A Cheesy Book Review and Giveaway!

Sometimes I get to do really cool things like meet Martha Stewart and attend events where Bobby Flay gets his culinary butt whooped by a local chef. Other times I get to review books, which is sometimes even more fun for me because a cookbook is like a gift that keeps on giving. There’s no way you can make all the recipes in a few days, weeks, or months. Yes, Julia did cook all of the recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but that took her an entire year! I know I’m remaking some of my favorite dishes in a cookbook before I make every single recipe.

Anyway, back to my original point. I get to do cool stuff and the most recent project I was invited to contribute to was testing out Claudia Lucero’s book One-Hour Cheese: Ricotta, mozzarella, chevre, paneer – even burrata. Fresh and simple cheeses you can make in an hour or less. 

My little bundle of 'Fromage Facile' Joy
My little bundle of ‘Fromage Facile’ Joy

Now, when I first heard about this book I was a little skeptical as I had made some goat cheese before with horrible results. My ricotta was decent and my mozzarella alright. Let’s just say my cheese didn’t stop me from buying cheeses elsewhere. Maybe it was because I fidgeted over it too much or because after 30 minutes of not actively doing anything I had to do something. So, when I saw this book that promises foolproof results with cheeses that I can make in an hour or less, I had to try it.

Yes, Cheese!

First things first, I have to pick what cheese I’m going to attempt to make. Since I just got home from an amazing trip to Paris, I decided on the Fromage Facile or “easy cheese” in French (perfect for me!) which Lucero notes is a “mild, creamy, multiuse cheese that is simply great to have on hand.” Made of buttermilk and whole milk, the cheese is labeled as “easiest” and is ready to eat in 30 minutes. Seriously, this cheese was made for me.

My 'Fromage Facile' with Sage
My ‘Fromage Facile’ with Sage

After a run to the store to pick up some fine cheese cloth, whole milk, buttermilk, lemons, and a thermometer, I was all set. Lucero’s instructions even let you know what will be your biggest obstacle during the process with her “How Easy Is It?” bar. For Fromage Facile it was squeezing and straining fresh lemon juice (can you see why I picked this cheese first?) The instructions are simple and come with pictures for every step so you can easily follow along. It even comes with suggestions for variations such as rolling it in fresh herbs or pickled jalapenos to make a bagel spread (delicious) and a recipe for each cheese.

After tasty success with the Fromage Facile, I’m ready to try making Paneer (page 67), a farmer’s cheese used extensively in Indian cuisine) and when I feel really brave the Chipolte-Lime Oaxaca (page 161.) The best part of this book is that not all of the cheeses require you to use vegetable rennet, which allows you to play around with ingredients found in your house already. Really, this book just showcases how easy and enjoyable (really, I promise) making your own cheese can be whether you’re a beginner cook or a seasoned pro.


300x250 7Enter for a Chance to Win

If you’re like me, then you are probably hoping to get your hands on a copy of this book. Well, you’re in luck because my friends at Workman Publishing are giving away One-Hour Cheese and also The 12 Bottle Bar book which my husband has been hoarding since he’s the bartender of the house. In addition to the book giveaways, the DIY Cocktail Hour Sweepstakes will be awarding one lucky winner with a $500 shopping spree from Villeroy & Boch for all your barware and tableware needs and an Urban Cheesecraft DIY cheese kit.

Enter at DIY Cocktail Hour Sweepstakes before it’s too late! And if you win, you owe me a cocktail and some cheese.

Recipe: Almond Milk

57147-almond-silver-bowl-medium-originalI enjoy milk. As a kid, I would drink at least a few glasses a day. There’s something about the creaminess of it that just makes me feel all warm inside. Even in the summer, when it’s hot and muggy, sometimes I just want a creamy, cold drink. The wisdom of Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old Indian holistic healing science, suggests that tasting something sweet like milk can activate the soothing pleasure responses in the brain. During a hot summer day, there may be bonus cooling and hydration properties that dampen your pitta (your dosha made of fire and water that may rise during the hot summer months, causing you to be come imbalanced which leads to agitation, dehydration, difficulty sleeping, and digestive problems.)

However, I know that it’s not the best thing for me (but in moderation it is of course). Now, when I still want the creaminess of cow’s milk (or fresh goat’s milk when I can get my hands on it), but I don’t feel like having it go bad in the fridge (a gallon in two weeks is way too much milk for me), I turn to other forms of milk. Yes, there are the hundreds of brands in the stores (soy milk, hemp milk, almond milk, rice milk, etc.) but when I read those labels I notice ingredients that I really just don’t want to be putting into my body, including carrageenan and some preservatives that I just can’t pronounce.

Homemade Almond Milk Instead, I make my own almond milk and you should too. It’s super easy and really affordable! And unlike all the store bought brands, you can control exactly what goes into it including your favorite flavors. Almonds provide healthy saturated fat and are ranked the highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin, and niacin than all of the other tree nuts. Eating just 1.5 ounces of almonds may reduce the risk of heart disease due to their high levels of magnesium which not only reduces bad cholesterol while preserving good cholesterol, but it also helps you regulate blood sugar.

Try out my recipe for almond milk below and I doubt you’ll ever go back. It’s the perfect way to start your day!

Homemade Almond Milk

1 cup almonds (soaked in distilled water overnight)
5 cups water
3-4 pitted dates (for natural sweetness)
1 tablespoon tumeric
1 teaspoon cardamon

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. You can also strain the milk with a fine mesh sieve for an even smoother finish.

The best part about this recipe is that you can customize it to your liking. If you like it sweeter, add more dates, honey, or even some maple syrup. I also like heating it up for my own steamed almond milk latte – sans the coffee.

What’s your favorite beverage during the hot summer months?

Book Review: The Body Book

If you haven’t heard about Cameron Diaz’s book The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body then I urge you to go to your local bookstore and buy it – now. I’ve always been a huge fan of Diaz, but this book has made me jump up for joy. Her frankness about the human body combined with her eagerness to learn how all of its systems, organs, and cells work together just so we can breathe, walk, run, eat, sleep, and think is refreshing.

As a holistic health advocate, I’m constantly advocating balance. Living in balance, eating in balance, exercising in balance. It’s when we are in excess or a drought that our systems become unable to run at its optimal level. Diaz agrees. Through her book she wants to “help you connect with your body and understand its basic needs and functions so that you have the knowledge and confidence to go out into the world and be the healthiest person you can be.” That statement, all by itself, is a reason that I’m promoting this book for every single person of any age. Especially women.

An Advocate for True Health – The Smart Way

photoReading The Body Book will bring you up close and personal with your body including how the food you eat effects every single part of your body from your skin to your gut to your mind. Diaz also sheds light on her own personal battles including her fast food obsession that included two bean burrito tacos and a coke every single day for three years. (No one is perfect!)

You’ll understand what “hunger” actually is and how your body is an “elegant machine” that needs the right fuel. How learning to eat the macronutrients and micronutrients that your body craves is so important to your health. Diaz does a great job on describing the how and more importantly, the why. Why does our body need protein? Why does our body need healthy fats? Why do our cells need minerals? The processes are described in a way that allows you to understand without being a doctor, a nutritionist, or even having a background in any sort of health related field. Diaz speaks to everyone.

Beyond the Physical Body

Not only does Diaz focus on the body’s physical attributes, but she also focuses on the mind-body connection (read my article on page 4), which is something that is often times left behind in books about health and well-being. You can be eating all the fruits, vegetables you want while exercising, training, and drinking lots of water, but taking care of your mind is just as important.

Diaz asks readers to admit that their body is amazing, embrace the concept of getting older, turn knowledge into action, strive for consistency, and aim for that “yeah!” feeling. Learning how your mind works will not only help you stay happier and healthier, but it will also set you up for success with improved discipline (to help you modify behaviors like ordering that grande latte every afternoon) which will lead you to success.

Most importantly, one of the main reasons I love this book and recommend it to you, my readers, is that the goal of the book isn’t to promise weight loss in 7 days, or acne free skin in 14 days, or even a husband in a year. Instead, it’s about learning to love yourself and treat yourself accordingly forever. Kudos Cameron on an inspiring book that was released at a time when women (and men) need it most.