A few weeks ago, one of the women in my local knitting group (The Bitchy Bees) was telling our small group one Friday night about the fun home-made food stuffs she and her boyfriend like to whip up at home, namely vanilla extract, and butter. I immediately decided that I needed to try making these thing myself.
Yesterday, when out shopping with my husband, we picked up two single litres of whipping cream. I found a tutorial on making butter (which I highly recommend), just to be sure I knew what needed to be done. I let the whipping cream sit out and warm up to around 63degrees F, and got to work whipping up each litre one after the other. Using a mixer is really key. Shaking this by hand would take hours and way more energy than I have. Would be fun for kids, for a while, but really, the mixer is what makes it. It takes the cream and turns it into whipped cream in minutes, then beyond that to the separating of milk solids and buttermilk shortly thereafter. It's so fun to watch!
I also threw together the dead simple ingredients of making one's own home-made vanilla extract, with vodka and vanilla beans. I used three single bean pods, though I think I'll add a fourth, just to have a decent strength. Now I need to let it sit for two months. Oh, the waiting.
In the same vein of culinary experiments, I now have a slow cooker, and am, as I type, doing my first "roast" chicken in the 6 quart Crock Pot. There is a "Crockpot Lovers" group on Ravelry (I love that there is a group for almost everything on Ravelry!), and they talk about cooking whole small chickens in the slow cooker, so I figured I'd give it a go. I've heard that a final 15 minutes or so of roasting in the oven will crisp up the skin, should the skin need to be crisp (some people don't like the skin - what? Crispy skin is the best part!). We'll see how it turns out tonight.