Vanilla Sugar

In a bit of a change from my usual posts, it’s time for a bit of musing. So tell me..what’s in your kitchen cupboard?

I don’t know about you, but I always find it quite interesting to have a rake around inside someone else’s store cupboards. Obviously I am not one of those people who goes for a snoop uninvited, but…if I’m helping out with the cooking…it’s intresting to see what they’ve got to hand. I have quite a few friends who, when they are travelling, will pick up local oil, herbs and spices or other culintary items, so it’s nice to see something new, or an old favourite that you’ve not seen for years. A spice you’ve never seen before can lead to a whole chat about a trip, the food and a recipe. Which is a nice way to catch up with friends.

At home, one of my favourite things is a large glass pot from last year’s holiday in France that I’ve filled with some used vanilla pods and a lot of caster sugar. Leave it for a few days, and voila, it’s a large pot of fragrant vanilla sugar!

You could use a new vanilla pod for this, but you can get more bang for your buck in these straightened times by re-using pods that have been floating around in milk for making custard. Just be sure to rinse them and let them dry properly before using. “Fresh” pods might work better, but I can’t really tell the difference myself…

You also get a lot of vanilla sugar for not much cash – you only need to use a little to impart a delicious vanilla aroma, and it’s great if you want to sprinkle over fresh fruit or on top of a dessert. A gentle flavour without being overpowering. Try that with vanilla extract! And should you find the pot is getting little empty, just pour in a little more sugar. Yup, that simple!

What’s are some of your favourite kitchen ingredients?


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4 responses to “Vanilla Sugar

  1. First off, I’m terribly envious of your Le Parfait jar. They’re terribly expensive here!

    As for pantry items, I think mine are pretty standard for the most part: all-purpose flour, olive oil, balsamic vinegar blah blah blah. However, I always have walnut oil, a good selection of dried fruits (love fruitcake!) and the ingredients for making my husband’s arroz con gandules–rice, tomato purée, gandules (pigeon peas), green olives and capers.

    • Ha ha, the jar – le parfait are a pretty penny here too. I saw then in Framce on holiday and insisted on dragging them around the country for a week.

      Nice list – jealous of the pigeon peas. I’ve got a curry recipe that calls for them. I’ve made it with lentils (pretty good) but I’ve never seen pigeon peas on sale here.

      • They can actually be a bit difficult to find here, as well. There aren’t a lot of people of Caribbean descent in Kansas–my husband is half Spanish via Puerto Rico and half German. We get very politically incorrect and call him “Beaner Schnitzel.”

        I brought home all kinds of crazy things from Paris. I hoarded the Evian facial spritzer bottles because they were about 1/10 the price they are here and I bought way too many hardcover books. I ended up having to pay to check extra luggage, but not until we got back into the United States. Air France didn’t care!

        • Good to know that I’m not the only one who buys lovely-but-impractical things on holiday. I’m still bringing back bottles of wine 3-4 at a time every time I go back to visit friends in Brussels.

          PS – love that nickname, the Beaner Schnitzel – could be a great vegetarian option in an Austrian restaurant.

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