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I'm amazed at how superior your vanilla is!
- Des, The Grommet

Yeasted Buttermilk Vanilla Waffles

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Courtesy of  Beth Hensperger

Yeast adds a dimension of flavor and texture by allowing the batter to develop overnight before baking. Remember that a high temperature, in either a regular grid or Belgium-style waffle maker, tends to make a crisp waffle, while a lower temperature produces a waffle that is moist and tender. Serve with your choice of a dazzling array of accompaniments: raspberry puree and crème fraîche, a fruit butter, sliced bananas or fresh berries and vanilla yogurt, sautéed apples, or lots of pure maple syrup and sweet butter.

Vanilla Coconut Quick Bread

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 Courtesy of  Beth Hensperger

Coconut and vanilla are toothsome combos in this luscious quick bread. Be sure to use unsweetened coconut rather than sweetened, as the sweetened is too moist for this recipe. Serve alongside fruit or poultry salads, or toast and top with ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert.

Fresh Berry Coffee Cake

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 Living on the Central California Coast I almost feel guilty because of  the magnificent produce we have year ’round. This is especially true when the artichokes,  asparagus and fresh garlic start appearing in the markets in late March — the harbingers of spring. The strawberries aren’t quite ready but they’ll follow soon; by May the farmer’s markets are

A User’s Guide to Great Coffee

Winter or summer, boom or bust times, coffee drinkers aren’t going to give up coffee. However, when times are tight, people are more likely to make coffee at home, so it’s helpful to have a guide to great coffee.

By making a shift in marketing techniques, some of America’s top specialty coffee purveyors are offering workshops on how to create the best home-brewed coffee, coffee drinks and coffee and cheese pairings.  It isn’t just about providing information or selling products; it’s also about pride in their profession.  Here are their thoughts on how

Vanilla Horchata

Horchata

Rice and milk are  not indigenous to Mexico and Central America despite being drunk throughout Latin America as well as  its popularity in Mexican restaurants in the US. It originated in Valencia and was made with chufa or tiger nuts. It was brought to the New World by the Spaniards during the colonial period. It is a delicious beverage, one I love as long as it isn’t too sweet. This is a Mexican version of Horchata.

Strawberry Smoothie

 Smoothies are a perfect breakfast food, and they’re also a fabulous addendum to a book and a hammock or any other slow-food activity. Use whole or 1% milk if you prefer, soy milk or fruit juice, and choose your favorite fruits. The second best thing to being a healthy fast food is that they’re very adaptable. Here’s one version. Make up your own – just be sure to perk it up with vanilla!

Where Are the Tropics? Why Do they Matter?

What exactly are the tropical zones?

When most of us dream of the tropics, the fantasy usually begins with beautiful sandy beaches, warm sun, and a relaxed, carefree environment.  Perhaps even a luscious beverage in hand.  While the fantasy of tropical beaches is accurate, it only represents a thin slice of the extraordinary countries that straddle the equator between the Tropic of Cancer, latitude 23-1/2 degrees North, and the Tropic of Capricorn, latitude 23-1/2 degrees South.

Known as the tropical or torrid zone, every point within the tropics receives the perpendicular rays of the sun at noon on at least one day of the year.  In our annual journey around the sun, it will be furthest north and directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer on June 21 or 22, the summer solstice, and directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn on December 21 or 22, the winter solstice.  During the spring and summer equinoxes, the sun will be directly overhead at the equator.

Vanilla Dreams

His name is Jim Reddekopp and his enthusiasm is catching.  His face lights up when he tells the story of how he and his family came to the Big Island from their Oahu home to grow vanilla orchid vines on the Hamakua Coast.

Looking for a business that would bring them in contact with the earth, Jim and his wife Tracy latched on to the idea that was thrown at them during a family discussion. Thinking that this was finally the way to work toward their dream of having a business where the whole family, including their five children, could be involved, they started learning all they could about vanilla.

During his search, he met Tom Kadooka of Kona. Orchids have been Kadooka’s life work since he started growing and propagating vanilla orchids in 1941.

“Everything I have learned about growing vanilla, I have learned it literally at the knees of Tom Kadooka. Whenever I thought I knew it all, Tom would say, `Jim, you’re just in kindergarten’ “, says Jim with a self-deprecating laugh.

Veracruz: In the Land of the Vanilla Orchid

Written by Courtenay Dunk: www.spicelines.com 

 

I have come to Veracruz to glimpse the elusive vanilla orchid on the vine, to catch the rich scent of glossy beans curing in the sun, to breathe in the fragrance of the world’s finest vanilla in its Mexican birthplace. Everything up to this point has been a sort of lagniappe, as the Creoles say, a delicious extra. Such is the nature of obsession.

It is about 10:30 AM and as usual, the sun is brutally hot and the air thick with moisture. Norma Gaya is driving the three of us—Susana, Deborah and myself—down a rough dirt road so deeply rutted that we are thrown from side to side as we jounce along at just a few kilometers an hour. I notice that she has woven two vanilla beans in and out of the louvers of the air conditioning vents which are now wafting a faint scent towards us.

White Chocolate Custard with Raspberries

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Courtesy of Chef and Blogger, David Lebovitz: www.davidlebovitz.com

So, here’s what David has to say about White Chocolate Custard with Raspberries: I serve these custards slightly warm, which softens the raspberries and releases their subtle, sweet perfume. Savor these with tiny, delicate silver spoons; something as dreamy and elegant as these quivering custards, with their creamy-smooth white chocolate demands to be relished in small, measured doses.

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