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.

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)

Mid-Late Summer Garden Update

August 18, 2010 § 5 Comments

Early this year when I bought bell pepper seeds I selected a 5-in-1 packet of green, red, yellow, white and purple peppers. I ended up planting several in hopes of getting at least one green and one red/yellow plant. We ended up giving away four and keeping four for our garden. We’re still waiting to see what colors three of the gifted plants are, but one is yellow. Up until Friday I thought we had three green peppers and one purple.

I’m not sure what prompted this, but when I was watering on Friday I discovered this:

Wha? Where did you come from?

When I looked closer at all of the peppers I discovered that another supposed green pepper plant was turning yellow, two of the purple peppers were turning red, and the jalapenos were also turning!

bell pepper canopy

As for the rest of the garden?

The basil’s getting a bit out of control:

these need a trim. pesto time?

If the planter looks out of control, it is! For the past few weeks it always has ripe tomatoes and green beans.

I love going to the backyard for fresh tomatoes! I’m going to miss these days when the snow falls.

Blueberry Jams

August 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

Back a month ago when we jammed cherries from Michigan we also secretly jammed some blueberries.

This was a straight-forward recipe from the Ball No Sugar Pectin insert.

And, like the cherries, we did a small batch of blueberry basil jam. Unfortunately, I think the basil taste was more balanced with the cherry preserves.

Tomato sauce

August 13, 2010 § 3 Comments

The bloody butcher tomatoes are ripening by the pound and we can’t keep up! They have a delicious rich sweet flavor though tough skins. Perfect for sauce!

The tomatoes were quickly boiled & iced so the skins literally fell off. We added them to the big pot with a few spices, salt, a little bit of sugar, fresh basil, and slightly sauteed onion and green peppers (from the garden!) and cooked it down to less than half. This sauce is delicious! We were aiming for a great tasting recipe, not a canning-approved one so we’re freezing these.

I’m not sure if we’ll use it for pizza, but it’s perfect for pasta!

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