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January 13th, 2010

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Posted 01-13-2010 at 08:57 PM by Sapsorrow

Today hasn't been a Christmas planning or prep day (not every day will be, thankfully), but I do tend to have stretches of time with the baby on my hands and nothing to do but think so some ideas percolated through.

Without a doubt, food and scent are huge parts of Christmas for me. This is why I'm most looking forward to the cookie baking spree, mulled wine, eggnog, and the grand dinner we're hosting. What occurred to me is that cooking 24/7 "from 6th to 6th" wouldn't make for the best Christmas, but I can nevertheless keep the aromas going with some balsam incense and a few sugar cookie scented candles by the oven. Took me long enough to conside this obvious solution, didn't it?

Now, we eat pretty humbly throughout the year. A lot of our food is free thanks to gardening or other hobbies, and relatives that hunt or farm, and the "cuisine" on our table is simple. Consequently, we don't need to budget and bargain hunt for groceries during the year. Lentils, rice, and cornmeal are never that expensive. (Milk and eggs, on the other hand...) But that's all out the window for Christmas. We eat rich for a month and require very nice ingredients from good spices and nuts to caviar, foie gras, and truffle oil. To afford them, things are bought throughout the year. Even so, it's still a big budget hit when we buy the fresh ingredients all at once!

This year I'll be cutting costs by making some of the ingredients, or making a fancy version of them at any rate: fleur de sel, bourbon vanilla extract, vanilla sugar, lavendar sugar, etc. I have a purchasing schedule worked up. I need my sugars and extracts ready by July because that's when I start making cookies. It takes eight weeks to make the extracts and a similar length of time for good sugars. So, I'll pick up canning jars and bottles in spring, vodka or grain alcohol the next month, and start the infusion process right away. I can order salts, sugars, and spices any time I like, so I'll do them while it's still winter. I should remember to make twice what I need for the year so I can give the rest away as gifts.

Items that can be made like this:
1. Extracts or liqueurs are made by simply steeping the flavoring in high proof, nearly flavorless vodka. Add sugar syrup to liqueurs if you intend them for drinking rather than flavoring.
2. Fleur de sel is simply herb "infused" sea salt made by mixing crushed, chopped herb combinations with salt and sealing tightly.
3. Flavored sugars are the same as fler de sel.
4. Infused oils are the samr as extract only your chosen oil instead of the extract.
5. You can also make items like specialty and browned flours.

This year I'm working on a recipe book, so I'm hoping to make a few ingredients to go with it to the recipient.
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  1. Old Comment
    pattilynn's Avatar
    wonderful share! I can almost smell your kitchen air! :)
    Posted 01-14-2010 at 07:28 PM by pattilynn pattilynn is offline

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