Well we’ve had an eventful year already. The Chef found out that he had a pretty good size hernia late last year, and the hospital couldn’t fit him in until the beginning of the year. The day of the surgery they told us he wouldn’t be up and moving for 3-4 days. Wrong. It was a good week before he was willingly getting up and moving on his own. So that was fun. But it’s taken me about two weeks to get back in the groove of things. Guess I can’t complain. When half of your team is down, it’s then you realize how much you depend on them!
One of the things that The Chef and I have been making ourselves for quite some time is homemade vanilla. It’s so incredibly easy, and your wallet will love it. A small bottle of real vanilla extract at the stores cost anywhere from $7 on up. What many people don’t know is real extract is more than likely just infused alcohol.
I think you see where I’m going with this.
We used a cheap clear 750ml bottle (or somewhere around that size) with a pop-top to hunker it down (or just use the vodka bottle if you’ll be using it all).
Filling the bottle with a vodka of your choice (we used Svedka because you can get a pretty big bottle of it at Costco for $21, good quality while still on the cheap side), cut open 2-4 vanilla beans, length-wise, and scrape the seeds out of the pod and into the bottle. Once the seeds are transferred, drop the pods in as well. Place somewhere safe for 2-3 weeks.
Over the course of the weeks, you’ll see the alcohol start to turn tan, to a light amber, to brownish amber. This is the color we want! (Depending on how big your bottle is will depend on how many vanilla beans you will need to use. If after two weeks it’s still not dark enough, scrape out and add another bean for another week.) Filter out all bean pods at the end, when you have achieved the color. Pour the extract back into the bottle and voilá! You now have a huge bottle of vanilla extract that tastes amazing and will lasts you months (if not years. However much you make sweets :) ) I go through mine in about 6 months. I definitely needed a cheaper version than the $7+ sample size bottle from the stores. Ugh.
*Tip: The cheapest place the buy vanilla beans, that we’ve found, is World Market. You can find them in a small ziplock bag (not the bottle) for $2.99 for two beans. AMAZING! But if you know of another place that has them even cheaper, let us (and everyone else) know!!
Did you know that the imitation vanilla and some vanilla extracts, aren’t even vanilla? They contain or are actually vanillin which is a common vanilla flavoring made out of a component found in wood. It is also easy to make synthetically. Not exactly what we’re looking for when preparing quality made foods, amiright? Read labels!
I hope you all are baking plenty and staying cozy!! Lets hope and pray for no more surgeries in 2015! YES LORD!
-The Everyday Chef and Wife