Vanilla and Violets

Violets

We were at Harry’s the other day and I was looking through the plants outside the store, lingering and looking deeper than usual since Frankie was on the cellphone and I figured I’d just look for something to get, even though he doesn’t usually *let* me. I don’t usually press him to get a plant, you know how it is when you want something but are used to things being too tight to get frilly-froo-froo.

So it goes, I stumbled onto African Violets in the corner, and they were inexpensive. I grew up with them around me, my mother usually had a few, at least, on a windowsill in my childhood. They are so very Victorian too, so I bit the bullet, put three in the cart.

I haven’t had an interior plant for several years. I used to have household plants in Florida. I was good with them there. I like tropical greenage, and that hasn’t done so well for me in GA in the homes we’ve been in (all of two, mind you!)

The last inside plant I had was a hanging-something over the sink, a fern of some sort. It was lovely for a long while, over a year, then it went from green and healthy to whited out dried out in a zap-who-knows-how-long-a-time-zap, but it was zippety zap fast. So I left it there for longer than it was there green, in that dried dead state. It looked really cool, that’s why I left it there. A dead plant was my only household plant, the last one I had.

Because we have such a crazy household of people and are in the middle of re-doing everything for the last … bit of time, I haven’t had another plant. I do love plants and consider myself a plant person, gardener, and it’s discocerting everytime I realize that I haven’t really been a “good” version of what I consider myself to be, in fact find that I usually am a non-existant practitioner of said thing most every occasion that there is to discover these disconcerting sorts of things. Ah, the way of the life for the ever eratic eclectic one (me.)

I have my African Violets in the bathroom on the windowsill. That’s an East-SouthEast facing window, not the best for it, not the worst, alright considering the sun is not in Summer session now. It’s a transitional space for them, for now 😉

I need to get some African Violet food since I have none, of course, seeing as I haven’t had any plants of any sort for so long, and no AV’s at all. I think I’ll devise a bottom watering system for the plants, and then also I need a delicate little watering can for top watering every once in awhile. (Never get water on African Violet leaves!)

I’m not sure where I can put these delicate little flowery plants, but I have to devise some good place for them. They need light, but it doesn’t have to be direct and shouldn’t be much direct in any case. They can also live under regular lamp light, so I’ve read, but I don’t want to do that. The problem with plants on windowsills is “cats”, as wells as window blinds.

Vanilla

I bought 2 vanilla beans that day at Harry’s as well. Frank got me some 108+ Proof straight barrel bourbon for them … I put it together today, homemade vanilla extract, it’s in a closet, dark, warm, not hot, not cold.

I looked all over the web for ideas of what to do. So many sites say you have to have such and such type of bean, or else it’s not good. I have no idea what kind mine are, Harry’s only sells it as “vanilla bean: 2” in a clear plastic box. The pictures I saw here and there online look like the ones I have, nice bourbon vanilla beans. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. They don’t have the “vanillin” white powdery look on them, but they were long, 8 inches, curved at the top, and plump and super fragrant.

I split the beans, but didn’t separate them. I stuffed them into the bottle of bourbon and capped it and put it in the closet after a good shaking.

I’ve read that you should have a bean per cup of alcohol. Or 2 per 3/4 cup. Or 12 per … on and on it goes.

I have a 750ml container of bourbon, with 2 vanilla beans installed. It’ll do. I’ve read that others say it’s alright to do that. But no one really gourmet-like seemed to like the idea of that. They mostly are in the “a few weeks in the mix” type to make vanilla. The longer steepers said it’s great vanilla, and they are the ones that use less bean to alcohol amount. We shall see what happens. I’m open to putting in some more vanilla beans later. But not 12!

The two v-beans I got were $3.99. Not a bad price for vanilla beans, but to get 10 more … uh, yeah. So this country girl will be pleased to see what a good 750ml of straight barrel Wild Turkey Rare Breed turns out to be like with 2 beans now, maybe adding 2 more in a few weeks, for good measure. December is the date I’m shooting for. I’ll take some off the top before that maybe. I’m not opposed to experimentation all along the way.

I’ve long wished to try making my own vanilla. It’s very expensive to buy good stuff, and expensive to make your own, so if I can make an expensive-ish bourbon into decent vanilla, I’m ahead of the game the rest of the game-length.

I’ve read people say that homemade is better than storebought. Others say homemade is nice and fun, but not the best by far.

It’s one of those objective subjects, isn’t it? No, I’d say it’s very subjective. And so I subject myself to experimentation for my own subjective view to be formed. 🙂

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