Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From Scratch

You may have realized that I love making things from scratch. In this vein, the trickier and more complicated, the better. I just read a another blog's post about preserving your own lemons and I am definitely going to look into this come the height of Meyer lemon season. Because you know how I love a Meyer lemon...

In the meantime, I thought I'd start with something a little simpler. 

I picked up a nice little packet of vanilla beans (only $8!) when I was traveling in Minnesota for work a couple of weeks ago. I had the good fortune of staying in a hotel right next to the Midtown Exchange, which was pretty much my version of heaven - markets of all diffrent cuisines, with take out and eat-in options as well as grocery items to take home. Love, love, love. I had an absolute feast for dinner one night (yea!) while working in the hotel room (boo): a wonderful roasted red pepper and boquerones salad from Sonora Grill; some black bean hummus and gluten free preztels for dipping from the Produce Exchange; and some more delicious things I can't remember. 

The next morning, on my way out of town, I stopped back over at the Exchange for coffee from Mapps and a breakfast treat - a savory leek tart - from The Salty Tart (how can you not love that name?). The Salty Tart also had these lovely little packets of five - yes, five! - vanilla beans for a mere $8. (The three vanilla beans I bought at Eataly in NY were $13, but I guess that's the price you pay to keep Mario Batali in orange crocs...)

Clearly, I needed to make some vanilla extract. 

After searching for recipes, I finally settled on this easy one from a great food blog, Chocolate & Zucchini.

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Take 3 vanilla beans and split them. 

Get out your favorite (flavorless) vodka. I'm loyal to Tito's (an Austin original!)

Put one cup of vodka and the split vanilla beans in a sterilized container. 
I like this flask from Sur La Table.

Shake it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture. 
Now put the bottle in a cool, dark place and wait 8 weeks. 
Go ahead and shake it every week or whenever you remember.

Patience is a virtue. 
I'll report back in mid-October with the results. 

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