Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Doctor WHOokies – Holiday Baking with Makerbot

02 Jan

Finding the perfect shape for cookies has never been easier than it is with Makerbot. After printing a copy of an amazing TARDIS cookie cutter for a friend I thought I’d try my hand at fancy decorative baking, not my usual project but I think it turned out well.

I followed the receipe from Nigella Lawson with some minor changes. Here’s my version:




    2 Tbsp. hot water
    1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1. Cream the butter and sugar until it’s fluffy. Add a small amount of food coloring (start with less than you think you’ll need, coloring strength can vary and while you can always add-to you can’t take-out), mix thoroughly adding more food coloring if necessary to achieve desired color. Mix in eggs & vanilla extract.
2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl, then stir into wet mix.
3. Split dough into 2 flat discs and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
4. Pre-heat oven to 350
5. Lightly flour work surface and rolling pin. Roll 1 disc of dough to 1/4″ thick and cut with cookie cutters.
6. Bake 8-12 minutes
7. When cookies are fully cooled, mix hot water and confectioners sugar in a bowl. Apply with a piping bag or a zip-top bag with the corner cut off.


Homemade Rhubarb Schnapps

20 Mar

A friend of mine recently introduced me to this easy to make schnapps recipe. Since my Makerbot Thing-o-Matic is still awaiting some replacement parts before it can be finished I decided to do something easy and somewhat fool proof this weekend.

The recipe I used can be found at Erin’s Kitchen and as you’ll see it’s pretty darn simple.

[…] the ratio is approximately:

  • 2 lbs rhubarb
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 liter vodka.

Cut the rhubarb into 1 1/2 inch pieces, place in a sterilized jar, add sugar, pour vodka over to fill the jar, cover tightly, and shake, shake, shake. Put the jars somewhere cool and dark for at least 6 weeks (I put mine in the fridge), and shake it well on occasion. And force yourself to wait!


Sugar, vodka and rhubarb make up the entire recipe. I’m a big fan of photographic step by step instructions so even though this is a pretty simple process I documented it all for this post.

The schnapps needs to infuse for 6 weeks though as you can see from the last photo in the post after 2 days you could see a big difference in the color of the rhubarb and the vodka. 5 and a half weeks to go!


To be continued…in 6 weeks!


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My Vanilla has been extracted

17 Jan

Well the two month wait is finally over. My vanilla extract (see original post) has finished it’s mandatory 2 month extraction phase. I did a little taste/smell test, comparing the home brew extract to a bottle of McCormick’s Real Vanilla Extract. The homemade stuff smells sweeter and looks a little lighter. I find the McCormick extract to have a bit of a chemical odor when compared to the home brew extract.

I started with two handles of vodka and ended up with 12 8-ounce bottles of extract. Considering the cost of the ingredients I’d say it was a pretty good deal. I included a split vanilla bean in each bottle to continue extraction. This way the extract will continue to age and darken over time.

One of the most fun parts of this project was designing an old timey label to go on the bottle. I settled on the name “Uncle Chris’ fancy vanillin extract” which seemed sufficiently old timey. I sketched up a drawing of my label and handed it over to my girlfriend who did a great job making it into a vector image. She then applied an aged look to the label for printing. Below is the evolution of the label.

I ordered the bottles from Amazon, having glass shipped is really expensive so using my Amazon Prime shipping was easily the cheapest way to get these. Eight ounces seemed to be the most practical size and I really liked the look of these brown bottles.

In addition to labeling all the bottles I also numbered and dated them. Beyond just being OCD the dates are on there because according to my original recipe the extract should continue to improve for the next 4 months.

Here are pictures from the bottling process.

I’ve yet to cook with the extract myself but early reports are positive. In general I’d say this is a pretty easy project worth trying. A++ would extract again.

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DIY Vanilla Extract

13 Nov

Recently I saw a post on Chocolate & Zucchini on making your own vanilla extract. Since this sells for nearly as much as HP printer ink at the super market I thought it would be worth looking into.

As it turns out it’s incredibly easy to make and totally worth doing. I followed this “recipe” from Chocolate & Zucchini.

Homemade Vanilla Extract
- 3 medium vanilla beans, or 1 1/2 fat ones
- 1 cup rum or vodka

Homemade Vanilla Extract via Chocolate & Zucchini

There really isn’t much to this. I picked up a pound of “Grade B Extract Vanilla Beans” on eBay for $20 shipped and a handle of Vodka for $17.99. As it turns out a pound of vanilla beans is an incredible amount of beans. Recipes seem to recommend anywhere from 3 to 6 beans per cup of alcohol. I used 6 and still had enough beans to make this recipe 5 or 6 times over. Something to think about when making that eBay order.

Below I’ve documented following the Chocolate & Zucchini recipe.

Sanitizing the bottle may have been overkill but I’d rather be safe than sorry. From what I’ve read online this should be “extract” by 2 months but will continue to improve in flavor for at least another 4-6 months.

Here’s what I’ve got so far after less than a week of extracting.

Looks pretty good so far!

Update: See the conclusion of this project here

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Re-seasoning my cast iron skillet

03 Oct

I haven’t been too kind to my cast iron skillet over the years. From the looks of it (and the fact that everything put into would stick) I needed to re-season the pan.

I used a modified version of this seasoning method to “reboot” this pan.

The seasoning went pretty well, though the pan had some oil left in it after 2 hours of baking. The oil dried sticky which didn’t seem right. I threw it back on a burner, heated up the pan and gave it a wipe with paper towel and all seems well now.

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