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  • Writer's picturecoffeeandwoodsmoke

times like these (and chai-spiced almond butter)

i’ve heard it said that winter is never far away in the north country. you can feel its presence just beyond the mountain; hovering, biding its time.

it’s time.

this past week, three snowstorms worthy of january: the first, heavy wet flakes just right for building a snowman; the second, cold and powdery; the third, falling right now, steadily, steadily; deep.

when the clouds lift, the newly dusted mountainside will reveal scars–stark gashes of white across a forested flank–from this summer’s wildfire. a fire that exploded like a volcano, fast and furious; horrifying and mesmerizing. a fire like the ones still burning in colorado. like the ones that devastated the U.S. west coast, churning through a parched landscape.

2020: a year that is making us pay attention. catastrophic wildfires. a record-breaking hurricane season. a global pandemic. racial strife. conspiracy theories. escalating political tensions. concerns over voting interference. fears of civil war.

here we are. in times like these.

Chai-Spiced Almond Butter Makes: ~2 C of nut butter

in these unprecedented times, i’ve found myself pulled into a vortex of uncertainty and, on occasion, despair. it seems overwhelming; where do we go from here? but each day, i do go into my kitchen. there, i find some solace, some nurturing, and, ultimately, some nourishment. here, a rich and creamy nut butter meets the coziness of chai spice tea. I hope you enjoy it.


  1. 3 C (450 g) raw almonds

  2. 2 tsp ground cinnamon

  3. 1/2 tsp ground ginger

  4. 1/4 tsp ground cardamom

  5. 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  6. pinch ground cloves

  7. Optional: 2 Tbsp real maple syrup

To prepare:

  1. Place almonds in the large bowl of a food processor and process for about 10 minutes. You’ll have to stop several times to scrape the crumbs down from the side of the bowl to ensure everything gets mixed together.

  2. Add the spices and maple syrup, if using.

  3. Process for another 5 minutes, until the almond butter is smooth and creamy and the spices are fully blended in. Be patient: it does take a long time for the almonds to fully break down, but the result is worthwhile!

  4. Store in a glass jar in a refrigerator (keeps for about two weeks—if it lasts that long!).

  5. Enjoy!

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