Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Home Made Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is one of the key ingredients in my cakes. It gives them a bit of a lift. However, it is also the most expensive ingredient. So, while I was looking online to find what other options may be available, I found some instructions on making your own vanilla extract.

I combined the general ethos and quantities from a few sources (see list below) and decided to make my own!

Photo Taken: 13th March 2011

In the jar above are 5 and a half vanilla pods (because we'd used half of one that day for another recipe) and 280ml of vodka. Make sure the vanilla pods are completely covered, then leave the jar for about 8 weeks in a cool, and preferably dark, place. Make sure to gently shake the jar about once a week.

And that's it!

Just 3 days later, this is how my vanilla extract is looking:

Photo taken 16th March 2011

Look at the colour already & it smells amazing! Vanilla extract can also be made with Rum, which I imagine would give amazing flavour to fruit cakes, or even rich chocolate cakes. That will be added to my to do list! :)

Here are some of the sources I discovered on which I based my extract experiment:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Brew Drinking Thinkings

Remember I said I would be blogging for another blog? Well ... I am one of the food writers for Brew Drinking Thinkings. :)

Brew Drinking Thinkings, or BDT to those in the know, is a magazine style uber-blog compiled by some of the best blogging greats from around the web. The aim is to create a central hub where women who don't get a lot of time due to work or parenting, for example, can get the best of the blogosphere and the internet in one place. Features will also include craft classes, service booking systems and shops as well as articles and feature posts. 

The blog launches on Monday, 21st March and will cover a huge range of topics from some amazing bloggers. I hope you will join us all on Monday, and in the meantime you can stay up to date on progress on the BDT Facebook page and follow BrewDrinkThink on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Making a Gingerbread House...it's not as easy as it looks!

The latest table for the Oui Chef challenge over on Beckicklesie is Hansel & Gretel. There are so many things that I could blog about, unfortunately being so tired at the moment, I haven't had the chance to get into the kitchen. It did however remind me of when my neice & I decided to make a gingerbread house.

After all - how difficult could it be?!

Well. I thought I'd make a headstart by making the gingerbread dough so we could get stuck straight in to the rolling & cutting out. Not an easy task in itself! We then made some glue to stick the house together, and unfortunately had a bit of an accident with the front panel of the house.

My neice got to work sticking the sides together, and we got the roof stuck on too. It was all going pretty well, even though the gingerbread pieces had warped somewhat while cooking. I had a huge array of sweets, and we got cracking on sticking everything we could to the house. 

The fizzy rainbow belts made great roof tiles, and Jelly Tots helped to create a 'feature' of our little accident. We also filled the house full of packets of sweets and lollies. Here you can see how much the pieces had warped, although we decided it added a bit of character to the house.

Here is the back side of the house:

And here is where it all started to go wrong. The glue clearly couldn't take the added weight of the sweets and the roof started slipping. Luckily it stayed together long enough to take it to show Nana & Granddad, before collapsing in a heap. Although I can't say that my neice was partculary upset at having to eat the wreckage! :)

We did have some advice from Granddad, a carpenter by trade, for when we next make a house.....Gingerbread joists!!

We did have a fab day though and we laughed a lot. We have also set a date to have another go during the Easter holidays, so if you have any good glue, or gingerbread joist recipes, please leave them below. :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

13 Weeks

Yes, I know! I've been a bit rubbish. But I do have an excuse.

I'm 13 weeks pregnant. :)

Everything I tried to write I had to keep deleting because I didn't want to say anything, and I've just been so tired that I really haven't had the energy to blog. Thankfully I had my scan and all was well, and tiredness seems to be passing, so I'm hoping to get back on track.

We have loads to do before little one arrives and I have started today. Unfortunately it means sorting one room out so we can move stuff from another room into it, and so on, so it's going to be a slow process. But it will be great to have it done.

I don't really have a massive amount to say today. But I'll be back again soon. Promise!