Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Extract This, Martha Stewart!

I just stumbled across a blog where the author was documenting step-by-step instructions for creating homemade vanilla extract to give as a gift. I scanned the post, taking note of the photos: flawlessly clean kitchen, fresh-faced child assistant, adorable lineup of tiny glass bottles, unopened bottle of name-brand vodka, artfully scattered fresh vanilla beans, polka-dotted ribbons, stylish painted bowls and fancy funnels. By the time I reached the pictures of the cutesy personalized labels, I felt like this:

Why had those idyllic pictures elicited such feelings of irritation? Why in the name of Martha Stewart was I fighting urge to pee in those shiny little glass bottles? OK - that was gross, but the whole Utopian fantasy world of chic homemade elixirs created in spotless kitchens feels pretty unrealistic in my world. And to then create an instructional guide? You are obviously drunk off homemade vanilla extract.

First of all, I seriously doubt I could procure a decent photo of my kids "helping" me with anything food-related. Cut the shiny face of the vanilla extract kidlet and paste my two tweens with chocolate chins and their unwashed hands buried in the brownie mixing bowl. Vanilla extract lady would be mortified.

Another obstacle to making fancy homemade goodies would be the array of piles on my kitchen counter and table. Here, one can find bills, pizza coupons, school lunch menus, coverless CDs, and granola bar wrappers. I'd either have to find homes for these stray items or pull my signature maneuver of throwing the piles into an empty laundry basket and stowing it in my bedroom, where it will fester for possibly weeks until we we receive a late notice for the phone bill or want to order pizza. Why not avoid all the hassle and leave the piles alone?

My answer to fancy bottles and crafty containers? Ziplock bags. They are versatile and can be easily marked with a Sharpie. Who needs swanky personalized labels.... pshaw!

Unopened name-brand vodka.... is that an oxymoron?

OK - perhaps I'm a little bitter and making too much of this obviously organized and talented artsy fartster. There's probably some envy involved as well; I'd love to have non-sticky counters and kitchen floors free of coffee drips and rogue Cheerios. I would also enjoy having the inspiration and creative oomph to effortlessly toss together homemade cat treats or potpourri, and maybe someday I will have all of that. But for today, I will shove aside the piles and share a chocolately smooch with my kids... that is, after I finish licking the empty mixing bowl of boxed brownie batter.


  1. Her head would explode in our kitchen!!

  2. You do love to exaggerate, don't you mother?
    (When I typed mother I almost spelled "Mohinder"!)

    Very funny!

  3. Ditto for me, my kids and my kitchen. I have learned a couple of things about cooking anything for people. 1) change my shirt. There is large amounts of cat hair on my shirt at all times, waiting to slip off into my current meal. 2) am I the only one who has to rinse and wipe off my ladles and big spoons located next to the stove before use? I'd take a ziplock baggie of your vanilla extract any day.

  4. I use those Ziploc bags. I use them to store anything and everything. Fewer bowls to wash that way. Just grab it from the fridge and too it out. :0)

    And the day I saw Martha Stewart on TV making homemade marshmallows (along with her vanilla extract), I nearly choked on my cat hair coated pudding cup. Homemade marshmallows? I mean, Jeez...they're marshmallows for goodness sake!

    BTW: Love the blog.

  5. Just stumbled on this blog-what a hoot! Ditto on cat hair as a condiment. Martha Stewart's been in my sights for years-check out my blog Pepper at the Quilt Studio http://peppercory.blogspot.com and January 28's "Will Martha Please Sit Down?" Thanks for today's laugh-
    Pepper Cory

  6. I’m with the prairie dog! Clutter-free kitchens baffle me, too.

  7. Thanks for all the comments - I'll send each of you a Ziplock containing one brownie made from a boxed mix!


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