Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Recipe’

6 Quick Steps To Make Your Own Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract

 

Did you know you can make your own pure vanilla extract at home with just a few ingredients? It’s not a mystery any longer and it’s a lovely gift to give to your favorite baker. As with any homemade product, there are several benefits to making your own. For one, you get to choose the quality of ingredients and know exactly what is in your vanilla extract. This means, you will have the highest quality vanilla extract available without anything artificial.

A few years back we decided as a family to give handcrafted gifts for the holidays instead of purchasing them. I was in search of what I could make that would be both fun and practical. That’s when I learned that I could make my own pure vanilla extract. Why had I not thought of this before?  Considering that nearly everything that is mass produced now were once made at home, it’s not that crazy of a thought that I could produce a gift that my family and friends would enjoy.

 

Vanilla bean pods

So what is pure vanilla extract? It is simply the extract (flavor and aroma) from the vanilla beans that have been immersed in alcohol (usually vodka because of it’s neutral flavor, but sometimes brandy or rum) over a period of time. The FDA requires;

“In vanilla extract the content of ethyl alcohol is not less than 35 percent by volume and the content of vanilla constituent, as defined in 169.3(c), is not less than one unit per gallon.”

So that means the vanilla extract you’ll find in the store, is 70 proof (35% alcohol) and it contains 13.35 oz of bean per gallon of alcohol which would produce a single strength vanilla extract. After more research I found that some bakers prefer a double strength vanilla extract and others do not. I am guessing it is a matter of preference.  I lean toward loving the scent of vanilla and enjoy baking with it so my recipe may have a wee bit more vanilla than others but since I’m making my own and not planning to sell it I can follow whatever guideline works for our baking needs and that is a nice pure vanilla extract that flavors our baked goods without overpowering them.

The vanilla bean grows from a kind of tropical orchid. The fruit starts out as a hard green pod and the greenish white flowers (missing in this photo) and in a natural setting are dependent on bees to pollinate them, but now in modern times they can be artificially pollinated.  These vanilla beans are picked unripe and then submerged in hot water to remove their protective cover and allow for the natural liquids to seep out. They are then allowed to dry in the sunlight and ferment. When they have turned brown and covered with a layer of vanillin crystals the vanilla beans are ready.

 

Kauai'i - Green vanilla pods on the vine -Steel Grass Chocolate tour

Unripe vanilla bean pods on the vine in Kauai

 

continue reading more

4 Ingredient Nutritionally Packed Fresh Juice

 

 

I just love the feeling I get when I choose to make a juice. I know it’s good for me as well as super fresh. The vegetables are crisp and packed full of nutrients. This is my go to drink when I need a little boost. The light earthy aroma that fills the kitchen brings me back to when I worked at a juice bar in my 20’s. That was a great job and I think I drank my paycheck in juice.

Carrot Apple Ginger Beet Juice

Ingredient #1: carrots. Carrots rule, they are easy to grow in the garden or stand alone pots, they store well so you can always have a bunch in the refrigerator or cellar. Kids will eat them and the best part is they have a great history.

 

 

Carrot forest

Your best caption goes here! Write it in the comments :0)

 

Who knew that carrots and other root veggies are responsible for the earliest farming practices? If you did know this bit of trivia,  tell me about it in the comments :0) I’d love to hear from you.

It was the complete nutritional elements of the root vegetables, unbeknownst to those digging in the earth, for each root, rhizome, tuber and bulb were what kept people coming back to the ground and getting their hands dirty, until they decided to use implements starting with the stick then the hoe and  finally the plough.

 Ingredient # 3: beets. Beets are beautiful. Each time I halve a beet I am amazed at the intracity of the fractal like pattern within.Their earthy flavor and bright interior makes me smile. It is a powerhouse of nutrients and healthy attributes. Juicing is the best way to capture the high folate, magnesium and potassium each root contains. In the health world, beets are also known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory proprieties. I use a centrifugal force juicer that separates the juice from the fiber part of the vegetable. This means you miss the great fiber aspect to this beet however, there are ways to use this by-product of the juice insuring you don’t miss out on any of the benefits (but my hens might stage a protest if I didn’t share this with them!)

Halved Beets

 

Ingredient #3: ginger.  Oh, ginger is my friend. It keeps me warm, wakes me up and soothes my stomach. In this juice combo, it adds some kick depending on how much you decide to use, and brings the flavor of this juice from mild to complex. I’m not the only one who loves this rhizome. It is long believed that it took its name from Gingi in southern part of India, where it is thought to have originated.

Ingredient #4: apples.  The apple is beneficial in many ways and as the saying goes “one a day keeps the doctor away” I’m not sure how true this is or if anyone has ever researched the adage. I do know, that a medium sized apple contains a decent amount of vitamin C that our bodies need boost our immune system. During the winter, this can be helpful to fight against catching a cold or the flu that’s going around. Apples like beets, contain antioxidant properties due to the color of their skin. Go for the Ida Red or Red Delicious if choosing for antioxidant benefits. If those are not your favorite check out Lori’s blog where she lists top to bottom which apple has the most antioxidants.

Carrot Apple Ginger Beet Juice On The Chopping Block"

 

 

Carrot,Beet,Ginger and Apple Juice

  • Servings: 2
  • Print

Keep in mind the flavor and nutrients are best when choosing to use fresh, sustainably grown products.

You will need a juicer to make this recipe.

Ingredients:
2 large carrots
2 medium sized beets
1/4 ” piece of fresh ginger
2 medium sized apples

Directions

1. Wash all ingredients
2. Quarter the beets or cut to size for your juicer
3. Slice apples to fit the opening of your juicer
4. Add ingredients with the apple last. This allows the apple, juiciest, to rinse the juicer making sure you get all the juice possible.
5. Serve right away, the best tasting juice is enjoyed right away. If you have any leftovers you can put them in the refrigerator and then shake or blend before drinking. Or add them to a popsicle mold and enjoy it on a hot day. This is a great way to introduce healthy popsicles to kids.

Enjoy!

 

4 ingredient Juice

Rachelle K. Weymuller head shot    Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

   “Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

It’s A Comfort-Food-Farro Kind Of Day

Spring is here, no wait… it’s not, oh here it comes… Nope. Now it’s snowing. Don’t get me wrong:

I LOVE SNOW.

But I can see grass now. It’s over, I can’t go back, I’ve gone and done it. The potting shed is clean and the seeds are calling my name.

RKW_4449 Seeds
Ok, so it’s mud season; the fifth season (right after Winter; just before Spring)  Mud season is when we are thankful for all wheel drive and a high clearance vehicle, when I get to be a little crazy at the wheel, just to get up the mile long road we call a “driveway.” Mud season is when the dogs’ paws are caked with the newly emerged earth and their fur becomes the transporter for all that was outside to now reside inside. My neighbor tells me “You’re out numbered” (kids, dogs, cats, bird, bunny, chickens… oh and our exchange student’s fish-Fishy (guess who’s fish it will be in July?)) she advises to “Just let go.”

I think it will be my new mantra.

RKWeymuller Mud Season

This morning I practiced that mantra and put on slippers (dirt goes unnoticed better that way) and made emmer pancakes; a little comfort food for a cold damp day. I was surprised by the fact that breakfast, from egg-crackin’ to clean-up, took little more than 20 minutes. The aroma wafting from the griddle pulled my little sleepy heads out from under their covers and had them at the kitchen bar in no time. I had that Proud Mama moment of knowing that I’m providing a healthy, beginning of the day meal (that they will actually eat) for my active kids. Hopefully they’ll be satisfied until lunch.

Oh! Lunch! I plan the day from one meal to the next. Last night I tried something new; the farro boldly went where only basmati rice had been before…the rice maker. Yup, hoping it would transform our long stove top cooking times to that of a care free slow cooker experience. I am happy to report:  <<genius!>>  It worked! And today I have fresh farro for lunch, via my rice maker.  (Enter celebratory music and little happy dance that you really don’t want in your head).

RKW_4493 Farro, Goat Cheese, Kate and tomat salad

Spinach and Blue Bird Grain Farro Salad:
serves 2 for lunch

1 cup farro
3 cups washed baby organic spinach
A handful of sweet cheery tomatoes halved
1/4 cup goat cheese(Sunny Pine Farm)
dash of lemon pepper
pinch of salt

Stove top method:  Add the Farro to a medium pot with 3 cups or so of water and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down heat to simmer for 45-50 minutes.When farro grains are plump, soft and still chewy remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
Or
Rice Maker method: I use a 1 cup grain to 1 cup liquid and set it to gaba (longer time but great for more nutrients) brown rice mode. But follow your rice makers directions for brown rice.

~Saute baby spinach with a little water and a dash of lemon pepper and a pinch of salt, until it wilts then remove from heat
~fill warmed bowl with farro
~crumble goat cheese onto the farro
~top with wilted baby spinach and halved tomatoes

Enjoy!

Head Shot Rachelle  Rachelle Weymuller @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

And the Winner for the Food with the Highest antioxidant content is…(drum roll please) Part Two

If you are just joining us check out part one of our chocolate tour.

part two…

We hit the prime time to view the cacao tree, because in early to mid June, the tree is in bloom with flowers, new leaves are emerging from the top, and the cacao pods are ripening.  Michelle cut open a cacao pod so we could see the white fibrous center and the seeds nested within.

Did you know that Hawaii is the only state in the USA where chocolate trees grow?

Next on our three hour tour we are happily seated under the big top, the Steelgrass’s newest addition. Here is where we trust Michelle and taste little bits of chocolate from numbered ramekins.

This blind test allows us to banish any preconceived ideas we bring and let our taste buds tell us  what we really like, rather than great marketing. This method draws out each of our inner wine enthusiast and we write down adjectives like smoky, pungent, fruity with a gritty mouth taste with an earthy flavor. These words are the ‘terre’ (french for place) that describe the chocolate and the flavors that swim in our mouths bumping into our sweet and salty taste buds.  The flavors pop in our mouths and our taste buds jobs are made easy purely responsible for sending messages to our vacation brain, so we may conjure up visuals of the tropical landscapes the samples of chocolate originate from.

Cacao bean and chocolate covered nibs

Of course, if you didn’t have the patience for all this nonsense and preferred to just eat your chocolate pieces and doodle on paper with crayons (like I said; no rock was left unturned) then Annabelle had a small following in another tent just for you nonconformists.

Meanwhile in the big top we traveled back in time and followed Michelle through chocolate’s historical journey from start to present day. Then we were given the secret DIY knowledge of transforming these cacao nibs into rich, creamy, melt in your mouth chocolate complete with kitchen appliance recommendations for the aficionados in our group.

The last bit of information we absorbed was what brought us here in the beginning; we now know which chocolate our taste buds have decided is the best from around the world.

For me it was the 70% Kallari “Red Leaf.” Forastero/Nacional, grown in Ecuador. I was happy to hear that it is also a very socially responsible production with a great story, another bonus to all the good news I am learning about chocolate!

Armed with facts and research to support their debate I believe our family favorite smoothie will be made more often this summer. Below is our combination of Ed’s Juice and Java’s; Funky Monkey and Molly of Glover St. Market’s; Energy Boost.

Cacao Nib Smoothie

2 Peeled Bananas

1/4 cup Cacao nibs

3 cups Almond milk

1/2 cup Almond Butter

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

liquid chocolate to taste (optional for sweetness)

Blend together adding more liquid depending on desired thickness

Enjoy!

Have it cold: if you make too much or have left overs simply pour into a Popsicle mold and pop it in the freezer for a healthy summer treat.

Fact: Cacao has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food. Antioxidant levels are measured by Oxygen Radial Absorbance Capacity. Per 100 grams, cacao nibs have 95,000 compared to; broccoli 890, spinach 1,540, acai berries 5,500 and dark chocolate 13,120.

*source Steelgrass.org handout.

Aloha kakou!

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

%d bloggers like this: