The Sweet Smell of Vanilla….
Good Morning my dear readers….
As many of you know, I have been baking and making all kinds of Christmas Goodies and most baking recipes call for good ole’ vanilla.
I don’t know about you, but I have had a love affair with vanilla since I was old enough to sniff the opened bottle of vanilla my Mother used in her baking.
I adore the sweet, wonderful aroma of fresh vanilla….but don’t make the mistake of tasting it right out of the bottle….just sayin’!
When I started my own baking…I began using vanilla from Mexico. (originally, the closest I could get to real vanilla was from the Watkins products. And I would stock up to make sure I never ran out of this wonderful vanilla.
When I moved to New Mexico…it became very easy to go across the border and purchase real Mexican Vanilla….and I used to take advantage of my location to buy not only the familiar dark colored vanilla, but the clear (or white) vanilla too!
Each time the Captain and I would take a cruise…usually to Cabo San Lucas….we would venture into the inner Mexican hamlets and I would buy up several large bottles of vanilla and special teas. (the teas will be another post)
Another little tidbit of information is that vanilla can only grow 10-20 degrees either side of the equator and Madagascar and the Island of Reunion (used to be called Bourbon Island) are the most popular sources for vanilla beans.
You can understand why Vanilla is expensive when compared to other spices and extracts. It is the second only to the rare saffron threads that are hand-gathered by women of Vienna. (See Aha! Moments…post).
Imitation vanilla is much cheaper…however, buying the more expensive pure vanilla is really worth every penny.
I am sure you are aware that vanilla comes from the orchid. Aren’t orchids just the best flower? Exotic and beautiful and sometimes elusive…which makes it even more irresistible.
The flower looks like this!
The growing bean looks like this!
The dried bean with thousands of tiny, black specks of pure vanilla looks like this!
I love taking my knife and splitting the bean open releasing that wonderful vanilla aroma….and when I use my knife to scrape out the seeds? Yep! That is what I am talking about my friend.
Look at those little flecks of goodness to be!!!
Hey guys…it is only 17 days until Christmas…don’t you have some Christmas baking to do with pure vanilla?
Uh huh…I thought so!
Have a great beginning to your week and Blessings to all.