SIMPLE VANILLA SYRUP
Medium saucepan 1½ cups granulated sugar 2 cups water ¾ tsp. vanilla extract 1. Combine the water and sugar in your saucepan, and bring to a full boil. 2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 3. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract. 4. Cool and pour into a container. NOTE: If you make more than 1 batch, be sure to use a candy thermometer and boil to precisely 230º. After cooling, the syrup can be poured into decorative glass containers found at thrift stores, garage sales, etc. Be sure your containers are sterilized, and follow proper canning procedures. I would not recommend “wide mouth” canning jars, as the sugar will crystallize on the glass threads, making the lid hard to remove. For gifts, old glass containers that use corks work best. You can see the beautiful gold color through the glass, and the old bottle gives it character. After bottling and cooling, the top of the bottle can be sealed with wax. I prefer beeswax (you can even melt it with vanilla candle scent!), dipping the bottle top several times to build up a thick layer. You can also decorate the bottle in multiple ways, add a bow, make a decorative beaded string tie, even use “stained glass paint.” Syrup can be made for pennies on the pint. And after all, handmade gifts are the best, so craft your own! About the author: Craig Clark is a talented maker and woodworker living and creating in lovely Sonoma County, Calif.