So, funny story...
So you thought homemade yogurt was addicting. I guess that's not all we're doing homemade.
Did you know that vanilla extract, as well as other extracts are made primarily out of alcohol? True story. I didn't know that. I mean, I'm pretty sure I knew they contained alcohol. It didn't occur to me that they were alcohol. Guess the ingredients to vanilla extract? Vodka and vanilla beans. Sometimes some people use bourbon and vanilla beans and some people go with rum and vanilla beans. The directions are pretty much the same: put beans in alcohol, and let soak for a few months. Done. We found the idea, once again, at Kitchen Stewardship.
It may sound simple. However, FIRST you must buy vodka. I don't buy vodka really, and in fact, you might call me a vodka virgin. I don't like alcohol in general.
I don't mean to be legalistic about it or anything. I honestly don't like it. About 70% of the issue is I'm the daughter of an alcoholic and 30% of the issue is that I'm a Minnesota Lutheran. Alcohol comes with baggage for me. I pretty much can't smell beer on someone's breath without getting sick to my stomach.
For that reason, after my dad left, no one ever drank in our house. On top of that, we go to a church that serves grape juice for communion instead of wine. Guess what their take on alcohol is? They're not against it, but you won't find too many people that are for it either.
It was a big lesson after my mom finally remarried when my step dad would order a glass of wine at a restaurant with his dinner. I remember how tense it would make my sister and I. He wasn't doing anything wrong, but we had so much baggage. In all reality, we had never seen anyone drink in moderation before. We had never seen someone have just one glass. It was very eye opening for us.
A few years after I turned 21, I had some alcohol to try it. I can't stand beer. The only thing I ever could handle after work with friends was those big fruity, ice cream, umbrella drinks and even then I would get half way through and stop. I just didn't like it and wished I would have just ordered something big and fruity with ice cream. Why ruin it with that alcohol, you know?
Knut grew up in an alcohol-free home (although I do think they used real vanilla extract and not the imitation stuff sometimes! Ha!) Still, he'll have a beer every once in awhile with a friend or when my parents come over. He's one of those guys who can have just one. He has to rinse out his mouth about 3 times after he's done if he ever dreams of kissing me so I don't throw up in his mouth, so that's a downside for him. He also enjoys a glass of wine at a fancy restaurant. He's like my step-dad that way and not my other dad.
What I'm saying is I'm not a normal liquor store patron. I'm 30 years old and was still feeling strange going in to buy this one ingredient for the vanilla extract that Knut and I wanted to make together.
I felt like I might as well have been lingerie shopping with 4 kids in tow. I wish I could have ordered it online or in a catalog, but did I really have to go into the store?
If you know me, you're laughing at me now. If you don't, you may be thinking I'm really messed up.
For over a week ahead of time, I stressed about how I'd do it. Would I bring the kids along? Should I get a sitter for the afternoon so I can go get my vodka? I had a fear that if I left them in the car and just ran inside they'd have that one memory of when mom went into that one store that says "liquor" on it and ran out with something huge in a brown paper bag and when they asked me what it was I just blurted out "none of your business!" as the car skidded out of the parking lot. No, I couldn't do it that way.
Should I take them into the store with me? Knowing them, they'd ask me questions all along the way. What's this one? What's this? Which one are we getting? Can I have some? I had pretty much planned every responsible answer to every probable question they could ask me in that store and was nervously planning to take them all. That was when Knut was home an hour early one day and asked me "Do you want to run to town alone? It's been ages since you've been able to run to run errands in town alone."
Yes. Thank you Knut. So I went to the liquor store alone.
So like a man buying tampons, I rushed in, grabbed the bottle at the bottom of the shelf that was the cheapest. It was so cheap it came in a plastic bottle. At the checkout I handed over my I.D. and nervously wondered: do I make eye contact or do I look down? Which one looks less like an alcoholic? Should I act like I'm throwing a huge party? Maybe I should have gotten the kind in the glass bottle so I could pass it off as a gift. No, then I'd look like the kind of person who buys a huge bottle of vodka as a gift.
I nervously blurt out that it's just for vanilla extract. The lady gives me a confused look. I take the paper package, and head out to the car.
O, lovely fresh air! I felt like a teenager who has just completed a dare.
A few days later, Knut and I spent the afternoon slicing open a package of vanilla beans that we bought off of ebay. (Who knew that was the place to get vanilla beans cheap? We made up this great story about how they're probably cheap because they're stolen from some Madagascar mofia and swiped to sell to stupid Americans on ebay.) We bought extra so next time we make ice cream we can use real vanilla beans.
We accidentally cut up a bit too many beans, and the bottle I bought wasn't quite big enough. I told Knut he can buy it next time.