Dru-able, you say? A dear friend of mine coined this phrase whenever she would create a dish that is gluten-free, corn-free and soy-free! And it stuck with me since then.
I promised awhile ago to write about the vanilla extract that I use, since I cannot have McCormick or any other store-bought. That I know of , so far. If it’s gluten-free, great! But that means it’s made with corn alcohol. So where does that leave me? Got to create my own! And surprisingly, it’s EASY. And cheaper in the long run too. By nearly… half?
So with that in mind, I made other extracts, not just vanilla. But including orange, mint and anise. I love to bake, and experiment, so why not? I have to admit, I haven’t done much of that lately. That needs to be remedied FAST. Back to the extracts. The first step was finding the right alcohol. This was fairly easy, since I already knew of two potato vodkas that I can have: Chopin and Luksusowa. I’m sure there’s more, but I haven’t tried them yet. Now the next step was to buy some. Chopin is an expensive brand, so I opted for Luksusowa. After buying a bottle, I picked up two vanilla beans (they often come in two anyways) at Whole Foods. Now here’s a tidbit I picked up on recently: it’s CHEAP at food coops! Thirteen bucks at WF, and three at the coop? I think I know who’s the winner here. Now the challenging part? Making the vanilla extract.
Okay, I lied. It’s EASY. Just throw the beans in. That’s it. And wait. A month. Okay, that’s the hard part. Waiting, but it’s also fun! You can watch the changing of the color. And the aroma. Hmmmmm!
Others were mostly the same, with a few variations. The orange extract came from the peel, without the bitter part: the whites. You want it in strips. The anise was a joke. Just open the jar of anise, and pour in the vodka until it’s covered. The mint was the most complicated. Bruise the leaves first, then add it in. Wait. Then strain the leaves out. The fun part is choosing the bottles! I often don’t bother with buying new ones, since there’s many lying around anyways. From the maple syrup we used up? Perfect for mint. The vodka … okay, why throw it out if it’s the exact amount we’re using? You might want to use a prettier bottle if you giving it away as a gift. The recipes for the extracts are found online: http://www.cooks.com/rec/story/172/ that’s a great site to use. My next one to make is almond!!!
Another vital ingredient for baking: baking powder. Isn’t there a corn-free one? Most are made with cornstarch, which complicates things a bit. But the solution is VERY simple. Make your own! 1 part baking soda, 2 parts scream of tartar and 2 parts of potato starch or arrowroot powder. I usually use the potato starch for one reason: it’s cheaper and easier to find than arrowroot powder. If the parts sound complicated, it is not. Substitute part with teaspoon and voila! Or if you want to make a batch, go with tablespoon. Then mix very well. Before each use, I shake the jar vigorously. Give your arm a good workout! It clumps up easily, so it’s a necessary step.
There’s other substitutions to be made, but most of them can be found online. If there’s anything specific you want to know about, ask away. I’ll try to answer or at least find out something for you!