Homemade Holiday 2014

I need to be real with you about the holidays. The way many people act post-Thanksgiving right through the December holidays really bums me out. I feel embarrassed for those who are so holiday-crazy-brained that all of a sudden they forget how to be decent human beings. We already deal with enough rudeness the other eleven months of the year; the added indifference toward others around the holidays is truly unbearable for me. Isn’t is amazing how, in the midst of giving to others, we forget how to treat those present around us?

In order to avoid the box store chaos, I made all gifts homemade this year. My mom, as well as my closest friends, were gifted Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean extract. My dad was gifted caramel syrup, which he likes to put in his coffee every morning. Finally, my extended family of aunts, uncles, and grandparents were gifted packages of sausage and cheese and spinach and cheese ravioli as well as a jar of marinara sauce. Below are a few of my homemade holiday recipes for 2014.


Homemade Vanilla Extract
makes six 9 oz bottles

Made with help from The Kitchn

25 vanilla beans (I ordered mine from Amazon)
1 handle of cheap vodka

It’s simple…slice your beans, or not. For every 9 oz of vodka you pour, use or so 4 beans. I found the bottles with white caps at Michaels; they are perfectly sized, but I wish they had pour spouts. Shake your bottles a little bit every day, and your extract will be ready in 2 months.

Homemade Caramel Syrup
makes 16 oz

Made with help from The Kitchn

1 1/2 C sugar
scant 1/2 C water, plus separate 3/4 C water
1 t corn syrup
1 t vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, scant 1/2 C water, and corn syrup. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to medium high. Continue to stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Let boil until mixture turns a medium amber, or other desired color. Remove from heat.

Carefully, carefully pour in the separate 3/4 C water while stirring. When it splatters, it hurts, so be careful. Once the syrup appears to have come together, add vanilla extract and salt. Immediately pour into a clean canning jar and apply lid and ring; the jar will can itself. Let cool on the counter for a few hours before transferring to the fridge.