Wednesday, September 26, 2012
My first remembrance of eating banana nut bread was at our neighbor's Christmas party when I was about 6 or 7. Banana nut bread with cream cheese spread on it will forever be associated with Christmas for me and the fact that it was totally delicious. My mom had never made banana nut bread. Thanks Dorothy and Eva for that lovely memory.
Last week we had our first real cool down after a long hot summer. What was the first thing I baked? You guessed it - banana nut bread. There were three bananas on the counter that were heading for extinction if something wasn't done with them quickly, so I got out all the ingredients and went to work.
I have been making this recipe since the 1960's. Could not tell you where it came from if my life depended on it. It is in my handwritten recipe book and the page is smudged and smeared from years of use. You think I would know it by heart, but I don't. I have to look it up every time I make it just to be sure I use all the proper proportions. That is extremely important in baking or you may end up with a banana hockey puck instead of bread.
If you can stand to let the bread sit for a day or two before eating it (it is a major challenge), banana breads are something that get better with a few days "ripening" (no pun intended). The flavors meld together and the texture gets nice and dense and flavorful. There is nothing like cutting that first slice, spreading on some cream cheese and enjoying it with a lovely cup of fresh, hot coffee. Yum. Yum. Yum.
Here is what you need to make one large or two small loaves of banana bread.
1 stick butter
3 large bananas
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup nuts, chopped (I use pecans)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
Cream the butter and sugar together. Mash the bananas and add the vanilla to them. Beat the eggs with a fork until foamy and add to the mashed bananas. Add the banana mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix well.
Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the wet mixture. Grease and flour your loaf pan. Add the mixture to the loaf pan. Tap the bottom of the pan on the counter several times to remove any air bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes - until a tooth pick placed in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool before removing the bread from the pan.
Now the real challenge. Try to let the bread sit for several days before eating. If you can't wait, slice and enjoy!
I have given this bread and my pumpkin bread (recipe on the blog) as Christmas gifts for years and years. Everyone looks forward to receiving them. One year I didn't make them and there was disappointment all around, so I have continued the tradition. They do make nice treats at holiday time and gifts made with love are so appreciated.
Just remember, DON'T THROW THOSE BROWN BANANAS AWAY!!! EVER!!! You will be missing out on a fantastically delicious treat!
Things to Remember:
“when life gives you bananas you can't make juice ” ― Yang Mushu, aka Isabel Truax
So I say, make banana bread instead! donna
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Who doesn't look forward to cooler sunny days and brisk cool evenings where a light jacket is required? Isn't it nice to be able to burn a fire in the fire pit and enjoy the warmth of the flames while being mesmerized by the dancing colors before you? Maybe you can even make s'mores, those delicious delectable treats made with graham crackers, toasted marshmallows and chocolate. Yum. I had my first s'more at about age 7. Our neighbor was a Girl Scout leader and she took us to a cook out with her. Yes, I thought it was the best thing I had ever eaten and remember it like it was yesterday. And there is hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick or hot chocolate to enjoy on cool evenings. Football fans are in their glory this time of year and there are so many wonderful festivals to attend.
With the coming of Autumn, it also means time to decorate the interior of the house changing everything from a summer theme to the warm ambiance of fall colors - oranges, yellows, dark reds and browns.
I had seen this pumpkin trio centerpiece I made over the weekend on Pinterest. It was from an Etsy shop and there were no instructions, but I truly loved the way it looked so I decided to give it a shot and create one for our dining table. I have to say I am quite pleased with the way it turned out and it is really easy to do. All you need are 3 wine glasses in different sizes. Mine came from, where else, The Dollar Tree.
I had lots of acrylic craft paints and brushes on hand and I buy Elmer's glue in the gallon sized jug so that was also on hand. I had fall leaves left from another project and the only other necessary item was a hot glue gun. Be sure and cover your surface with something that will not allow paint or glue to seep through. I use a white plastic trash bag. Here is what you do to make this adorable centerpiece..
First, remove any labels from the glasses and coat the outside of each glass with a layer of Elmer's glue. I used a 1 inch foam brush to accomplish this. Let the glue dry. Doesn't take but a few minutes.
Next, put some orange, yellow and burgundy paint on a plate to use as an artist's palate. Paper plates will work just fine. I used one of my ironstone plates because I can wash it off and use it again and again. Using a foam brush, load your brush by mixing your colors and start painting the glass from the bottom to the stem. I used burgundy and orange for the base colors, then highlighted with yellow.
See how you get a nice variegated color by using the two colors at once?
I had a package of fall leaves from The Dollar tree that had wired stems. They are the big leaves that are under the pumpkins in the picture at the top of the page. I cut the stems off with wire cutters and curled one end around my finger. I twisted the wired leaf stem around the stem of the glass, then hot glued a small artificial leaf to the stem.
Place some small tea light candles in clear plastic containers on the top of the "pumpkin" when the paint is dry and you have an adorable fall centerpiece that you can enjoy through Thanksgiving. Check clearance sections at Target, Michael's, or WalMart for sale tea lights. I got a real bargain on mine at Target. I sat the trio on a burlap runner that I had also made and was done. This was a really easy craft project and cost very little to make. I LOVE the way they look on the table. It is easy to see over the centerpiece, it is colorful and appropriate for the season. It will also provide some lovely candle light for evening dinners. Easy peasy. That's the kind of project I love to do when I am so busy every day.
You may have some old wine glasses sitting around gathering dust at your house. That would be one less expense for you if you make this project. These are NOT for drinking out of, but for decorative purposes only. Enjoy your centerpiece if you make one as much as we will enjoy ours. Happy Fall Y'All.
Things to Remember:
The falling leaves, drift by my window,
The Autumn leaves, of red and gold. Autumn Leaves lyrics by Johnny Mercer
(now I have that song in my head and will sing it for days. ; )
Monday, September 24, 2012
Here we are in the final week of the month of September where I have been discussing hunger awareness. September is Hunger Awareness Month. Where does the time go? Where did summer go? It is starting to cool down and the days are rapidly getting shorter. If you are a shelterless/homeless person, perhaps you find yourself in a desperate situation, not knowing how you will survive this winter. If you are living at or below the poverty line, perhaps your funds have run out for the month and you don't know how you will provide food for your family and/or yourself. If this has never been an issue for you, if you have never been hungry, not knowing where your next meal will come from - if you have never worried about having a roof over your head, worried about where you will spend each night, perhaps it is difficult to understand the panic, fear, dread, anger and hopelessness that may fill your life on a daily basis.
There are agencies and churches that are doing all they can to help alleviate these desperate situations, but there is not always enough to go around. Feeding America/Second Harvest is the biggest organization in the United States to assist in alleviating hunger. Here is how they work.
How Our Network Works
HOW OUR NETWORK WORKS
But, Feeding America/Second Harvest cannot do the job alone. We must all become aware of the desperate need that many in our country live with day to day, week to week, month to month. We are the wealthiest country in the world and it is time that we do more to help with this situation. As the recession drags on and jobs are few, there are more and more families facing a future of hunger and homelessness. Many are literally a day away from not knowing where they will go when they can no longer pay their rent. It is a frightening situation, especially for children. Families face loosing their children and so they hide them so that authorities will not know their situation. Can you imagine?
Today, we had a huge crowd for lunch because it is the end of the month and funds are gone. Many, many families came to get food boxes to help them make it through the week. Remember, they can only come 3 times in a 6 month period. That is not a lot of assistance, but it does help when times are desperate. We fed more people at noon today than I have seen in a while. Today we had Tomato Tortellini Soup, hot ham and cheese sandwiches, and bananas. We received a huge shipment of bananas from Second Harvest and everyone was thrilled to have a whole banana. Ever thought you would be thrilled to have a whole banana? Think about it.
Here is the recipe for today's soup. It is so good, nutritious and filling. We have one huge pot that we make soup in. Today, we could have used several more huge pots of soup. There were no seconds because of the large number of people eating. But, that's okay - everyone had one helping of everything. It always makes me think of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Somehow, we manage to make it go around. I am always truly amazed and it makes my heart joyful to see everyone leaving with their hunger alleviated one more time, with a grateful heart and a smiling face.
Tomato Tortellini Soup (with vegetables)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 box chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you are vegetarian)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1/2 large can tomato juice (or use it all if you want to extend the soup)
1 9 oz. package cheese tortellini (we used Buitoni 3 cheese tortellini)
2 tsp. basil
salt and pepper to taste
Put the stock, basil, tomatoes, tomato juice, zucchini, onions, and carrots in a soup pot. Bring to a low boil. Cook until the vegetables are beginning to soften. Add the tortellini and return soup to a low boil. Cook until the tortellini is done, about 8 - 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
This is such a wonderful tomato based soup. Give it a try and when you are eating it, think about all those who would love to have a bowl too. Do what you can. Winter is coming. Blankets, sleeping bags, tents, scarves, gloves, hats and coats will all be needed soon. Make a donation to your favorite clothing bank. We all have clothes in our closets we don't wear. And if you can, make a financial donation or food donation to your local food bank. There are many, many people who will benefit from it, including yourself by knowing you have helped someone in need. I have never experienced so much joy from helping others.
Things to Remember:
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I was the one child in the cafeteria who ate their sauerkraut and sausage. There might have been more, but I never seemed to be sitting by anyone else who enjoyed this meal. Oh well. I liked it because we ate it at home. We had sauerkraut at least once a week and that was okay by me. Now Dan, on the other hand, would not put it in his mouth if his life depended upon it. I keep telling him he doesn't know what he's missing, but he's not buying it for any reason.
It seems he has memories of his grandmother and aunts making sauerkraut in the summers when he spent time with the on their farm in Logan County, Kentucky. He said he would stay outside all day because he could not stand the smell of it. To me, that is very sad because it is sooooooooo good. I'm not sure he's every tasted it.
Now, they know that sauerkraut has many health benefits because it is a fermented food and has lots of natural probiotics. It also helps fight cancer. Many people pay money to add probiotics to their diet when all they have to do is eat some sauerkraut on a regular basis. You can add it to a grilled hot dog, bratwurst, smoked sausage or polish sausage sandwich. Add some onions and mustard and you have one fantastic sandwich. Serve it as a side dish or main dish. It's very versatile. Experts feel one of the reasons there are so many digestive problems in our country is because we don't eat enough fermented food. It's time to bring back sauerkraut! I'm in.
A week ago, I made ribs in the oven for our clients at the East Nashville CoOp Ministry. With that, we had sauerkraut with polish sausage added for flavor and extra protein, mashed potatoes and waldorf salad. It was delicious, nutritious and a major hit with everyone. One of my fellow volunteers had bet me that no one would eat sauerkraut because he didn't like it and never had. I told him I thought otherwise. Who was the winner? Ding, ding, ding. Me! There was not one shred of sauerkraut left. Woohoo! Another win for healthier eating which is one of our goals.
Sauerkraut is made by shredding cabbage and preserving it with salt which causes the fermentation process to happen. The one down side to sauerkraut is that it is high in sodium. That is why it is important to rinse it thoroughly before preparation. The upside benefits are there are only 27 calories in a 1 cup serving with only .2 grams of fat. There are 6.1 grams of carbohydrates and it is almost all fiber. Sauerkraut contains vitamins C, K, and A1 plus lots of iron and all those good natural probiotics that are good for your immune and digestive system.
After preparing sauerkraut for lunch at the CoOp, I had it on my mind - actually I was craving it. When it was time to make Sunday dinner (I invited the family over) guess what the menu was? I made ribs, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and waldorf salad. If I'm driving the bus, everyone is going where I go. hahaha
Here is how I made my sauerkraut. It is delicious made this way.
2 pound bags of sauerkraut (in the refrigerated section at the grocery store)
2 big hands full of light brown sugar
2 pounds of polish or smoked sausage, cut into 2/3 inch pieces
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
NO SALT NEEDED
First, put the sauerkraut in a colander and thoroughly rinse three or four times, letting it drain after each rinsing. Place the rinsed and drained sauerkraut in a 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle the sauerkraut with 2 big hands full of light brown sugar and 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce. Mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper. Cut the sausage into 2-3 inch sections and lay on top of the sauerkraut.
Now that cooler weather is approaching, this is really good autumn fare. Served with some mashed potatoes, you have an excellent meal that includes some really great health benefits and fantastic flavors. Don't overlook sauerkraut in your diet, it tastes so good and is good for you.
Things to Remember:
"Sauerkraut is tolerant, for it seems to be a well of contradictions. Not that it would preach a gastronomic neutrality that would endure all heresies. It rejects dogmatism and approves of individual tastes. It forms a marvelous combination with numerous spices, odors, or spirits: juniper berries, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cranberries, Reinette apples, stock, and wine; it even welcomes flakes of yeast or leftover Gruyère since it accepts being prepared au gratin. Its flavor sustains various potato dishes: boiled in their skins, crisps (potato chips), braised, sautéed, grilled, or simply cooked in water. It adopts many sorts of fat, including lard, butter, goose fat, or roast dripping. The variety of meats to which it consents is infinite: sausages of all kinds, such as knackwurst, white sausage, Lorraine, Montbeliard, chipolata, black pudding, hams, smoked or salted bacon, quenelles, pickled and smoked pork, goose, pheasant, etc. It makes excuses for red wine, although it has a weakness for beer and lets itself be spoilt by white wine. Each stomach may find its own happiness in it."Julien Freund, Director of the Institute of Sociology in Strasbourg, (Les Saisons d'Alsace)
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Here is a little history on Waldorf Salad.
The salad was first created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City (the precursor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which came into being with the merger of the Waldorf with the adjacent Astoria Hotel, opened in 1897).
Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf's maître d'hôtel and developed or inspired many of its signature dishes, is widely credited with creating the recipe. In 1896, Waldorf Salad appeared in The Cook Book by 'Oscar of the Waldorf'; the original recipe did not contain nuts, but they had been added by the time the recipe appeared in the Rector Cook Book in 1928. The salad became popular enough that Cole Porter featured it in his 1934 song "You're the Top". Wikipedia
As you can see, Waldorf Salad has been around for a long, long time. Thank you Oscar Tschirky for a recipe I have loved since childhood.
I add a few extras to my Waldorf Salad to make it even crisper and crunchier. I add grapes and raw broccoli. YUMMMM. It is so good, I could eat an entire bowl at one sitting. Here is what you need.
3 large crisp apples (Dan and I are Golden Delicious fans)
3 ribs celery, diced
1 cup walnut pieces
as many grapes as you like (I used several hands full, cut in half - we have little ones eating and don't want them getting choked on whole grapes)
1 cup broccoli florettes
a pinch of salt
3 Tbsp Mayonnaise (I like the kind with olive oil)
After washing and drying the apples, put the apple bottom on a cutting board and cut the apple away from the core on 4 sides. Lay the apple pieces flat side down, cut long ways about 1/2 inch apart and then crossways to form bite sized pieces.
Wash the celery ribs. Cut each rib in half longways, then cut crossways into 1/4 inch pieces.
Add the apple pieces and celery pieces to a salad bowl. Add the walnut pieces.
Wash grapes and cut in half long ways. Use as many as you like. Add to the bowl.
Separate the broccoli florettes into small pieces and add to bowl.
Add a pinch of salt and mix. Add 3 Tbsp. mayo to the bowl and mix, making sure all pieces are coated. If you like more mayonnaise, feel free to add as much as you want.
Traditionally, Waldorf Salad is served on a bed of salad greens, but is not necessary. That is your choice.
I made a huge pan of Waldorf Salad at the CoOp last week using a 1/2 bushel of apples plus all the other ingredients. All of our clients LOVED it. It makes an excellent side dish for fall recipes because it's a nice contrast to the heavier food items we start to serve after summer grilling and lighter fare. There is nothing like the sweet/tart/crunchiness of fresh Waldorf Salad. You can keep it for several days if it is covered tightly.
If you've never tried Waldorf Salad, now is your chance. It is super delicious and kids love it. You might even convince them to eat some broccoli. If no one in your house likes broccoli, simply leave it out and add all the other yummy ingredients. Since Dan doesn't like mayonnaise, I take his out of the bowl before adding the mayonnaise. He loves it with just a little salt. Now, you have options.
Maybe it's time to go apple picking if you have an orchard near where you live. Me, I like to get my apples in a basket at the Farmer's Market. It's just easier that way.
Things to Remember:
Mr. Hamilton: Would you make me a Waldorf Salad?
Basil Fawlty: [having never heard of it] I beg your pardon?
Mr. Hamilton: Get me a Waldorf Salad.
Basil Fawlty: Well, I think we just ran out of Waldorfs!
Fawlty Towers, Movie, 1975