This is the final status of the Vanilla Sugar. It turned out beautifully smooth and with a wonderful flavor of Vanilla. It is great for flavoring drinks or using in baking. Such wonderful creations that we make!
There is nothing quite so rewarding as making your own extracts and pastes from quality ingredients that you trust. This is the absolute best Vanilla Bean Paste that we have made so far! It is rich and strong with a wonderful flavor!
This was the leftover mash from the first Vanilla Bean Paste. I dried it and powdered it in Vitamix.
Once I had a nice powder, I added it to my sifted sugar to make Vanilla Sugar. Although this looks like ants in the sugar, I can assure you it will taste much better! :)
I was blessed enough to be able to purchase a case of lemons. After juicing them and freezing the juice, I took all of the zest off so that I could make Lemon Extract. I made sure that I cleaned the lemons first before doing anything, as I didn't want to get any unwanted chemicals in my extract. I was able to get 2-64 oz jars full of beautiful Lemon Zest. Then I covered the zest with 80 proof Vodka and allowed it so absorb for a few months.
After the bottles sat in a cool dark area, it was time to decant them. So I strained out the lemon zest. This smelled so incredible potent! It was heavenly!
After I strained all of the liquid, I put it into bottles and labeled it to share with my family. This turned out perfectly!
Have you ever made your own Vanilla Bean Paste? It can be a bit intimidating if you don't know what you are doing, but if you get some excellent quality beans and a good recipe, you can make some of this delectable deliciousness yourself.
To start with, when you have your beans and you have prepared them for the recipe, most recipes will tell you that you need to slice the bean and scrape out all of the caviar. That is extremely labor intensive! So instead of doing that, I cut off the distal end of the bean and scraped out the caviar with the back side of a sharp knife. As you can see, I get a good amount of the caviar. This took much less time than slicing it open and scraping the caviar out.
The next thing to do is to add the caviar and the beans to a large pot. I also added the alcohol that I had them presoaking in for a week to the pot.
Then you add the rest of your ingredients to the pot (Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, Lime Juice for my recipe). Boil this for 5-15 minutes stirring all the while.
When your pot is all ready, take the beans out and save them for other things. Take the liquid and strain it into your blender (I used my Vitamix). Turn it on until you can see the hole in the blender. Remove the middle lid and then start to add your Xanthan Gum.
The Xanthan gum should be a very fine powder. And you need to add it by very lighly dusting it in the moving liquid a small bit at a time. If you add it too heavily and all at once, it will clump and you won't be able to mix it in. You can see I only added a teaspoon and I used the tiny white spoon to dust it in as the mixture was blending.
After you have added the Xanthan gum and the rest of the alcohol, then pour the mixture into glass bottles to cool. Be sure to allow it to cool completely before you put the lid on. Then label it how you wish and use it.
With making Vanilla there is nothing that is wasted. I took the leftover beans and put them into one of my "Mother" jars of vanilla that I already have brewing. I also took some of the mash that I had from another recipe and dried it. Then I ground it up finely and put it in some sugar to make vanilla sugar.
So now, from one pound of premium Vanilla beans, I got some wonderful Vanilla Extract, Some Delicious Vanilla Paste, and some decadent Vanilla Sugar.
If you have the desire and the supplies, you too can make this for you and share it your family!
For Father's Day, just had to make chocolate sugar cookies. This is a platter collection called Dad to the Bone. It was fun to make and even more fun to eat!
Another interest is developing into a fun hobby - making and decorating cookies. These are sugar cookies that were made for a baby blessing. Some of my daughters and I are having such a great time make home-baked goods for sale. Head on over to www.cookeecrumb.com and take a look at the website which is currently under construction. There will be home baked breads, cakes, cookies, and other items as well. There's a great deal of talent in this family! We love sharing it with others to make them smile.
With all of the changes going on in the world today and our way of life as we know it is in serious jeopardy; it would be a good thing to think about how you want to take care of your family and loved ones. www.harvestright.com sells freeze driers for long term food storage. Over the past few months there has been a high increase in freeze dryer interest and sales. It is never too late to invest in one of these units to prepare for the tough times ahead. Check them out on their web site or ask us and we would be happy to let you know of our experiences with this company. Don't put off taking care of your family.
Today is the start of the new year. We certainly do have hope that this year will be a year to enjoy what truly matters in life. One of our joys has been to make our own natural products. This is our newly decanted Vanilla. It is made with Madagascar Grade B Vanilla beans and 80 proof Vodka. It is a double fold strength; which means it has twice the beans that you would normally add. It has been brewing since 2013, so it has a nice long history and it looks and smells wonderful!
We started 3 new mother jars of vanilla; two will be using Vodka and the third will be using Brandy. This is a delightful way to spend making wonderful treats.
I really enjoy the last 2 months of the year. Whether this is because the weather cools down or because we tend to focus on what we have to be grateful for and the reason for the season; it doesn't matter. It is just a wonderful time of year!
I have tried to focus more on the positive things in life and to look for the good in others. I find that living life in such a way helps me to think less about my own issues and to joyfully embrace the goodness in life.
The Covid pandemic as really made a huge difference in so much in life. People don't have the opportunity to socialize as much as they used to. Family events are suffering; weddings, parties, funerals and all sorts of events that we used to take for granted.
I feel so badly for the children of the world and how this is affecting them. While there doesn't seem to be any end in the near future, still we can all try to be as optimistic as we can and look for the good in the world and in others.
I like to start out each day with a hope that I can make someone's day brighter in some small way or helping someone else. Give the gift of yourself this season. Enjoy the beauty of nature and nurture your soul. Greet others with a smile. Even wearing your mask, your eyes can smile. Make the world a better place by being alive and reaching out to others in need. Express thanks for all that you have. There are always other who are much worse off than you are. Be thankful for who you are and what you are.
We purchased a freeze dryer from Harvest Right in Salt Lake City, Utah. Currently, they are the only company to product at home freeze dryers. They have a program that makes it quite affordable. We got ours in April of 2016. Since that time, it has given us very few problems. The only problem that we had was with the mother board which got fried due to a poor design flaw. We took it back (because it was still under warranty) and they fixed it. They also fixed it so that we wouldn't have this problem in the future. We have been very happy with this unit. I say we, but this is truly my appliance. I run it, fix it and I do all of the maintenance on it. And I don't mind. At least this way I know how it works and how it has been taken care of.
I am the poster child for taking good care of it so that it will last. I provide the proper maintenance and do the recommended oil changes and it has run like a champ. I put in a load of Sausage gravy (for biscuits and gravy) and some skittles. Yes, you can mix foods. While you do have to be careful with some of them (such as garlic and onions or bananas), most of them don't mix flavors.
Freeze dried skittles are a hot commodity in this area. Lots of people have freeze dryers and they freeze dry all sorts of things and sell at farmer's markets, or many other places. We are no exception. When we go to the store and see something, the thought is, "I wonder how that would be freeze dried?"
There are some fun things that turn out wonderfully - Taffy - blows up to the size of an Easter egg and is light and fluffy. Milk duds - they blow up and and turn out crispy and caramelly flavored. Big Hunk Candy Bars - very good and they come out like taffy. Gummy Bears (Black Forest brand does the best) -They triple in size and the flavor intensifies. Jolly Ranchers - I haven't tried them, but I have seen pictures where they blow up and are very tasty. Fat Boy Ice Cream Sandwiches - oh yeah, just like Astronaut Ice cream - a delight to be sure. Caramels - way yummy! Skittles - any variety (but especially the yogurt dips) - these are crazy good! And this is just a small smattering of what can be done.
Fruits are delicious! Vegetables such as cucumbers and zucchini or summer squash can be seasoned and cut into slices for veggie chips. They taste awesome! You can freeze dry fruits and veggies and then powder them to add to drinks or to yogurt. Then you can freeze dry the yogurt. That is a delight to be sure!
Today, I decided to look at options to help with my facial/eye area. I wanted to make a balm that would be good to use around my eyes, to help with the "tired" look of my skin. I combined some oils that have incredible skin loving properties - Shea butter, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Candelilla Wax, Rosehip Seed Oil, Calendula infused Olive Oil, Argan Oil and Vitamin E. Then I decided to place it in some containers that would show off the beauty of the balm inside. What do you think?
Some of the properties of these oils are anti-inflammatory, softening, anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-bacterial, and supporting skin health.
While I made this for use with my eyes, it can be used for other skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema or minor skin conditions. Of course - healing comes from the inside out; so a good diet is paramount to any good skin regime. But sometimes there is a desire to make something to help nature along the way.
We don't usually post about worldly events, but sometimes the need presents itself. The media in the usual fashion has concentrated on the negativity by broadcasting about recent sad events. We do not support racism in any form. We believe that everyone has a right to feel safe and to have equal liberties no matter their color, sex, race or any other differentiation. We believe that everyone is an individual and we abhor the violence and wrongful treatment of any living thing or person. There are good and bad people in every race and in every color. We strive to look for the good while acknowledging that the opposite form exists everywhere as well. We are greatly saddened by these recent events but we strive to do our part in accepting others for what they are. We are all human and none of us is perfect. We challenge others to have the attitude of forgiving and loving others and treating others as you would yourself wish to be treated.
The World Health Organization formulated a recipe blended in the correct proportions to create an effective homemade hand sanitizer if you can believe what you hear (we suggest finding out for yourself if this is true).
But if you want the recipe, here it is:
1 C (240 ml) Isopropyl Alcohol (Minimum 70% but preferably 99%)
1/2 Tablespoon (7 ml )Vegetable Glycerin
3 T (15 ml) Hydrogen Peroxide
4-5 drops essential such as Tea Tree, Lavender, etc. (optional)
Mix all well in a blender for 30 seconds. Remove and place in a squeeze bottle. Place about 1/4 teaspoon onto hands and rub hands together vigorously until hands are dry. This recipe does not have any thickeners added to it, so it will not be thick like the ones you can purchase from stores.
**NOTE** This is for use when you do not have access to water. It should never take the place of good hand washing practices when you have that available.
It never ceases to amaze me at how people can go crazy with all the media blitz over the current "disease" that is panicking people world wide. It seems that common sense has gone out the window every time there is some bug out there. There are some generally healthy habits that everyone should have as a part of their daily habits. One of those is washing your hands. That is the best way to keep bugs from spreading. Hoarding things like toilet paper, alcohol, and such will not help, that just drives the cost up for others. For this month, we decided to post our favorite recipe for Fire Cider. If you don't know what Fire Cider is, then you probably don't know about how common herbs and foods can help to boost your immune system. Fire cider is a hot, spicy sweet concoction that is good for colds and helping to keep your immune system at its best. You can take it every day or if you feel a cold coming in. This is a picture of our fire cider that we are brewing. Here is our favorite recipe:
1 part Fresh Horseradish Root Grated
1 part Fresh Garlic Chopped up fine
1/2 part Fresh Ginger Grated
1 part Onion Fresh Onion Chopped
1/4 t Cayenne Pepper (40,00 hu) or fresh cayenne pepper
Optional: Turmeric, Echinacea, Cinnamon or other such herbs
Place all of the ingredients in a half-gallon canning jar and cover with enough raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to cover the herbs by at least 3-4 inches. Cover tightly with a tight fitting lid. (If you use a metal lid, make sure to put a layer of plastic wrap between the lid and the bottle so the lid won't rust). Place the jar in a warm dark area and shake every day for at least 4 weeks to allow the herbs to macerate in the vinegar. After at least 4 weeks, strain the herbs and keep the liquid. Add desired amount of honey (just to add a bit of sweetness). Be certain to heat the honey first so that it will combine better. Bottle in amber glass bottles and label appropriately. It will keep in a cool place for a few months, but if you don't have a cool place, keep it refrigerated so that you can use it as needed. Taking 15-30 ml daily is good as a tonic. If you feel a cold coming on, take 1 tablespoon every 2-4 hours to help keep a cold at bay.
This was our attempt for the lines collaborator challenge. The mica lines don't show up very well, but they are there. Love the colors and they turned out great.
We are so thrilled. We won the best use of color in the February 2020 Soap Challenge Club. This was a collaborator's challenge. We had to teach someone to make soap for this month's challenge. My friend Lisa made this. Congratulations Lisa!
As a new year begins, it is always a good idea to set some goals for yourself to try and attain. I am not talking about making new year's resolutions; ones that you are surely to forget and break, but to concentrate on goals that you can work on a day at a time and if you don't measure up 100%, just jump back on and continue to do your best.
One of my goals is to concentrate on things that are more important in an eternal perspective; i.e. being more kind, serving, treating others with kindness and to be the kind of person that I would want to be around; and of course - FAMILY! There is nothing more important that family.
I am also trying to focus more on healthier nutrition, such as getting back into making green smoothies.
So make your own goals. Make them ones that are personal only for you. If you struggle, just keep doing the best that you can do. No one is perfect. But we can all aspire to be the best that we can be. Here's to a year of growth and happiness!
At this special time of year, it gives us reason to pause and think back on what is truly important in life, and that is the blessing of family.
We were privileged to go to Salt Lake City and visit Temple square and ride the rail system with some of my family. I took some soaps and some freeze dried treats and my grandson and his mom had some candies and while we were riding the train, he presented everyone on board with a bar of soap and some candy.
It was a sheer delight to see his face beam as the people thanked him for this simple gesture. Some people even gave him money in return which he will use to help someone else out. We met some wonderful people who shared gifts as well with us and although it was raining and a bit chilly, we were warmed by the touch of the simple gifts of giving.
My grandson said that he was sad when all of the gifts were gone, because he wanted to give to more people. Surely there is nothing so delightful as serving and watching service through the eyes of a child!
May you all take time to remember what Christmas is all about and enjoy the spirit of this season today and throughout the rest of the year. Merry Christmas and may you all be blessed with what you need in the coming year.
Have you tried any of our freeze dried treats? These are purely delightful! We are adding various types all of the time. We currently have skittles, milk duds, caramel, taffy, and are constantly looking for others. These make a great gift for stocking stuffers, or any gift for someone who likes a little treat. They come in several sizes. Check out our store for more information.
This was our entry for the October 2019 Diagonal Layers Soap Challenge. This one was truly a challenge! This took quite a long time to create and it was very difficult to get the layers even and look nice. It is scented with Spiced Plum fragrance Oil. It is a pretty bar!
This decadent soap is one of our best sellers. It has lots of skin loving ingredients in it, including Colloidal Oatmeal and Kaolin Clay. If you love the smell of lavender, you will love this bar!
Before cutting this soap, the different shapes looked like a bird in the middle and hearts flying around. It was fun to make and the batter was a dream to work with.
These were a few of the bars that I made for the August 2019 Soap Challenge. This is a technique called Brush embroidery. You pipe on the lines and then brush it like you do for frosting on cookies & cakes. It is a fun technique but a great deal of work!