Replace Vanilla with Rum

Every year around this time, I make carrot cake. It’s become a tradition. It’s a large cake, and I’m the only one in the house who likes it. I give about 1/4 of it away to someone else who loves it as much as I do, put 1/2 of it in the freezer to savour in January and leave the rest out to eat over the holidays.

I’ve shared my recipe for this cake here: Recipe: Carrot Cake.

This year, instead of using vanilla extract, I used rum. Coldstream Coconut Rum to be exact since that was what I had on hand. I was told a few years ago that alcohol, particularly rum, can be a substitute for vanilla, but I had never tried it. After reading a horrifying article about the future of vanilla extract, I’m looking for alternatives. Vanilla sticks are expensive, and rum is still needed to make homemade vanilla flavouring.

When substituting rum for vanilla, double the quantity. In other words, if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of vanilla, put in 2 teaspoons of rum.

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Let’s Make Brown Sugar

One way I save money is I buy raw ingredients. It takes a little time to turn these raw ingredients into another product, but it’s worth it to save money and to know exactly what is in my food.

Brown sugar costs about twice as much as white sugar. I often get a 2 kg bag of white sugar on sale for $1.99, but I think the regular price is $2.99. One kg of brown sugar is $2.49. A 1.35 kg container of molasses is about $3.00 (that’s a lot of tablespoons).

If I make brown sugar instead of buying it, I’m saving money. And it’s simple. Fast. And is done to my taste, not the company’s. I don’t even need special equipment to do it. Just my regular mixer I’ve had since December 1996.

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Highly Persuasive Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

After trying several chocolate chip cookie recipes, I stumbled upon one in October 2005 that made me set all the others aside. Over the past 16 years, I’ve made this recipe countless times. I’ve tweaked it here and there to improve it. Now, this is the family’s favourite chocolate chip cookies. It makes 3 1/2 dozen.

Cookie recipes are tricky. I’ve improved my method, yet I still think I can do better. That doesn’t mean the cookies aren’t good. They are delicious. I’ve seen mine disappear within 24 hours. My kids, their friends and even their ex-girlfriends love these cookies.

Step 1

Put margarine in a large glass or steel bowl and put in oven on the lowest setting. My old stove, original from 1972, has a warm setting, which is perfect to warm up the bowl and make the margarine exceptionally soft. Usually, this takes 20 minutes.

Step 2

While the margarine is softening like it’s a hot July day, mix in a smaller bowl:

  • 3 cups of flour (I use unbleached)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips of your choosing (this might be sweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, mini chips, etc.)
  • Optional: a handful of chopped walnuts or sliced almonds
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