Naturally, I’m not drawn to cooking. I cook, but it is not something I enjoy really. Instead, it’s more of a chore than a hobby. But baking—I love to bake! Baking makes my kitchen smell amazing and I love when something yummy and sweet comes out of the oven. I also love that everyone gets excited over freshly baked items coming out of the oven. It is like a universal sign for hospitality.
Want to meet someone new? Bake them bread.
Want to meet a new neighbor? Bake them brownies.
Maybe this is just a southern thing, but baking is the way to most people’s hearts.
(For those of you that are not big sweet eaters or that do not care for desserts that much, there’s a quote that always comes to mind from the wise words of Jessica Day, “I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person. That’s just weird and it freaks me out.”) Get it together guys!
But, back on topic, a key ingredient in most sweet recipes (and no, it is not love…that is cheesy, even for me) is vanilla. It can totally make or break a recipe!
I have been looking into fair trade vanilla lately, and unfortunately, it can be difficult to find! There are a few companies out there where you can order it online (here, here—this is wholesale only—, or here), and even fewer where you can buy it at the store.
There’s an interesting article out there called, “Is Fair Trade Vanilla Really Fair.” Since vanilla beans are very difficult to grow, there are only a small number of vanilla bean farmers. In fact, it takes around 3 years for a vine to produce a vanilla bean. And, when it is time to pick the crop, it must be done by hand. Vanilla beans are also extremely sensitive to weather changes. Because vanilla has a standard of quality, it can be difficult for farmers to receive a consistent price for their crop. Because of these things, plus wanting to make sure the farmers have a fair wage, the price of fair trade vanilla can be somewhat more expensive than other forms.
Fortunately, I did find one fair trade vanilla that is available at your local grocer – Rodelle. Besides HEB and Kroger, Rodelle vanilla extract can be found at Costco, Whole Foods, Randall’s, and many other stores. Rodelle was established in 1936 and offers a variety of vanilla products. Recently, they partnered with a vanilla farming association in Madagascar that works to ensure both the preserving of the environment and fair wages with the farmers. The association is an employee owned co-op and gives 100% of the profit back to the farmers. I have tried their vanilla extract in several items already and it is really good. Plus, I can pick it up at the grocery store which makes life much easier.
I would love to hear what you think about Rodelle. Pick some up, bake something yum and share!
Recipe of the Week—Sopapilla Cheesecake
This is an all-time favorite of mine and is usually a go-to dessert during the holidays.
2 cans crescent rolls
1 ½ cups sugar
3 packages cream cheese (8oz each)
1 tsp Rodelle Vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
½ cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Cream together 1 ½ cups sugar, cream cheese and vanilla in a large bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl mix together ½ cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Grease a 13×9 inch baking dish. Unroll (1) can of crescent rolls and place on the bottom of the dish. Smooth the cream cheese and sugar mixture on top of the crescent rolls. Unroll the other can of crescent rolls and place on top of the cream cheese mixture. Melt butter and pour over the top of crescent rolls. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the butter evenly.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Enjoy!