Thursday Things


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Time for this week’s Thursday Things:

1. Vanilla Bean Sampler – 3 beans each from 9 countries = 27 beans for $44.95

    • Madagascan
  • Mexican
  • Ugandan
  • Indonesian
  • Tongan
  • Indian
  • Bourbon (Papua New Guinea)
  • Tahitian (Papua New Guinea)
  • Tahitian (Tahiti)

9 different vanilla bean flavors

High quality beans for less than $2 bucks each? Score.

I love vanilla in anything. From body spray to candles to….



Puffy Vanilla Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Puffy Vanilla Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

3. These lamps from Pottery Barn – love the eggplant base and the rustic burlap shades

Lamps from Pottery Barn

4. I heated some milk for a recipe I was working on, forgot about it, and a skin formed. Milk skin. Lovely.

But it going me thinking and I researched what milk skin actually is.

When milk is heated, the water the starts to evaporate and the other elements, namely protein and fat, become increasingly concentrated. The proteins – casein and whey – also have a tendency to coagulate once the milk reaches a temperature of about 150°F.

Stir more and the problem is solved. More than you ever wanted to know, but I like food trivia.

5. Congrats to the Top 100 Mom Food Blogs 2012

Many of friends are named in this list – nice going, ladies!

I didn’t make the list but Skylar still thinks I’m a Top Mom. She thanked me yesterday for making her hair look cute and told me I was the best mom ever. I melted.

6. I have tomato jam and chutney on the brain and need to make my own.

My inspirations include:

Spicy Tomato Peach Jam from Lindsay

Spicy Tomato Peach Jam in jar with knife

 Spicy Heirloom Tomato Jam from Brandon (a fellow San Diegan – I told him I’d buy it off him)

Spicy Heirloom Tomato Jam

Tomato Chutney from Liz (also a fellow San Diegan – and I’d buy hers, too)

Tomato Chutney in jars

Clearly I need to make my own.

7. Would you like 2 boxes of the new Cascadian Farms Ancient Grains cereal?

Made with whole grain oats, crisp rice, a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon, a touch of quinoa, spelt and kamut khorasan® wheat, our Ancient Grains Granola is an excellent source of fiber while also packing in 35 grams of Whole Grains per serving and 5 grams of protein

Cascadian Farms Ancient Grains cereal

Leave a comment on this post telling me at that you’d like to be entered in the giveaway and what your favorite cereal of all time is.

I’ll announce the winner in my next post.

8. I’ve been thinking about something gooey with caramel and chocolate all day and these came to mind.

Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars (GF with Vegan adaptation)

Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars

9. Enamel-dipped servers from Antrhro – $36 for the pair which I think is a great price.

They remind me of something Tiffany without Tiffany pricing and for Anthro, pretty darn cheap.

Two Blue Enamel-dipped servers from Anthropologie

10. The winner of the Magimix by Robot-Coupe Food Processor & Juice Extractor Giveaway (1000+ entries later)

Magimix by Robot-Coupe Food Processor & Juice Extractor


Michele Sparrow July 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm

I think the first thing I would make in the food processor is a homemade salsa or some kind of coconut yogurt. That processor is AMAZING!!

Congrats, Michele!

What are your Thursday Things?

If you’ve made anything, done, seen, or bought anything fabulous, feel free to link it up in the comments.

Do you like vanilla or ever make your own vanilla extract?

Yes and yes.

Split open 3 or 4 vanilla beans, put them in a tall jar with 1 cup of vodka with a lid like a canning jar, let them sit for at least a month, probably 6 to 8 weeks, shaking the jar a couple times a week.

In two months, you have vanilla extract. You can strain out the seeds if you want before you use it, but don’t. They are little flavor bombs – keep them and your food will have flecks of real vanilla beans in it; so pretty.

Top off your jar with more vodka and keep the cycle going.  Add more vanilla beans every now and then.

Voila, homemade vanilla extract for a fraction of the price of storebought.

You can also use rum (dark or light) or bourbon, but they are not as clean-tasting as vodka. Sometimes not clean is a good thing though.

Thanks for the Zoku Quick Pop Maker and Chocolate Station Giveaway entries

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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  1. Thanks, sweet Averie, for featuring my tomato chutney…I have fallen in love with Tahitian vanilla but your collection looks much more exciting.

    1. Well these are “things” I see around – not necessarily things I own that I feature in these posts. But I wish that vanilla collection was mine!

  2. I would love to be entered into the Cascadian Farm Cereal Giveaway!! My favorite cereal of all time would have to be Trader O’s!! Maybe that will change though.

  3. I’d like to be entered!
    My favorite cereal is cracklin oat bran. I get it once a year for my birthday. :-)

  4. My favorite cereal is just about any kind of granola or if we’re talking going back to being a kid…I’ll always love “Pops”! :P

  5. This is Simeon’s fav cereal at the moment:

    Seraphim’s fav:

    Seeing that they are 2 teenage boys, they can consume an entire box of cereal in one sitting! When I was in college, I ate – every single night – 2 bowls of Frosted Flakes with nonfat milk!! For breakfast, I would eat more or possibly Lucky Charms. Ahhh…good memories! :-)

    Vanilla is my favorite scent and flavor as well. Soooo good! Many years ago, I used vanilla extract for perfume!! :-)

    Sooooo excited about the food processor! YAY!!

    1. Congrats on the food processor! I know you’re going to love it and use it for a lifetime!

      Ahhh, Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, and Cheerios were dinner many nights as a kid, in h.s., college…nothing wrong with cold cereal for dinner every now and then :)

  6. I’d like to be entered in the giveaway. My favorite cereal is the s’mores cereal soooo addicting and then any kind of granola really!

  7. Please enter mein the giveaway:) I grew up on count Dracula . The chocolate marshmallows were so decadent when your a kid… Who am I kidding… They are still decadent:)

  8. I’ve never made my own vanilla but I just asked my husband to pick up a bottle of vodka this weekend and pour 8 oz for me. I think I’ll just let him wonder about that while he eyes me with a sly smile! I would love to taste the difference between all the different vanillas from various countries. I have Madagascar vanilla now (LorAnn) but have wondered about some of the others. My favorite cereal is any kind of granola (with dates) so I’d love to be entered in the giveaway!

  9. Vanilla is my favorite flavor ever. I use it in practically all of my baked goods, and usually use twice as much as a recipe calls for. I love vanilla!

  10. I’d like to be entered to win the cereal. My fave cereal of all time is cranberry almond crunch but I don’t eat it anymore because I make more nutritious choices these days.

  11. Ooh, those spoon looks great, my favorite color. Vanilla? Ooh, yes… I use to make my own extract in brandy, but it’s hard to come by vanilla beans in this parts of the country. Scratch that, vanilla beans in this parts cost like fuel to a NASA space Shuttle…

  12. I want to be entered in the Cascadian Farms giveaway! My favorite cereal of all time is Blueberry morning by Post. I’m not sure if they even make it anymore. I haven’t seen it in ages.

  13. every time you show those cookies = insta-craving! i would also love that vanilla sampler- great gift idea! cheers!

  14. I tried another homemade vanilla extract recipe, but it said it should be ready in less than a week. Now I know why it didn’t work AT ALL. I totally need to try again and actually wait the proper amount of time.

    1. Yes at least 4 weeks, but the longer the better and like komboucha, you can just keep topping off..continuous brewing method :)

  15. I think I need everything on that list to be a part of my life. Vanilla bean sampler and puffy vanilla cookies and spicy peach jam?? So much win.

  16. Can you believe I’ve actually never done anything with a vanilla bean? Yet I absolutely LOVE vanilla bean ice cream. I would love to make vanilla bean chocolate chip cookies!

  17. I would love to try that cereal. I’m a serious cereal monster so picking a favorite is hard but I guess I would say Quaker oatmeal squares in brown sugar. Thanks for the giveaway!

  18. It’s uncanny, really. I posted about vanilla bean paste yesterday, I was thinking about tomato jam this morning…I can’t find the link, but I did find my recipe for Buttered Corn Ice Cream and Tomato Raspberry Ice Cream. I can’t wait to make those again!

    Bourbon vanilla?!?! YUM.

    I made tomato jam last summer and it was fantastic! I was just out in my garden, taking photos and wishing that there were more fruits. I’ve got a lot of flowers though. I just need to be patient.

    1. we are always on the same wavelength & I remember those cookies!

      the bourbon vanilla…for $3.99 TJs sells it and if I want a stronger vanilla, that’s my storebought go-to. For “cleaner” vanilla, I either make it or buy it but for bourbon, you really cannot beat the TJs, unless of course you make your own :)

  19. I really like vanilla extract (only the real stuff), and I also really like using the vanilla beans. My Thursday things:

    – Can’t wait for lunch in the park with friends and a sweet concert!
    – Need to pack for a music festival I am leaving to go to tomorrow
    – Need to pack for Vegas because that will happen right after the music festival
    – I want to find apricot coloured makeup, but no stores I have checked have any – booo!

    1. I love outdoor music festivals and have fun in Vegas – girl it’s 80-85F in San Diego today and Vegas is usually 20 to 25 degrees hotter. It’s gotta be scorching over there (about a 6 hour drive east). HAVE FUN!!!

    1. I totally thought of you as I was posting this…perfect for you and your bloggie name :)

  20. I would like to be entered into the Cascaidian Farms giveaway! My all time favorite cereal is Kashi Golean Crunch!

  21. Well, i’d sure like to try those ancient grains cereal ;)
    Also i don’t have one favorite brand of cereal, might be whole grain Cheerios?

  22. I love those serving utensils.

    I have been making chutney lately, several flavors. my Dad is from Hawaii, and when I was growing up Hawaii Grandpa made chutney all the time. He would send some over to us, and my Dad would open the package and immediately eat some with a spoon. So I’ve been making chutney for Dad lately :)

  23. I love your Thursday Things posts. So many good information and tidbits around the interwebs that you put in one place! Those serving tongs? Gorgeous! I wouldn’t want to use them! Also, I love Cascadian Farms granola.. it’s the only one my store that I like and it’s great for “granola beginners” like myself who don’t know about all the versatility granola has to offer! The vanilla almond one is my favorite for putting in parfaits :) Happy Thursday, Averie!

  24. I love those lamps. Would love to try this cereal from Cascadian Farms. I don’t know if I have a favorite cereal anymore. I’ll eat anything as long as it tastes good…haha.

  25. Those vanilla beans are gorgeous! I’ve never cooked with them before but would love to try sometime. And I enjoyed learning about the milk skin too ;)

    I would say my favorite cereal is probably Honey Bunches of Oats. It’s like three cereals in one!

  26. favorite cereal of all time? does special k bars count? hehe :) yyuuummm… those lamps are gorgeous! oh and milk skin reminds me of my mom making pudding when i was younger! i would scrape it off! she knew i didn’t care for it so after she poured the heated pudding in my bowl she would top it with wax paper..this attaches to the skin and makes it easy to remove

  27. I’ve recently become obsessed with cinnamon chex cereal! That granola sounds delicious though!

  28. Vanilla bean sampler… want! How incredible. Just think of how those different high quality beans could take your recipes to the next level. I’ve never made my own extract!

    Very interesting about the skim milk incident. You know I love food science and food trivia too Averie! And those puffy PB cookies… and gooey chocolate caramel bars…. mmm I love the looks of both! Have a great Thursday Averie! :)

  29. I think Skylar is definitely lucky to have you as a top mom :) That serving set from Anthro is so cute!

  30. I love Cascadian Farms cereals but my guilty pleasure is probably Life Cereal… Dry right from the box. :)

  31. Hi Avery! I would love to try the cereal you are giving away. I would have to say my favorite cereal of all time is either Honey Bunches of Oats or Reese’s Puffs. My mom never lets us have sugary cereal(and I’m 16 haha) so whenever my brother and I get the chance to eat a bowl at a friends house, we do! :)

  32. I love cereal and would love to be entered into your giveaway! I could (and sometimes do) eat a bowl for dinner on busy nights. My favorite is actually good old Kellogg’s corn flakes. They taste a little sweet without tons of added sugar.

  33. i’d have to say my favorite cereal of all time is raisin bran. even when i was a kid. seriously. so good.

  34. 2 things:
    -we went to Tahiti on our honeymoon and vanilla bean plants were EVERYWHERE. I seriously contemplated how to smuggle them past customs for days on end. (I didn’t in the end)
    -Ali @ Gimme some oven posted an earl grey peach jam that I absolutely cannot get out of my head. It has to happen this weekend!

    1. I’ve seen her jam and have been thinking about it too! And your honeymoon…I would have been more than tempted, too. Probably would have taken action :)

  35. That vanilla bean sampler looks awesome! Oh and now I want some totally expensive lamp…thanks :) Also, congrats to the winner…although I’m sad its’ not me…haha ;)

    1. It’s amazing you don’t know what you just have to have til you see it online, right? :)

  36. Those vanilla beans look amazing. I love vanilla. I’ve thought about making vanilla extract before but haven’t because I make so much and the stote bought stuff is of very high quality.

  37. That Jam sounds so good! I’d love to win the cereal! I’m trying various cereals with Kay right now. My favorite cereal of all time? oh gosh…mini wheats. I rarely buy them because I have 0 control ;) I also adore pb puffins

  38. I had no idea thats how you can make vanilla extract, so interesting! I bet you could get creative with different versions and liquors.

    1. You can – but like komboucha making, I’d do it AFTER I had my “mother batch” already made; like don’t put orange extract in your main batch type thing.

  39. I want to slam my face into those gooey bars. Sigh. I love my vanilla extract. I got my beans in Hawaii and it feels like a taste of the islands with every recipe. Cute utensils from Anthro but man I’ve gotta wait until they have a sale because I got into financial shock otherwise!

  40. That peach jam looks wonderful!! I happen to LOVE cascadian farms and i would have to say my favorite cereal is Quaker Oat Squares, in any flavor.

  41. Ok love those spoons. Gorgeous. Let’s see, favorite cereal of all time? Gonna have to go with Apple Jacks. I could eat that stuff by the box when I was a kid. Let’s just say we didn’t get it that often. I’ve not tried the Cascadian Farms cereals – had granola bars but not cereal so would love to get 2 boxes.

    1. That’s a cereal I haven’t had or thought about in oh, about 20 years…and now I want some!

  42. I love Cascadian Farms cereals so I’d love to win some! My favorite cereal is Peanut Butter Puffins but I rarely buy them because I can finish an entire box in about 2 days (if I’m pacing myself!).
    I do love vanilla too, I bought a solid perfume from Lush a couple weeks ago called Vanillary, it’s a great, light vanilla scent

    1. GREAT tip on the perfume – I’m going to check it out. And I too adore Puffins and am on the same pace as you with a box!

    1. And Gina/runningtokitchen just mentioned your earl gray jam in her comment to me and I agree – I want it!

  43. Found you through a friend sharing your protein bar recipe, and have now been sucked into your site – and am chomping at the bit to try some of these recipes. You’ll make that top 100 list next year, easy. And you make me want to be a food blogger ;)

    1. It’s been 4 years – they never pick me. Not on their radar screen but that’s okay :) Glad you found me and LMK if you end up trying any recipes!

  44. That’s so sweet about Skylar’s comments. No wonder your heart melted! :)

    Interesting milk trivia. One of my colleagues loves milk skin. I just don’t get it!

    Also, I’m loving those lamps! My husband and I are moving into a new place in a few weeks, and I’m definitely into getting all the decoration inspiration I can at the moment. I’ve been a bit lost on Pinterest on a few occasions recently- where does the time go on there!? haha

    1. Pinterest is one of my biggest time sucks – and I love it. Good luck with your move!

  45. Milk skin always reminds me of the Jell-O chocolate pudding my nanny used to make me when I was little. The skin was the best part! Sinking your spoon into it to get to the creamy bottom. So, so good. I need to have it sometime for old time’s sake. :)

    1. Jell-O pudding memories..the stuff potluck dinners in school gymnasium basements, complete with pudding skin and all. I remember them well :)