Today’s Focus is on VANILLA BEANS
How often do you twist open the cover on a bottle of vanilla extract? Oh, it smells so good!
If you’re a fan of the flavor and/or scent of vanilla, I highly recommend you get your hands on some vanilla beans and see how much more intense your love can be.
You may be surprised to know that vanilla comes from beans, and contains quite a few (unscientifically documented or researched) medicinal properties. If you’re feeling anxious, take a whiff of vanilla and you’ll see how calming it can be!
The vanilla bean comes from the vanilla planifolia orchid. Since medieval times, healers have used vanilla bean pods as medicine— only bakers and chefs have used it for enhancing the taste of foods.
Ever wonder why real vanilla is so expensive? Well, the vanilla planifolia orchid has to be pollinated by hand and the pod itself has to be picked by hand, too. It then takes months for the seed pod to cure after it’s been harvested.Did you know you can make your own pure vanilla extract on the cheap?
It’s SO easy, and it’s fun to watch the magic happen.
What do you need?
• A beautiful bottle with a tight fitting lid (you can use a mason jar but a bottle is nice for pouring)
• Good quality vodka
• Vanilla beans
You can work with the amount of ingredients you have. I would recommend a ratio of three vanilla beans to each cup of vodka.
What do you do?
Split the vanilla beans down the center lengthwise, keeping the bottom end in tact. Put the vanilla beans in the bottle and cover completely with vodka. Store it in a cool dark place for at least two months, shaking it every few days. After that time, as you use it, you can top it up with more vodka.
It will last for years!
Now it’s time for your Trick:
If you discover that your vanilla beans have dried out on you, save them for stirring into a hot cup of tea! That will help release the flavor.
And your Tip:
When shopping for vanilla beans, look for very dark pods that are oily to the touch. They should be pliable so they can bend slightly without breaking. Store your beans in an airtight container in a cool place, but not the fridge where they can harden and lose their flavor.
And your Recipe:
There is a topic that keeps coming across my radar, both on Facebook, my email inbox, and even at the market when my fellow shoppers wonder what I’m doing with all of that kale (when my own crop has been harvested for the season, of course!): kale chips.
And, today, we’re going to talk kale chips with a trick, a tip, and a new kale chip recipe to try.
Kale, as you know, is a super food, and many people are jumping on the kale bandwagon (yay!). Kale chips are an easy-to-make snack food that is delicious and super good for you.
Be sure to buy organic curly kale. Kale is on the Dirty Dozen list and is one of those vegetables that should only be eaten when you can find it organic. (Curly is my preferred variety for kale chips—feel free to buy other varieties for other kale recipes!)
Now, it’s time for your Trick!
The secret to the best, crunchiest kale chips is to get them as dry as possible. So, after you soak your kale in a big bowl of water to remove the dirt and any bugs that might be lurking in there, spin the heck out of it. Any moisture on those kale leaves is going to lead to soggy chips. (And you don’t want that.)
Cook a batch of kale chips before you start your dinner prep and offer them to the kids as a snack. This is a great way to get the veggies into them in a manner that might appeal to them! You don’t even have to tell them that the kale chips were part of their dinner 😉
And your Kale Chip Recipe:
Most of us aren’t getting enough veggies into us in the run of a day, and while kale chips are a great start, you can probably be doing more. We developed our Just Juiced Veggies to help you get in all a great dose of green veggies in one easy shot. Check it out here!