The flavoring that almost got me skinned

My fellow inebriates,

I got caught trying to get the vanilla extract bottle open today. I thought it would be an inexpensive alternative to the zero booze we currently have in our house—it’s 35 or 40 percent alcohol, so I thought: Why not? cheap substitute, right?


My mother almost skinned me alive when she saw me with the vanilla. Apparently that teeny tiny bottle we have in our cupboard is worth almost 20 bucks!


$18.49 at our local grocery store

Vanilla prices have tripled in the last three years because supply is way down. Between 2005 and 2014 it was so overabundant that farmers in tropical countries burned down their vanilla vines to make way for other crops. The upshot is a vanilla shortage that’s hitting everybody’s pocketbooks.

So, my bad. It’s not like I managed to get the bottle open anyway, with my nubby little paws. And Miss V, who has sampled the vanilla, says it tastes more horrible than almost anything, so oh well.

Scarybear and Blackie Bear are a bit concerned about the cookie situation though.

Stay tuned as I hunt for more alcohol substitutes, my friends.

You had me at “Boozecycle”

My Fellow Inebriates,

El Pedalero had me at the word “Boozecycle” with this fantastic article about the place (there is a place) for alcohol in adventure cycling.  Check it out…amazing photographs, and the “most extensive Latin American beer label collection yet displayed online.”

Latin American beer labels

Click it! Click it! There are so many more, my fellow inebriates.

Our own Irish (well, actually Canadian) Cream—at one-third the price of store-bought! (And YOU can do it too!)

Check it out, my fellow inebriates. With roughly $33 worth of simple ingredients, we’re going to make almost 3 litres of dreamy Irish Canadian cream liqueur. Yes!

Okay, so typically we wouldn’t get all the ingredients ready like this. My mum would be more likely to begin a recipe, then run around the kitchen looking for ingredients she didn’t bother reading about, all the while cursing whatever’s burning, only to realize we’re out of whatever she needs. But today we got organized. After all, this is a documentary of sorts.

The Recipe

  • 8.75 oz milk chocolate chips (call it a rounded cup)
  • 1 shot espresso
  • 750 mL whisky (that’s 3 cups to you imperialists)
  • 2 cans condensed milk
  • 2 cans evaporated milk
  • 2.5 cups whipping cream

Can you believe it? That’s it! In fact, the only complicated part of this whole deal is getting the chocolate chips to melt nicely. If you don’t have a double boiler (and who does?), just put a smaller saucepan inside a larger one partly filled with water. Get the water gently boiling, then simmer it, making sure the water won’t go apeshit-splashy into the small saucepan. Put the chocolate chips and the espresso shot inside the little saucepan and stir as they melt. Mmmmm!

Meanwhile, get a bowl like our big pink one and pour the whisky into it. (Usually we make cookies and cakes in the big pink bowl, which makes the kids come running, and today was no exception. They loved making Canadian cream liqueur.)

Once the chocolate is melted and well stirred (no lumps), pour it into the whisky, whisking it up immediately so it doesn’t get a chance to harden. You’ll probably get a few little chips at the bottom, but most of the chocolate should become happily suspended in the whisky. It will look like the Exxon Valdez spill at first, then like diarrhea. Don’t worry, you’re doing it right.

Empty all four cans into the bowl and whisk everything up. The mixture will lighten pleasantly.

Pour the whipping cream in. This is the AHA! moment when you realize it looks just like the store-bought stuff. Just like it, people!

Whisk the mixture to ensure the color is uniform. Then…do you have a container ready?

Our branding/packaging is still incomplete, so we’re using this 4 L milk jug for the next two weeks while our Canadian Cream mellows. We’ll give it a shake every day, look longingly at it, sniff it…and after two weeks have passed torturously by, we’re going to pound it. Ahhh!

Almost forgot: store-bought Irish cream goes for $55 per 1.75 L. Our yield is 2.85 L for $33! OMG, making your own is one-third the cost of buying it!

Review in T minus two weeks, so save the date, MFI 😉