Vanilla Rich!

I have pretty simple “happy” indicators.

A bowl of lavender, an unread book, a good cup

of tea, a visit from loved ones, and a handful of

vanilla beans-  add them together and I have had

a great month!

Meredith is my vanilla bean supplier.  She knows my

happiness level rises pretty high when I have vanilla

at hand- and last week I got a shipment of beans-  I AM



Tahitian, Madagascar,Ugandan, Indian, Mexican- so many exotic beans!

I decided to make some vanilla right away with the Mexican beans- they

are smoky and spicy with just a hint of cinnamon.


I sealed up the rest of the beans in a glass container- they are vacuum packed-

and still soft in their packages, but vanilla beans dry out quickly, and keep better

in glass jars.  DON’T buy dried out hard beans at a cooking store.  If they aren’t soft

then the beans are pretty useless as the seeds are dried out and can’t be scraped



I had a small bottle of vodka- I like Grey Goose for distilling the

beans- but it is a matter of personal taste.




I removed 5 beans from the package and slit them lengthwise to open

the bean and release the seeds.


Drop them into the vodka and shake gently for a few seconds.


I cut the label from the bean package since I already have a vanilla and

wanted to keep this one with just the Mexican beans.


This is my working vanilla- I used Belvedere vodka and it is pretty smooth-

there are several varieties of beans in this extract- I like it for regular baking.

This is several years old- look how dark it is!


And here is my latest- still not ready to use- but look how dark it got in

just a couple of weeks!  This is just a small bottle and I added a lot of

beans for the amount of vodka.

But I really like making my own extract- it tastes better-there are no artificial

coloring or flavors- and I get to play with vanilla beans! Plus, and this is a big

PLUS, it tastes better!

Sourdough sadness with a happy ending.


I recently went down to the shore with my sister,son and niece.

It was a very happy time- I got to cook in the kitchen down there-

with a 6 gas burner stove top and 2 ovens- one a convection oven.

I like when my appliances all work ( sadly shaking head at the state

of my own stovetop which was in very sad shape over the summer.)

I took my sourdough down with me- and all my extra dried bits of

sourdough because I intended to share it with a friend who was coming

down at the end of our time there- and she is a baker!

Thing two (my favorite everyday sourdough from Celia in Australia) was

in very good shape- working hard and making lots of bubbles!

And bread!015

But when I got home- and it is rather frantic clean up at the end of two weeks-

Thing two was missing.  I hadn’t saved a wet version at home because it would

have gone bad.  Frank is happy to watch people’s dogs when they are gone- but he

has no intentions of ever feeding my starters!

So- I was very sad.  No more Thing two.  I was going to ask Celia for some more- but

felt rather stupid for not taking better precautions at keeping some starter behind.

So I started making just yeast breads.

Which is fine,  because we all like yeast bread.  But I missed that little tang of sourdough-

and that texture and moisture in the bread that sourdough brings.  I missed Thing two.

Then I started a kitchenwide search.  Seriously, I had always kept little bags of starter in

the fridge- I could have missed one when I was packing the cooler for Virginia!

And …TA DA!!!!!


I found a bag in the freezer!  Not much to go with- but worth a try!



And here he is – a resurrected Thing Two!!!

I put him in a large container- added water and bread flour- stirred, fed again and again- And

he is happy and bubbly and ready to go!

I put him into a large Halloween jar- just to be festive and make sure he had a lot of room to




And now I’m going to dry a lot of this starter and then freeze the bags-

so I don’t have to go through sourdough withdrawal again!




What can I say?  Bread makes me happy!

And sourdough bread makes me very happy! 

Best ever- Crispy Oat cookies- recipe

Some recipes are just too good to lose.

Meredith asked for these cookies last week and I couldn’t find

the recipe.  Sad smile  I was sure I had posted it here, somewhere, in the

archives.  But no.  I hadn’t.


These really are the best oat cookies I’ve ever had.

The recipe however is hard for some people to see.

Once they’ve eaten the cookies they can overlook the amount of shortening

in them, but – well- see for yourself. And this makes over 9 dozen cookies.


1 cup butter

1 cup sugar (white, granulated)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 cups AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup crushed corn flakes

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup nuts, chopped fine


Mix together butter and sugars until all sugar is incorporated into butter, add

oil and vanilla.  Beat together well, until fluffy, they add dry ingredients, stirring

together until you have a solid dough.  Make into 1 inch balls and flatten with fork,

I round up the edges to keep them from looking raggedy with the coconut.

Bake in preheated oven at 325 F for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Then leave on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before moving them to a

cooling rack.

At this point they are delicious and crunchy- but then I dip them in white chocolate

and sprinkle with chopped nuts.  So good- these are hard to keep in the cookie jar!


In My Kitchen- September 2013

I am not presently in my kitchen-

I’m in Virginia at my niece’s kitchen- but I am

prepared with some pictures from home and adding

some pictures from here.

Here goes- if you’d like to join us- go to Celia’s blog-

Fig jam and Lime cordial  and check out all of the posts!

In my kitchen…


is my favorite cookie jar- I filled it with cookies before I

left for Frank’s lunch desserts.

I love this jar because it has been loved for a long time.

It is old and the lid broke, but someone fixed another one

to fit.


And then they added a cork handle and painted it to match the

roses.  I get good vibes from this jar- it makes me happy!

In my kitchen…


rice pudding!  Another old thing that makes me happy.

My brother, Bruce used to make a 9×13 pan of this when

I was a young girl and if I was lucky and he wasn’t too hungry

he’d share some.  I think this is one of my most favorite comfort


In my kitchen…


canary melon- from one of the shops in town.


Tastes like a honeydew- and delicious with fresh figs!

In my kitchen…


fresh figs.

In my kitchen…


grilled chicken from the farmer’s market- slow grilled after

we rubbed it with spices and herbs and let it marinate for hours.

In my kitchen…    


lavender cookies.

In my kitchen…


Thing one and…



BREAD!!! Yes- I travel with my sourdough!

In my kitchen…


Fresh local butter.


That is it for this month- thanks for stopping by!

Leave a comment if you are so inclined- I love to hear from you.