Saturday, February 28, 2009

Berry Banana Bread


I've become a foodie-wanna-be. I love just about every cooking show on the Food Network. I've got a huge collection of cookbooks that I pull out and read just for fun. I love to try new recipes. I'm pretty comfortable inventing my own recipes for main and side dishes too.

Until yesterday though, I hadn't really experimented with baking. Sure, I'll change up the mix-ins on just about any recipe. But actually messing with the SCIENCE - I hadn't done that yet. My hubby is the scientist... not me.

I wanted to make banana bread though. And I wanted to use some buttermilk. And I thought that whole wheat flour would be a healthier choice. And then I decided I wanted to really go out on a limb and add some frozen berries. I just didn't have any recipes that included these ingredients.

So I made my own.

If I do say so, the bread turned out delicious. Dense enough (the way I like my banana bread). Yet moist, sweet and very banana-y.

I have no problem making up my own words.

BANANA-Y
ba•nan•a•y
adjective: A perfect blend of banana sweetness absolutely necessary in good banana bread or banana muffins.

BERRY BANANA BREAD

1/2 cup butter flavor Crisco
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup whipped banana (approximately 2 large bananas)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup frozen mixed berry blend (my combination included blueberries, raspberries and blackberries I think)

Cream together the shortening and the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly. Add the banana, buttermilk, vanilla, almond extract and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl sift together the flours, baking soda and salt.

Pour the dry ingredients on top of the wet and fold together. Do not overmix. Stir in the frozen berries. (In retrospect I should have tossed the berries in about 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture before mixing everything together. That's supposed to keep heavy mix-ins from sinking to the bottom.)

Pour batter into a 9x5 loaf pan that has been greased and floured. (Or use Bakers Joy - my very best baking friend!) Bake at 350°F for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My First Date

My Uncle Jack took me on my first date. The memory isn't as strong as it used to be. It was a loonngg time ago. I'm going to try and recall some of the details though.

I believe I was wearing a light blue spring jacket. Popular with all the four-year-olds at the time. (At least I think I was four.) I'm pretty sure it was in the fall.

He took me on a walk around the bluffs near Davenport, Iowa. I remember seeing rock faces so tall they made me feel tiny. OK - I WAS only four. So I was pretty small to begin with. But the colors were spectacular and I felt so special. I remember tall trees. The quietness of nature. It was breathtaking -- even for a four-year-old.

It was just me and my uncle. He made me feel so grown up. Calling it a date and all. He even took me out to lunch. I think we ate at Hardee's. The date didn't last too long. But the memory of how I felt has stayed with me my entire life.

Then, due to family things I'm never going to fully know or understand, my uncle decided to leave the family. He went away. It's been many, many years since I've seen or talked with my uncle.

God is doing wonderful things in our family though. There has been healing. My dad is in contact with his brother again. And maybe... just maybe... I might get to see my uncle again too.

In the meantime, Uncle Jack found me on this blog and left me a comment last week. He didn't leave an e-mail so I could say "hi" back though. So with that in mind... Hi Uncle Jack! I love you! I hope all is well. Thanks for stopping by.