The Best Banana Bread in the World

Dear Vi,

Outside the snow is coming down fast and furious, and it’s just the perfect kind of snow, too. Light and fluffy. The kind that squeaks when you walk on it. Not, thank goodness, the heavy wet coastal snow that soaks through every layer and chills you to the bone. Nope! Right now, today, we’re in the Goldilocks zone as far as snow goes. And we’re predicted to get up to 10 inches of it.

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Ignoring all the shoveling that needs to be done, I decided to bake banana bread instead.

Do you have a bread machine? I don’t.

Well, I do, but it actually belongs to my son, so technically I don’t. But I have the use of one, which is just as good.

And just so you don’t mistake me, the only thing I use it for is making banana bread. All other bread (by which I mean yeast bread) I make from scratch with my own two hands, no magic allowed, if you don’t count the oven. Or the yeast. Yeast is a little bit magical, don’t you think?

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Right now, while snow fills my driveway, the wonderful smell of baking banana loaf is filling my house. Can you smell it??  Yup, I know. You’re welcome.

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So, do you have a bread machine?? If you do, here’s my advice: drop everything and go dig it out of the closet right now. Next, take a handful (that’s three) bananas out of your freezer. We both know you’ve got enough bananas in there to feed all the monkeys in the zoo.

I kid you not, the best banana bread in the entire world is made in a bread machine. I don’t know why, and I don’t care.

Here’s my recipe, which I have modified a bit from the original.

Nita’s Magic Bread Machine Banana Bread

In a big bowl, combine the following in the order listed:

  • 2/3 cup milk (I used lactose-free milk because of some dairy issues I’m having at the moment)
  • 3 mashed over-ripe bananas
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar (I use a scant cup because the bananas are so sweet on their own)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Stir together and spoon into the bread pan. Insert the bread pan into your bread machine. Select Quick Bread. If you get a colour option, select medium. Push start.

Yup. It’s that easy. You’re welcome.

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Eat Cake and then do the Bridge Pose!

I’ve made two birthday cakes from scratch in the last couple of weeks, so I thought I’d tell you about them today. Because who doesn’t like cake? (I don’t see any hands raised…Everybody loves cake!)

I can make a cake from scratch, no problem – it’s the decorating that gets me. Just call me the queen of lopsided. Highly skilled in filling divots with extra icing. Nothing ever so bad that a good handful of sprinkles can’t make better. That’s me.

I was bemoaning the fact on Facebook last month when I baked a cake for M’s birthday, and here’s what my friend Val had to say:

cakeThese days, my heart warms to see a lopsided, real ingredient cake. More often, a perfect, symmetrical synthetic cake from the store is our effort to show love. Your handmade one is the real thing. It reminds me of the choices you make to spend your time on things that matter to you.

 

Isn’t that wonderful! It made me feel better right away. Because she is 100% correct. So pfffft that my sprinkle-drenched over-frosted-to-cover-the-divot cake was lopsided. It was delicious and I made it by myself for my son.

cupcakes

 

Today we’re going to a 59th birthday party for Mr C’s cousin who lives in Vernon. Feeling bolstered by Val’s wisdom, I volunteered to bake the birthday cake. I’m not sure how many people will be there, so rather than baking a two-tiered cake, I made cupcakes instead. They look very pretty on my wire cupcake stand. This is chocolate cake from scratch, with a chocolate whipped cream icing that is very similar to chocolate mousse.

And lucky you….I’m giving out the recipe! Now go eat some cake!

Nita’s Deep Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe
Mix together dry ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa (the dry powder)
1 1/2  tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
Mix together wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
Mix wet and dry ingredients together.
Add 1/2 cup hot coffee & 1/2 cup boiling water.
Pour into 2 cake pans (batter will be very thin). Bake @350 30 – 40 minutes until done.

Chocolate Whipped Cream Icing
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
Whip until stiff.

Now that you’ve eaten all that  cake, you can work some of it off doing a bit of yoga during the April A-Z Blog Challenge:

BBridge Pose

Lay on your back with your arms down along your sides. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Scoot your feet up as close to your bum as you can comfortably get them. Push down through your feet and lift your bum into the air any amount.

Any amount means one inch, six inches, twelve inches – whatever feels good.

I like to press my lower back down into the floor and then slowly peel my hips up off the mat, raising my back one vertebrae at a time until I’m resting on my shoulder blades. I roll myself back down the same way. But that’s just me. You do what feels good for you.

Once you’re up there, you can wiggle around a little bit and get your shoulders underneath you.  If you’re way up there, you can lace your fingers together underneath your bum and push your arms into the mat to help get more lift in the hips.

If this hurts your neck don’t do it.

You might find that bridge pose feels really good in your mid & lower back. You might find it feels really good across the front of your chest.

Here’s a short video tutorial so you can see what it looks like:

And because every pose should be adjusted for every body, here is a great modification using a strap for those of you who are blessed with abundant bosoms (so that you don’t smother yourself), or using a block for those of you who haven’t developed the strength to hold yourself in the pose just yet. 🙂

 

I don’t need a bread maker – I AM a bread maker!

We spent some time staying with Mr. C’s parents when we were in Whitehorse a couple of weeks ago and they have a bread making machine. I was instantly bitten by the “gotta have it” bug. You know the one…that bug that tells you you need this, that or the other thing? I know you know what I’m talking about, lol!

It happens to me a lot. For instance, my friend Cynde got a Janome Memorycraft 7700 last month. Man o Man, was I ever bitten hard! I thought I was going to die if I didn’t have one, too! Well, I didn’t die. And the urge to spend $2000 faded away pretty quickly, thank god!

But that bread making machine….man, wouldn’t that be nice? And then I remembered the last time I had a bread machine.

I am going to stop right here and give kudos to Black & Decker because their machine survived ME! Or, my meddling with it, to be more exact. I could not, for the life of me, leave that machine alone to do it’s business! I was in there every chance I got, taking the dough out to give it extra kneading by hand, adjusting the water:flour ratio, nipping and tucking and generally making a nuisance of myself. That machine probably cursed the day it was bought and delivered to my house, lol!

That’s because I’m a bread maker. Ask anybody who makes bread from scratch and they’ll probably tell you a similar story. Bread making machines are great. Unless you’re a bread maker yourself. In which case, they become shear frustration-making machines!

So this morning, after reminding myself that that I AM a bread maker and don’t need to buy one, I set about making some. First I fed the sourdough starter. I divided it and put half back in the fridge for another day.

Then I fed it again and set half aside to ferment for a couple of days. This will make an awesome loaf of authentic tangy sourdough bread probably on Thursday or Friday.

I added yeast to the rest and mixed up a batch of faux-sourdough. Two freshly kneaded and shaped loaves are rising as I type. 🙂 Mr. C and I will be fighting over the heel ends of the loaf at dinner. Good thing a loaf has two heels, eh?

My sourdough even has a genealogy. It’s an interesting story. Read it here! It came over the Chilkoot Pass in the late 1800s with the Christiansen family. It came to me from Millie Jones. Thanks, Millie! We’re sure enjoying it!

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailTo feed your starter, mix 2 cups of warm water with 2 cups of flour and 1 tsp sugar. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Lumps are okay. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.

Enjoy!