Another week. Vanilla Essence, Home brewing, seed saving etc

This has been such a busy week here! The garden is running a muck (read, weeds out of control) and I have been working way more than we were expecting me to due to short staffing. Roger has been busy elsewhere during the weekends and we are behind in everything. But… all is good πŸ™‚

We got a great buy!! I must say here when my hubby bid on it on an auction site I thought he was buying a Still and encouraged him, alas it is a beer making kit which is NOT QUITE THE SAME. Beer isn’t cheap and though I can see the sense in making one’s own….I hate the stuff. I was thinking vodka for fruit liquers and preserving herbs (yummy things), he was thinking ice cold beers at the end of a working day …. every Kiwi male enjoys his beer. But I did get something out of it. This all came for $53 and note the glass bottles, 1 dozen of those gorgeous things which we will not be using for beer πŸ™‚ This unit had been used once.Image

I mentioned last week a friend had made us some vodka so I have been trying different things with it. He has told us we can borrow his Still to make our own, if you have Vodka you can make all sorts and homemade vodka is soooo cheap – $28 for 8 large bottles!

Vanilla Essence:

Split 6 vanilla pods sideways then cut in half. Place in bottle and pour over 1 cup vodka. Leave to stand in a dark cupboard for 8 weeks to mature. Apparently this will last forever, just topping up vodka or adding another pod as required. It smells divine!

Vanilla Essence

Vanilla Essence

After 3 days:


Herbal Tinctures:

Instructions from my sister-in-law Beth – Place 300 g of desired herb in airtight jar and cover with vodka. Leave to sit in a cool dark place to 2 weeks, shaking regularly. Squeeze all liquid out of the leaves and discard, strain and bottle. Take 1 – 3 tsp a day. I want to build up a supply of these but my first is Feverfew, used for migraines and as an anti-inflammatory.


Freezing without blanching: A tip.

I do all my beans, zucchini and pumpkin this way (if pumpkin is not storing well I will freeze it). It’s the quickest method I have found and removes all the air without need for a vacuum pump. The snaplock bags can be used dozens of times.

Place vegetables in bag filling about 3/4 full.Image

Without sealing shake all vegetables down, fold over to meet vegetables while letting air escape.Image

Seal while folded. All excess air is gone.


Press out flat for storage


Coriander Seed:

Whose idea was it to dry and collect this? Oh yeah…. mine. Alot more complicated than it sounded at the time because we never pulled it out and hung it upside down in a rubbish bag when we should’ve. By the time we pulled it they had been dropping for weeks so instead we did it the hard way!

One coriander plant = thousands of seeds


Just a little of them.


McGyver’s (Mr QAL’s) solution for separating seed from stalk πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚


1 bowl full, as far as we have – and this AFTER Syd chased the cat through the lounge and spread a complete bowl all over the carpet. Back to the flippin heater / fan stage of collection, instead I threw my hands in the air yelling “That’s it, I’ve had it!” so it might sit there a few days before the final product is clean and edible!


Chocolate and Almond Buckwheat Granola Clusters:

A few months ago I changed to a gluten free diet, this past few weeks I have been craving a decent cereal to replace homemade muesli. Fran from Serendipity Farm saved the day with a wonderful recipe for these granola clusters which she has tweaked from another recipe.Β

I then tweaked hers and came up with this which I will post in a wee while but Oh yum, it’s delicious and not nearly as expensive as similar products on the market, in fact it turned out far cheaper than I thought it would.Image

First you need Sunflower Butter and I have been wanting to try some of this so a good excuse. Also an economical butter to make and tastes delicious. The recipe for this can also be found on Fran’s post orΒ

I used honey rather than maple syrup.


Coconut Oil Deodorant:

This is all I use nowadays and is very economical to make compared with organic deodorants. I shall also post this this separately.Image

It’s a beautiful day here today and I have so much to do I don’t know where to start but at the beginning is probably a good idea….coffee, while I think about everything and procastinate as well as only I can do πŸ™‚

Oh, I did have a nice thing happen. I got an email from a fellow blogger from Australia who is coming to NZ and would like to visit if he can manage it. I think that’s pretty cool πŸ™‚

And this week I started reading on the e-course I won on Everyday Simplicity fromΒ Check out their site if you haven’t already, it’s just lovely.

25 thoughts on “Another week. Vanilla Essence, Home brewing, seed saving etc

  1. Oh wow – if we take the coriander seed fiasco out of the mix, you are having a great time! I’m all for trying Fran’s clusters too, still wading through the giant batch of muesli I made myself the day before she posted it though – so maybe I’ll wait to see what version you came up with. Love that another blogger got in touch for a visit – how cool is that!

    Oh, your herbal tinctures – that took me back! I used to do it, and what a fabulous idea to do it again – but first must learn how to make my own vodka!!

    I am considering going completely dairy free – the last bastion of ‘ordinary’ eating for me – notice I said ‘considering’ …… I shall probably procrastinate happily around this thought for quite some time …. πŸ™‚


    • Yes Pauline, a great time if not a little chaotic πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      I’m looking forward to trying the tinctures, lots of things I want to do there with herbs but they seem to take a back seat to everything else but it’s something I have been interested in for a long time. We recently expanded our herbs gardens but all the new plants I bought for medicinal purposes are still just wee.

      Dairy free I am finding harder than gluten free but that’s just me. I can’t always keep up with my nut milk making and have to use normal sometimes, and I miss cheese alot – yogurt I still consume. Yes, it takes me a long time to decide/act on things too lol


  2. HI Wendy. What a great post. I too am sitting there with a cup for tea wondering where to start in the overwhelming nature of a late summer garden, trying not to procrastinate. I have coriander seeds waiting to be sorted, beetroot to be processed. I made 10 jars of tomato relish and froze three large bag fulls of tomatoes, but I think there same is ready again on the plants! I love some of your vodka ideas and must add them to the list of things I really must do… but for now I think I need to just get out there and do something… anything.
    Have a productive day.
    Cheers Sarah : o )


    • Hi Sarah πŸ™‚

      I think it will have to be a day in the garden for me….I can hide in the kitchen but at the end of the day the weeds will just grow bigger day by day. Truly, all I feel like is a day lying on a hammock with a nice book, of which I have neither – so….!!
      Have a good one πŸ™‚


  3. I have to apologize, Wendy . . . I’m sorry for laughing out loud when I got to the bit about the bowl of coriander seeds all over the lounge floor. I would have yelled, too; just reading about it is always so funny . . .

    I never thought of tinctures back when I was in the country, or making vodka, either πŸ˜‰ (I have made fake Kahlua, etc., and they were great, but I bought the vodka. I found this link a while ago and you may find it interesting:

    Narf7, you and others are making me want to try buckwheat again. It’s been years since I ate it. Those clusters look yummy!

    I’m looking forward to your post on the deodorant stuff, too. I’ve been meaning to research it, but haven’t done so yet. I, too, am a master procrastinator. ;-(

    I think it’s fine to work in the garden early and late (’cause it’s cooler then) and lie around in a hammock or what-have-you with a book, a cool drink and closed eyes πŸ˜‰ in the afternoons. It’s good for you, honest!

    Of course, if you’ve been working extra, maybe the closed eyes bit isn’t such an option . . . ~ Linne


    • Oh πŸ™‚ That’s ok Lynne….if there is one thing I have learned well in my long life it’s that things are always funnier when they happen to other people πŸ™‚ Honestly it was the last straw, that dog is way too big to be inside and the cat and he are always terrorising one another!

      I have made Kahlua in the past too and have plans to make more when I get around to it. At least you can drink it straight away. Thanks for that link I shall check it out.

      The clusters ARE yummy πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

      I will do the deodorant shortly Linne, it’s only quick and I have time now. It really is lovely perfumed.

      I spent the day in the garden then made mint sauce. Some days it would be really nice to just curl up in the sun (the dogs beanbag in front of the big windows always looks very cosy!) One day very soon I will have a blob day and maybe do just that πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I did listen to music with ear phones on for 30 minutes, my favourite quick relax.


  4. Wow… you have been busy. I also want a Still we can make our own liquors, but my husband is hesitant as it is against federal law to distill. We can make all the beer and wine we want to, but as soon as we distill, it becomes a federal offense. (Though I still think of trying my hand at it.) I bet the homemade vanilla does indeed smell wonderful and will be simply divine when you use it. Have fun!


    • Ohh, that’s a shame. I was surprised to hear last week Australia doesn’t allow spirit making either. Pleased to hear you have ‘would be’ rebel traits though πŸ™‚ but I understand penalties would be quite high there. That’s such a shame for you, I think it would be alot of fun.
      I’m looking forward to trying this vanilla!


  5. We have a friend that brings his home brewed beer to our summer parties which he grew the hops + other flavoring for his own recipes. it is a great summer party when he shows up with some of his homemade beer! LOVE THAT STUFF. Our families use to make dandelion wine in the old days, but vodka, that is neat. I had no idea you could do all those things with vodka. Love the color of the vanilla added to the vodka. You never seize to amaze me with your knowledge! I always learn something new when I stop by Quarteracerlifestyle! Enjoy your warm weather:-) Do you blanch the zucchini before you freeze? It looks beautiful! Mine did not turn out too well this winter:-(


    • Hi there πŸ™‚ No, I never blanch zucchini. Last year was the first time I blanched my beans and did not like the results so won’t be doing that again. I don’t think we will try growing the hop, Roger will just use he kit stuff until he gets a handle on it and figures out what he’s doing. The vanilla is so easy and truly smells so good! Is dandelion wine nice? I have thought of it but wondered what it would be like.
      I read of lots of stuff as the years go on and remember it for if the opportunities arrive to try it πŸ™‚ Thank goodness for the internet, everything just there at the click of a button πŸ™‚


      • I am so glad you do not have to blanch! I just learned that from you “wise” one-tee hee. Yours look so beautiful in the bags. Do you add them to things, or stir fry? I tried blanching summer squash + soups were only where they worked!
        Then you don’t blanch you beans? I did not like mine either when I did that + I don’t like a lot of salt , so I was wondering what do you do with your beans now? Sorry to ask so many quesitons, just curious + I would like to put a bit more in the freezer for about 12 weeks we don’t have fresh food. I do keep fresh food going , but about Feb to early April is sparse!
        Well, they made dandelion wine + it was rather potent! I was young + did not garden at that time, so I don’t know what they did with it other than drink it-lol


      • “Wise one”/ Tee hee indeed lol
        I use the zucchini in all sorts – soups, stews, stir fries and freeze some grated for vegetable fritters etc. In stir fries it needs only a little cooking.

        The beans I just throw in salted boiling water and cook just a few minutes. Home frozen beans are never as good as commercially frozen I don’t think but when I blanched last year they were just rubbery and eaten sparingly. Most ended up in cooked things.

        I don’t mind you asking questions πŸ™‚

        Mmm, I might have to try this dandelion wine at some stage. I was going to make gorse petal wine but nneded to pick 15 cups of petals and got a bit weary of the thorns, was slow going. But they smell very beautiful so I have dried the petals…for something?!


  6. I am seethingly jealous of your vodka and your NZ ability to distil your own spirits. Obviously you NZ’ers have complete and utter self control and can’t bath in booze like we Aussies would apparently do if given the chance to distil our own. Our government is doing this “for our own good” (I will keep on telling myself that and hopefully that stinging jealously will abate! πŸ˜‰ ). I get the feeling that anything steeped in enough vodka (and imbibed copiously) is going to “do you good” πŸ˜‰

    Great tip about the freezing cubed vege and especially the sealing and I, too, was hit by the “why don’t I save that coriander seed from the plant that went straight from an inch high to “SEED!” overnight…Don’t forget those seeds are delicious in curries if you end up with too many. I can’t see why you wouldn’t employ dog and cat powered coriander seed cleaning when it’s free. Just put the seeds on the floor, let them race in…and out…and in…and out…ad infinitum until the seed has been winnowed. Just like they did in the old days! πŸ˜‰

    At least yours formed clusters. Mine sort of “clumped” together in haphazard lumps but it tasted scrumptious. I am going to give your recipe a run up the flag pole. I keep sneaking chunks of sunflower seed butter out of the jar. It tastes scrumptious :). Gotta make me some coconut oil deodorant ASAP with this hot weather heading back our way. How exciting to meet a fellow blogger! You will have to do a post on it and let us all know how it went :).

    Coffee is a good start but tea is a better one! I have NO idea how I am going to do the umpty squintillion things that I need to accomplish today whilst keeping Steve and the dogs happy but you know what? I am going to at least give it a go! That’s not a bad start πŸ™‚ At least the additional work will be feeding the coffers a bit and a beer kit is also the start to making homemade wine…hijack that sucker!


    • Hi Fran πŸ™‚ I was half way through a long reply to your post last night and about to put on my deodorant recipe for Linne after that….and SYD!!!! knocked my computer off the side of the chair again, I am on the desktop this morning, again! Honestly that dog. He’s just damn lucky he was born so lovable!! Yes, I will be using the coriander seed for cooking when I finally manage to clean it properly. I was so annoyed with him, it was quite a process well before that incident!
      I am a convert to the sunflower butter, it’s very good. The cereal too is really good but next time I will be trying your date paste for it. I just added dates at the last minute and it’s good I did as it needed hat sweetener.
      I have lots of gardening on today and don’t feel like it either but once I start I’m ok πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Just thinking about it when still half asleep has bee thinking I might just go back to bed lol
      I’ve been made aware that we are lucky to be able to do our own spirits here, what is it with governments they have to stifle such creativity. I imagine a wee drop does alot more good for you than not. We aren’t all potential alcoholics just trying to make a cheaper booze!
      I am really pleased that this fellow blogger inquired if he could visit, even if he can’t make it here I was stoked he asked πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚


      • I don’t think its “cheap booze” that worries our government and they could care less about our health (unless they have to start paying out for the consequences πŸ˜‰ ) they are more worried about losing taxes and so maintain the status quo with us having to pay exorbitant import taxes which they pocket. I am thinking about going down the reprobate track myself to be honest after reading your excellent post! It’s not like I am going to quaff vanilla essence before breakfast! ;). Have a great day out in the garden. It might not feel all that great while you are out there slaving but it certainly feels amazing when you stop and go back indoors. Its a bit like banging your head on a wall…it feels SPECTACULAR when you stop πŸ˜‰


      • Lol, yep, you are right there lol.

        You little rebel…..and why not? There are far worse crimes than making your own vanilla from scratch I would’ve thought!! Getting the right ingredients may be a little hard though? But, I am sure there are other ways of making straight alcohol.


      • Nope…so I might just have to get a welder mate to come to the party and go all Moonshiney on Serendipity Farm (now THAT would give Frank’s curtains something to twitch about! πŸ˜‰ )


  7. Wendy you sure have been busy! I would give anything to have weeds to pull right now. Actually I enjoy pulling weeds, but want to be outdoors again without freezing.

    I had to wait to take the simplicity ecourse until next month due to some money issues, less income than I expected. Can’t wait to hear what you think of it.

    I too freeze much of my produce without blanching, never had a problem with it.


  8. Wendy, I just found your blog a week ago and i love reading about your simple self sustaining life! We have a small backyard and are going to grow veggies and greens this year. πŸ™‚

    About the coriander seeds, maybe you can sue a pasta strainer, where the seeds will fall through the holes and leave the sticks on top? You can very lightly toast the seeds and grind them to coriander powder and use in curries – add a tiny bit (1/2 tsp) while sauteing the onions, garlic in oil.

    if the pasta strainer doesn’t work, maybe the dehydrator tray that you fashioned might work!


    • Hey there πŸ™‚ I am glad you are enjoying it and pleased to hear you are going to grow this year, best of luck with that. I appreciate your comments πŸ™‚

      I did finish doing the coriander seeds. I found that one of the old metal sieves I had did the job well. A very slow job at the end of the day but now I have around 4 cups of ground coriander to use…in curries πŸ™‚ I didn’t toast them first though,never thought of that!!

      Nice to hear from you, enjoy your Spring πŸ™‚


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