Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

If you bake a lot like Annie does, you’ll use a lot of vanilla extract in your recipes. That can be costly, as commercial vanilla extract is expensive. The recipe for how to make your own vanilla extract at home is seriously easy to do, and cheaper in the long run than buying commercial vanilla extract.

But first, let’s back up a bit. Do you recognize this tree?

vanilla vine

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Guinness Beer Can Chicken

This is the story of a food experiment gone awry.

Chicken Propped up on a Guinness Beer Can

Guinness Beer Can Chicken propped up 
It all started when I read an article in the paper about Arthur’s Day, a day to commemorate the signing of the lease on Arthur Guinness’s brewery, over 250 years ago. You know, the maker of the popular Guinness Stout beer.  The company is holding a worldwide music festival on September 22 to celebrate.

That article sparked an idea in my  head to cook something with Guinness beer in time with Arthur’s Day. But I wasn’t interested in making an Irish Stew. I wanted to revisit a cooking technique that I hadn’t done in a long time, since before we moved from San Jose to Kuching: Beer Can Chicken. In the past, I’ve gotten tasty results using Heineken beer, so I figured to try making it again, only this time using Guinness Stout instead.

That was the start of the troubles…

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Ginger-Marinated Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Today, my kids devoured their dinner.

Ginger Marinated Pork Tenderloin with sauce

Lately, I’ve been sticking to rice and dishes (veggie stir-fries, braised meats, soups, steamed fish, and the like) for dinner. I guess it’s been a while since I made a more Western-type meal (not counting pasta which I make often enough). Last night, however, I took a couple of pork tenderloin out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner.

I needed a recipe that I could whip up without any fuss.

I looked around for some recipes and saw one on Epicurious for this Ginger-Marinated Pork Tenderloin. The picture on the recipe showed it served with some mashed sweet potatoes. That got my attention as I had a couple of sweet potatoes lying around at home waiting to be used. And when I perused the recipe, I saw that I had all the ingredients available at home as well. Bingo! That was going to be dinner.

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Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Vermouth

You’ll swoon over these lamb shanks in buttery braised garlic sauce.

Braised Lamb Shank

For some reason, it’s really hard to find good beef here in Kuching. Last year when Nate was hankering for some steak for his birthday, I went to the store and got some ribeyes to grill up for him.

They were not good.

They were tough and did not have enough marbling. I had bought a big hunk of ribeye frozen and when we thawed them out, we had a feeling they weren’t going to be good. So, we’ve pretty much given up on getting good steaks here. The rest of that hunk ended up being sliced up and used for Niku-jaga which was a better application of that quality beef.

Anyway, why am I going on about beef when the title of this post says lamb shanks? Well, it’s because I want to let you know that even though we can’t get good beef here, we can certainly find good lamb!

The same place I got my beef, I also found some vacuum-packed lamb shanks that were super meaty. I got myself two shanks the first time; made this recipe and regretted not buying more. So the second time around, I made sure to get four shanks.

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My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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