Vanilla extract – that ubiquitous ingredient called for in recipes for cookies, cakes, breads and more. The need to use high quality vanilla extract is stressed upon by many a chef. Given the considerable price difference between a bottle of ‘original’ vanilla extract and supermarket brand bottles, it’s not surprising if you would hesitate to pick up the expensive one. Especially once you know that all it is made of is vanilla pods and alcohol. I have been reading about how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract at home for a while now. It was time to try it out for myself and see if it really was easier than just buying a premium quality bottle of the stuff.
Cornbread is one of those things that works perfectly as a side dish to a hearty meal. Go to any place that serves southern style cuisine in the US and you’re guaranteed to be served a generous hunk of cornbread along with your gumbo, barbecued ribs, etc.
There are many schools of thought on the right way of making cornbread – white cornmeal vs yellow cornmeal, should it be slightly sweet or not have any sugar in it at all and the list goes on. I personally prefer the slightly sweet tasting version. So when I got around to making my own cornbread for the very first time, I went for a recipe that used just the right amount of sugar but also added my own spin with some roasted cumin and coriander to add a spicy note.
The weather has definitely turned warm and we’re having something of a strawberry summer. So if you see an onslaught of strawberry recipes here, please bear with me! I keep thinking of novel ways to use up the fruit before another batch appears. Today we’re making strawberry icecream – perfect for a sunny day. Earlier this week, I made a refreshing strawberry mint drink with a dash of lemon and alcohol to cool us down after a long day outdoors.
I’ve never made a salad using strawberries but have come across quite a few recipes for it, so I gave it a go myself. Turns out this is one versatile fruit that can be put to many uses. And that’s good news because there are plenty more ripe strawberries waiting to be picked in the garden!
So even if you don’t have a bounty of fruit in the backyard, go ahead and try these simple recipes with store or market bought strawberries. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
We are staying with Peter’s parents at the moment in the quiet French Auvergne countryside. They have managed to create a cosy spot for themselves that includes a vegetable and fruit patch in the backyard that yields truly beautiful fruits and veggies during the summer. Of course, there is quite a lot of sweat and tears that go into maintaining this place but the rewards are truly worth it.
Last Tuesday we had a barbecue. It was a warm day with temperatures reaching over 20C, a pleasant change from the rain and gloom that has pervaded these early spring days. It was a short lived dose of sunshine though as it began drizzling once again even before we could fully wrap up our meal.