Like many of you, one of my pursuits in the past few years has been to greatly reduce the amount of waste that our household produces. Sometimes this manifests itself in pretty neurotic ways, as evidenced by my overflowing pantry/storage room where you can find boxes of styrofoam and plastic mesh bags that I swear to myself I'll use in some sort of sculpture or craft project someday. Once you hear things like America's biggest export is trash, and that plastic takes thousands of years to biodegrade, it can be really difficult to toss these things away, particularly for anyone such as I with an over-developed guilt complex. In order to alleviate the anxiety I feel about throwing things away, I try to consider the packaging of an item before I purchase it. Where will it end up when I'm done using it? We re-use, we compost, we recycle, but some items don't easily fit into any of those categories. Sometimes, I'll toss these questionable items into the recycling bin anyway with a silent and naive hope that they'll know what to do with it. One of the dubious items I toss into the bin is the emptied aseptic container of hemp milk. Those containers are an interesting fusion of cardboard, plastic and foil, which, as far as I know, can't really be separated and processed by recycling plants. Some may argue that they are more environmentally friendly because they don't require the wasted resources of refrigerated trucks and shelving, but I'm not sure if that makes up for it. (These sorts of problems are constant loops in my brain...)
A couple of years ago, my husband and I were given a homemade soy milk maker, and I used it from time to time to make soy milks, and with less success, rice and nut milks. I haven't taken it out for a long while, as it is a bit of a pain to clean, but I've since read quite a few recipes for homemade milks that don't require such an appliance anyway. Kim has a few on her website, and this week I decided to give my conscience a rest by making my own milk based off of her rice milk recipe. My first attempt was a bit too porridge-like, but today I nailed it. This milk came out beautiful and creamy, and it is taking some discipline to keep myself from finishing it off tonight. You can easily adjust this by using different grains, I'm sure; I'd love to hear of any variations you try.
CREAMY OAT & AMARANTH MILK
Adapted from Affairs of Living
1/2 CUP GLUTEN-FREE OATS
1/4 CUP AMARANTH
7 1/4-8 CUPS WATER (I put my grains into a half-gallon mason jar, and then fill it with water to the 8 cup mark while soaking, then transfer into the pot for cooking)
PINCH OF SEA SALT
STEVIA OR SWEETENER OF YOUR CHOICE TO TASTE (I used NuNaturals alcohol-free vanilla stevia liquid)
PLACE OATS AND AMARANTH IN A LARGE BOWL OR CONTAINER (I USED THE MASON JAR THAT WOULD EVENTUALLY STORE THE MILK) AND COVER WITH THE WATER. COVER AND SOAK OVERNIGHT OR 6-10 HOURS. AFTER SOAKING, EMPTY INTO A PARTIALLY COVERED POT, BRING TO A BOIL, AND SIMMER FOR ABOUT 45 MINUTES, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY TO MAKE SURE THE AMARANTH DOESN'T STICK TO THE BOTTOM. WHEN DONE COOKING, BLEND ON HIGH IN BLENDER, AND THEN USING A FINE MESH STRAINER, STRAIN THE MILK INTO A HEAT-RESISTANT CONTAINER. STORE IN REFRIGERATOR, SHAKE BEFORE USING.
MAKES ABOUT 5 CUPS OF MILK