Monday, January 18, 2010

Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Banana Bread!

Sorry, but the banana phone was out of service!

Everyone knows that the trick to really awesome banana bread is to use those bananas which are all spotty and really just past the point where you want to peel and eat them. It’s hard to time your banana bread craving to the availability of The Perfect Bananas.   Either they’re all yellow and perfect for slicing into your cereal bowl, or they’re perfect for cooking and you have No Time. So…’s a little trick.

Toss the bananas into the freezer overnight. (Also great for keeping bananas in that banana-bread-perfect state, once they’re all spotty, toss them in the freezer. They’ll turn black and look unappetizing, but trust me, they’ll work perfectly!)

Sooooooo, that’s your tip, don’t spend it all in one place.

You will need:

¼ pound (yes, pound) of butter (yes, butter) @room temp
½ cup raw sugar (it has more flavor, dagnabbit)
1 ¼ cup self-rising (unbleached) flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
3 or 4 bananas
¾ cup of sour cream (oh yeah…)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
3 shakes of ground ginger
1 shake of nutmeg

Start with the butter and sugar. If you’ve got the butter to about room temperature, it will cream with the sugar more easily. If it isn’t quite as soft as you want, DON’T MELT IT!

Just cut it into thin slices, and you’ll be able to blend it with the sugar to a creamy, slightly chunky mixture.

Once you’ve got that all creamed, add allllllll the other ingredients and fold them all together. If you’ve used formerly frozen bananas, you won’t need to mash them first.

If you haven’t (you naughty cook, you), then you probably want to mash them a bit before mixing them in. 

Butter and flour a loaf pan and pour all the gooey, banana-y goodness in.

Now if you’re like me and forgot to preheat the oven, this is a perfect time to turn your oven to 350 degrees(f) and wash out the mixing bowls and implements of cooking. Because hardened banana bread batter is a %#@% to get out!

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour- I set the timer for 45 minutes and do the toothpick test. This is a pretty dense bread, so I actually let it cook for about 8 minutes after it passed the toothpick test.

This banana bread is great on its own, or slathered with butter, with a dab of whipped cream, or if you are so inclined, a serving of French vanilla bean icecream.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Potato Soup (better for what ails you than chicken soup, srlsy)

Okay so I realize now that sharing my recipes may be a bit of a silly idea, because I hardly ever measure. So, if I’m sharing a recipe for anything that requires actual measurements, I’ll be sure to let you know. For everything else, it’s really just an estimate, and based entirely on taste. If you don’t like bacon, don’t add bacon (But really, who doesn’t like bacon??)

In preparation for the cooking of the soup, I browsed my old friend Google and read through several recipes, but I didn’t really follow any of them, so no links back today, mmkay?

Here’s what I did, it worked for me:

3 to 4 Lbs of small white and red potatoes, diced (this was really more like 4-5 smallish potatoes of each kind)
1 small onion, minced small
1 TBSP chicken bouillon powder (you could use stock, if you’d like, I suppose)
1 tsp homemade curry powder* or Madras Curry Powder
Enough water to cover the potatoes and then a little more

Bring the above ingredients to a nice rollicking boil and cook until just past al dente. Drain and set aside (I put them in a large mixing bowl and just used the same pot for the next step).

Ham or bacon (thick cut), diced (I used ham, I think it was about 1 ½ - 2 cups after chopping)
Green Onions, chopped (ohhh, I didn't measure, enough to wrap my hand around the stalks I guess)
1/2 stick butter (real butter, really)
A little more curry powder
1 TBSP Tarragon
sprinkle of nutmeg (yep, really)

Sauté until onions are wilty and bacon or ham is well, close to crispy.

Once you’ve got your Onion/Butter/Bacon mix to its wilty-crispy perfection, then add;

The cooked potatoes
1 cup water
1 TBSP chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

Bring up to slow boil then reduce to simmer.

I cooked mine for a few hours, but it probably would have been ready to eat in about 45 minutes.

Top with cheese of some cheddary variety and serve with cheesy-toast!

I’ve got to say this is my favorite new recipe, and I’m going to make it again, it was de-LISH-us. Srsly.

*Homemade curry powered – I cannot tell you how to make this, as my friend Ira made it for me. She was kind enough to label the containers, so I could tell you what’s *in* it, but she’d probably kill me. And then I wouldn’t be able to make more potato soup, so you can see my dilemma, right?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

my cats

my cats

     do not make a distinction

         between weekdays when the alarm

               goes off

and Weekend


              it does not

they cuddle up



              contently on

my bladder


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year's Resolution

I really don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. They always seem to be about depriving yourself, or making yourself different. How often have you seen anyone resolve to Like Myself The Way I Am, or Stop Trying To Make My Spouse Into Something They Are Not? No, people resolve to make up for perceived deficiencies. I’ll Read More Books, Go To The Gym, Lose 20 Pounds, Donate More To Charity, Volunteer More, Balance My Checkbook More Regularly, Quit Smoking, Stop Drinking, Make More Money, Meet Mr/Ms Right And Not Screw It Up This Time. Bah-humbug.

A study on teh intertubes ( probably not terribly scientific , showed that typically 52% of people who make resolutions feel optimistic about their success in attaining the goals of their New Year’s Resolutions, really only about 12% actually end up succeeding. Now I’ll admit that I would buy a $1 lottery ticket with worse odds than that, but New Year’s Resolutions just seem like setting yourself up for failure on something you really care about. If you want to make a change in your life, make a change, but don’t tie it all up in one big giant all-or-nothing last chance.

All that being said…..this year I’ve got a New Year’s Resolution.

Someone I follow on Twitter who shall remain nameless (@Uncucumbered) had a really great resolution last year– to try a new barbeque sauce every month. Now how cool is that? There’s not even really any pressure, I mean if you fail it just means you don’t get to enjoy barbeque that month!

So, this year, my New Year’s Resolution is (drum roll, please) every month I will add some new dish to my cooking repertoire, whether it be a new recipe I find, or something new I just make up. I’m not saying any of these will be culinary masterpieces, but that’s not really what’s important here, at least not in my mind. And since it’s my resolution, off we go!

Here are the rules:

1. Every month I’ll cook something I haven’t made before, or
2. Cook something I have made before but in a totally different way
3. There are no roll-over recipes, so if I try 2 in one month, that doesn’t get me off the hook for the next month.

I’ve already done 2 new things in January, and I look forward to sharing them!