Twelve days of food gifts: basil vodka

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

I’m sorry! I’m sorry, okay? I skipped not just one, but two days of my Twelve Days of Food Gifts. I’m a horrible person.

Honestly, I think this Gchat jinxed me:

Emily‬: oh I meant to tell you
I really like your little 12 days of gifts thing
that you’re doing
me‬: hahaha thanks
Emily‬: you’re so creative/not lazy
I admire you
me‬: haha i don’t know how the fuck i’ve managed
to get this done

But we’ve still got time, right? It’s not Christmas yet. And the two gifts I have left don’t take too much time. Will you let me make it up to you?

With basil vodka?

basil vodkaBasil Vodka

Makes 4 bottles

1 cup vodka (not too cheap, not too nice)
1/2 cup basil leaves

Put basil leaves in a clean glass jar, then pour vodka over them. Let infuse in a cool dark place, shaking at least 2 times per day, for 2-3 days.

Wash and dry your bottles so they are ready to go when needed.

When basil flavor is to taste, strain through a coffee filter to remove the basil leaves.

Decant into bottles. I found that my regular kitchen funnel did not fit in the neck of these bottles, but a tiny flask funnel worked fine.

For Gifting:
woozy 1.7 oz round glass bottle w/ cap
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 2″x2″ label)
printable (12 2″x2″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled bottle, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges to the sides.

If you’d like to protect the label from potential moisture-related accidents, cover the labels with clear contact paper before cutting them out. I don’t love my friends that much, but you might.

Twelve days of food gifts: vanilla extract

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

This is not a gift you’re going to start making today and have ready by Christmas.

But do you remember a few months ago, when I started making vanilla extract?

homemade vanilla extract

Well, as a part of my Twelve Days of Food Gifts series, it’s now time to bottle ‘em, label ‘em, and give ‘em away! If you started vanilla extract when I did, I’ve got a printable for you.

Anyway, on with it.

vanilla extract

Vanilla Extract

Makes approximately 12 bottles

1.75 liter bottle of vodka
8 ounces vanilla beans

Transfer about two cups of the vodka to a measuring cup.

Using a sharp knife, slice down the middle of each vanilla bean. As you slice them, plop them into the bottle of vodka. I didn’t use the entire half-pound of beans — I saved several for other uses. If you don’t have anything else you want to use them for, just toss them all in.

Using a funnel, pour your reserved vodka back into the bottle until it is full. Find an interesting use for the rest of the vodka. I’m sure you’ll manage.

Put in a cool, dark place. Shake it up every few days or so to agitate the beans, and let it infuse for about two months; longer is better if you have the time.

Strain through a coffee filter to remove beans and sediment.

Decant strained extract into bottles. If desired, add one vanilla bean to each bottle.

For Gifting:
Amber Boston Round Glass Bottle 4 oz w/ Std Cap
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single .5″x2.75″ label)
printable (16 .5″x2.75″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled bottle, and press firmly in the middle of the label.

If you’d like to protect the label from potential moisture-related accidents, cover the labels with clear contact paper before cutting them out.

Twelve days of food gifts: peppercorn vodka

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

It’s day five of the stuffed grapes twelve days of food gifts. If you’re just joining us: Every day I post a recipe, links to packaging supplies, and printable labels so you can go ahead and make some last minute gifts.

Today it’s time for another boozy treat. Obviously.

So, jalapeno vodka, habanero vodka, chipotle vodka… these all sound really tasty, right? But sometimes you want something just a little spicy — not something that will melt your face off. Especially if your face might already be melting off. Since you’re doing shots.

Enter peppercorn vodka. Peppercorns are great for  an understated heat, which I guess is why we use them to gently spice food on a daily basis. They also give a lovely tint to the vodka. And they infuse fast. If you find yourself a couple of days before Christmas and you haven’t started anything yet, you could whip up a batch of this in less than forty-eight hours, including bottling and labeling.

peppercorn vodka

Well? Get to it.

Peppercorn Vodka

Makes 4 bottles

1 cup vodka (not too cheap, not too nice)
1 scant tablespoon dried peppercorns (any color, but I used black)

Mix vodka and peppercorns in a clean glass jar. Seal and put in a cool, dark place. Let it infuse, shaking the jar several times per day, for 1 to 2 days for a subtle peppery flavor — longer for a real spicy kick.

Wash and dry your bottles so they are ready to go when needed.

When pepper flavor is to taste, strain through a coffee filter to remove the peppercorns.

Decant into bottles. I found that my regular kitchen funnel did not fit in the neck of these bottles, but a tiny flask funnel worked fine.

For Gifting:
woozy 1.7 oz round glass bottle w/ cap
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 2″x2″ label)
printable (12 2″x2″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled bottle, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges to the sides.

If you’d like to protect the label from potential moisture-related accidents, cover the labels with clear contact paper before cutting them out. I don’t love my friends that much, but you might.

Twelve days of food gifts: Old Bay vodka

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

So somehow I’ve managed to post three food gifts in a row as part of my Twelve Days of Food Gifts series. If I get through all twelve, that will be your Christmas miracle right there.

But to recap, I’m making awesome homemade edible gifts for my friends and family this year. Then I’m posting the recipes, along with links to specialty packing supplies, and fun printable labels.

And I think I’ve mentioned my love of Old Bay before, right?

Old Bay vodkaThis is a fun infused vodka that I wasn’t really able to find any guidance on the internet about — it doesn’t seem like it’s been done. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, or if it did technically “work” whether it would be something anyone would willingly put in their mouth.

Who’m I kidding, my friends will drink anything.

Just kidding! Kind of. But it ended up being something I would totally drink. It’s a fun vodka that is not your typical fruity/sweet infusion, but doesn’t go all the way to the other side by being ALL HOT PEPPERS ALL THE TIME. It’s got a bit of a kick to it, but not in a way that burns your lips. A bit of a celery-seedy aftertaste rounds it out.

This would be great for taking shots, as the vodka burn is reduced a little bit by infusing. It also makes a great bloody mary, obviously. But it would be fun to experiment with this in any savory cocktails that you’re into.

Old Bay Vodka

Makes 4 bottles

1 cup vodka (not too cheap, not too nice)
1 heaping teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

Mix vodka and Old Bay in a clean glass jar. Seal and put in a cool, dark place. Let it infuse, shaking the jar several times per day, for 3 to 5 days.

Wash and dry your bottles so they are ready to go when needed.

When Old Bay flavor is to taste, strain through a coffee filter to remove the sediment. You may have to change out the filter a few times — since Old Bay is ground, it gunks up the filter pretty quickly.

Decant into bottles. I found that my regular kitchen funnel did not fit in the neck of these bottles, but a tiny flask funnel worked fine.

For Gifting:
woozy 1.7 oz round glass bottle w/ cap
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 2″x2″ label)
printable (12 2″x2″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled bottle, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges to the sides.

If you’d like to protect the label from potential moisture-related accidents, cover the labels with clear contact paper before cutting them out. I don’t love my friends that much, but you might.

It’s time to start making vanilla extract for holiday gifts

I’m way behind the times on this one, but I finally remembered far enough ahead this year. I’m making vanilla extract to give as holiday gifts! And, of course, use.

There are instructions all over the internet for this, but the basic idea is: put vanilla beans in some liquor. Let it sit and shake it up sometimes.

homemade vanilla extract

There are some options regarding what type of liquor to use. Vodka produces the cleanest vanilla taste, but bourbon and white rum are popular choices too. I saw a post that suggested using the mini liquor bottles to try different types if you want to compare the differences, which seems like a pretty fabulous idea.

However, for my purposes I decided to use vodka, because a clean vanilla taste is just what I’m looking for. I’d like to be able to use this in anything — basically, to replace store-bought vanilla extract. And I decided to use a big bottle, so I can give it away for holiday gifts, as well as having a lot left to use myself.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

1.75 liter bottle vodka (I used Tito’s Handmade Vodka because it is corn-based, and I have a couple of gluten-intolerant friends, and because I am apparently susceptible to the ads in Readymade Magazine)
8 ounces vanilla beans (I ordered Marky’s Tahitian Vanilla Beans pretty much just because it was eligible for Amazon Prime shipping)

Transfer about two cups of the vodka to a measuring cup.

Using a sharp knife, slice down the middle of each vanilla bean. As you slice them, plop them into the bottle of vodka. I didn’t use the entire half-pound of beans — I saved several for other uses. If you don’t have anything else you want to use them for, just toss them all in.

Using a funnel, pour your reserved vodka back into the bottle until it is full. Find an interesting use for the rest of the vodka. I’m sure you’ll manage.

Put in a cool, dark place. I have it in the basement, next to her cage. Shake it up every few days or so to agitate the beans, and let it infuse for about two months. Feel free to pour off little nips here and there to “test” it, and add more vodka as needed.

So, just before Christmas, I will be straining and decanting them into little bottles to gift, as well as a slightly bigger bottle to use myself. I’ll write an update at that time, I’m sure. Any suggestions for a source for some cute little vanilla-extract-appropriate bottles?