Steamy Vanilla Milk
Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills
- measure :
to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).
- microwave :
to heat or cook food or liquid quickly in a microwave oven, which uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to generate heat in the food's water molecules.
- stir :
to mix together two or more ingredients with a spoon or spatula, usually in a circle pattern, or figure eight, or in whatever direction you like!
- 2 microwave-safe mugs
- Liquid measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
Steamy Vanilla Milk
- 1 C milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
- sugar to taste, up to 1 tsp
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Food Allergen Substitutions
Steamy Vanilla Milk
- Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk in Vanilla Milk.
Steamy Vanilla Milk
measure + stir + microwave
Measure and combine 1 cup milk, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and sugar to taste, up to 1 teaspoon, in a microwavable mug and stir. Cover with a paper towel and microwave for 1 minute. Remove with a potholder and stir again before saying "Cheers!"
Hi! I'm Vanilla!
“I'm a flower, a flavor, an aroma, a spice, a seed, and a pod! Did you know that my pods come from a Vanilla orchid? For cooking, I can flavor foods by adding vanilla extract (much tastier than imitation vanilla) or vanilla paste (made from extract and ground seeds). You can also slice open a pod and scrape out the tiny black seeds to add to your dish, and steep the pod in liquid. I'm essential for baking (and ice cream)!"
History & Etymology
- Vanilla has an intriguing history. Because of its high value over time, vanilla has been the subject of historical robbery and great intrigue. Growers in Madagascar are known to "tattoo" their beans with a knife when the pods are still green so they can identify their beans if they suspect someone has stolen them. How they find the stolen beans is anyone's guess!
- Vanilla is indigenous to southeastern Mexico and, in the 1500s, traveled to Spain. Initially, it was only valued for its use as perfume.
- For hundreds of years, Mexico was the only country that grew vanilla. Now, Madagascar, an island country off the coast of Southeastern Africa, grows the most vanilla in the world.
- Other places that produce vanilla are Costa Rica, Guatemala, Uganda, Kenya, China, India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands. Find these places on your map! What do they all have in common? They are hot, tropical places where vanilla orchids can grow abundantly.
- Why is vanilla so expensive even today? It's because growing vanilla is very labor-intensive. In fact, vanilla is the second most labor-intensive agricultural crop, next to saffron. It can take nearly three years after planting the vines before the first orchid flowers appear. Vanilla beans must remain on the vine for nine months before developing their sweet aroma. The beans are still green when growers harvest them. Then they turn brown and become richly flavored during the drying and curing process.
- We consume the most vanilla in the United States compared to any other place! However, the vanilla found in fragrances and foods is 98 percent imitation! This is because synthetic vanilla is less expensive than the real thing.
- Only the Melipona bee in Central America can pollinate the vanilla flower. In other parts of the world, farmers mimic the process with wooden needles.
- July 23rd is National Vanilla Ice Cream Day in the US.
- The English word "vanilla" comes from the Spanish word "vainilla," meaning "little pod, the diminutive of "vaina," meaning "sheath" or "pod."
- Vanilla is a member of the orchid family and prefers hot, wet, tropical climates. Vanilla is also the only edible orchid (that we know of).
- A climbing vine, vanilla grows whitish-green flowers that are hand pollinated. It requires supportive structures for optimal growth. Vanilla vines can grow anywhere from 30 to 50 feet long!
- The fruit, when mature, is about five inches long, a half-inch thick, and looks like a bean pod.
- The pod ripens gradually for 8 to 9 months after flowering, eventually turning black and giving off a strong aroma. Inside the cured vanilla bean pod are thousands of tiny vanilla seeds that are rich in flavor.
- These seeds give vanilla bean ice cream its tiny black flecks, and it is how you know your vanilla ice cream is the real thing!
- The vanilla orchid lasts only a day, and pollination needs to happen before it dies.
How to Pick, Buy, & Eat
- No two vanilla beans are the same in taste, color, or aroma, just like wine grapes.
- Store vanilla beans away from heat or light.
- To open a vanilla pod, place it on a flat surface. Press down at the top to hold it steady, then take a knife and split the pod down the middle. Next, spread apart the pod and run your knife down its length. The seeds will stick to the knife!
- Use the empty vanilla pod to infuse a jar of sugar or salt. Or steep it in milk or cream to use in recipes! Or poach fruit with a vanilla bean to give it a subtle kiss of flavor.
- A few drops of vanilla will balance a tomato's acidity.
- Steep vanilla beans in coffee or tea, or grind them with your coffee beans for flavored java.
- Spiders don't like vanilla! So, vanilla and vinegar in a spray bottle will send spiders running!
- Try chopping up vanilla beans and mixing them with Epsom salts and a little vanilla extract for a luxurious bath.
- One vanilla bean is equivalent to about three teaspoons of vanilla extract.
- You can add vanilla to sweet and savory recipes. Try mixing some vanilla beans into a homemade salad vinaigrette or poaching a vanilla bean in butter for a delicious sauce to serve over fish!
- Vanilla extract is made by pounding vanilla pods in a solution of ethanol and water. Ethanol is a grain alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, but it is also used as a fuel additive, often blended with gasoline (especially corn-based ethanol). However, the ethanol manufactured for drinks and vanilla extract has to follow more purity standards than the type used in petroleum products.
- There are some claims of the health benefits of vanilla, such as reducing skin damage, aiding digestion, and alleviating nausea; however, there is not enough evidence to confirm these. Still, vanilla's pleasant fragrance may help calm and lift moods.
Let's Learn About India!
- India is a country in South Asia and is officially called the Republic of India. It is the second-most populous country in the world and has the largest population of any democratic nation.
- Hindi and English are official languages, and there are 447 native languages spoken in India.
- India's government includes a president, prime minister, and parliament. Twenty-eight states and eight union territories make up India's federal union.
- India's currency is the Indian "rupee." It is illegal for foreigners to take rupees out of India.
- Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the Taj Mahal's construction in 1632 for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
- The anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birthday is celebrated on October 2. He is considered India's "Father of the Nation" and led the Indian people to independence from 89 years of British rule in 1947. Gandhi's peaceful protest movement inspired many people in other countries.
- India's national symbols are the lotus flower, the Bengal tiger, and the peacock.
- Some of the world's highest mountains are in India, including Kanchenjunga, the third tallest at 28,169 feet.
- The Bay of Bengal is a huge bay bordering the southeastern part of India and is home to the world's largest mangrove forest. Here, tigers swim in the same waters as dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and saltwater crocodiles.
- The snow leopard, the Indian rhinoceros, the Bengal tiger, and the Asian elephant are all animals of India. Globally, it is the only country that has both lions and tigers.
- The most popular sport in India is cricket!
- It is hot in India, so people there often wear loose clothes. Traditional clothing differs by area in India. Women may wear saris, long pieces of colorful cotton or silk draped over and around the body like a dress. Men may wear a dhoti, made of material wrapped around the hips and pulled through the legs, somewhat resembling loose pants, although they aren't seen in cities much anymore. Photos of Gandhi show him wearing dhotis.
- Seventy percent of the world's spices come from India.
- Staple foods in India include lentils, rice, bread, and spices. People living on the coast eat more fish and seafood. In other regions, they eat chicken, beef, and game meats. Many people throughout India are vegetarians. Common fruits and vegetables are mangoes, apples, oranges, pineapples, bananas, onions, okra, potatoes, spinach, and carrots.
- Curries are popular dishes in India and are made with a variety of vegetables, fish, meat, and fruits, and spices.
- When people greet each other in India, as a sign of respect, they bow, placing their hands together before their chest or face, and say "Namaste," which translates to "I bow to the divine in you."
What's It Like to Be a Kid in India?
- Indian parents are encouraged to start their kids in preschool at 2½ to 3 years old. School is usually taught in a particular state's language, which could be Hindi, English, or another language.
- Kids often have their grandparents living with them in the family household.
- Along with cricket, tennis, badminton, and chess, kids may play traditional Indian games like kabaddi or kho-kho, both played by teams, or kancha, a marble game played individually or with others.
- Kids enjoy the Holi festival, which is a religious celebration that also heralds the arrival of spring. Celebrated in various ways throughout the country, most versions include the joyous spraying and throwing of colorful powders by festival participants at one another.