Monday, January 17, 2011

Vanilla Sugar Two Ways

Wow, middle of January already.  The holiday season sure zoomed by.  And amazingly, I didn't do all that much cooking.  I still haven't really settled back into it either.

We (hubby, kiddos, and pets) left town for a few days and spent Christmas in oh-so-exotic and (not) tropical Winnemucca.  We split up the trip between my parents and Justin's Grandma Rose's houses. Being guests meant that we could kick back and let Mom and Rose take charge of the food.  It's a good thing too. I was getting pretty side-tracked trying to buy and wrap presents.

Then the New Year came and went.  Justin and I had a very swank night out at the Nugget, while his mom watched the kids. Last weekend, we went to San Francisco for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and rooted for our alma mater, Nevada.  (Woo Nevada won!) This was another fine chance to be a guest and enjoy Justin's mom and brother doing the cooking.

And now here I am, home with nothing stopping me. Well. I did have a huge pile of dishes from last night.  Justin made lobster scampi for dinner.  The kids got tater tots and fish sticks because they don't understand the appeal of lobster right now. That's fine, more for us appreciative adults.

So today, I went shopping and found a new heart-shaped cookie cutter, fresh vanilla beans, some Asian gummy candies, green tea latte candy, a piggy-handled mini spatula, a Batman shirt for Eric, toys and treats for the pets, and some valentines. 


Then, I came home and got the kitchen cleaned and starting another mess anew.  Today's simple but desirable creation is Vanilla Sugar.  I made it two ways. First is Vanilla Bean Powdered Sugar.  If you want vanilla sugar and you want it NOW, this is a good start.  It only takes a few minutes to throw it together.

If you don't like the texture of the ground up beans, try the plain Vanilla Sugar.  This one will take about two weeks to make because you are waiting for the vanilla bean's essential oils to seep into the sugar.

I like both and both have their uses, like with sugar cookies or mixed into hot drinks like Green Tea LatteBubble Tea, fruit salad, various desserts, or regular tea and coffee for a little extra something.

Vanilla Bean Powdered Sugar
Ingredients
1 vanilla bean
1 cup granulated sugar

Method
1. Chop the vanilla bean into smallish pieces. Combine with the sugar


2. Using a food processor or very VERY clean coffee grinder, process until powdery and the beans have become tiny specks. I have a coffee grinder that has never seen coffee. I use it only for spices and nuts.


You can see in this next photo the texture of the sugar and vanilla bean.  It's very fine.

3. Store tightly sealed until ready to use. I have a really funny looking old plastic shaker that was made by Jess Hall plastics some 30 years ago. It's like Tupperware. It's also the perfect thing for this sugar.

Vanilla Scented Sugar
Ingredients
1 vanilla bean
1 cup granulated sugar

Method
1. Cut the vanilla bean in half and bury it in the sugar in a container that will seal up tightly.


2. Let the sugar sit for about 2 weeks before use. You can use it as granulated sugar or run through a food processor if you want it to be a fine powder very much like the vanilla sugar from Starbucks. (Ahem. Hint. Hint.)

3. You can add more sugar to the container later because the vanilla bean will still have a lot of essential oil left that can impart flavor to a fresh batch.