Monday, December 08, 2008


Dear ones. A very fun recipe for vanilla extract is up here, at wondertime.

Can we get a running list over there of your favorite recipes with vanilla in them? I was thinking that, for a gift, it would be fun to package the extract with a recipe.

Meanwhile, my ears are still stuffed, and all of the humor and nuance in my life seems to have drained straight into my eustachian tubes. Where there was once wit and laughter, there is now me tugging on my pinna and yawning with the kind of deranged intensity that makes people step away from you in line at the post office. Also, it's boring to talk about, as is indicated herewith.



  1. Seriously, it is comforting to know that you too have clogged sinuses. Sorry, but it's true. I'm sick also, and I'm glad I'm not alone in my suffering.

    I would love to pass along one of my all-time favorite Christmas-cookie recipes that involves vanilla (but also almond extract, which is more the star of the recipe, now that I think about it, oops), but I'm not sure Wondertime will let me comment; I've had problems before. I'll try. Get well soon!

  2. I was just thinking about vanilla extract today. Seriously.

    And I know just the molded clay/bump on a log feeling, so here's to hoping your neti pot soon returns to a shelf and your humor gets somehow sucked back up a clear nose or bottled into un-stuffed ears.

  3. The only person I *know* who is able to write with humour and nuance about the lack of homour and nuance in her life :)

    Will get back to you on the vanilla recipes..

  4. Doesn't almost every recipe worth making involve vanilla?! I've used it three times today and haven't made dinner yet! (Ok, and there won't be vanilla in dinner. But in the banana bread, the cake, and the cookies...and I am the kind who obsesses about "how would *two* tsp of vanilla be? overkill or amazing?"

  5. Ugh - I am with you on the clogged ears. The only thing that helps are hot drinks but I just want it to go away. It's exhausting!

  6. 8-9 cups flour
    2 tablespoons baking powder
    1 pound butter (softened)
    2 cups sugar
    6 eggs lightly beaten
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon

    This is the recipe for koulourakia (greek cookies).

    Basically, put 8 cups of flour in the bowl and then put 2 tablespoons of baking powder, then mix it up. Add two cups of sugar. Add the butter and eggs. Then add the vanilla. Mix it all up. Then when its nice and cookie doughish, sprinkle some flour on the counter and roll them into doughnut shapes. Put them on a tray and cook for 20 minutes. I think it is 350 degrees, just do it til they are golden brown. This is not my recipe, it is from Yia yia Irene.

    But these cookies are splendid and they have a cute song to go with them!

  7. Ah, the sisterhood of the sickly. We're sick here, too. The nauseated kind of sick, which is fan-frickin'-tastic.
    Thanks for the kindness earlier this week.
    All of my vanilla suggestions are over there!

  8. Anonymous9:21 PM

    My ears were clogged for months and I finally went to the doctor about it. Turns out I had a boatload of earwax (yuck). I have now returned to the land of the hearing.

  9. Anonymous11:52 PM

    I come here constantly to find blog entries containing herewith. Thank you thank you thank you. I hope that the ears clear up soon. :o)

  10. Anonymous11:07 AM

    Vanilla for me is more than a flavoring: I buy lotion that is vanilla scented. I once worked for a news director who would walk by me, inhale, and then proclaim, you smell like cake!! I told my husband that vanilla lotion is always a welcome stocking-stuffer for me. Maybe I could wear vanilla extract as perfume? Ok, now I've wandered into the realm of the ridiculous! Hee!

  11. MemeGRL's right. But I have one that I didn't know about until later in life, so thought it would be worth adding in case anyone didn't know about it yet, either. Coming from a childhood deprived of decent cooking, my mother used to make french toast with just eggs and milk for the batter, but my wife taught me that a healthy splash of vanilla and some cinnamon transforms french toast into French Toast, if you know what I'm sayin. And use challah bread instead of the Orowheat Double Fiber Dirt Chunk bread you usually use.

  12. My current most favourite recipe with vanilla in it is home made marshmallows. They rock. I was incredibly lucky to have a friend bring me a ginourmous bottle of vanilla directly from Grenada last year. It is HUGE, it looks like a bottle of rum. And tastes and smells like heaven! If I am not baking I find myself opening the bottle just to smell it. Then I grab the bottle of crappy fake vanilla and smell that and then smell the real stuff again. OOOOOH it is awesome (I need a life)

  13. Catherine,
    Not that it's the star of the recipe, really, but I use Vanilla Extract when I make homemade French Toast. I mix vanilla (to taste) & cinnamon (again, to taste) in with egg & milk, soaking almost-stale bread for a few minutes (letting it get totally soggy - to the point of almost falling apart). The cook in butter. The finishing touch is either: warm syrup, plain powdered sugar, or fresh fruit. Or Fresh fruit & powdered sugar, of which I'm a fan.
    Best ...

  14. um, actually? Plum Cake! that's a darn good recipe with vanilla.

  15. Anonymous5:51 PM

    Not that your recipes and crafts aren't amazing, but my favorite line of the latest wondertime column was the caption under the last picture: "Birdy's handwriting still makes me a little breathless with love." I feel the exact same way about my almost six year old daughters writing... In one simple sentence you made my eyes tear up and my heart swell.

  16. In a large, cold, steel bowl, beat whipping cream. While beating, add capful of Mexican vanilla and a spoonful of powdered sugar. Stop when peaks form and hold. Take bowl and spoon and retreat to couch with favorite magazine.

  17. Catherine,
    Please write a cookbook!!! I have just eaten my entire weight in popcorn. It is a good thing I am finally eating a healthy breakfast of granola in the morning. This is a miracle as I never eat anything healthy by choice.

    We own a kitchen store and would love to have you come teach a cooking class. Are you interested? The store address is Contact info on the website.

  18. Oh Catherine, Feel better soon.
    We add vanilla to our Apple Belgian Waffles. YUMMINESS. Also, I wanted to email you re: a eventful night at our house. :)

  19. I, ahem, cleaned out my spice drawer last week (an early Christmas present to myself) and labeled the tops of all the jars, so I can see what I have. I also ran across a jar of vanilla beans I bought at Costco last year and haven't opened. I may well have to do the vanilla recipe. I was thinking ice cream, but this may be better.

  20. Just read your post about the Neti pot, while eating Udon noodles...Mmmm!
    Hope you turn a corner soon. It's no fun to be sick.

    My mom has a site all about vanilla –

    Recipes, and anything else you might want to know about vanilla.

    Is it a shameless plug if it's for my mother? I hope you enjoy.

  21. This looks like a great gift and pretty easy to do. Thanks!

  22. Anonymous10:09 AM

    Last night we made snow ice cream with milk (vanilla soy milk is good) sugar and VANILLA.
    I have never made it before, even as a kid and my own kids thought it was yummy.

  23. Made the salty caramel corn - it's EVIL! Thanks for sharing!
    All the teachers are getting the corn and hot fudge sauce, homemade by us :)
    The shortbread is on the agenda for Saturday. More gifts and some for us too. Thanks for sharing all of these delish recipes!

  24. Anonymous12:05 PM

    Vanilla extract and black beans.
    Sooo weird.
    Those are the only two things I cannot find anywhere in Dubai for all my searching. I might be able to find vanilla beans at the spice souk, but I don't have a liquor permit, so extract is out. I've located refried black beans, but cannot get the legumes in their original form no matter how hard I try. Not even dry!

    So really all I've got from the last two articles are cravings (and nostalgia for my Trader Joe's and Mother's Market). And amusement, which is nice.

    Just please don't let your next article be about bacon. I can get it, but it's not halal and I'd have to go into the back room which always makes me feel like I'm going into the porno section of the video store.

  25. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Is it strange that as my family struggles with sickness after sickness and I want to cry because I am tired of it already and have we really even hit cold and flu season but somehow coming here and reading everyone's comments and of course Catherine's funny or wise or both words I feel my spirit lifting - although you could not tell as the tears flow. Meredith

  26. I just left a comment on the wondertime website about those beans. They are delish! I just wanted to say I hope you guys are doing well with all the snow in New England. We got pounded this week too in Utah, but we still have electricity which I'm so thankful for.

  27. With just the smell of vanilla, ill be so much addicted to it...

  28. Indeed a very fun recipe for vanilla extract. Thanks!