The first frost, accompanied by the first snowflakes, reminded me that it was time that I get my winter home remedies and magical cookie ingredient-home brewed vanilla- on the burner-or into the cauldron.
Homemade vanilla is just so easy. You may choose any edible alcohol as a base. My friends from Barbados recently visited and gifted me with a tasty rum-Mount Gay Black Barrel. I love the subtle taste of rum and vanilla in my baked goods, but you may prefer a plain vodka. You split a couple of fresh vanilla beans and drop them in a cute bottle with a tight screw on lid, then fill the bottle with spirits. Ooooh that sounds spooky! Place the bottle in a dark place for several weeks until you get the flavor you want. This will be good and strong for Christmas cookies-Rum Spritz anyone?
Into the cauldron (or Cuisinart stainless steel 2 quart saucepan) goes the ingredients for Elderberry Syrup. There are many recipes for this available on the web, but I use this one: Elderberry Syrup from the Holistic Squid. The Holistic Squid is careful not to heat the honey that goes in last. I think this is very important because you should be using local honey, if at all possible. There are properties in the honey that may help you with your seasonal allergies, and heat can harm those little bodies. We use elderberry syrup as a preventative and a cure. If we go out shopping or partying, we always have a couple tablespoons of the elderberry syrup when we get home. If we feel like something is creeping up on us, we take a dose. My favorite way to drink this is with filtered water and 2 tablespoons of elderberry syrup. You can also add sparkling water for a real treat. This syrup keeps in the fridge for several weeks, so I double the recipe, using organic elderberries from Amazon.
This is an image of my jar of local organic honey. It has crystallized a bit, there is some evidence of honeycomb and pollen floating in it, in other words, it is full of good stuff. The scent of the combination of honey, elderberries, ginger and other spices is magical.
I have also included two links to vanilla kits-everything you need-except the alcohol. This is a short cut and I think that they would make great holiday gifts- maybe with a small bottle of nice vodka or rum! It is time to start thinking of these things.
There-we have got a handle on the home remedy, homemade vanilla and a Christmas gift idea. My job here is done, and there are a couple of toilets that need swabbing. A Homesteaders work is never done-Out to Pasture.
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