How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

vanilla beans

What You Need:

10-12 vanilla beans, grade B

1 bottle 80-proof vodka/ bourbon

How to Make It:

  1. Take out a cup of vodka from the bottle, so as to make it easier to shake the contents around.
  2. Separate the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the pods to expose as much of the beans as possible.
  3. Add the beans and scrapings into the vodka bottle.
  4. Label the date on it, cap, and shake it rigorously.
  5. Let it mature for 2 weeks to 2 months, until its smells like vanilla extract as you know it.
  6. Strain and enjoy.
  7. Put the beans and scrapings back into the bottle, add more vodka and repeat the process. It can go multiple rounds, though it may take longer to finish each batch.

How to Make Your Own Liquid Soap

Liquid soap is often easier for children to use. Making my own liquid soap will make one bar of soap last about a month rather than a week for my family.

To make liquid soap, just grate and dissolve 13 oz. soap bar in 5 liters of hot water, add 2 tablespoons of salt (optional) and leave overnight before bottling and using. I find that adding salt helps keep the soap from being slimy.

A mild soap bar is recommended-- hopefully one that has the least amount of perfume and color and other additives. Making your own soap is best. Learn how here.

Photo credit: Dvortygirl

How to Make Your Own Yogurt

Yogurt with HoneyEating yogurt helps to ensure that good bacteria (in the yogurt) is keeping your gut flora in balance so that you can avoid conditions like a yeast infection, a weak immune system, and even some allergies. Making yogurt is easy and economical. Using quality milk will also ensure that the yogurt you make is more nutritious. You’ll need a thermometer, milk, yogurt, a pot, and an insulating container (which can simply be a foam box with a lid).

  1. Warm milk on low heat to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Let the milk cool to 115 degrees Fahrenheit and stir in a tablespoon of plain yogurt for every liter of milk.
  3. Place overnight in a covered insulator, or just until it is set.
  4. Refrigerate in the morning. And enjoy when chilled.

Optional toppings: Honey, cut fruit, dried fruit, etc.


Photo credit: ProjectManhattan

Chocolate Cake—Moist and Delicious—No need for any other recipe

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe

Serves:       15

Prep:          30 min

Inactive:     30 min

Cook:         35 min


  • Butter, for greasing the pans and parchment paper
  • 1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour, mixed with 1 c water and refrigerated for 1 hr to make it act like all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder, mixed with some water to form a paste and set aside to bring out a stronger chocolate flavor
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda, mix in with a little water to form a paste
  • 2 cups sugar (or 2 c packed brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, (or 1 c shaken buttermilk)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • (Chocolate Butter Frosting, recipe follows)


How to Make Sourdough Bread and English Muffins

Soudough: Perfectly Healthy Bread

The starter info is elaborate. I personally followed another method and used only rye flour for the whole seven days-- adding a cup each of flour and water. It worked eventually but I had a massive amount of starter. I think you should try to use the method mentioned below instead:

Day 1: Mix 1/4 c water to 1/2 c rye flour and cover with cloth.
Day 2:  Repeat and add to the previous starter.
Day 3-7: Discard half of the previous starter, and mix in 1/4 c water and 1/2 c rye.
Once you see that the starter doubles in size after Day7, then the starter is mature enough to be used in your recipes.

I currently store a cup of starter in my fridge and take it out once a week to feed (adding 1/2 cup rye flour and 1/2 cup water to double) in the morning and store half a cup of the new starter mix in the fridge. Then, take the remainder 1.5 cup and cover it up with a cloth and a lid till the afternoon, at which time I make the English muffin dough, and then finish the rise and griddle the next day . They are delicious! We eat them with pork patties on burger nights.

Starting a sourdough starter

Maintaining a starter

Sourdough English muffin recipe

For the muffins, I find that if I double the recipe and use only 1.25 cup of yogurt/milk, the dough is easier to shape the next day. I find that if the dough is sticky to the hand when mixing and not too soupy, then it will rise better too. When I triple the recipe, I just add a little extra water to get a sticky consistency. The baking soda added the next day will make the dough even mushier.

There are lots of other sourdough recipes out there. Once you get a starter going, you can make all sorts of things, like pancakes -->


  • Increases beneficial lactic acid to breakdown phytic acids which are in grains and nuts and which prevent the uptake of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
  • Predigestion of starches makes it easier to digest
  • Breakdown of gluten, so that even gluten-intolerant people can usually eat it without problems. See blog
  • Natural preservative: It doesn’t get moldy for a week outside of the fridge when handled properly.
  • Better blood glucose regulation

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