Homemade Vanilla Sugar

Apparently there’s this thing called vanilla sugar.  And I could’ve been baking with it all these years!  It’s used in a lot of European cookie recipes and things like that.  But I made it for some chai mix.  It’s really easy to make and I have heard that it’s really expensive if you buy it from a store.  It’s really just regular white sugar and vanilla extract.  Be sure to use pure vanilla extract, not vanilla flavoring, or imitation vanilla.

I needed three cups for my recipe so I made that much, but this recipe can easily be scaled either up or down.  The vanilla sugar will also keep, just store it the same way you store white sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

3 cups sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Mix the sugar and vanilla extract together as much as you can.  I found it helped to use the back of a spoon to mush out the lumps in it.

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Leave the bowl lightly covered overnight.  I used a Pyrex and just placed the lid on top, but didn’t fully put it on.  When you come back to it, it will be hard and stiff.  Just stir it back up and break up any more lumps.  Use in whatever yummy recipe you’re making!

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In the recipe, I had to pulse the mix in a food processor, so I didn’t really stir it up after I let it sit overnight.  I just dumped it in with the rest of the ingredients and let the food processor stir it for me.

Also, It makes your kitchen smell amazing!

Anyone got any other good recipes to use this in?

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Stir-Fried Day-Lily Buds

Alright, lilies may have a use after all.  As long as you are very careful with where you grow them.  Various parts of day-lilies are used in Chinese cooking, the new shoots, the flowers, and the flower buds.  I decided to cook some of the flower buds.  I gathered a bunch of them around midday to cook for dinner.  After I picked them I put them in cool water (tap water with one ice cube in it) in a coffee mug.  Then I left them in a dark and cook place (my kitchen counter away from windows) and left them to The King (that’s a reference to the Elvis mug I used, not another secret identity of a family member).

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I prepared the stir-fry with broccoli, bell peppers, onions, snow peas (from my dad’s garden), and the lily buds.  But you could use any vegetables you have on hand.

Stir-Fried Day-Lily Buds

About a handful of broccoli, chopped (florets and stalk)

About a handful of bell pepper, chopped

About a Tablespoon onion, chopped

About two handfuls of snow peas (don’t forget to string them)

A coffee mug’s worth of Day-Lily flower buds (see photo above)

Dash paprika

Splash grapeseed oil (could also use any other vegetable oil)

First you detach the flower buds from the stems.  You only want to use ones that are between 2 and 4 inches long and have some color to them.  Some of the larger ones had a string inside that I pulled out if it came easily.  I don’t know if this is necessary, it’s just what I did.

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I put a skillet on the stove with some grapeseed oil at medium heat.  First I cooked the broccoli and onions for a few minutes.  Then I added the bell pepper, snow peas, lily flowers buds, and paprika.  You can season any way you want.  I cooked everything until tender, stirring regularly.  I ended up breaking up the flower buds while cooking them.  I think at first glance they look like shrimp.

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It tasted good.  The flower buds have a very subtle flavor, so don’t expect them to carry the dish.  The minion even got to eat one of the flower buds.  She seemed to like it, but ended up smearing it with yogurt.  Of course she smeared everything with yogurt; her shirt, my shirt, the table, the floor…