Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

It's Christmas morning for the next 32 minutes or so and I'm looking up my recipes for Christmas dinner.  I'm making an Vegan Eggnog Cheesecake from Susan Voisin's website, FatFree Vegan Kitchen.  I'm also making vegan filet mignon, a recipe I posted in March 2015.  I have since bought the cookbook the creator published, Meatless Meals for Meat Lovers by Tracy Williams. It's a mere $5 and has the recipe for both the Best Damn Seitan I've Ever Had PERIOD and for the Seitan Turkey and Stuffing I have made for Thanksgiving.
This year, I made homemade gifts for some coworkers.  I made bottles of vanilla extract. I used 1 vanilla bean for every 2 ounces of vodka.  I began seeping the beans on September 9, 2016.  The longer the beans seep, the richer the extract. By the time I gave them to my coworkers on December 22, 2016, the extract was a nice brown color and very fragrant. 
I also made them Vanilla Cinnamon Nuts. I got up at 4:00 a.m. on December 22, 2016 and by 5:20 a.m., I had made 8 cups of nuts.  The recipe was extremely easy and vegan.

Vanilla Cinnamon Nuts

4 cups of any type of nuts (raw)
1½ cups sugar
2/3 cup water
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon or so of freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350º F; roast nuts on jelly roll pan for 15 minutes, shaking the pan every 5 minutes to prevent burning.  

Combine sugar, water, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg in a dutch oven (large enough to hold all of the nuts) and bring to a boil.  Over medium heat, add all nuts and stir constantly.  The mixture will bubble up.  Keep cooking and stirring until the sugar crystallizes.  This will happen in 6-10 minutes.  All of the liquid evaporates and the sugar on the nuts dries out.  Once it starts drying out, it will happen quickly.  You need to continue to stir (it will be harder since the liquid is gone) until the coating on all nuts has crystallized. Turn off the burner to prevent burning.

Line the same jelly roll pan you used to roast the nuts with a piece of parchment paper. (I did this immediately after I put the nuts in the sugar so it was ready when the nuts were done.)  Dump the nuts on the jelly roll pan and spread out to cool.  If the nuts stick together, once they are cooler, break the bigger chunks apart. Store in a sealed container. (I used Ball jars.)
I decorated my vanilla bottles and Ball jars with jute and red yarn and made labels for them. I believe in giving homemade, because it's from the heart, but I don't believe in sloppy homemade.  The packaging is a reflection on me and it takes so little to make things nice.  I bought the labels at Hobby Lobby and they came with a website address where I found templates and could personalize them. The labels even had a hole punch out to hang on my projects.  They are Avery labels #80503.  Great little labels.

Hope you all are having a Merry Christmas!  It's time for me to go cook. 

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