Joy the Baker

Vanilla Honey

March 12, 2014

Vanilla Honey

I moved from Los Angeles to Burlington, Vermont when I was eighteen years old.  I decided, with all of my eighteen years of wisdom, that I didn’t want to rush off to college, and that instead… I would rush off to scoop ice cream for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream in Vermont.

Brilliant!

From my bedroom, safe within the walls of my parents’ house, I was so certain of so many things.  I would sit on my bed at night and pat myself on the back for the courage innate in my decision to move across the country.  I felt bold and sure.  It’s so easy to be bold and sure when you’re parents are sitting in the next room.

I packed my bags, boarded a plane to New Hampshire, boarded a bus to Vermont, put my feet on the ground and proceeded to f.r.e.a.k o.u.t.  My parents weren’t in the next room.  I wasn’t surrounded by a binding support system.  What do you mean I have to pay my own light bills!?  This is thoroughly confusing and 100% terrifying.

Shortly after landing in Vermont, my trusty eighteen years of experience quickly began to falter.  Obviously.

A new friend was kind enough to let me stay in her small and charming Burlington apartment while she stayed with her girlfriend.  She gave me a key, a tour of her collection of Dave Matthews and Ella Fitzgerald CDs and I closed the door on the big scary world I felt totally ill-prepared for.

Over the course of a week in my new surroundings I didn’t leave the house.  Not once.  Nope!  Are you kidding?  Outside was filled with strangers!  Instead of exploring,  I ate every last bit of food my host had in her cabinets.  She had just gone apple picking, I remember.  If she was hoping to make apple sauce upon her return, she was sore out of luck.

I ate a lot of apples.  I took a lot of baths.  I listened to waaaay too much Dave Matthews Band.  I searched for that bravery I had previously been so proud of.

I found that courage eventually… mostly because I had only eaten apples for a week and I needed a sandwich.  Hunger drove me out.  Stepping off the porch and into the streets of Burlington felt big.  Like I was alone in a thing and I had to learn how to make it work… and also manage figure out how to learn some things and have some fun.

With the thirty-two years of experience I have now, stepping out of the door in a new place isn’t as hard.  It’s mostly dang exciting.  Thank goodness years  come with little bits of wisdom.

Still though… a few days ago I found myself hibernating here in New Orleans.  For a few moments I could feel the strangeness of the ground below my feet.   I understand that feeling now and try to make it more energizing than frightening.

Vanilla Honey

All of this is to say that, in the strangeness… when I was trying to find my courage over my fear, I reached for a jar and stirred two things together.  Sometimes the small things help to distract the mind.

Megan Gordon has some wonderfully simple instructions for infused honey in her new book Whole Grain Mornings.  I reached for a vanilla bean and a jar of honey and this is the culmination of those efforts.

Small and big.  It’s all allowed.

Vanilla Honey

This honey is equal parts simple and decadent.  I used a thick raw honey, warmed it just slightly and stirred in vanilla bean seeds.  This honey is supreme is black breakfast tea or afternoon coffee.  I also plan of spreading it onto peanut butter slathered toast.

Here we are and here we go!

Vanilla Honey

makes 1 cup

Print this Recipe!

1 cup honey

1 vanilla bean, split

Place honey in a small saucepan over very low heat.

Split a vanilla bean lengthwise down the center and scrape out the seeds.  Place the seeds into the warming honey and stir to incorporate.

Use the vanilla bean pod for Homemade Vanilla Extract or just toss it into your sugar jar for extra special sugar.

Allow the honey to warm slightly, but not boil.  We just want to warm it to thoroughly incorporate and help bring out the flavors of the vanilla.  Remove from heat and transfer to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Use in your morning coffee or afternoon tea.  


59 Comments Add A Comment

  • Love your story! You are truly so brave.

  • Vanilla honey sounds amazing! I’m glad you’re braver now and able to venture out in the world :-)

  • I read your blog daily, and I don’t think that I’ve ever commented…but Burlington is bringing me out of hiding. :) I moved to Vermont (Colchester…so basically Burlington) from Fresno, CA just over 20 years ago. I still hibernate sometimes! I’m visiting NOLA for the first time in May. I’d love to know what must-visit spots you recommend!

  • I am absolutely going to make this. It looks and it sounds delicious!!!

  • I hope you continue to feel more at home and more comfortable in your new place. I am having toast and honey for breakfast and will be dreaming about this wonderful vanilla version.

  • I think staying in your new residence is the perfect way to get a feel for new recipes. There is nothing more exciting than learning the quirks if your new kitchen!

  • Joy, I can totally relate. While in the end I did make myself leave my apartment aside from going across the street to Trader Joe’s (which was intimidating in itself!) when I first moved to Los Angeles I just wanted to hibernate in my apartment for a bit too! I would only go to places I could viably walk to as the bus system scared me. You’re looking at the girl who in the September sun (remember that heatwave we had year before last) walked from Westwood to Brentwood Country Mart one day, and on another day walked from Westwood to Beverly Hills via Century City. Thank god for Google Maps!

  • From the comment from your Mom to all the people worldwide rooting for you, it is obvious that so many people wish you well! Thank you for these words and a lovely recipe. Wishing you lots of happiness and laughter in New Orleans!

  • Lisa Williford March 13, 2014 at 3:05 am

    Having also moved from Cali to NOLA, I can very much relate. Just remember to take it one day at a time and to breathe. Luckily, the Crescent City is a very friendly and welcoming place . . . it’s also not a bad place in which to hibernate (especially when it rains like it did yesterday)!

  • Your Mom’s comment is the sweetest thing ever! It’s great to have so much love and support as you make big changes in your life. It’s also good to have good food – vanilla honey looks simply perfect and perfectly simple. Thanks for sharing!

  • Deep breaths. I can feel what you’re going through. I’ve lived in 6 states in my adult life, until finally putting down roots in SoCal. But with each new state and not knowing a soul, that feeling of omg what am I doing here hits. Sometimes very hard. You are strong, Joy! And your honey…is beautiful. pinned

  • Joy, I totally feel for you. I have moved cross country from the capital city to another metro about 10 days back and am still in the finding my feet phase. This despite the fact that this metro was my home for close to 9 years and I am familiar with most parts of the city. But things change constantly these days. Your old favourites change. Your job changes. You change….
    It’s something about adaptation against the force of habit that best describes the initial two/three months I guess. No matter whether you move back to a city you used to live in, or a completely new one.
    I still haven’t set up my own kitchen. But I plan to make this vanilla honey very soon.

  • Oh, Joy! Dad and I remember well those times. You were very certain about what you wanted to do. Even when the school principal stated that only one in your graduating class was not going to college. You were headed to Vermont and we had to let you go.
    Interesting now to read how it went for you in the beginning. You didn’t let on. Just so you know we were here rooting and praying for you. Many years later we are very proud of you and wish you the best on your most recent move to New Orleans.

  • This post is so perfect! Such an evolution, and well-written. I barely blog anymore, but your post has inspired me to reconsider. I wrote a similar post when moving from Chicago to SF: http://chiknpastry.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/homemade-vanilla-extract/

    Change is a good thing – can’t wait to see how your new life unfolds!

  • Thanks for sharing! I went through a similar experience not too long ago (except it was Massachusetts instead of Vermont and pasta instead of apples). Glad to know the scariness of venturing out into the world will wear off. c:

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