Vanilla Skies

Vanilla Skies

Forgive my absence during the weekend,
as well as this morning-afternoon’s half hearted post.

The weekend was a lazy one for the NyonyaCelup and her Baba;
filled with good music,
hearty Italian food paired with the right wine,
great company,
and sunny blue vanilla skies.

Echinodorus blooms

My (perpetually) flowering Echinodorus sp.,
commonly known as the sword plant — yup, that one which keeps overgrowing your aquarium.
A relatively hardy, fuss free water plant.
Withered blooms will readily sprout new plant-lings, so you can share them around.
Ridiculously prone to spider mites during hot dry weather (which is all the time here), IMHO,
and will need to be sprayed periodically with (preferably) neem.

Vico, the happy dog

Looks like I wasn’t the only one enjoying myself during the weekend.

Vico checks herself.

Vico checks herself from time to time.
She’s vain that way.
She’s also suffering from a flare up of her skin allergies again,
even though I’m paying close to RM10 (roughly USD3) a meal
which the Baba says supersedes his own food budget.

Vico, the bug catcher.

Looking very pleased with herself for catching another treat.
That day, she had her paw pounced on a honeybee.

It wasn’t all fun and games, however.
I finally got about to using the 21 vanilla pods that I’d bought last weekend
— yes, after much whining about using synthetic wood, petrochemicals, (and dare I say) cow dung byproducts,
I chanced upon vanilla pods and real vanilla extract in one shopping trip. * 🙂

Queen vanilla extract

FOREFRONT: Real vanilla extract — containing 200 aromatic compounds which make up its complex yummy-licious smell.
BACK: Yucky synthetic vanilla flavour — which is really just vanillin; which as I just mentioned, could one day be made out of cow dung.

Don’t let its reputation as the 2nd most expensive spice ** daunt you.
The orchids are hand pollinated lar, what did you expect? Don’t be such a cheap skate leh.
They don’t really cost that much — I got 3 for around RM7+ (USD2, give or take)
— and once your nose and mind have recovered from the explosion of your senses, you won’t want to use anything else.

So I’ve been busy making vanilla cupcakes, vanilla ice cream — basically vanilla everything with my new bounty;
and take my word for it: everything tastes so much better.

I also did not forget to make a lil’ bit of my own vanilla extract,
because at almost RM40 (let’s round it up to USD13), I don’t really wanna be buying vanilla extract off the shelves again.

Also, it was a good excuse to buy cheap vodka. 🙂

Homemade Vanilla Extract


  • 3 vanilla pods
  • 200 ml of vodka
    – the higher the proof, the more you’ll extract from the pods
  • clean glass bottle / jar


  • Split your vanilla pods lengthwise.
    No need to scrape the caviarout.
  • Pop your pods in the container you’ve selected.
  • Fill with vodka.
    * as I’ve mentioned above, you’ll need 3 pods for every 200 ml of vodka, so adjust accordingly
  • Seal the lid and wait for 2-3 months, shaking the container every now and then.
  • Enjoy. 🙂
Split vanilla pod & caviar

I realise I didn’t take a clear enough picture to illustrate the lengthwise splitting of a vanilla pod.
But it’s basically just making a long cut, from one end to another, along a side of the pod.
Am I making any sense?Also, I know most people would have put the seeds on the knife in focus
— but I really love the way the pod curls at the end, don’t you?

Homemade vanilla extract.

As you can see, they also make very pretty gifts.
Cheap bottle of vodka in the background, having served its purpose.I just love the stratification of colour as the extract seeps out. 🙂

Love, The NyonyaCelup

Read more about the vanilla from Season with Spice.

* vanilla pods bought from Chang Tung Sdn. Bhd. in Taman Megah in the Klang Valley; 2 more bottles of extract still available @ Jaya Grocer in Jaya 33

** and the number one spot for expensive bad-ass spice goes to saffron

One response »

  1. Pingback: RECIPE: Vanilla Panna Cotta with Rasberry Purée and Vanilla Ice Cream « The NyonyaCelup

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