Thirsty Thursday!

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!), a double vanilla cake, and a savory roasted chicken with vanilla bean.

Hey there, it’s almost the weekend!… and maybe you live somewhere that will actually feel spring-like on this last weekend in March? Our forecast was looking good, but now it’s taken a turn towards cold. So I’ll likely make one (or two) of these, curl up by the fire, and pretend that the snow has melted away.

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Both of the ideas are variations on traditional drinks. We just substituted plain vodka for our (super-simple) homemade vanilla vodka and made another tweak here or there.

This recipe for vanilla-infused vodka includes lime zest. I knew that I didn’t want to limit my bottle of vodka to recipes where I wanted both the vanilla and lime flavors, so I skipped the lime, but both of today’s drinks include lime, and it really is a great pairing. So much so that it’s worth considering keeping a bottle of vanilla-lime vodka on the shelf.

Vanilla Mule

Just a simple twist on the traditional Moscow Mule. Mix together ginger beer, vanilla vodka, and a splash of lime juice. So simple and so delicious!

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Vodka Tonic

This second drink is just a touch more exotic than your typical vodka tonic in that we add a splash of lime shrub. We make a vodka tonic with the vanilla vodka, add about a tablespoon of lime shrub, and then a spray of fresh lime juice if you have it.

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 yum & yum

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Banana Cream Pie!

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!), a double vanilla cake, and a savory roasted chicken with vanilla bean.

Oh my goodness. We can’t stop with the banana cream pies! If you’re following our Instagram feed, you have all the proof you need (not one, but two pies in one week!)… and no joke, there are perfect bananas on the counter and plans for another pie (fortunately we have guests ready to dig in – we’re not that crazy).

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Why I Fell in Love with Laos After Only Five Days

If you are curious about exactly where I went in Laos and how it all went down, here’s a detailed (might I say too detailed) account of my trip in 2012.
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Laos! A country most people have never heard of or at least could not place on a map. The same was true for me before I lived and worked in Thailand. Once I found myself in southeast Asia, I became aquatinted with small countries that surrounded me as I hoped to explore each of them. Laos had always intrigued me because I heard so very little about it.  I must admit, I did very little research before heading to Laos, which is how I go about most trips (for better or worse), but nothing I read hinted at exactly how beautiful, calm, sleepy, and kind Laos can be to travelers.

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Cold Brew Coffee

live seasoned spring 16 cold brew coffee-1 copy The necessity of coffee is fitting for a Monday post, yeah? Brewing your coffee at home is one of the easiest ways to save money each week. I’m so used to it that buying a cup of coffee is a luxury to me and one I really enjoy, which wouldn’t be the case if I was waiting in line day after day at the coffee shop. During the winter, I usually brew a small pot in a french press or opt for the single cup pour over method, but once March rolls around it’s cold brewed coffee all. the. way. Once I discovered this method there was no turning back.

Why cold brew coffee?

  • Extremely easy to make. The directions are straight forward and there’s no fancy equipment necessary.
  • It saves time. It’s brewed in a larger concentrated batch, so you make it once for the week, not every morning.
  • It tastes better. The acidity of cold brew coffee is lower because the grounds are never subjected to boiling water, which makes the chemical profile quite different than that of a conventionally brewed pot of coffee. Lower acidity makes for a smoother taste and naturally sweeter taste and in turn is less harsh on your tummy.
  • It’s never watery. Besides the acidity issues that arise with hot coffee and rapidly cooling hot coffee with ice cubes (iced coffee), you’ll never drink a watery cup of iced coffee again. Watery diluted coffee is awful. Less caffeine and less taste – who want’s that?
  • More caffeine per cup. Cold brew coffee has a higher bean to water ratio and a longer brew time, which means it contains more caffeine. I think of cold brew coffee as a concentrate and I often add water, but more on that below.

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Dyeing Eggs the Naturally Crazy Way

This post was originally published in 2014, but we still dye our eggs the same way – with whatever we can find in the kitchen!

My title is a play on Sarah’s morning post. While I also used kitchen ingredients for my dyeing (purple cabbage, purple onion skins, turmeric), you’ll see that somehow the whole process ending up being a lot less pretty and a lot more crazy. BUT! I think I learned a few things that will improve the process next year and may help you too.

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Dye Eggs The Natural Way

This was originally published in 2014, but we still dye our eggs the same way – with whatever we can find in the kitchen!

Have you ever used veggies and spices to dye eggs?  It’s a lot easier than I thought and the results are terrific!  I love the muted colors (although you can achieve brighter ones too) and knowing I created the dye from scratch.  I rummaged around in my cupboards and used ingredients that I had on hand.  This post gives you the details of five different dyes, but there are many more options to explore. Check back this afternoon when Katie shares some brilliant blue results. Once you get the hang of it, there is no need to use a recipe, experiment and have fun!

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Roasted Chicken with Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!) and a double vanilla cake. Today we’re turning our attention to a savory dinner.

Do you have any snow on the ground? We had a fantastic snow day yesterday! I read that Boulder’s 16+ inches in yesterday’s storm is more than the average snow for the month. I was so distracted by the sledding, matinees, and requests for banana cream pie, that I forgot to post. And I think Sarah’s off taking photos of staircases and doorways, so who knows when we’ll hear from here again ;-)? Anyway, today we’re sharing an amazing use for vanilla, and I really hope you’ll give it a try.

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When we picked vanilla as the ingredient of the season. I knew I wanted to experiment with some savory dishes. That said, I didn’t have anything in particular in mind, and never in my wildest dreams did I see this savory roasted chicken on the horizon! We eat a lot of roasted chicken, and I’ve become so partial to our chicken with the flavors of preserved lemon and olives, but this dish is far on the other end of the spectrum. The flavors are more subtle, of course there’s the vanilla, but there’s also a mild nutty-ness from the browned butter. It’s a nice compliment to our repertoire of chicken dishes.

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Vanilla Lavender Room Spray

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!) and a double vanilla cake. Today we’re venturing out of the kitchen and using vanilla essential oil. If you like experimenting with essential oils, check out our archive of posts.

It’s been almost two years since we shared a room spray, which is surprising because these are so easy to make and do a fantastic job of freshening up a room without any of the overbearing artificial fragrances found in many store-bought sprays.

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Whereas the rosemary and peppermint created an energizing combination, the lavender and vanilla combination in this spray provides a calming aroma. I added some fir balsam to this spray because I wanted something a little more complex. The fir balsam essential oil does a great job of bringing some of the outdoors in when it’s still a touch too cold to have the windows open here in the mountains.

To further enhance the vanilla aroma of the spray, I used our vanilla-infused vodka for the alcohol.

Ingredients and Hints :

  • 3 ounces filtered water
  • 8 drops vanilla essential oil
  • 8 drops lavender essential oil
  • 8 drops fir balsam essential oil
  • 1.5 ounces alcohol (I used our vanilla-infused vodka!)
  • spray or misting bottle

Pour everything into the bottle, give it a good shake, and spray away! You will have to shake it before every use. Really, it’s that simple!

And as we mentioned in the previous room spray post:

  • If you don’t have the alcohol, you can use all water, but the aroma won’t linger as long.
  • Of course, you can use any combination of oils, and increase or decrease the number of drops depending upon how intense you want the scent to be
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Double Vanilla Cake

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. We’re looking forward to a few months of both sweet and savory dishes using vanilla.

Right after Sarah and I picked vanilla as the ingredient of the season, this recipe for a double vanilla butter cake was published on A Cup of Jo, and I knew we had to try it! This cake is so delicious served plain, but we also enjoyed ours for breakfast with a side of berries and as an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee. Calder said that it reminded him of cakes he was served in Germany… and while I don’t have a specific example in mind, as soon as he said that, I couldn’t agree more, and was immediately transported back to my time there, having a snack on a train or stopping in to a little cafe for breakfast.

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The original recipe called for both vanilla extract and vanilla paste, thus the double in its name. I didn’t have paste, and at first I wanted to make some, but after looking up a few different recipe and seeing that each one used different techniques, I felt unprepared to waste my precious beans on something I wasn’t sure about. Maybe I’ll do a bit more research and discuss vanilla bean paste in another post. Instead, I took the author’s advice and substituted vanilla extract for the paste, but then I used vanilla sugar (details at the end of the post) to dust the pan, keeping with the call for two types of vanilla.

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Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

 

Sarah Here :

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Hey, hey! I had the most fun work week as you can see.  We’re putting together a new hospitality and tabletop catalog at Haand, the ceramics company that I shoot for. I arrived at work on Thursday to this beautiful sight, all our matte white pieces snuggled together on one table with some spring blooms for an added bonus.  As the perfect follow up to shooting dozens of pieces, I drove over to Raleigh today to visit Provenance restaurant to see how our plates stand up in a fast-paced kitchen. It makes my heart happy to actually see chefs creating mini masterpieces on our dishes. Documenting artists and makers will always be a favorite subject of mine. Tonight I’ll head to the darkroom for some printing and this weekend I think I’ll edit, edit, edit the days away. What about you? Did spring visit you yet? I enjoyed temps in the eighties this week! I’m loving it. Enjoy the weekend – get outside!haand insta-10-2 

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