Tuesday, July 19, 2011

DIY: Spice Mixes/Rubs and Vanilla Extract

It is one of those evenings that my children are so lucky that human beings are civilized creatures that don't believe in doing violence to their young (at least if they are decent human beings).  If I can get through till bedtime without developing a tick in my jaw I'm going to feel SO lucky.

To take a "break" from my children breaking things (ha!  Pun intended), I decided to try my hand at making some different spice mixes I'd printed off the internet or just plain written down while watching my cooking show DVD's...or in one case I made some spice rub just to save myself from having to purchase another container. 

In a scene very much like the wine making scene in "Black Books" (if you haven't seen that show, you really should) I got out all of the spices and herbs I had in my cabinet (well I wish...my stockpile of different herbs and spices are actually pretty impressive...I couldn't BELIEVE how much cinnamon I found while making this stuff *laugh*) and spread them out on my kitchen island and proceeded to drink some coffee to counter act the Sinex I'd taken, and while ranting madly to myself threw spices this way and that in a paprika shaded cloud!  Ha! 

No, seriously, here's how it really went.  With Rob Thomas playing in the background to drown out my children watching TV back in their bedroom (a bit anyway ;), while drinking aforementioned coffee and constantly flipping through all the spice bottles I had on the island to find what I needed, I got down to work.  The first way sounds somehow more fun doesn't it?   This way was a lot less messy though ;).

First off was my most ambitious project.   You see, a while back I bought a Groupon...or was it a Deal Pulp...oh a whatever for Millford Spice Company.  I fell in love with their Pontiac Pig Powder, but not their customer service, so when I ran out making some ribs to freeze tonight I got online, looked at the price tag attached to getting another thing of it and said to heck with that when I threw in the price of the heartburn I'd get dealing with the company again.  I looked at the ingredient list, threw out the things mentally that I didn't have and replaced it with what I did have, threw it all together in a logical method (to me) of application for top notes, middle notes and end notes of the spice rub and got down to work.  I literally mixed every spice rub up in the same mason jar as I assembled (I mean since they all had some form of paprika in them, I wasn't overly worried about taste getting transferred from one to the other).  Here's how that knock off recipe went.  I just used the Rachel Ray system of measurement, ie I just used my palm to measure everything in parts :). 

Not Pontiac Pig Powder (but close enough for me)

3 big palmful;s of brown sugar
3 big palmfulls of iodized sea salt (it's like table salt made by Hains :)
3 big palmfulls of paprika
1 palmfull marjoram
1 palmfull garlic powder
1 palmfull onion powder
1 palmfull powdered yellow mustard
1/2 to 1 palmfull tri colored pepper mixture, ground (depending how spicy you like it :)
1/2 palmfull sugar (I just used sugar in the raw for that)
1/2 palmfull chili powder
1/2 palmfull black pepper (ground)
1/2 palmfull rosemary
1/4 palmfull ground cloves
1/4 palmfull allspice

Place all items into mason jar, screw on lid and shake to combine.  Easy peazy :).

Now while it doesn't taste EXACTLY like the original (since it called for things like the "Grains of Paradise"...a specialty spice I don't have and didn't feel like trying to special order), I think it tastes darn close to my taste buds.  I used it on my second set of ribs and I thought they turned out pretty tasty :).

Next up I made what Rachel Ray described on 30 Minute Meals as an "Israeli Spice Rub" just because the dish she made with it at the time sounded intriguing to me.  I tried to look it up online, but it doesn't have quite the same ingredients, and honestly I like her "on the fly" version better.  Here's how that dance goes...

Rachel Ray Israeli Spice Rub

1 good sized palmfull Paprika
1/2 palmfull coriander
1 palmfull cumin
1/4 to 1/2 palmfull oregano
Little bit of red pepper flake (1/4 to 1/2 tsp really depending on how hot you like it.  I used just a pinch since we're not big "heat" people around here).

Place all spices and herbs in a container with a tight fitting lid (I used a mason jar, Rachel Ray used a tupperware container) and shake your little butt off.  And done!  Keep in an airtight container (or various spice housing vessel) for up to 6 months without loss of flavor.

My opinion?  I really DO like this rub.  It's got a very earthy hint to it with some nice spice notes in the background.  I think this stuff would work on pretty much any meat you wanted to use it on.  I'm looking forward to trying it on grilled steak.  Yum!

To make myself feel better for my slap stick system of measuring I then made Emeril's Baby Bam Seasoning.  I'm not a big "Emeril fan" (shocking I know, but true), but I have to say that man can do a spice rub.  This stuff is excellent!

I then went and made myself one thing of Lynn's Fajita Seasoning, but omitted the bouillon powder because I'm pretty SURE that bouillon cubes are not gluten free.  I'm just going to use some concentrated chicken stock with 1/2 cup of water when I got to make this stuff up.  This stuff does taste really good though, I have to say :).

And last on my list I made 2 things.  Home made vanilla extract and home made vanilla sugar (the sugar isn't pictured because I forgot it on my island :).  They are SUPER easy to make.  Here's how to do it.

Vanilla Extract

Take 1 Small bottle of vodka (or a big bottle and just pour into a smaller container.  I got the above pictured one at Fred Meyer for like 4.00 and some odd change on sale).

Take some Vanilla Beans (I got mine on Etsy.  I got a package of 10 for like 10.00 shipped and I still have some left over for baking later on).

Place Vanilla Beans in Vodka (no one recipe I could find would tell me how many, so I stuck six in it)

Let steep in nice dark place out of the way for a few months (basically just steep till you get the desired color and flavor/smell you want) and voila!  Done!  Best part?  You can keep reusing the same vanilla beans, so if you invest in a cheap bottle of vodka you could make TONS of vanilla extract and give it away as Christmas gifts :).

Vanilla sugar is just as easy.  Here's how to do that.

Vanilla Sugar

I filled a small mason jar with raw sugar (you can use white sugar too, but I'm just experimenting with more natural styles of sugar right now :) and placed about 3 vanilla beans (cut in half) and tucked them down into the sugar.  Let sit to do it's voodoo for a while (I'm going to let mine sit at least a month just to see what happens) and you'll have some awesome tasting sugar to put on some fried apples or some pears for dessert or various other "vanilla sugar" types of applications (yum!).

And there you are folks.  My "culinary adventures" for this evening.  And now I am hopefully off to pick up the mass of clean clothes that just fell over in my laundry room *groan* and go to bed so we can get up early to go to the OT tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

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