Category Archives: Vegan

Everybody Does a No-Knead…

No-Knead bread made the rounds online back in ’06 when Bittman made it famous writing for the New York Times. It wasn’t the first such recipe, but it definitely popularized the technique. Since then, there have been myriad variations and of course I have my own. I’ve also  experimented with combining this technique with a similar one I learned about in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, called pain a l’ancienne, which I’ll talk more about later.


No-Knead Boule

-14 oz. or 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour (you know I love my King Arthur)

-2 oz or 1/2 c. Whole Wheat flour

-1/4 teaspoon dry yeast

-1 teaspoon table salt

-1 1/2 c. water

The mass appeal to this recipe lies in the high fiddliness to tastiness ratio. By which I mean, it’s really tasty and really easy. The only problem with this recipe is that you need a cast iron or enamal Dutch oven. A steel stock pot will not work.

Step one is just mix all this together, cover and leave at room temperature for at least 12 but not more than 16 hours. For some reason leaving it longer than 16 hours has a slightly detrimental effect on the flavor. UNLESS you want to let it go a solid 24 hours, in which case you can also employ the pain a l’ancienne technique by making the dough with iced water, and leaving it in the refrigerator for 12 hours then moving it to room temperature for another 12 hours. The advantage here is a more complex flavor due to enzymes and stuff. Try it out, it’s fun.


12 to 24 hours later, you’re going to have a big, wet, bubbly mass of dough. It looks pretty thin, that’s alright. Using a rubber spatula, maneuver the dough onto a well-floured surface into a round-ish shape. I like to use the whole wheat flour for this, and I’m serious about the well-floured part, you’re better off using an extra couple of Tablespoons of flour than having the dough stick to the counter. Let is sit for 15 minutes, it’s not going to look any different afterwards, but the glutens will relax and the dough will be much easier to work with.

Run your fingertips under the edge of the dough to make sure it’s not sticking, then fold the dough into thirds like a letter. ‘Cause you know, that’s still a relevant turn-of-phrase. Now fold it in thirds the other way, so you have a nice looking ball. Do your best to brush off any major lumps of flour.

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Flour up a piece of fabric (butter muslin, a linen napkin or even a tee shirt, but not terry-cloth) which you can transfer the dough, seam side down, onto. Fold the corners up to loosely cover the dough and let sit 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Whatever you do, don’t let it get wider than the base of your Dutch oven. Speaking of which, put the Dutch oven in your oven now and pre-heat to at least 500F, or higher if your oven goes higher.

No comes the fun part. When the oven is heated and the bread is risen do these in this order:

-Unwrap the bread, make sure the edges aren’t stuck to the fabric.

-Take the super-hot Dutch oven out of the oven, take the lid off, leave the oven door open.

-Pick up the dough, with your hand under the fabric.

-Flop the dough, seam side is now up, into the pot. Shimmy the pot a little to center the dough. It’s fine.

-Lid on the pot, pot in the oven, shut the door, set timer for 20 minutes.


After the first 20 minutes, take the lid off the pot and set your timer for another 20. Depending on your oven you may need 25 minutes, the bread is done when the crust is brown and crunchy.

Remove from Dutch oven, let cool to room temp, enjoy. Feel free to knock off any excess flour.

This bread makes a particularly excellent grilled cheese sandwich, by the way.

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Homemade Sea Salt, Boiled Peanuts and More!

Last week I promised you all updates on my experiments making sea salt at home and boiled peanuts. After hours of fun watching pots of water boil, I’m ready with the results.

Homemade Sea Salt

-1 gallon sea or ocean water

-that’s it


First of all, the most common question I’ve gotten about harvesting your own sea salt is, “Is it safe?” According to my research, the rule of thumb is: if it’s safe to swim in, it’s safe to make salt from. I don’t normally post recipes which require a disclaimer, but this was too cool a project to pass up.

No matter where your water came from, or how clear it looks, you’re going to want to filter it. A coffee filter will be good enough, I used a double layer of butter muslin. If using cheese cloth, make sure to do four or five layers. Now fill a pot with the filtered water, and boil it for, like, three hours. Check it periodically, but don’t expect much change for the first two and a half hours. Eventually you’ll get down to a sludgey consistency like in the picture.


At this point I switched it over to a frying pan and turned the heat down to medium-low, just a good simmer to evaporate the last of the water. Remember, while you don’t have to worry about burning salt you don’t want to burn your pan. As far a yield goes, I got 4.5 ounces from one gallon, which is about half a cup. Way more than I expected. Your’s may be different based on the salinity of the local water. Be sure to store the salt in an air-tight container since salt absorbs water from the air. You can also use a salt pig, which I just learned about and totally need to make one of.

Boiled Peanuts

-1 pound raw peanuts, in shell (they can be tricky to find but it’s very important they are raw, in shell)

-1 gallon water to start, you’ll probably need more later on

-2 Tablespoons salt

-2 Tablespoons paprika (or Old Bay)

-2 Tablespoons honey (optional and not traditional, but I like it)

You ready? Pay attention: Put everything in a pot. Stir a little. Boil four to six hours, depending on how soft you like your peanuts. You’ll probably need to add some water periodically as it boils away. Done. Be sure to keep them in the water so they’ll keep soaking up flavor.


In regards to the, “and More!” promised by my title, I’m officially announcing the start of a youtube show in which I demonstrate scratch-made recipes with only two ingredients. It’s kind of ridiculous how many I have. I’ll let everybody know as soon as the first one is up, which should be by Wednesday.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Scones

The secret to making the best possibe scones, in my opinion, is to take a page from a vegan cookbook and use bananas instead of eggs. Two notes here: the usual conversion is 1 egg to half a banana, but this ignores the fact that bananas come in different sizes. I always go with 1 egg to 1/4 cup banana. Also, I’ve gotten a few requests to give my flour measurements in volume and weight, so for this recipe I measured out my flour and then weighed it. I also updated Whole Wheat Focaccia with volume measurements.

-1 3/4 cup (9 oz.) all purpose flour

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

-1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, medium dice (or vegetable oil if you’re sticking with the vegan theme)

-1 banana, mashed up real good (should equal 1/2 cup, if shy add milk to make up the difference)

-1/3 cup soymilk or milk (or heavy cream if you’re feeling sassy)

-1 cup additional stuff (here I used some chocolate chips and almonds I had left over, feel free to use dried fruits or nuts)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.


Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and add the diced up butter. The clumps will stick together so rub them in with your hands to break them up. People tend to freak out about this stage but don’t as long as none of your butter is bigger than a marble, you’re fine. If you’re making this vegan, mix the oil in with the other wet ingredients.

If you’re adding stuff, do this now. Make sure to coat the stuff with flour so it will mix in better.

The best way to mash up a single banana is on a plate, with a fork. No need to dirty up your blender or another mixing bowl. Transfer into a measuring cup, you should have about half a cup. If you have less make it up with milk, if you have more eat it.

Once you’ve got that sorted out, add 1/3 cup of milk to the banana and mix them up together.

Pour over the dry ingredients and mix together very quickly just until everything is combined into a solid mass. I will be best to use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, a whisk will just get all clumpy.


Transfer to a baking sheet and form into an 8 inch disk. It won’t be perfect, it’s fine, they’re scones.

Dribble 1 Tablespoon of milk over the dough and use your fingers or a pastry brush to even it out. If you like, now would be the time to sprinkle additional sugar over the top although this is not strictly necessary.

Cut the disk into sixths or eighths now, that way when it comes out of the oven it will be much easier to divide.


Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, immediately re-cut and transfer your little babies to a cooling rack. You can enjoy these right away or over the next 2 to 3 days. Any longer than that and you’ll want to freeze them (be sure to use an airtight bag.) To defrost just pop them in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes.


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Whole Wheat Focaccia

Before I forget:, a new social networking site which puts regular people in touch with experts, is currently in beta and looking for cooking experts. Check them out if you’re interested in being an expert or finding an expert in photography, gardening, fashion and a few other subjects I can’t remember off-hand.

Anyway, in American bakeries and grocery stores, focaccia tends to be a much thicker bread so the thinness of this one may be surprising to some of you. But take heart, you can still use it to make a lovely grilled cheese sandwich. Credit where credit is due, this is a variation on a recipe I originally saw in the New York Times a few months ago, and I always stick with my King Arthur Flours.

Whole Wheat Focaccia

-6 oz. (by weight) whole wheat flour (1 1/2 cups)

-6 oz. all purpose flour (1 1/4 cups)

-1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

-1 1/2 teaspoons salt

-1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

-7 oz. (by volume) water (7/8 cup)

First things first, mix your flours together in a bowl.

Now, take a bigger bowl and your salt, yeast, oil and water. Pay attention because this is important: Some people have very strong feelings on the order in which you add the ingredients e.g. combine the yeast with the water to make sure it’s active, add the yeast to the flour to prevent clumping, add the salt at the end, etc. Unless your using a recipe which specifically says otherwise, do it however you like. And unless you haven’t used your yeast for 2 months or more, it’s probably fine.


Stir until the salt and yeast are dissolved, then add in the flour mixture about one quarter at a time. Once the last of the flour is incorporated, cover the bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes. This will allow the starches and gluten to absorb the water in a process called autolyzation. The upshot of this is higher rising and less kneading.

Once the dough has had a chance to rest, knead it on a well-floured counter for 10 minutes. Keep a little pile of flour so you can dust your hands if the dough starts to get a little too sticky.

Now back into the bowl, oiled this time, and let rise at least 2-6 hours.

If you’ve got a cast iron griddle or 8 inch frying pan, awesome. Get it. If not, place some parchment paper (or flour) on a baking sheet.


When done rising, flop the dough onto a floured work surface , form into a rough eight inch circle and transer to your baking sheet. Cover lightly with a damp cloth or oiled plastic wrap and let rise for one hour. Halfway through, dimple the bread with your finger tips and top. I like to keep it simple with: 1 Tablespoon olive oil, a sprinke of a big, crunchy sea salt and some dried rosemary. Lately I’ve been using Hawaiian Red sea salt.

Pre-heat the oven to 425F and let the bread rise the other half-hour.

Bake the bread in the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes. The finished product should look a little like this.


Alternatively, you can roll the dough out very thin after rising, and use it to make pizza. Boo-yah. Top it with whatever you like and bake it at the same temp for 15-20 minutes. This one has summer squash, home-made pepperoni a buddy shipped me from Iowa, mozzeralla and leftover marinara I pureed into pizza sauce.


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Blueberries Two Ways and More!

Shout out the the University of Georgia Society of Aspiring Plant Pathologists for a) the good work they do regarding blueberries, and b) selling blueberries on the cheap. The missus and I were the proud owners of ten pints of fresh blueberries, which we’ve whittled down to about four pints of frozen. Some of my tastier and/or more fun experiments have included these two gems.

But first I wanted to let you all know that I made an entry to the Bob’s Red Mill Spar for the Spurtle contest where I could win a trip to Scotland and compete in the World Porridge Making Championship. Check out my entry video here, it’s a recipe for a simple candy made with heavy cream, sugar and toasted oats. Now without further ado:

Blueberries Preserved in Molasses


I’ll level with you, unless you love molasses this recipe is not delicious. It is however, fun and interesting. So go for it, and feel free to switch up which sugar you use.

-1 cup blueberries

-about 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses (it couldn’t hurt to experiment with other sugars)

Fill up a 1 cup jar to within an inch of the top with blueberries.

Add the molasses (or honey, golden syrup, agave, brown rice syrup, what-have-you); let it sit a few minutes while the syrup fills up all the nooks and crannies, then add some more. Enough so it’s within an inch from the top.

Cover with cheese cloth or muslin (so it can breath, but nothing can fall or fly in) and a rubber band or something. Let it sit at room temperature for about two weeks. After which time it will look like the picture and taste…interesting.

Quick Blueberry Sauce


I just made this in a pinch to serve over waffles this morning. It turned out great!

-2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

-1 cup sugar

-1/2 cup water

Place all the ingredients in a pot and boil for ten minutes. Serve immediately.

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Soft Tofu: A Soybean Beginners Manual Vol. 3

This week’s post is going to be a shorter one since I’m polishing up and sending out my book proposal to a few places. And for those of you worried that I won’t be posting any meat recipes, I’ve got a pork rillettes recipe I’ll be posting in the next couple of weeks.

Soft Tofu

-1 cup dried soybeans (if you don’t have an Asian grocery store, you can usually find them at Earth Fare)

-4 cups water, plus more for rinsing and soaking

-2 teaspoons epsom salts, dissolved in 1/2 cup water (for those of you uneasy about the idea of putting epsom salts in food, remember it is the traditional coagulant, epsom salts is just the new name for it)

So you don’t have to backtrack through two older posts, I’ll start at the beginning.

Rinse 1 cup of dried soybeans well, making sure to remove any discolored, shriveled up or otherwise funky beans. Soak beans in a few cups of water overnight.

The next day, with the beans still in water, rub them around in your hands. This will loosen some of the skins and make the water cloudy. Drain off the water and any skins that are floating. Repeat this process until the water remains clear. Drain one last time and replace with 4 cups of  fresh water.


Blend the beans in water really well, until the texture of sand. Remove any foam that forms at the surface, it will make your tofu bitter. I like my immersion blender for this step since I can use it right in the pot, but a counter top blender will work just as well.

Place the bean puree in a pot on medium heat, stir often. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and put a lid on it. Set your timer for 15 minutes, but come back every few minutes and stir the beans to prevent sticking.

After 15 minutes the beans should smell sweet and less beany. If not, give them another 5 minutes. Drain the beans in a cheese cloth or butter muslin placed in a colander over a smaller pot. Let sit until cool enough to handle, then squeeze the last of the soymilk out. The pulp left over is called okara and has many uses.

Place your smaller pot of soymilk on a medium heat until almost boiling. Turn off heat and gently swirl in the epsom salts dissolved in water. Put a lid on the pot and let sit for 15 minutes.


By then you should see seperation of solids from liquid, although it won’t be as distinct as when you’re making firm tofu. Pour the contents into a cloth in a strainer like last time, except this time place the cloth full of tofu into a tofu press. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a tofu press you can make your own. I used two plastic containers that raisins came in. Poke some holes in the bottom one, place the tofu in it, place the second one on top and add a jar with some water for weight. Brilliant, I know.

Wait about 15 minutes and you should have a just solid block of soft tofu. If you want to firm it up a little more, leave it in the press longer.


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Roasted Soybeans and Firm Tofu: A Soybean Beginners Manual Vol. 2

For this portion of my series about soybeans, start by refering back to Volume 1. The rinsing and soaking process is the same for each recipe and for firm tofu the recipe is the same until you strain the milk from the cooked, ground beans.

Roasted Soybeans

-1 cup dried soybeans

-lots of water for rinsing and soaking

-oil, salt, spices to taste

First of all you’re going torinse and soak the beans overnight. Rinse them again in the morning and pour them into a colander to dry for a little while.

Preheat your oven to 350 F and spread them around on a cookie sheet. Lately I’ve been using one from Chicago Metallic and I’ve been very pleased with it.


Place the sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Make sure to shimmy the pan every five minutes or the beans will stick. Roast for about 30 to 40 minutes. There are a lot of factors determining how long it will actually take, but you want them toasty looking, not to dark. If you’re not sure if they are done, eat one. We want crispy, not squishy. When they are crispy and golden, toss in bowl with a wee splash (one teaspoon) olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Try other spices and salts, too. I tossed these bad boys in some Old Bay. It’s alright. Maybe Lawry’s next time.


Firm Tofu:

-1 cup soybeans

-4 cups water, plus more for rinsing and soaking

-2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Follow the instructions on soymilk from my previous post until you reach the point that you’ve seperated the okara from the soymilk. You’re not going to have anywhere near the quart of liquid you started with, this is normal.

Replace the milk into a pot and let it almost come to a boil over medium heat. When you start to see little bubbles around the edge of your pan swirl in the lemon juice in big, wide strokes.

Remove from heat, put a lid on it and wait 10 minutes. By then you should see a clear seperation of solid from liquid. Ideally you will have as few soy curds as possible, if you’re lucky you’ll have one big one. If seperation has not yet occured, add 1 more Tablespoon lemon juice and wait 5 more minutes.


Strain the curds in the same manner as earlier (you can re-use your cheese cloth, but make sure to rinse it first) and give them a quick, gentle rinse to remove the lemon flavor.

Leaving the solids in the fabric, fold into a rough square and place on a cookie sheet that is propped up at an angle. Use a large, flat bottomed item to press the tofu block for about 45 minutes. I like my Dutch oven for this. The resulting tofu should weigh about a quarter of a pound and be firm enough that you can cut it into cubes or strips, or crumble it up onto a salad.

Taste of homemade tofu is something divine, so don’t miss this opportunity to just have some on it’s own, or sprinked with a little tamari.


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Another Perfect Baguette

Never has there been a food with so many wildly different recipes, each of which is Perfect, as the baguette. A quick search online will yield recipes ranging from three to twenty-four hours, with two to twenty minutes of kneading and proportions of ingredients varying just as drastically. In French bakeries this is less the case as there are laws regulating the contents of the dough, but not the size or specific shape, of the baguette.

Of course, as home-bakers we are bound by no such legal standards and since the word baguette simply refers to the shape why not try a dozen different recipes and figure out which works best for your taste in your part of the world? That’s what I did, I learned a lot and had tons of fun. The recipe I’m sharing today most closely resembles Martin Ginsburg’s in Chef Supreme, a delightful cookbook assembled by the spouses of the Supreme Court Justices in memoriam of Mr. Ginsburg. I usually make this on a baguette pan, sometimes I’ll use one section of the dough to make a batard or boule which you can make on a regular baking sheet lined with parchment paper or dusted with cornmeal. Or a cast iron griddle if you’ve got one.


-1 lb. AP flour (I like King Arthur)

-1 teaspoon yeast

-1/2 Tablespoon fine grain sea salt

-1 ¼ c. warm water


Mix flour, salt and yeast together in a mixing bowl. This will prevent the yeast from clumping up, a common problem when you add the water to the yeast first. Drizzle the water all over the top of the flour mixture and stir until their is no dry flour, but it isn’t a proper ball yet. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.


Stir the dough a little more until it starts to come together as a ball and knead for just 2 minutes. If you’re not familiar with the kneading process, here’s an episode of FOODLANDia, a public access cooking show I was on back in Iowa. I’m using a different recipe so the dough is more dense, but the technique is the same. The bit where I’m kneading is at 10:12. Also, don’t miss what may be the only hip-hop song about tea at 20:06.


Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly and let rise on the counter for 2 hours. Afterward, flop the dough onto your counter, shape into a rough rectangle and cut into three equal pieces (each should weigh 8 1/2 to 9 ounces.) Shape these into balls, cover with a damp towel or oiled plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.


To shape each loaf, gently form a rectangle about 6” wide and 4” long. Fold it like a letter, the bottom third up, then the top third down. Create a trough with the edge of your hand, like I show in the video, then pinch it shut. Do this with each dough ball, replacing them under the towel when done. After the last ball is shaped, go back to the first and roll it out about 13”-14”. Start in the middle, moving your hands toward the ends of the loaf. For a batard, just keep it a bit shorter. After each loaf is formed place it on your pan or baking sheet, cover again and let rise about 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 475 now, so it has plenty of time to warm up.


10 minutes before the final rise is finished, heat up a cast iron skillet on the stove until it’s very hot, then place it in the bottom of the oven.

 Use a razor blade or bread knife to slash each loaf on a sharp bias 3 or 4 times, about ⅛” deep. Then immediately put them in the oven and turn the oven down to 450. Wait 2 minutes, get out 2 or 3 ice cubes, open the oven, drop them in the cast iron and then quickly close the oven again. Set the timer for 22 minutes and don’t open the door until the timer goes off. When done, move the loaves to a cooling rack and let rest for 1 hour before slicing. If three are too many baguettes, wrap one in plastic and freeze. It will be fine. Serving suggestion: Cheddar and Branston Pickle sandwich.


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Yuba and Soymilk: A Soybean Beginners Manual Vol. 1

Just so you know, this article is really about yuba, I just figured that while we’re here some you might be interested in turning the rest into soymilk.

Any description I could give of yuba would be superfluous next to the closing paragraph in Christa Weil’s gastrologue Fierce Food:

In flavor, it most closely resembles a slightly sweet, slippery, ultrathin ravioli or wonton that lost it’s filling… wholesome, light, and yet deeply warming. It is the food equivalent of a goose-down duvet.

Yuba is, essentially, the skin that develops on warm, freshly made soymilk. One of the simplest foods, and one of the best. The hardest part is waiting. It takes about 10 minutes for the first skin to develop, which means yuba isn’t really a dish you can serve at a dinner party or sit down and eat. I tend to think of making yuba as an opportunity for culinary meditation.

-1 cup dried soybeans (can be hard to find, check little Asian stores and Earth Fare)

-lots and lots of water

-1 lime for zesting

-soy sauce for dipping

Place your beans in a mixing bowl and rinse ‘em good. Swish your hands around in there, if the water gets cloudy change it and rinse some more until the water is clean.

Replace the water one  last  time and let the beans soak overnight.

The next morning they’ll be about twice as big and the water will be cloudy. Drain the beans and rinse them like you did yesterday. Remove any skins or non-bean items that you happen to notice floating around. After they’re nice and clean, drain all the remaining water and place them in a pot with 4 cups of water. Now get out your immersion blender (if you have a stand-up blender just put the beans and water in there.)


Blend until the beans are very finely ground, maybe the texture of sand. Skim off the foam that develops until you reach the cream colored puree. Bring this to a boil on a medium heat, then turn it down to a scant simmer for at least 20 minutes. Leave the lid on, but stir often and continue to remove any white foam. You’ll know it’s ready when the aroma changes from beany to sweet.


Pour all of this through butter muslin or a double layer of cheese cloth set in a colander over a bowl to strain out the solids (this is called okara and has many uses here) from the soymilk. When it gets cool enough to handle, give it a good squeeze to get the last of the liquid out.

Pour this liquid into a smaller pot and turn on very, very low. You don’t want any bubbles. Slowly yet surely a skin will develop. As the first skin is forming, grate a little lime zest into a small bowl and add a splash of soy sauce. This will take one to two minutes.

Now comes the meditation: Look at the soymilk: Are there bubbles? If so, turn it down; if not, good job. Is there a little bit of steam? Good. Blow gently on the soymilk, does it shimmer? If it doesn’t yet it will soon. Inhale deeply, smell the rich, almost earthy sweetness. Imagine that smell condensed. You’re about to eat that smell. Is it ready yet? Well that didn’t take too long. If not, take the opportunity to write a haiku. If I can do it, so can you.

Skin on the soymilk

some may scoff, but I know you are

warm deliciousness.  

Nudge around the edge of the skin to disconnect it from the bowl. Be gentle, you don’t want to tear it. When it’s all loose, open your chopsticks wide and pick up the yuba from the middle. Drape it into the dish of soy. How much soy you want is up to you, of course. Be quick, though, don’t let it get cold. Now put the whole thing in your mouth. It’s going to feel weird. Asian food tends to have a lot more textural variety than Western food. Think of this as an acquired texture. Just think of all the flavors mingling in your mouth and the feeling of pure soy goodness. The next one won’t take nearly as long. If you’re feeling very patient, you could make a meal out of this.


Or you could use the rest to make delicious homemade soymilk. Just add:

-1 to 2 Tablespoons sugar or whatever sweetener you like. I’m a honey man, myself.

to your soymilk and call it a day.

Of course there is always the third option: From here you’re only a few simple steps away from awesome homemade tofu. We’ll go over that a little later.

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