato pizza, my first whole wheat bread, my first a fig tart, and two new recipes for ice cream. As I said, not a single one of these was perfect, but every single one was a risk I took and, therefore, a personal victory.

I recently had a professor exclaim, somewhat in passing, “Celebrate everything!” I loved this sentiment! We tend to scoff at those celebrating a month-iversary or International Jelly-Filled Donut Day. But why?? Let’s celebrate everything! Celebrating helps us keep things in perspective, to find the joy in everyday experiences, and to appreciate the things that are going right in the world. So celebrate it all! Celebrate your first attempt to make ice cream, celebrate perfectly cooking a salmon filet, celebrate your 9 months-iversary with your significant other, celebrate old friendships and new friendships, celebrate finishing a project at work, celebrate getting through a terrible week, celebrate National Chocolate Marshmallows with Caramel Drizzle Day. Celebrate however you wish. Just get out there and enjoy yourself and the life you’ve been given.

Fresh Bread

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Kitchen Hack: Storing Bread

As a regular cook and more-than-regular eater, I’m usually plenty good at eating food before it spoils. However, there’s one item I was never able to finish before mold reared its green or white head – err, spores: bread.

Of course, fresh bread is the best bread. But, unfortunately, as someone who lives alone and doesn’t multiple sandwiches a day, having a brand new loaf each day is not a viable option. For a long time, I kept bread in the fridge, which dried it out and made me swear off putting bread anywhere near the refrigerator ever again.

Next, I started to ask the baker to give me half a loaf when I bought bread, thinking I’d be more likely to finish it before the lil guys showed up. This didn’t work either. (However, if you’re like me and you live alone or don’t eat a lot of bread, I highly recommend checking to see if your grocery lets you do a half loaf and then just get bread more often to really ensure you’re maximizing freshness and wasting as little as possible.)

When this didn’t work, my mom recommended putting the bread in the freezer and defrosting as needed. Sure enough, this kept the bread mold free. But since I tended to make or buy loafs, I’d have to precariously saw off bread icicles whenever I wanted some toast for breakfast, unless I woke up at 5 AM and took it out of the freezer. And if I did pre-slice the bread, I had to use a knife to pry the slices apart and thus risk sacrificing breakfast anyway for a trip to the emergency room.

Finally, I found a solution that spares fingers and allows one to easily remove slices while keeping the rest of the loaf frozen. And it’s easy as 1-2-3.

What you’ll need:
bread
wax paper
scissors
two gallon plastic baggies (not pictured)

1. If it’s not sliced already, slice your bread. Lots of grocery stores either do this for you or have a fun little machine you can use. No, seriously, it’s fun.

2. Cut wax paper and place sheets between slices. I rip off a piece then cut the piece into smaller sheets for between the slices, but you could just wrap them around.

3. Carefully slip the loaf into one baggie then the next baggie so as not to let the papers slip. I do this by placing the loaf on a small cutting board, slipping the board and loaf into the bag, and then pulling the board out.

Voilà! Stick that bad boy in the freezer. As needed, pull out a slice and let it defrost or stick it in the toaster. And woo! Just like that – no more wasted carbs!

Enjoy!
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