Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 28, 2015

Even though it is the last day of February, winter will not just go away tomorrow when March makes her grand entrance. We still have two to three feet of snow on the ground, with more coming tomorrow night. Yet the sun is warmer on one's back, the days are certainly lengthening, and every day brings us one day closer to spring. Since winter still holds us in her grasp, I will share these lovely old images which I found online. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Simple Vanilla Extract Recipe

After experimenting many times to make my own Vanilla Extract, this is the recipe I settled on quite a few years back... it's simple and makes a large bottle full, which after letting age, I decant a bit into a smaller bottle...

Simple Vanilla Extract

Take a bottle of Dr. McGillicuddy's Raw Vanilla Schnapps
Pour it into a pot on the stove over medium-low heat.

Slit two or three Vanilla Beans lengthwise, scrape out the insides and add this to the simmering Schnapps.
Cut the slit and scraped beans into 1" pieces and add these to the pot as well.

Allow the mixture to simmer gently for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Let cool completely, then bottle and let sit in a cool, dark cupboard to age for at least a month. (I pour it all, including the vanilla bean pieces, back into the Dr. McGillicuddy's bottle) After this point, you can decant into smaller bottles, if desired, and include a piece or two of the vanilla bean in each smaller bottle. I remove only a small bottle's worth to use in my baking, and keep the large bottle in the back of the cupboard to continue working. When the larger bottle gets down to the end, I strain off the pieces of vanilla bean from the first bottle and use them to start a second batch. (You can add a fresh vanilla bean along with these pieces) Just continue this process to make other batches.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tomato Corn Chowder

I never tire of homemade soup during the winter. just the smell of a pot of soup simmering on the stove brings comfort. I usually start a pot of soup early in the morning, and let it simmer throughout the day as I do various chores, stopping by to give it a stir as I run in and out. Nothing is as warming when you come in from outside shoveling or tending the chickens, except perhaps a cup of tea! This has been my favorite soup over the last few months... it's simple and quick to throw together.

Tomato Corn Chowder
In a large pot over medium heat, sauté
1-2 large Onions in a few tablespoons of Olive Oil
til soft and fragrant.
Add 3-4 cloves of pressed Garlic
and sauté for another minute or two.
Add 3 quarts canned Tomatoes and
1 quart bag of frozen Corn (or 2 cans)
Next add about ½ cup Sugar (more or less to taste)
1 Tablespoon dried Basil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
½ teaspoon ground Black Pepper
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (if desired)
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

Let simmer on the stove-top for at least an hour, preferably 2 or three, stirring often and adding water as needed. I like thick soup, so I only add a bit at a time. You can season this as you wish; sometimes I add a bit of Chipotle seasoning for a different flavor. Mostly, I like to keep it simple. Sprinkle with shredded Asiago or Parmesan Cheese before serving. This soup is a great accompaniment to a Grilled Cheese and Onion sandwich!