Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homemade Helpers

With all the fall baking were doing lately, I thought it was time to share my home made vanilla with you again. And I found a recipe for homemade pumpkin pie spice too. The way I see it, if your going to go to all the trouble to bake from scratch, you need the best of the best ingredients and if you can make them at home, yourself, even better!

A nifty baking blog "Bake at 350" is full of yummy recipes but it was this easy pumpkin pie spice that lead me to be a follower. I love it when I can make my own spices or condiments. I've thrown in the Apple Pie Spice too.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
makes 1 teaspoon
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. allspice.

Apple Pie Spice
makes 1 teaspoon
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. cardamom
1/8 t. allspice

Our efforts and end products from the kitchen deserve high quality ingredients that will always result in high praise! So, if you've never attempted to make your own vanilla, let me tell you, it's so easy and good, you will wonder why it took you so long to try this. Yes, it's a bit pricey at first, depending on the grade of vodka ( a quart of vodka will do) you buy, but any grade will work well. I got my vanilla beans for $1 each at my favorite health food store, you will need 3. You will also need a clean bottle or jar able to hold the same amount of vodka, or you can use the vodka bottle if nothing else, but I like to have mine in a pretty decanter or canning jar. Next, there are two methods to making your own vanilla, and either way, you will have the best vanilla in town! I've done it both ways but the easiest and quickest way is to just drop the beans whole in the bottle of vodka and place in a dry, dark place. Be sure to shake once a day. Now, I prefer to slice the beans down the middle to expose the seeds, and you can either leave the seeds in or discard them. I leave them in, a little settlement at the bottom of the bottle doesn't hurt the recipe at all, in fact, I think it adds to it. Close tightly and shake once a day, storing in a dry, dark place for 3 months. I usually make mine in September so it's ready for my holiday baking. By 3 months you should have a nice dark colored vanilla. I leave my beans in the bottle for the life of the vanilla, it gets better with age. I have a bottle from 2 years ago, it's my secret weapon when I want to add something special to a recipe. Yum!

I think we are better prepared for our holiday baking now with some homemade helpers, don't you? Feel free to share any of your favorite homemade helpers with us. Happy baking!

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