Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Sunday You Wish You Spent With Me.

My day today so far:

9:45AM - Wake up
10:30AM - Yoga class
12:30PM - Make granola, sing along to Solomon Burke's greatest hits, fill the house with freshly-baked granola aroma
1:30PM - Vodka infusion time! Fill house with aroma of burnt espresso simple syrup
3:00PM - Bake banana bread, cover up burnt espresso smell with fresh-out-of-the-oven banana bread aroma.
4:00PM - Clean up the sticky, gooey espresso syrup from all over the stovetop.
5:00PM - Read Food&Wine magazine, type blog post, google "How to build breakfast nook bench".

Some things I have NOT done today: clean and work on my school project (which were, of course, my goals for the weekend).  I actually had a To Do list with those two items on it. Instead of completing those tasks and checking them off the list, I simply added 3 new items - Make granola, Infuse vodka, Bake banana bread - to the list and promptly checked them off.  So, 3 out of 5 isn't bad.

Granola (adapted from Candle Cafe cookbook)

1 c. rolled oats
1 c. steel cut oats
1 c. nuts (I used a combo of sliced almonds & unsalted cashews)
1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
1/4 c. safflower oil
1/3 c. maple syrup
dash of salt
dash of vanilla extract
1/2 c. dried fruit (I use cranberries usually)
1/4 c. shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together all ingredients except the dried fruit/coconut.  Spread evenly onto greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.  But - here's the important part - you need to spread around the granola every 5 minutes.  So stay close to the kitchen and keep an eye on the clock or you're gonna have burnt granola instead of perfectly and evenly toasted granola.  Let the granola cool a few minutes, then add the dried fruit and coconut. SO GOOD. And it'll keep in an air-tight container for several weeks.

Espresso Vanilla Bean Liqueur
(from great food blog, The Dinner Files)

3 c. sugar
3/4 c. instant espresso
2 vanilla beans
3 c. vodka (we used triple distilled

Bring sugar & 2 c water to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add espresso powder, reduce heat, simmer, stir to dissolve espresso.  Note: somewhere in between the addition of the espresso powder and the stirring and simmering, I guess I forgot to reduce the heat and KABLAM the stuff bubbled up and over the edges of my, uh, don't do what I did.  But look how gorgeous it is (evidence of my mess visible to the right):

Once the espresso is dissolved, you want to remove it from heat - transfer it to the glass infusion jar to cool.  While its cooling, use a knife to split the vanilla beans open and scrape out the teeny seeds inside (which look like a black paste). Add the seeds and the pods to the syrup, and then pour in the vodka.  Seal the jar and set it aside for 4-6 weeks - skim out the seeds/pods before serving.

Cinnamon Infused Vodka

I didn't really follow any recipe for this.  I poured a handle of vodka (plus remainder of another bottle of vodka I had) into a glass jar.  And I added lots of cinnamon sticks (about two .75-oz jars' worth). I will let this infuse for about a week, and taste it next weekend.

It is my hope that these two infusions turn out beautifully. I want to bottle the cinnamon vodka and gift it for the holidays (along with a recipe for spiked Mexican Hot Cocoa, which I'll be experimenting with in coming weekends), and we'll keep the espresso-vanilla liqueur for our own holiday entertaining.

Banana Bread (my mom's recipe)

1/2 c. butter
2 eggs
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 bananas
1 tbs milk
dash cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter & eggs, add sugar. Combine flour, cinnamon, soda, salt in separate bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ones.  In another bowl, mash bananas with milk, and then fold that into the mix. Bake for 1 hr.

Now, I will turn my attention to dinner and schoolwork. But - who am I kidding - once I have a glass of wine and Daniel gets the firepit going, its s'more time not school time!

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