Category Archives: food and Wine

My Next Kitchen Project: Making Vanilla Extract

What is the big deal? Flavor! Added flavor that you cannot get from your store bought vanilla extract. There is a draw back. Making your own vanilla extract means sourcing really goo beans, and it means letting the mixture sit for a year or longer.

Hmmm … and yet, why not?  As Abbe Faria said to Edmond Dantes (in the Count of Monte Cristo)

Ohh… and does something else demand your time? Some pressing appointment, perhaps?

Here is the tutorial that starts the process.

A Vietnamese Adventure: Egg Coffee

This post starts out very well

When we were younger, my parents would often take the family out for pho on the weekends in San Jose. Before the soupy noodles arrived at our table, we always had a moment to watch the other diners. As my parents talked, my older sister Tram and I would scout for the people ordering something a little different: Vietnamese egg coffee.

And it offers a nice roadmap to making Vietnamese egg coffee iat home …. errr … if you can find the Vietnamese coffee and coffee e filter.

No matter! the story is fun even if  my java is french drip!

Image may contain Drink Juice Beverage Smoothie Food Custard Dessert Caramel Confectionery and Sweets

Apple Jelly? Why not?

Here in Tartu, I am in peak apple season. The summer trees have finished giving their fruit, but the autumn trees are still in high gear production. I have been making a lot of cider, which is great, but as usual,, I am looking to do more.

And along came Dave Lebovitz. Dave posted today on making “apply jelly”. This looks perfect for me, as I have a variety of green and red apples — and lots of them. I will give this a try and report back to you.

apple jelly

Stay tuned!

Kitchen Upgrade: Homemade Cream Cheese

A short while ago, I posted on an article form BA on making our own cream cheese. This might seem a bit whacky, as store bought cream cheese is pretty good. But there are some arguments for trying it out

  • it is easy
  • you can control the recipe (no preservatives)
  • you can mix in what you want  (get creative)

This morning, I bumped into another post on making homemade cream cheese, this one from Messy Nessy.

Hmmm … methingks we are onto something here.


Kitchen Upgrade: The Proof is in the Schmear!


Strangely enough, the word “schmear” has 2 meanings in its noun form. It also has a verb form, but I will not get into that one. The first meaning is

an underhand inducement.

I am not sure how an underhanded inducement is different than an overhand inducement. And this example didn’t completely clear it up:

“he knew the schmear was on when the producer invited him to lunch”

Was the underhanded inducement the lunch? Or the thing that might be proposed over lunch?

The second definition is far easier to gt

a smear or spread.

That is the meaning we are interested in here. A schmear of cream cheese, to be more precise. You can buy this product, or you can make it.

And if you make it, you get the benefit of adding your favorite combination of herbs, condiments etc. The good news is that this looks very simple – so simple you don’t even need a recipe!

The Never Ending Quest for Perfect Scrambled Eggs

I thought we had this down. But no! Gordon Ramsey says he has the best technique for making perfect scrambled eggs!

And btw, I think he may have a point! I will try out his method and report back. Hint: it requires creme fraiche! This is a product that you cannot find on the shelves of food stores here in Tartu, and so my perfect scrambled eggs will have to wait until I make my own creme fraiche.

And this can be done!

Beware! This Post is Really Cheesy!

I kid you not!

Here, from Dave Lebowitz, are the top 10 cheeses of France, selected by cheese expert, Jennifer Greco! Who she?

Jennifer Greco is a life-long Francophile and French food and wine enthusiast, with an unabashed passion for cheese. After moving to the south of France almost two decades ago, she has steadily been tasting her way through each and every cheese produced in France, a project that started one day on a whim and that has developed into a full-fledged infatuation. To date, she has tasted just under 400 of the approximately 1500 cheeses in France.

Jennifer is now based in Paris where she leads gourmet food and wine tours, and guides fellow fromage lovers during small group tastings both privately, which can be booked through her website, and with Paris by Mouth. In her spare time, she writes about regional French cheeses on her blog, Chez Loulou, and for a handful of publications, while studying to earn a French Wine Scholar certificate.