While looking around on the net I found lots of recipes for making your own vanilla extract - and the good thing is - you can have it forever from just buying the vanilla beans once.
Now, I believe this, because when I was a teenager on an exchange trip to Tahiti, I bought some vanilla beans for my mother - and she was still using the same ones to flavour her sugar over 25 years later!
Basically all you need to do is place a bean, halved lengthwise, then into quarters into a little glass jar. I used old spice jars. Then top them up with a spirit of your choice. Rum, vodka or brandy are recommended, I used Bacardi. One site recommends 3 beans per cup of alcohol.
They need to sit in a dark place for about 3 months, shake them occasionally.
When the alcohol gets below the level of the beans, just top it up and wait 3 months again.
It pays to have two bottles so that you will always have one ready to use.
It should go a nice golden colour after sitting for the 3 months.
While perusing for floral art ideas today I wondered about Oasis - the foam that floral artists use to keep their arrangements in place. Firstly I wondered if it is reuseable...so I have done a little research. Yes - it can be reused for a few times, so long as it is kept wet - ie in a plastic bag in the fridge. It's impossible to rewet otherwise. As an aside - the correct procedure is not to push it under the water to soak it, but to let it just sit in the water until it sinks almost under.
But better than this ...don't use it at all, and ask your florist not to too. It's made of styrofoam and will not biodegrade, ever.
Back to the olden days - when they used weighted pins, or scrunched wire netting. Maybe sphagnum moss in the netting might work ...must try that.
THE STEAM PUDDING
Yesterday I posted that I had a steamed pud on the firebox. Well it turned out mighty good. It's an old recipe called:
Wagga Wagga Pudding (sounds Australian)
1 1/2 cups of milk 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of butter 1 1/2 large cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup mixed fruit
Boil milk and butter, then add soda. Add fruit and sugar then leave to cool.
Add flour. Steam for 2 hours. Can be microwaved for 8 mins on high, but it goes kind of hard when it cools. And that's not really slow living.
I just used a tempered glass bowl with tinfoil over it and a plate on top, in a large saucepan with boiling water halfway up the side of the bowl. That worked a treat.