Vanilla Update

December 23, 2010 § 1 Comment

The vanilla extract has turned a beautiful deep amber color.

I purchased amber-colored Boston Round bottles from Specialty Bottle. The bottles are very reasonably priced and high quality. Shipping is a bit steep unless you’re ordering a few, but they arrived in a small box protected in a larger box full of packing peanuts, and each bottle was separated with corrugated cardboard. I can’t imagine them breaking during shipping based on the quality of the bottles and care taken during packaging. I also purchased two tea storage tins with hinged latches which run just under $2 (it seems most specialty tea tins I see in stores run closer to $10!). I’m also impressed with their quality.







I poured vanilla extract in three 2-oz bottles and two 4-oz bottles and added a few vanilla beans to each. I might add a ribbon, but otherwise they’re ready to go to their new homes!


How to make vanilla extract

December 6, 2010 § 6 Comments

My fingertips smell delightfully like vanilla.

Step 1: Obtain vodka

Easy – I bought Sobieski, which I was told was decent-tasting for its $11.95 pricetag.

Step 2: Obtain vanilla beans

I conducted a thorough search of local specialty grocery stores and found, at best, 3 Madagascar vanilla beans for $9.99. I needed 25 beans so I purchased Madagascar Bourbon beans from Vanilla Products USA via eBay. I received 55 Madagascar Bourbons and 10 Tahitian for $17.05 including shipping.

Step 3: Slice vanilla beans lengthwise to expose caviar

Step 4: Place into bottle

Step 5: Repeat

Step 6: Remove excess vodka displaced by vanilla

Step 7: Cap, shake, and photograph before storing in cool dark place. Wait 6 months, shaking occasionally.


PS – This is a tattoo placed on beans to identify its plantation.

Vanilla Bean (too many links, not enough pictures)

December 3, 2010 § 4 Comments

scary vanilla from Mexico

I love vanilla.. actual vanilla, not default plain ice cream.

Breyers Vanilla Bean ice cream

I also love hazelnuts, macadamias, almond-infused scents, and nearly anything nutty. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate with 30% hazelnuts is one of my favorite bars.

I add vanilla extract to pancakes, jams, and nearly anything I bake.

I’ve breezed past a few posts about making vanilla extract, but it wasn’t until this one a few days ago that I realized how easy it is!

I bought my bottle of vodka last night (I was recommended Sobieski by the friendly folks over at Friar Tuck: cleaner tasting AND $11.95), and I have 35 Madagascar Bourbon beans and 10 Tahitian beans on their way to my house.

How perfect are these labels?

And these little bottles? Perfectly giftable.

I’ll also love to make the Vanilla Syrup recipe I linked to nearly a year ago!

Finally, once the vanilla pods have left their last bits of flavor behind, I’ll recycle the little nibs into Vanilla Sugar. :)

I’ll be sure take pictures.

Putting Up Peppers

October 8, 2010 § 3 Comments

The threat of a soft frost earlier this week prompted a quick rescue operation of the mature peppers. All were picked, washed, halved or quartered, seeded, and frozen on cookie sheets. They’re then transferred to resealable baggies to take up less space in the freezer. Bell peppers don’t need to be blanched for freezing. They’ll be added to soups and stir-fries and the base for stuffed peppers throughout the year.

Apple Dumplings

October 5, 2010 § 5 Comments

I went hiking on Saturday with some friends and somehow got sucked into a small town apple festival along the way. While there weren’t many unadulterated apples to be found, the festival was teeming with booths featuring gems such as these:

Of course there was also the trio of middle-aged women singing uninspired Christian lyrics to a CD. “God’s good! Yes he is! Sooo good! Absolutely, positively good! God’s good! Not just some of the time, but allllllll the time! God’s good!”

A couple of the girls split a plate of apple dumplings. They were literally balls of dough encasing whole peeled & cored apples. Tasty but heavy.

Fast-forward to Sunday

I successfully made tasty pumpkin pancakes on a whim and was feeling a bit like I had baking Midas touch. My bag of apples from last weekend’s apple picking adventure stared me down as I opened the cookbook to this:

Hmm.. why yes, I do have 6 Jonathan apples and a bit of shortening somewhere around here.

So I made apple dumplings:

I used 1/2 cup shortening instead of 2/3 and half the sugar.

They were delicious. :) The apples turned to a delightful mush and the dough remained relatively light. I prefer mine.

Etsy Alchemy

August 30, 2010 § 8 Comments

That Chloe girl in Colorado posted pics of an Ann Taylor Loft necklace a while back that caught my eye. Sadly, it was not until it had gone on sale and sold out that I decided I wanted it. Doh!

Enter Etsy Alchemy.

Alchemy is Etsy’s board for posting custom item requests. You enter a description (in my case, a link to this picture), your price range, and time frame. Sellers submit bids and you select the one that best fits your project. Bids typically include details about materials used, price breakdown (deposit, shipping, etc.). Within a day or two I closed bidding since I had about twelve bids. Some bids were easy to decline (a silver-plated wire with Swarovski crystal briolettes sounds lovely but not what I had in mind at $150) but I ended up with several promising bids.

Once I settled on a seller we communicated in more detail and the seller produced a mock-up.

Gunmetal or rhodium-colored chain?

Rhodium it is. (Love the clasp!)

After a few more adjustments (even including the gracious seller letting me send it back for a length adjustment once I realized the necklace weight) I have my perfect bauble necklace.

And it’s even better than the original.

If you’re curious, the seller I ended up selecting was Christina from Element4you. I cannot recommend her enough. She was very prompt in responding and, as I mentioned, very helpful with my adjustments. Here are a some bracelets that caught my eye in her shop: sterling silver pearl bracelet, chunky gunmetal bauble bracelet, and bronze freshwater pearl bracelet.

Sauteed Green Beans

August 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

We bought green beans a couple weeks ago at the farmers market, intending to magically transform them into beautiful jars of delicious dilly beans. They were getting a little old in the fridge, so we’ll try again later with another batch. Instead I sauteed them up last week for dinner.

Quite simple but absolutely delicious!




(I like pepper)

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