Friday, February 19, 2010

Flour + Sugar + Eggs + Bananas + Chopped Walnuts = ?????

It is almost this easy........What do you get when you combine all these ingredients besides really good eating? I cannot take the credit for this recipe. It is from the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery,
Vol. 1, page 139. That's the page with all the "love" splotches on it, do you see them? I referred to them in my last post.

I suppose after I wrote about this banana bread, and then woke up to these three really fine speckled bananas, meaning they were too ripe for my liking to eat, sitting on my kitchen counter, I just knew what I had to do.....get out my old cook book and bake myself a treat.

Yes, it is as good as I remembered. I wish you could all just help yourself to a piece. If you are local, I would be happy to share some with you. I like it just as is with my cup of coffee or tea, however many others like to put cream cheese on it.

To make it possible for you to make your own, here is the recipe. Over the years I have shared it with many others, so I only have to cut and paste it here.

(Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery)

4 RIPE MASHED BANANAS (or 3 large)

Beat oil and sugar together. Add eggs and banana pulp and beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients, milk and vanilla. Mix well and stir in nuts. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan
(9 x 5 x 3 inches) at 350 for about 1 hour. Cool well and store overnight before cutting**. Makes one loaf. Good with cream cheese.

**I think this is to drive the family crazy. Or Maybe it is just bad luck to cut it sooner!
The 24 hour delay before slicing is really in the recipe. My family always thought that I just
said it was necessary to wait to torment them. It most definitely is worth the wait.
Try it and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When two passions collide.......

My journey through books has taken me to some incredible places.

For a long time now I have considered myself to be a Bookaholic! How do I describe what a Bookaholic is. Someone who has a strong passion for and desire to read all the time or someone who has a strange fetish for books. Or possibly someone who keeps buying books to add to a stack of unread books. I probably fall somewhere between the two. I love having books around me, visiting book stores and libraries. I love how books look, feel and even smell.

I have no more room for books on my shelves, but I keep buying new ones. I am a Bookaholic. But in my own defense, it's a fairly inexpensive, fairly harmless obsession.
My most recent book category obsession has been every gardening book I could get my hands on, especially since completeing the Master Gardener classes. I find myself to especially gravitate towards anything that has to do with Florida gardening as well as edible gardening.
Another "hot" book category on my list is the "new" cook books. Now I have shelves and shelves of cook books, going back several decades to the "Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery". This 12 volume set was available in the grocery store one volume at a time as they were released, I think monthly. I still have several favorite recipes within those pages. I have made the Banana nut bread so often, that when you open to that page, it looks as if someone "sloppy" used it as a place mat to eat dinner on. It certainly has its splatters of food stains obviously indicating this to be a favorite recipe.

My latest collection of cook books are geared towards eating "whole" and healthy, completely eliminating all processed foods from the diet. You've heard the drill..... when in the grocery store, shop only around the perimeter, eat healthier and live to be 100 years old!

Finally, the inpiration for this post! As I was walking through Borders today just passing through, you know the drill, from the parking lot to the mall to return an item in one of the stores, I was just casually looking around the gardening section which this time of the year is now center aisle. I was just browsing as I often do, minding my own business, and I find this book. Could it be.....the actual collision of my two passions. This new book that takes you from the seed packets to the canning jars, was written by four women who have only ever met on Twitter. They pooled their knowledge of gardening and cooking and in 60 days pulled together this remarkably complete book - from pest control to preserving.

They used their own social networks - blogs, tweets and Face book pages - to gather the best information from others and now, presumably, they will be able to sell the book to their combined 50,000 tweets, followers and friends!

As I peeked through the pages, I knew I had to add this wonderful book to my stacks......I mean book collection. When I got home I went online and ordered it on amazon. Now I wait for it's arrival. So while I wait, I think and write about my wonderful journey with my books.

I proudly call myself a Bookaholic.

So many books, so little time.......

Sunday, February 7, 2010

From the Garden...

And into the pot......

What a reward to reap the benefits from your garden. You know just how really fresh your produce is, no chemicals, no preservatives, you don't have to make a trip to the store, no long lines to wait on and the price it right! After the freeze we experienced in Central Florida several weeks ago, several of my vegtable plants were lost to the cold nights. However the cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and collards as well as several of the herbs are cold weather plants and survived like troopers. Maybe............ I wonder if "George", my Gargoyle garden guard had anything to do with it?
My first cabbage picked. I meant to weigh it but got excited and cooked it without thinking first. When steaming briefly, it turned a really vibrant color of green resembling the green that comes in a box of Crayola Crayons, remember that color? When we purchase veggies like cabbage, there is no way to really know just how long it has been since it was picked!

I know, before you say, cabbage....... ugh and stinky often, let me share with you what I prepared with it. I made my recipe of Stuffed Cabbage, in a tomato based sweet & sour gravy. I made it with a ground beef and rice stuffing, however the ground beef can be substituted by ground Turkey or Chicken or even a "meat substitute crumbles" for those choosing to not eat meat at all, or just attempting to cut back.

I recently became familiar with Bulgur which is a whole grain that can be found in specialty stores selling bulk foods. I believe this would be another good substitute for the meat also. If you are not familiar with Bulgar you are in for a treat if you try it. Bulgur is kernels of steamed, dried and crushed wheat, has a nutty taste and chewy texture. You don't really have to "cook" the grain, just let it soak in boiling water so it softens and expands. It is indeed healthy and hearty in addition to tasty. Stuffed Cabbage with Sweet and Sour gravy.....February 7, 2010.

(Interested in the recipe, just ask.)

An Incredible Journey....

Giant kalanchoe Gastoris Bonnieri, or Donkey Ears....... When I first found this plant in Mount Dora, it was love at first sight. It was the perfect new member for my space in my yard that I refer to as my "funny farm". This plant certainly is unique looking as it was, but I had no idea of what to expect from it until I had the opportunity to research it. I quickly discovered that folks who appreciate succulent plants drool over owning a Donkey Ears of their own, the original Kalanchoe Gastonis bonnieri is said to originate from Madagascar.This succulent seems to be every one's favorite for its unique leaves, the way new baby plants form, for the big and bold flower stems, for the blooms, and for the hummingbirds which love the flowers.

This plant quickly became one of my favorites as it seemed to change almost on a daily basis.

First, lets look at the leaves. They're light green / gray-white when young/new. As Donkey Ears grow, the leaves become more prominent and bold in size. The "ears" can become 12+ inches long and a deeper green with more prominent "mule" spots...thus the common name....Donkey Ears.
Baby plants begin to form at the leaf tips which you can root automatically and make new separate plants, which I have done. Sometimes the baby plants just fall off and you can re-plant elsewhere or into pots. Otherwise, you can remove baby plants at some reasonable size and re-pot or plant.

At about a year old , the mother plant Donkey Ears suddenly sends up a shoot that can easily grow to 2-feet tall. At the tip of the shoot, flower buds begin to form. From the time that I realized that this new growth was not additional leaves it took about three months for the bloom to fully develope and open.

This plant seemed to grow taller and taller each day. I needed to stand on a chair to continue taking photos of it.

In flower, I see this plant as a Major show off plant. The flower opened about 4 weeks before we experienced the "Florida Freeze". I moved my prize under cover on my patio next to the house and also covered it for additional protection. But alas, it is not frost tolerant and it did get too cold on those bitter last few evenings. I did get a chance to start several babies that have been sent off to their new homes to start all over. They do not look their best but I am sure they will recover.

Below is a photo of my Donkey Ears this morning, February 7, 2010. Traces of the bloom are still there. The huge majestic leaves are shriveled and brown and ready to fall off. I am not quickening this process as I can now see new leaves breaking out off the stalk kind of where the old leaves are attached. I will wait to see what happens naturally. Every day is a new surprise!

Poor little thing....this has been a total metamorphosis of this plant. Kind of like raising kids........

It has gone through the good, the bad and the ugly! With more to come.

What is more incredible then the gifts that nature shares with us each day?