This weekend, SensitiveHusband and I enjoyed listening to our local symphony’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It was so wonderful to hear this piece live, especially during the fourth movement when the chorus, soloists and symphony were performing the famous “Ode to Joy” segment. When we got home we enjoyed homemade chocolate chunk cookies, which contributed greatly to our pleasant evening.
I read a news article this week about a growing body of evidence that links what we taste and how we feel. In the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers reported findings that a person with a sweet tooth is more likely to have a sweet disposition and be more generous with his or her time. The findings also stated that food can affect one’s judgement – a person may be more critical of a situation after drinking a bitter drink, for example. Perhaps this is why my office has a candy jar rather than a rotten egg jar!
Last year my sweet sister-in-law, Bree, gave me a jar of homemade vanilla extract. She said that it was so easy to make – it just takes two ingredients – and the result lighter and fresher than the store-bought variety (without the corn syrup that is sometimes added too). I used her creation rather quickly so I started making my own. I even make extras from time to time and give them as gifts to sweet people in my life. They make great holiday gifts – and if you start now you will have time to prepare them for this year’s winter holidays.
The ingredients are 1 vanilla bean and 1/3 cup vodka. Cut the vanilla bean down the middle so that the flesh is exposed. Add the vanilla bean to a clean glass jar (I use the jar that the bean comes in). Add the vodka in the jar so that it covers the bean. Close the jar tightly and shake the bottle. Store the mixture in a dark, cool place for about eight weeks, shaking the bottle once a week. The mixture will start as a clear liquid and will end up as a brown liquid – vanilla extract! Use in all of your baking to enhance the sweetness of your desserts, and according to researchers, to sweeten your day too!