I adore baking, I truly do. I get excited during this time of the year when baking takes on an essential part of my thinking. Dragging out my favorite cookbooks, tuning in to all of the Christmas cookie baking specials, making lists, and.......
I started making my own vanilla after I married Darren...... my Angel of a Husband. He enjoys my baking and supports my efforts to keep something sweet on hand during the week. My body is proof of this effort.
When I was pregnant with Amelia Claire........ there was always a peach cobbler, cookies, White Texas Sheet cake, brownies, Gooey Butter cake and/or fudge on hand. It has slowed down somewhat since the cravings went aways but ....... it is November after all and it's time to break it all out.
And make my vanilla...... and here's how I do it! It's one of the very easiest things to do and so much cheaper than buying bottle after bottle like I used to do.
First...... I know that you're all calling me "Liar McFat pants" under your breath because I'm claiming that it's cheaper to make it........... than to buy it, and you've all seen the prices of vanilla beans in the grocery store. It's true.... vanilla beans are very highly priced when they are stuck in a bottle on the shelf looking all pretty and stuff. I just went on trusty ole Ebay and bought a crud-load of vanilla beans. They've lasted me a couple of years and are just great. There are two varieties...... I bought the cheaper which is actually suited better for this particular job. You store them in a cool, dry, dark place and they last a long, long time. I put mine in a gallon zip lock freezer bag and rolled them up squeezing the excess air from it and put in in a corner of a dark cupboard.
Next..... you'll need vodka. I've used a few types of vodka and it doesn't seem to matter to me much on the brand or "quality". I normally use the smaller bottle of Smirnoff's but this time, my Dad got me a huge bottle at the Navy Exchange for like $15.99........ and I'm loving it!
Take your beans and cut them down the center. I leave the top attached and pull the two bits apart a tad. I think this gives the vanilla bean a better chance of perfuming the vodka.
Like this..... see how the beans are a bit sticky and leave pretty smelling "goodness" on my cutting board? Oh yeah!
Now, after you slice down the center of about 15 or 20 beans......... drop them down into the vodka. This time I'm using Seagram's Smooth something or other and tons of beans. I'm trying to make sort of a double strength vanilla....... I'm running out of time.
Now..... find a cool, quiet, dark and safe place for your new delicious smelling & tasting vanilla. I like to check on it about once a week to give it a turn or two and see the color. It will turn nice and dark brown and the smell will just set you into a tizzy and make ya want to bake something........ anything I tells ya!
It works every time!
Are y'all planning on extra baking this season as well? I'm getting my list ready for all the goodies I'll be making too!