Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Reflections

For the Beauty of the Earth
Folliott S. Pierpoint 1835-1917

For the beauty of the earth,

For the beauty of the skies,

For the love which from our birth

Over and around us lies,

Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour

Of the day and of the night,

Hill and vale, and tree and flower,

Sun and moon and stars of light,

Lord of all, to thee we raise

This our grateful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,

Brother, sister, parent, child,

Friends on earth, and friends above,

For all gentle thoughts and mild,

Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

Happy Sunday~

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Reflections

"O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever."
1 Chronicles 16:34

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thank you!

A great big THANK YOU to Katie's Cucina for featuring my post on how to make your own pure vanilla extract! I will wear my badge with pride!

Happy day!~

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Reflections

I stand at the door, and knock:
if a man hear my voice,
and open the door,
I will come in to him,
and will sup with him,
and he with me."
~Revelations 3:20

I have always loved this painting. My oldest sister had one on her nightstand. I remember seeing it as far back as being 3 or 4 years old. Back then, I was troubled by the fact that there was no handle on the door and why Jesus had to keep knocking. Why didn't he just go in?

My sister, who knew the history of the painting explained to me that the Lord won't force his way in, we have to let him in.

I didn't understand at that early age, and maybe not until I was much older. Certain paths I decided to take as a teenager and a young adult took me too far to hear Him knock... maybe even ignore it at times.

I never denied that Jesus Christ was my Savior and Redeemer. I have always known that. I suppose I didn't understand the healing and comfort that I could receive by turning around and opening the door.

I am so thankful that the Savior is in my life. I would be lost without that knowledge.

And even if we don't hear Him the first time, he will always be there, patiently knocking.

All we have to do is let Him in.

Have a peaceful and restful Sunday~

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

That's so "vanilla"...

va·nil·la [vuh-nil-uh]
1. (n) any tropical climbing orchid of the genus Vanilla, esp. V. planofolia, having spikes of large greenish-yellow flowers and long fleshy pods containing seeds (beans)
2. (n) the pod or bean of certain of these plants, used to flavour food , etc
3. (adj) slang ordinary, conventional, plain: That guy is so vanilla...

I am a little obsessed with vanilla beans. So I wonder: Why does vanilla get such a bad wrap sometimes? (see above def. 3) I personally adore the stuff. It's classic, and if you are a baker, you're lost without it.

And I lurve baking! That's why I was so intrigued when I found out how to make my own PURE vanilla extract and vanilla sugar...

WHAT??? That is the coolest thing ever! (Well, maybe not ever, but pretty cool all the same :)

All you need is:

1. An airtight container such as a Mason jar or bottles

2. Some strong (drinking) alcohol (80 proof or higher)

3. Vanilla beans (2-3 beans per 1 cup of alcohol)
That's it!

Now, I found out how to do this a couple years ago, but I didn't do it.

*kicking self in pants*

It's so dang easy... I don't know what I was waiting for. So after some research, (I wanted to do this as cost effective and high quality as possible) I went to work.

I am making the vanilla mainly as Christmas gifts, so I need some nice bottles, which I bought here. The vanilla I got on eBay from this company here (cheapest vanilla I found). I bought 1 pound of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, which equals out to about 100-150 vanilla beans. And I purchased 80 proof vodka from Costco. I've been told that the Kirkland (Costco) brand vodka is comparable to Grey Goose, which is apparently a nice high quality vodka. I wouldn't know. I don't drink, and I felt a little strange walking through Costco with this GIANT bottle of vodka in my cart. ;) Anyway- Vodka isn't a strong tasting alcohol (so I'm told), so it's nice to use because it won't take over the taste of the vanilla. You can also use brandy or rum.

So here's how you do it:

1. Sterilize your bottles or jars in boiling water.

2. Cut your vanilla beans in half lengthwise with a sharp knife or sharp kitchen shears. If you are using small bottles or jars, you may have to cut them in half the other way first.
Tiny vanilla bean seeds or "vanilla caviar"

3. Place vanilla beans in jar/bottle and cover with alcohol liquid. Remember: 2-3 beans per 1 cup of alcohol. I used pint Mason jars and 4 oz. bottles. In the jars I put 5-6 split vanilla beans and the 4 oz jars I put 1 1/2 vanilla beans.

4. Place on airtight lid and and give it a good shake. Keep it in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks, and don't forget to give it a nice shake often. It takes 6-8 weeks for the alcohol to extract the vanilla to a usable quality.

Here is what it looks like right after you make it:
This is just 2 days later:
The longer you let the vanilla to extract, the deeper and darker and more vanilla-y the extract will become. After about 4 weeks open it up and smell it... heavenly...
Cool huh?

Vanilla sugar is easy too! Find out how here.

I use Turbinado (raw) sugar. So, it's a little different. But, this is a great way to infuse vanilla with your baking or to sweeten up your oatmeal, cereal, coffee, and tea!

It was fun and very interesting learning about different types of vanilla and how to use it. Go try it for yourself and have fun!!!

Wishing you a fantastic day~

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