Sunday, January 31, 2010


I got a wonderful Christmas present from Mama Fink (C's mom). It's beautiful. Glorious even.

A six-sided box grater. Just like Alton Brown has! It''s magnificent. I will never go back to regular plane graters again. This one has four grades of graters, from fine to extra large (which I bet would be great for hashbrowns),  plus two grades of zesters.

My first use of my new grater was to shred eight ounces of cheddar to make a Saturday afternoon snack of Welsh Rarebit.

It was all I could do to stop myself from sticking a fork in and eating it straight.

Here it is piled high in the pot:

As you can see, this is clearly enough cheese sauce to feed an army. I only needed about a quarter of a cup to go over my toast. Luckily, the sauce is easily refrigerated, and goes well with biscuits on Sunday morning.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Banana 'Ice Cream'

This is so simple, yet so tasty, and you won't believe it until you try it.


(yep, that's it!)

Slice up a banana or two, then freeze it.

I've found it's easier to slice then freeze, since cutting a frozen banana isn't easy. It'll take a few hours for your slices to freeze. I usually let mine go overnight.

Whip out your trusty Magic Bullet or blender.

Toss in your bananas and blend.

You can dribble in a tiny bit of milk or vanilla or cream if you want, but your bananas, after a minute or so, will come out looking like this:

Unless, of course, your Magic Bullet dies. Which mine finally did, right in the middle of banana-ice-cream-making magic. The above picture is a screen shot from months ago when I first tried this recipe.

So what's a girl with a broken Magic Bullet and no blender and a serious craving for banana ice cream supposed to do?

She gets creative. And out comes the hand mixer. And guess what? It worked!

A blender is still ideal, to get the ultimate creaminess. Seriously, it gets to the exact texture of soft-serve ice cream.

You can even store it in the freezer, then later serve it to your guests at a dinner party and make them guess the ingredients. Or ingredient.

Or you can add some mini chocolate chips and gobble the whole thing. What? It's just bananas! It's good for you!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Now that Christmas has come and gone (and then some), I can finally reveal a little project I've been working on: homemade vanilla extract. Back in November, I was searching for easy, homemade gifts to give at Christmas. Cookie mix, limoncello, granola ... vanilla seemed the easiest, the cheapest, and the prettiest.

Vanilla Beans

The ratio is 2-3 beans per 6-8 ounces vodka.

I found my beans at I ordered the variety pack, and received a bunch of different kinds - Indonesian, Mexican, Indian, etc. Cost: $25.

For the containers, I hit up an old favorite: American Science & Surplus! Cost: $15.

As for the liquor, I wanted something not too expensive but not tasting of gasoline - Skyy Vodka. Cost: $20. I read that you can substitute other liquors as well. I bet rum and bourbon would both work.

Places two beans in each container, and fill with vodka. Seal and let sit in a cool place for 8 weeks.

That's it!

I made 12 bottles to give away. They make good gifts for moms, aunts, and hostesses. Plus one for me.

(This picture is on day one. You want them to darken up a bit before using.)

Total cost: $60 / 12 bottles =  only $5 each!

I even went one step further and made labels. I went for an old-timey "Dr. Fantastik's Amazing Liquer" look.

I got a lot of compliments on this idea,  but don't know if anyone has used theirs yet (including me). At least they look good!