Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pretending it's Fall

I have to say that I am missing Fall right now.  It may be late September, but monsoon season has ended here in southeastern Arizona and it is just hot and dry again.

It's so dry that we get cracked lips and I have nosebleeds.  It's so hot that my sweet children are tired of playing outside.  (How can kids get tired of playing outside?!)  It feels like we should be firing up the grill and making lemonade, but I refuse.

I'm pretending it's Fall.
I have been baking pumpkin scones and drinking pumpkin spice lattes (decaf, don't worry.)  Sadly, my coffeemaker chose this time of year to bite the dust.  This means that I beg Jason to go to Starbucks at least once a week.  We don't have a stand-alone Starbucks here so there's no drive-thru or I'd be a little more self-sufficient with my coffee cravings.

Before the coffeemaker died (RIP, dear machine) I was starting school each morning while sipping my coffee and nibbling on a scone.  I like to pretend that the slight breeze from the ceiling fan is really a crisp, autumn breeze blowing my way.  Today I chose to ignore that it was 92 degrees outside as I baked in my tiny, hot kitchen.  (Scones were totally worth it though!)

I found an awesome recipe for pumpkin scones at Take the Side Street.  (Her photos look way more appetizing than mine!)  I substituted almond milk for the half & half and they came out great.  We made our third batch today.  They're super easy to make and even my kids can help.

I finally set up a Pinterest page so you can find this recipe there too.

The pumpkin scone recipe calls for vanilla extract, as do many holiday baking recipes.  I made my own vanilla extract several months ago and have been meaning to share.  Has anyone else tried this?

I bought a half pound of organic vanilla pods here and two big bottles of vodka.  Following the instructions here, I sliced open the vanilla pods and scraped out the tiny beans.  I split the pods up so that I had enough to fill 4 mason jars.  Then I put the beans and the pods in the jars and filled them with vodka.
For the first week or two, I shook the jars each day.  Since then they have just been sitting in my pantry.  They start out looking like this...
...and end up looking like this.
I made these jars in February and this is the best vanilla extract I've used.  It smells heavenly!  It takes about 6 months to really be finished but I started using my extract after about 6 weeks.

What are you doing to celebrate Fall?  Any recipes you'd like to share?

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