"Commentary from the Countryside"
Thoughts on current events,
history, homesteading, preparedness, real food, and anything else I find interesting, from a cranky, middle-aged woman's common-sense perspective.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

Making vanilla extract
It's been a busy time here on the homestead.  Baking, cleaning and what-not takes an amazing amount of time.  But it's fun, too, with Christmas music going and the Daughter home from school. 

I've been working on packaging some of my home-made items as gifts, with the thought of getting feedback from folks and developing the best items to possibly sell at the farmer's market next year.  (And of course I'm hoping the recipients will enjoy and make use of the gifts!)  Aside from the jams, peaches and applesauce I put up over the summer, I am bottling some of my home-made vanilla extract for my friends who like to bake.  I started it last May and it has matured into a wonderfully aromatic, golden brew.  Digging through my stash of stuff I discovered a few more of the big brown glass bottles so I started another batch yesterday.  It's easy to do; I order madagascar vanilla beans online, cut the beans length-wise 3/4 of the way, put them in the bottle, fill the bottle with vodka or rum, and cap it tightly.  It
takes  about six weeks to get a useable extract, depending on number and quality of beans, but I like to let it perk along in the back of the pantry for several months.  I prefer the vodka results to the rum.

I found the hardest part about making the extract is buying the alcohol.  I'd never bought liquor before, so I was at the party store counter asking the clerk the prices on the different brands of vodka and finally purchased two large jugs of the stuff, only to turn around and find several local fellows lined up behind me.  I got more propositions in the time it took to walk from the counter to the door than I have in the last twenty years!  My ears were burning and my cheeks were red by the time I made it back to my truck.

I'm working on several other projects, including creating a hand scrub, and recipe jars. My favorite so far is the potato soup.

Potato Soup in a Jar
Potato Soup Mix in a Jar
1 3/4 cups instant mashed potatoes
1 1/2 cups dried milk
2 tablespoons instant chicken bouillon
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well. Put ingredients in a 1-quart jar. On gift tag write: Place 1/2 cup mix in soup bowl; add 1 cup of boiling water; stir until smooth.

So the gifts are all wrapped; the tree is up and decorated.  The house....well, I can always do more cleaning tomorrow morning, right? 

From our homestead to yours, Merry Christmas!  And Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.


  1. I've often thought of making my own vanilla. Why the brown bottle? If it's sitting in the back of the pantry isn't it dark enough in there?

    Have a great Christmas!

  2. Cat, I just found your blog. I love it! dgr

  3. Thanks, Deb, and welcome aboard!

  4. Melissa I use the brown bottles mostly because they're glass and I'm trying to stay away from plastic; they have a narrow neck so it's easier to pour when I want to bottle it for sale; I don't have to worry if I happen to leave it sit out on the table by the window, and...I got a bunch of them for free. :)