Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cranberry Banana Bread and the First Snow Fall in Fall 2014

I baked for fun today so that was probably why I woke up at 5 a.m. We are also trying to clean out the freezer so we are eating leftovers from who knows when and hence the baking. Brad loves bananas especially in the summer with his bike racing. Even when I raced, I would crack on bananas. The bananas would ripen quickly or it would be too warm to eat them. I bought a bunch of bananas almost every week. I cracked this summer and it wasn't even a hot one. So every couple of weeks I had to throw bananas into the freezer. The count is 15 bananas! I baked a Caramel Banana Bread last night and baked a bunch of Cranberry Banana Muffins and Bread.

Since this was the first time making the recipes, we cut into the breads and muffins. And we actually finished off one of the caramel breads from yesterday. Thank goodness the recipe made two breads. Today's Cranberry Banana bread only made one loaf but there was a lot of fresh cranberries and sugar water left over so I could not let it go to waste. I doubled the recipe based on how many cranberries were floating in the sugar water and I made muffins. Usually when one bakes a banana bread of some kind, the temperature should be 350 F and baked for 50 to an hour long. When baking muffins, turn the heat up to 375 or 400 F and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

I tried to follow the recipe but I messed up the first part when I boiled the fresh cranberries. It called for one cup of water and I used two by mistake. At that point I altered the recipe by adding vanilla extract. Otherwise, I followed the recipe. Except for the glaze. I did not have Grand Marnier so I used rum. And it did not quite turn out to be a glaze because I did not use all the sugar it called for. Then I wasn't sure if I wanted to use the "glaze" because it was very rummy. But my taste tester liked it so I used it on the bread and some of the muffins. I figured the muffins could be frozen and the glaze would add some moisture to them when we would pull them out of the freezer months from now. Newman! I forgot we were trying to empty out the freezer.

I don't like to let anything go to waste so I am sipping the cranberry sugar rum "glaze". Mmmm. Interesting. I might need to add one more tablespoon of rum and an ice cube. Although, it is nice at room temperature as I watch the snow fall. It was great to hang out in my baking pjs all day except for our little excursion to support the oldest farmers market in the U.S. this morning.

We did not need anything; I just love the idea of having a farmers market two miles from my house. We bought eggs, purple Brussels sprouts and carrots. The purple sprouts were planted in July and the Amish farmer told Barr's that it would be purple cabbage!! I trimmed the stalk and had a few raw purple, Brussels sprouts and they were tasty. I cannot wait to make dinner as we are having Carr's crab cakes, jasmine rice with cumin seeds cooked in chicken broth and the purple Brussels sprouts.

Ack! I have one more item to bake - the Apple Walnut Crumb Pie. I made the crust this morning and tried blending the vanilla wafers and walnuts together in the blender and that did not go well. Ober said I should be using the food processor which I forgot we had. And it doesn't work well either, so I just used the blender as I dirtied it already. Although, I had to separate the wafers and walnuts and ground the nuts in my second coffee grinder. I just thought I could throw them all in my vintage, Osterizer blender.

All this baking was killing my left, rotator cuff so I started mixing with my non-dominant, right arm. Right, I do not own a KitchenAid. I fantasize about owning one but we don't have a place to put it and I don't bake that often to spend that kind of money. Thank goodness I have all day to bake because it took me forever to mix with my non-dominant arm and I made a mess at the same time. Awesome! Flour, bananas and cranberry juice everywhere.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

No Substitute for Butter

It is that time of year again.  Time to bake and cook as the sun sets earlier and Thanksgiving is a few days away. I probably have about 20 frozen bananas in the freezer so I flipped through some cookbooks for some recipes.  Yes, cookbooks.  I did surf the Internet but I have some go to recipes and cookbooks and had the time to pull out the books.

I have written about the Main Line Classics II (The Junior Saturday Club of Wayne) cookbook.   I decided to try a different banana bread recipe that called for a lot of bananas and the Caramel Banana Bread was the winner.  I followed the recipe about 95% as I dumped about a cup of pecans into the mix.  Oh my goodness, the recipe said serves 16 but they way we slice up the bread in the Oberte household comes out to maybe 8 to 10 servings!  When you pour butter and sugar over anything, and broil it to a crisp, it is heaven.  So I guess I have to dig through the freezer and sift through the cookbooks for some more recipes so we don't go to the Ober's empty handed for Thanksgiving.

2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
5 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk

Caramel Topping-melt butter in saucepan; add sugar and milk; cook until mixture is syrupy.
6 tablespoons butter
10 tablespoons packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons milk

Sift flour, baking soda and salt together. Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs; mix well. Stir in bananas, vanilla and buttermilk. Add flour mixture gradually, beating well after each addition.  Pour into 2 greased and floured 5x9-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until loaves pull away from sides of pans.  Cool completely.  Pour Caramel Topping over bread; broil for 5 minutes or until tops are bubbly.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Beautiful Spring Morning - May 17, 2014

One would think I could have continued writing with the winter we had.  Almost ninety percent of the East Coast had a weather-related delay and one did not have to be working for an educational institution.

We started our winter traveling for snow in New Hampshire over Christmas.  We had a grand time skate skiing almost everyday.  The snow and our cabin's fireplace was comforting.  When drove home on January 1, 2014, that was the start of many snow falls for the winter of 2014.  Fortunately we had equipment to create our little community, cross country skiing center at Overlook Golf Course.  We skied as much as we could; morning, noon and night as the snow delays and closures were blessings.  Then the winter freeze came-temperatures in the single digits that we had not experienced in twenty years and for an extended length of time.  If we did not have cross-country skiing, the winter would have been unbearable and we would have gained 20 pounds, too.

Spring has finally sprung.  April had its moments of spring and surprises of warm summer days but the trees, flowers and shrubs really haven't bloomed and shown colors until May.  Through the sounds of lawn mowers and leaf blowers, we hear the wind, watch the trees dancing in it and name the bird calls.  I am grateful for it all; pollen covering everything, stuffing up my nose at times, the sun warming me on the front porch on a cool morning, the bird songs entering my dreams at 4:30 in the morning, calling me to wake.  We wake with nature - it is such an extraordinary way to start the day.