Vanilla Extract

Are you a baker? Have you noticed how expensive vanilla extract has gotten? The vanilla crop in Madagascar failed causing a shortage of vanilla beans. The price of vanilla is now ten times what it was a few years ago.

I recently ran out of vanilla and picked some up at my local spice shop. An ingredient that I never considered the cost of now makes me gasp. I used over half of this bottle in two batches of cookies this morning.20180628_1112443852065551983353752.jpg

I am not going to switch to intimation vanilla extract. You can tell the difference in the final product. I was planning to buy the now $40 bottle of vanilla the next time I’m at Costco. It is a large bottle and should get me through a year of baking. I may still buy a bottle, but it is no longer immediately needed.

I remembered I had vanilla beans from Costco that I bought last fall. I also have vodka. Those two items are all you need to make your own vanilla extract.

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It couldn’t be easier. Slice some vanilla beans open (I also cut them in half so they would fit in a jelly jar). Put the open beans in a jar. 20180628_1111202140349684719578520.jpg

Cover the beans with vodka.

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Put a lid on the jar. Put it in your cupboard. Shake it a couple of times a day for two weeks. after that it should be ready to use. I’ll add vodka a few times, as there will be enough vanilla to infuse two or three times the amount of vodka in the jar.

After a few hours you can already see the change in the vodka.

Hopefully the vanilla crop recovers soon. Until then, I hope you find some forgotten vanilla beans in a drawer and vodka in your freezer and make some of your own extract.

5 on Friday: Costco

We buy a lot at Costco, so 5 items barely scratches the surface of the great things you can buy there. There are some things I immediately took out of the list, because formula and diapers aren’t something that most people are looking to try from Costco.  I haven’t included the black bean burgers we can’t get enough of, the cheap beer, the agave syrup, the maple syrup (we are a syrup loving family), or even the V8 we buy by the case.

This list is 5 great things at Costco that we buy at least monthly that I wanted to share with you. Maybe you buy them too.

Eggo Waffles. We have big breakfasts every day. Often Audrey naps trough lunch and only has two meals. Mornings for her start with fruit, eggs, and a peanut butter waffle. John will eat them with butter and syrup. Elliot likes anything on them. I have been known to use them for the bread in egg in the hole when we are out of bread. Are they great? No. Are they good? Yeah. Do I like not having to buy boxes of waffles at the store every week? Yes.

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Half and Half. We have a 2 year old and a 9 month old. We drink a lot of coffee.

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Tillamook Cheese. This is our house cheddar. We use it in eggs at breakfast, on sandwiches at lunch, and in casseroles at dinner. We will eat it as a snack too. It’s good cheese. Good enough to buy by the brick. dsc_0037

Berries (you know what they look like): Costco has good berries at a decent price year round. We buy them every trip. I often lie to Audrey and tell her we are out of raspberries because I want to eat them.

Toilet Paper. We buy Kirkland toilet paper. It’s fine. I think it is no better and no worse than average toilet paper. It’s cheap, I’m cheap, it works. I should clarify that the other items on this list we buy at least monthly, but toilet paper is more of a once every six months or a year item.

What do you buy at Costco? Are there any gems that I’m missing?

Every Friday I share 5 things I think you should know about. Are there any 5 on Friday topics you would like to hear about? Comment to share your ideas.