Why make your own vanilla extract? Well let’s see. It’s easy to make. You’ll never run out of vanilla again. It might even be economical, given that you’ll never run out of it. It’s fun to watch the extract change colors? I don’t know. Vanilla beans are produced in several countries, and Garrett has a good write-up on his site regarding the differences between the varieties – Madagascar, Bourbon, Tonga, Mexico, Tahiti, etc.
Did you know that each vanilla bean comes from an orchid that has been pollinated by hand? Once the vanilla seed pod has developed, it must be hand picked as well. After picking the curing process takes several months. So if you’ve ever wondered why vanilla extract, and especially vanilla beans, can be so expensive, this is why.
How to Make Vanilla Extract
Commercial vanilla extract usually has simple syrup (sugar water) added to the extract to give it a sweet aftertaste. You can do this if you want, but if you are using the vanilla for baking, there really is no need.
- 3 vanilla beans
- 1 cup vodka
- glass jar with tight fitting lid
1 Use kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.
2 Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka.
3 Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer.
Lasts for years. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while as you use it, just remember to give it a good shake.
You can also make vanilla sugar by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar of white, granulated sugar. Great way to infuse the sugar with vanilla flavor for baking.
Montreal holds nearly every nationality and creed that exists on this planet. A true city of diversity. Positioned on the banks of the St. Lawrence, this sundry metropolis holds deep French roots and is touted as the most ‘cultural’ and the most ‘European’ city in North America. Step onto the streets and be engulfed in the arts. Architecture that stands through legacies of French and British creators, festivals of all genres attracting enthusiasts from all corners of the globe, and fare that is just as diverse.
I found myself wanting to explore as much of this city as I possibly could in 24 hrs. Starting near Mount Royal park I dipped into a sharp little coffee shop called Cafe Humble Lion and enjoyed a latte. From there I made a gigantic loop skimming the perimeter of Old Port Montreal. Here I found a fascinating backdrop. A dilapidated shipping terminal riddled with rusted steel silos and holding tanks, twisted planks and half-century old barges slumped over on their sides.
An “around the world” trip has been more than a fanciful notion of mine for years now. Each time I hop on an aircraft the desire to take the reins and pilot the thing to Mongolia becomes so strong I have to physically restrain myself in my bonded leather window seat. There is something about flying the circumference of the globe that makes me stand at attention. Something deep down in my conscience that lusts for a full and complete itinerary transporting me around the world. What is it that makes me feel this way?
Second to air travel is my interest in psychology. Everything I do is questioned by my inner self. What are the motives that drive decision making? What economical advantage does one choice have over another? Why do I, myself, want to join Dennis Rodman on a trip to North Korea? What is the ROI of said DPRK visit? Why do I want to fly all the way around the world? What will I gain from this? The answer to the last two are simple. In the pyramid of commercial air travel, an around the world journey sits at the pinnacle. There is nothing more prestigious than flying in a plane around the planet on which we live. Of course doing it three times, or even four, or five is better than one but there is nothing that tastes as sweet as the first time one experiences a dream which has been so fervently longed for. I doubt Greg Louganis’ second gold in ’88 carried the same amount of luster as his first in ’84. Just ask him. He’d love to stop by and chat over an appletini.
Through all the lusting(not for Greg), wondering and mental images of me piloting a jet to Mongolia I finally got the chance to do what I have aspired to for so long: circumnavigate the globe. A 23,000 mile voyage spanning 10 different countries over 14 days. 10 flights accounting for 50 hours of total flight time on 7 different airlines.
Over the next few weeks I will be writing about Michael and I’s experience in each different country, the different flights we took and airports we visited in transit. These writings will be interlaced with photos I capture at each destination.
Segment 1: Montreal, Canada(YUL) – London, England(LHR) – Istandbul, Turkey(IST)
Segment 2: Istanbul, Turkey(IST) – Singapore, Singapore(SIN)
Segment 3: Singapore, Singapore(SIN) – Bangkok, Thailand(BKK)
Segment 4: Bangkok, Thailand(BKK) – Hong Kong, Hong Kong(HKG)
Segment 5: Hong Kong, Hong Kong(HKG) – Taipei, Taiwan(TPE)
Segment 6: Taipei, Taiwan(TPE) – Tokyo, Japan(NRT)
Segment 7: Tokyo, Japan(NRT) – Seoul, South Korea(ICN)
Segment 8: Seoul, South Korea(ICN) – San Francisco, United States(SFO) – Montreal, Canada(YUL)
Who in the hell views Amtrak as a viable source of transportation anymore? Isn’t that so 19th century? Why would the logical traveler opt for an 8hr journey by train that would take less than 2 hrs by air? Only the elderly who have a half days work of crossword puzzles and criminals who exude a moderate level of risk to the public opt for the train. Why these folks? Yes, its a rather odd bunch, but these are just the people that travel by train. I’ve seen ‘em with my own eyes.
I decided to position myself right in the dam middle of the docile seniors and the petty jewel thieves by hoping on one of their trains from Manhattan to Montreal. This service wound its way through the Adirondacks, shouldered the Hudson, stopped at every mid-size town on the list, and culminated in Montreal. It was a fine trip I must say. Vast landscapes yet having felt the harsh punishment of mans hammer and sickle. Raw & untouched. I like to think of this as the real America.
These are some images I found striking. The Hudson River. The Adirondacks.
Everything You Need to Know About Icing, Deicing, and the Travails of Winter Flying
AS ANOTHER WINTER STORM bears down, about the last place you’d want to be is headed out to the airport. Delays and cancellations pile up, causing a ripple effect clear across the country and beyond.
What is it, exactly, about winter weather that wreaks such havoc for air travel?
Low visibilities, strong crosswinds, slick runways, potential icing — all of these things spell trouble for pilots, and cause air traffic backlogs. But, as a rule, they aren’t phenomenon that airplanes or their crews can’t handle. Generally, it’s not the in-the-air aspects of a snowstorm that cause chaos, it’s the on-the-ground aspects: Runways and taxiways need to be plowed and treated, while tarmac logistics go to hell as snow and ice accumulate. Luggage and cargo handling, fueling — everything slows to a crawl as personnel and ground equipment get bogged down in the slush.
Planes, meanwhile, cannot take off with ice or snow adhering to the wings. Parked at the terminal, an aircraft collects precipitation the way your car does — via snowfall, sleet, freezing rain or frost. (Thanks to supercooled fuel in the wings, frost can form insidiously even with temps above freezing.) The delicious-looking spray (apricot-strawberry) used to remove it is a heated combination of propylene glycol alcohol and water. It melts away existing snow or ice, and prevents the buildup of more. Different fluid mixtures, varying in temperature and viscosity, are applied for different conditions.