Homemade Vanilla Extract

Very raw homemade vanilla extract.  This vanilla has only been extracting for one week.  A full bodied vanilla takes 6-8 weeks.  Well worth the wait!

Let's talk vanilla, shall we?  I have been buying Pure Vanilla Extract for years.  Every time I toss one of those miniscule jars into my shopping cart I cringe...$10 for that?  I don't dare touch Imitation Vanilla, my Grandma Nell taught me that as a babe.  So what to do?  Well, why not make your own!  Turns out, it is a super easy process and MUCH less expensive than the tiny dark jars staring down at you from your grocer's shelf.  Here's how:

Vanilla Beans (Don't let this turn you away.  Go to Beanilla.com for high quality, affordable beans.  I used Madagascar vanilla.  Mexican vanilla is also highly desirable, but any quality bean will do)
Vodka (Yes, I wasn't aware of this either.  Bourbon or Rum also works.)
Sterilized bottle(s) with tight fitting cap

*  Pour vodka into your bottle of choice.  
*  The ratio of vodka to vanilla beans is this:  One cup vodka for 2-3 vanilla beans.  If your beans are on the puny side, use 3.
*  With a sharp knife, about a 1/4 of an inch from the top of the vanilla bean, slice the vanilla bean down to the end.  Do not cut all the way through the bean.  You just want to expose the "caviar" of the bean.
*  You may need to cut your bean in half, depending on the size of your jar.  You want your vanilla beans to be covered completely by the vodka.
*  You can choose to scrape some of the "caviar" out of your beans and put it directly into your jar of vodka.  This will result in a more potent vanilla.
*  Put the cap on your bottle and vigorously shake.
*  Put your vanilla in a cool, dark place.
*  Shake your jar every day or so to help the extraction process along.
*  It takes 6-8 weeks for a good vanilla to develop, but it will continue with the extraction process for 6 months.
*  When your extract gets low, just add more vodka!
*  If you would like a vanilla extract that does not contain the caviar, simply use a coffee filter to filter your vanilla.

You will never buy those little jars again AND your food will taste so much better!  Happy Eating!

By the way, these make GREAT gifts!


Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

I am the first to admit that I am not a Beef Stroganoff kind of girl.  I make it for the hubby, because he likes it and life is easier when he is happy.  This recipe happens to be easy (Hello....slowcooker!) and according to the hubs, delicious.  I hope that you and your family ENJOY!

2 -3 pounds stew meat
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups beef broth or stock
1 tbs. ketchup
1/3 cup all purpose flour
6-7 tbs. apple juice or water
4-8 ounces sliced mushrooms (I like baby bellas)
1/2 cup light or regular sour cream

*  Put the stew meat, onion, salt, and pepper in the slow cooker.  Stir to distribute seasoning.  
*  In  a small bowl, combine beef broth, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic salt.  Pour over the meat. 
*  Cook on low for 7-9 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.  
*  Thirty minutes before serving, combine apple juice/water and flour in a small bowl with whisk.  The roux will be thick but should still be pourable.  If it is too thick, add a tablespoon of apple juice/water until it is pourable.  Add roux to the slow cooker and whisk vigorously to avoid lumps.  
*  Add the mushrooms and stir.  
*  Cook on high for 30 minutes more.  
*  Right before serving, stir in sour cream.  

Welcome to The Daily Fork!

Hello Everyone!  Thank you for stopping by and supporting my blog.  I hope that I can provide you with easy, affordable, and (somewhat) healthy meals and desserts for you and your family to enjoy.  There is nothing better than a family gathered around the table enjoying a yummy meal.  That's where memories are made.  Please stay a while and enjoy these delicious recipes.  From my family to yours....