Madagascar vanilla and a pot belly pig

We made our own vanilla Saturday night with a group of people whose self-sufficiency reviles Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild.

Though the only beast we encountered was a charming pot belly pig named Jellybean, we felt adventurous as we culled our vanilla beans and prepared to extract the caviar.

Did you know you could make your own vanilla?

Neither did we.

But we’re always up for a challenge, especially one that involves tasting six different kinds of homemade vanilla ice cream. We jumped right in.

As Vince gamely chose our vanilla beans from a selection our hostess had ordered online, we learned that each Madagascar vanilla bean bears a hand printed tattoo.

We paused for a moment to consider the mind-boggling task of tattooing individual vanilla beans, and then we sliced right through the carefully imprinted mark.

As instructed, we scraped the inside of the bean to mine the caviar, then chopped up the vanilla and added both the caviar and the bean to a tall bottle that we filled with vodka.

We capped the bottle and moved on to the next very important step in the vanilla making process — the tasting of previously prepared vanilla.

Ours presented in a lovely banana cream pie, which may have seemed too rich on top of the equally important tasting of the ice cream, a task we’d just completed, but we’ve learned to make sacrifices like this in the pursuit of culinary excellence.

We dug right into the pie too.

We have to wait six months before we can taste the vanilla we put together Saturday night, which should give us just enough time to work off the calories we consumed preparing it.

Vince’s hands, still tattooed from Polka Days, slice through the vanilla bean, which, thematically, is also tattooed.
Jellybean wandered into the kitchen to see what all the fuss was about. He’s a charming little guy who sleeps with a blanket. Someday he will have his own blog.
Here we are hard at work preparing our vanilla, which is not true. Our hostess did most of the work. We just sliced a little, scraped a bit and tasted a lot.
Scratch and sniff this photo and you can smell the vanilla.
Pour the vodka into the bottle after you have added the beans and caviar.
Each vanilla had its own subtle flavors. I particularly enjoyed the Mexican and the Indian vanilla. I particularly enjoyed them all.
There is nothing like homemade vanilla ice cream with homemade vanilla. Yum!

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