Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When life gives you (brown) bananas...

Make banana bread! But this isn't your mama's banana bread. Well, it's my mama's banana bread-- although technically, it's my grandmother's recipe. But when I copied it out of my mom's dog-eared, thumbed-through, browned-page recipe book that contained a combination of her handwriting and what I assume is my grandmother's, it was simply titled, "Mom's Banana Bread."

I'm all for fancy food but I've found that the simplest recipes more often than not, make for the best food. I don't have patience for measuring or complicated recipes that have a million ingredients (although if it tickles my fancy, I'll try anything). I'm drawn to things that are simple, unexpected and totally delicious. This recipe certainly ticks many of those boxes.

For someone who doesn't like baking, I make banana bread a lot. Mostly because we buy bananas and if there's one thing that I can stand is a soft banana. I'll only eat them when they're just past being green. I can smell the difference-- I know, it's weird. But hey; I know my bananas. In any case, I hate wasting food-- and as it turns out, this recipe works better with soft bananas (brown spots and all). Deliciously simple, imprecisely measured, brown bananas. What better makings for a great recipe?

Mom's Banana Bread
  • 3-4 soft bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c butter (more or less)
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (heaping tsp if you like cinnamon)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp cold water (I don't know what this is for, but it seems to not work without it, so go with it)
Cooking directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and banana mixture
  • Sift dry ingredients and combine with wet ingredients
  • Add vanilla and water
  • Grease and flour bread pan
  • Bake for 45-60 minutes, until knife comes out clean-- careful not to test near bananas; if edges look done, pull it out. This is best when it's just cooked so it's really moist
The bread really needs no accoutrements; it's delicious on its own as an afternoon snack with a cuppa (that's tea for all you Yanks)-- or really, at any time of day. If you're serving it for dessert, you can always pair it with cream cheese frosting or a caramel sauce would be delicious (or a peanut butter marshmallow sauce-- yummeee). You can always add walnuts too, which I do every so often when I have them handy. If it's for company, I'll usually add some sliced bananas to the plate as garnish. Just past green, of course.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Baby's Gotta Brand New Blog

My sis has retired her daughters' individual blogs and combined them into a family-affair. It's called "Goosie & Kenken: The happenings of two littles and sometimes, their bigs" which I think is just about the cutest thing ever. Goosie is AB's nickname for Nanea and Ken-Ken is short for Makena (read about how they adopted those totally adorable monikers here). My sis gets loads more traffic to her site than mine, but I thought I'd give the shout-out anyway!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sneak Preview

Friday, August 13, 2010

Come Dine With Me!

I'm thinking about changing the name of my blog to Warblings of a Wannabe Foodie. I've always loved cooking and fancied myself a foodie. But lately I think I've crossed the line to obsessed. I spend all my spare time watching cooking shows (my favorites are the contest-ones like Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Come Dine With Me) and pouring over cookbooks. I've even finally dusted off the really fancy food processor MRN got me for Christmas and am using it 3-4 times a week! I like very colorful plates (meaning lots of veggies, much to MRN's dismay), and I also like experimenting with flavors that you don't immediately think go together (also to MRN's dismay...). I hate to measure anything, which means I'm less suited for baking. I also never think anything is spiced enough, so I tend to add more (especially garlic). It may be because I've killed my taste buds due to my proclivity for red pepper flakes (I like it spicy!). But I try to tone it down when there are guests (and because sometimes I destroy the dish by adding too much... thinking of the lemon disaster with my first attempt at sole meuniƩre. MRN is now in charge of that dish).

Sometimes recipes aren't worth repeating, but I'm always happy to have tried it. I'm trying to infuse new dishes into the repertoire because I'm a creature of habit and am mostly happy with eating the same thing over and over. But now having a guinea pig--err, husband, it makes it more fun to try out new things. Last night it was:

Grilled Lamb with Curried Rice and Cherries*
  • 4 lamb steaks (about 1-inch thick) or 9-12 small chops
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c fresh lemon juice (about 2 medium lemons)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 c Long grain rice
  • 1 c cherries, halved and pitted
  • Fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
For the lamb:
Whisk 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons), onions, garlic, fresh rosemary*, salt, pepper and paprika and pour over lamb steaks (or chops... really, whatever you like) in nonreactive bowl (translation: glass or ceramic). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours. (*rosemary is my addition because I always think it goes nicely with lamb; but if you don't like it, you don't have to add it...)

To cook: Grill on the bbq or broil in oven, 6 minutes on each side (for a steak about 1 in thick) for a pink center; a minute more for well-done. When you turn it the first time, spoon some of your marinade over it. Easy enough?

For the rice:
Any long-grain rice will do-- cook according to instructions but add 1 tsp of curry powder to the water. Pit and slice cherries in half (about 1 cup). Once cooked, gently fold cherries and basil into the rice. (if you don't have fresh herbs, you can use dried-- but cut measurement in half and rub in fingers / hands to release the flavor before adding to your food)

Serve and enjoy!

(For a bit of color, you can add roasted veggies or a spinach salad... here I served it with roasted brussel sprouts with garlic and lemon pepper)

*Curried rice and cherries recipe from Real Simple

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Something for You

Cry-worthy song #14173.