Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vanilla Extract

I like making stuff. During the winter holidays, we do some baking and always go through lots of vanilla, so after seeing several bloggers make their own, I decided to join the fun.

Vanilla beans come from an orchid. It is originally, like pumpkins, corn and turkeys, a "New World" food. It can be grown in most tropical regions, and is now grown throughout the world. Madagascar has in recent years taken over as the world's production leader.I'm afraid that vanilla bean production is a labor intensive job. It takes many steps to get it to market, including needing nine months on the orchid plant!

I bought 25 Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. They were soft and pliable.

I carefully split them and then took a butter knife and scraped out as much of the caviar (goo) as I could. I then put the goo and the chopped up pods into one quart canning jars. The next step is to fill the jars with either vodka or rum. I chose vodka. The alcohol extracts the vanilla flavor, and mostly cooks off when you bake.

After pouring in the vodka, I needed to find a nice, dark cupboard in which to store these jars for at least six weeks. I take them out three or four times each day and give them a good shaking. I found a web site that sells four ounce amber jars. Sometime in August, I'll strain the vanilla extract and pour it into the small jars. I luckily have a live-in artist who might be cajoled into coming up with a label for the jars. In the meantime, I will start making my gift list. Hmmmm, who has been naughty this year?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I have been very neglectful of the blog world! I have been a little overwhelmed with the ending of school and all that I have to do for that, as well as the stuff around the farm that has been keeping me hopping.

I am planning on getting back into gear. I need to get caught up with all of my great blogger pals.

I just took 28 chickens to my (my?) Amish butcher up near Gladwin, MI. His wife and children do all of the work with the butchering. I wish I had taken some pics, but I think they wouldn't have liked it so much. The Amish farm has some modern additions, like a big diesel engine that runs a de-feathering device, but for the most part, the Weavers live pretty true to their convictions. They charged me $1.50 per bird to do the complete butchering process. They also cut them up, as many of the birds were too large for the gallon freezer bags.

I have another thirty broilers going to the butcher on June 26. Looks like we'll be making lots of chicken and noodles and chicken salad sandwiches!

I hope they are tender! The six month old roosters I butchered last fall were very tough!

Broody is back at it. Tomorrow is hatch day. I can hear peeping coming from the eggs, so I think we (she) will have some success. I made the mistake of leaving her nest in the coop, and she has gone from the original 8 eggs, to an astounding 38 eggs. I am sure they won't all hatch, but to help Broody with the hatching, another partridge cochin has been sitting alongside her for the past week to make sure the eggs all get good coverage. I don't know what will happen when the eggs hatch. Who will get to be the mom?

I am rambling away here.

My veg garden is starting to look like a garden. Practically everything is up and growing! Some of the seeds I planted didn't germinate, so I will have to make do without some things, mostly squash and chives.

The blackberries are going absolute bonkers. I can't believe how many canes I have and they are all loaded with flowers.

OK, I have to go out and do some chores, but I am going to post this boring thing anyway.

Thanks for reading this far!