For a long time, I thought that my husband just starved himself when I was out-of-town without him, because when I return, there is absolutely no sign of eating, grocery shopping, or mere sustenance in the house. (Ok, this time there was a bag of day old bagels – two days old – on the countertop.) I confronted him once, and he informed me that when the going gets tough (ie: he’s starving and hasn’t thought about going to get something, or just decides to boycott cooking for himself all together) he’s concocted famous meals such as “Quinoa + Mustard,” “Salad of Canned Beans + Pasta,” “Cereal Only,” and “Eggs in Tortillas Found In the Back of the Cheese Drawer.”
It’s important that I say here that these “meals” are not a sign of mere laziness on his part, not lack of ability to cook; some of our favorite recipes — for mac n’cheese, crepes, grilled sandwiches, and butterscotch cookies — are his inspiration. Rather, I think he doesn’t go through with the cooking because this is clearly my domain and whipping up something delicious without me might actually make him feel worse about me not being there to enjoy with him. I feel the same — when he’s away without me, my favorite meal is usually something involving bagged salad, or oatmeal. I have an idea that a few of you can relate.
I returned home from a big trip to the Bay Area on Sunday morning, and found the kitchen just as I would imagine it. Empty. My little heart soars — I’ve missed nothing delicious. Of course, after several early wake ups, lots of big bike rides, and general travel exhaustion, my joy didn’t give me any extra energy to go to the market and instead, I set to work making something of apparently nothing.
Evidently, on this past trip, my sweet spouse found the almond butter — a complete staple in our house for all sorts of good uses (this, this and this, among other things.) Enter homemade almond butter.
If you’re anything like me, you might have a little stash of nuts hiding out in your freezer or pantry and if you’re nothing like me and have nothing of the sort, I can’t recommend this tactic enough. Having nuts on hand not only means that you never need be out of nut butter, but you can also whip up all sorts of surprising + delicious snacks. This stash came in particularly handy when I sent my better half to the bagel shop to get a fresh batch; I had freshly ground almond butter (almost better than the boutique-y store-bought kind, if I do say so myself) by the time he came back from the four-block walk, made us some coffee, and set the table for breakfast.
Now, on this almond butter. I ever-so-lightly sweetened the almonds with maple syrup, and tossed in cacao nibs which results in a roasty, yet sweet, unique, and crunchy spread for toast, or wherever else you use nut butter. Once you find just how easy it is to make, I hope you’ll be inspired to start whipping up all sorts of nut butters; maple-pecan, cacao nib + peanut, hazelnut + honey, and even a savory, salty almond + rosemary are on my brain for next batches.
A couple of notes on the recipe itself: it will take the almonds roughly 20-30 minutes to turn into butter so don’t be discouraged when you look at your almonds and feel that they’re getting no where! You’ll add all the almonds to a food processor and let it rip, and you’ll watch as the nuts are ground finely, finely, and even more finely. You’ll have to stop the processor to push the almonds down into the blade, and it will look like they’re getting stuck. (Derek continued to insist that “nothing was happening,” until the almond butter…happened.) Just let the almonds continue to blend and if you do, a nice, creamy butter will be all yours.
How are you making “something from nothing” in your kitchen this spring? And what are you spreading this on? Inquiring minds (mine) want to know. Enjoy! -xo L
- 3.5 cups raw organic almonds
- 1/4 cup maple syrup, plus more if you like it sweet
- 1 cup raw cacao nibs
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, put the almonds in an turn the processor "on." Allow the nuts to spin for 5 minutes or so, until a big ball of almonds forms. Stop the processor, push the mass of almonds down into the blade and turn the processor on again, another five minutes. You can walk away from the processor at this point and allow the mixture to keep spinning, just be warned that this is very hard work for your processor and you might see that the mixture smokes a bit as its spinning. It doesn't hurt to turn off the mixer every little bit to scrape down the bowl and allow the motor to take a break. After 15 minutes or so, remove the plug to the bowl and drizzle in the maple syrup. Continue to process until the almonds become smooth.
- Add the cacao nibs and pulse until combined.
- Remove the processor bowl from the processor and scrape the almond butter into a clean container to store. (I like to use a canning jar.) Allow the almond butter to sit, uncovered, to cool completely before capping the container and storing in the fridge.
- Fresh almond butter is best used within the month, but can keep for several months longer.