cooling

Quick Bread, Banana meets Cranberry

Holiday Cran-Pecan Banana Bread   

  • 3 bananas
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar (orange sugar*)
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, cut in halves
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans

Method:

Grease two 7 3/8” x 3 5/8” x 2 ¼” metal pans. Preheat oven to 350F.

Peel bananas and break pieces into the bowl of a food processor.  Blitz until smooth.  Add sugar and blend, followed by cooled melted butter and eggs.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda until combined.  Remove half a cup of dry ingredients and mix with cranberries and pecans.

Pour wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients.  Stir by hand.  Add cran-pecan mixture to batter and fold until well mixed.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans.  Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes, then remove bread from pans.  Finish cooling loaves on a rack.

orange-sugar

 

* Whenever I eat an orange I zest it and blitz the zest with 2 cups of sugar in a food processor and keep the resulting orange sugar in my refrigerator to use in baked goods.

 

 

Love my kitty-cats

Lightning decided to let me take a lovely face shot.

Thunder only wanted to look outside by peaking through the lace curtains.

Kitty-Corner kitty cats: Lightning under the piano & Thunder lower left.

(Can not manage to teach my girls they should let me have the sun behind me when I take a photo, so I just shoot straight into the sun.)

choc chip pp

Chocolate Chip Favs

A good chocolate chip cookie is as American as apple pie.  Heck, I’d say chocolate chip cookies and brownies are more American than apple pie.  Seriously, which do you eat more often?  I for one am more likely to eat a chocolate chip cookie than a slice of pie or a brownie.  Nothing to brag about I know, but facts are facts.

Those three basic American baked items are all ones that I am more likely to enjoy if made by somebody else.  I never feel I have quite the right recipe.  However, I have churned out a lot of chocolate chip cookies this past month and have tinkered with the recipe from the Ghirardelli Original Third Edition Chocolate Cookbook 1986 to the point where I can say I really like the result.

I have doubled the recipe and with the fat and flour have decided to go “half ‘n half” — unsalted butter/Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, and white A.P. Flour/King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Cream softened butter & Earth Blance with both sugars.  (I do this in my Kitchenaid stand mixer.) When light and fluffy add eggs and whip.  The mixture does not need to be perfectly smooth.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together 1 cup of each of the flours, salt, cinnamon, vanilla powder, and baking powder (or baking soda). *   The baking powder gives you a fatter, less spread & crispy cookie.  The photo in the tiles about shows the flatter, crispy cookie.

In a small bowl, combine chocolate chips, chopped walnuts – if using, and remaining 4 TBs of flour.

Pour contents of medium size bowl into the creamed ingredients and hand stir until just combined.  Add chip mixture and finish hand stirring.  Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before scooping onto baking sheets.

Bake scooped cookies for 5 – 6 minutes in a 350F oven before rotating baking sheets and baking for an additional 4 – 5 minutes.  The exact baking time depends on your own oven, size of cookies, and your personal preference.  I find this recipe yields just over 3 dozen cookies and I can bake 3 sheets of cookies at a time in my convection oven.

glass plt choc chip

 

These cookies, on the glass plate, were made with baking powder.  They are fatter, chewier, and less flat & not as crispy as cookies with baking soda.

Family Dinner Rolls

IMG_8989

I did some baking today for a charity sale that is taking place on Saturday.    Cloverleaf rolls were a tradition at every family holiday meal.  The recipe is one I cherish.  My mom hand wrote it out for me a few years before she died when I had misplaced the copy that was late my Aunt Erma’s.  So I decided to make a double batch of dinner rolls for the baked goods table.

It is a really rich recipe, with eggs, milk, and butter.  I have made it with some whole grain flours, but it really is better taste & texture wise when you stick with all white AP flour.   My aunt and my paternal grandmother always baked with Gold Medal flour.  I mainly use King Arthur flour these days as it is a Vermont company, but I decided to pick up a bag of the lower cost store brand.  The result was as good as any batch I have ever cranked out of my kitchen.  I know because my husband and I split the little extra roll that I baked in a measuring cup.  As you may have noticed in the photo I skipped the time-consuming cloverleaf shaping and made simpler pan rolls.

IMG_8991I am not going to write out all the directions, because it is not that big a deal and now that I have a nice stand mixer I do not do the steps exactly as written.  If you are not confident with the procedure for making yeast rolls you can google any recipe for that.

RICH DINNER ROLLS   double batch

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or honey)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter (or margarine)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 packages regular Active Dry yeast
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 11+ cups of flour

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sm fruit kabobs

Simple Fresh Fruit Kabobs

This is a simple treat that you can make and serve to friends.  Or you can prepare these fruit kabobs to take on a picnic, even just for yourself to eat in front of the telly.

fruit kabobs (2).jpgRight now is that brief magical time for fresh native Vermont strawberries, so they are the center of my fruit kabobs.  The other fruit includes green & red grapes, green & orange melon cubes, plus fresh pineapple chunks.  That is it.  I even purchased those other fruits all cut for me in a fruit mix at my local natural foods co-op.  I took long cooking skewers and cut/broke them in half, about 5.5 to 6 inches long when divided.

I have an oval glass plate that depicts the Swan Boats in the Boston Public Gardens that is sentimental to me and I used it to plate my kabobs.  I then served them to the ladies of my book group when they met at my house.

mdp2

I LOVE (Hate) a Parade

Memorial Day Weekend here in the states, and that means parades.  As a kid, I watched a ton of parades, marched in a bunch too.  But I never was in a school with a marching band.  Became a music teacher without learning anything about marching bands, concert band yes, marching bands no.  Ended up in a school where I asked in my interview do you expect the band to march, they answered no.  I took the job.  Memorial Day came around and oops, they expected the band to march.  I survived, it was 33 years ago.  But I still have mixed feelings about parades.

This morning my hubby comes back from a trip to town and says he wants to go back into town to watch the parade, can I dress in 10 minutes.  Well, I did.  It was 40 minutes long.  To keep myself amused I took a ton of pictures with my iPhone.  And congratulations to the 3 music teachers in the neighboring town (elementary, middle, and high school) who were out there with their kids.

Parade Marshal in red car, H.S. Marching Band, local Democrats — this part of Vermont is so Democratic there were no Republicans to be seen.

More state level politicians, a fife & drum group, Shriners, local youth ice hockey, horse-drawn wagon.

The Middle School Band with their very young director — they sounded great and lucky them, do not have silly uniforms to wear,  Humane Society,  a Scottish Pipe Band, many local fire departments, “girls on the run”, and Vets for Peace (yep, it is Vermont and the hippies that moved in during the 1960s are still here.)  We are one of the least diverse states, but it does not mean we are anti-diversity.

Getting close to the end, an assortment of this and that, the Elementary School Band, playing something other than Our Director (which they always called the Mary Hogan School Song) — I am all in favor of the change and was very impressed with their performance, then very, very last ambulances that I did not photograph,  I was thinking of heading home and what is picturesque about a modern ambulance van anyway.   As parades go, this one was semi small town quirky and just long enough.

Green & White

It is amazing how good my yard looks when I can crop very small portions of it, and adjust the color.  My bulbs did not do much this spring, will need to plant new ones this fall.  The crab apple tree above is pretty for about 3 days.  The picture was taken a day past peak.  My little irises may be good for another few days.  Have some annuals to plant, but waiting for temperatures to fall below the current high 80s.

That’s it from here, for now.