Category Archives: Sweet

Vera’s Banana Bread

You might be wondering what has happened to prompt three wordless posts in a row.   To be honest, the words haven’t been there to write.

It has been said time and time again that I fail to properly communicate – with others, with myself.  Growing up I was constantly afraid of asking for what I wanted, of being rejected, of hearing ‘no’.  These days of my adult life haven’t swayed too far from that same reality.  Communication problems exist between myself and many others in my life – it’s my one constant.

Not only do I struggle to verbalize and truly communicate with those close to me, but I find myself continually living inside my own head.  Truth be told, it can be a dark, lonely existence.  I have heard, however, that patterns can be broken and so I am determined to try to put an end to the cycle and finally step out from within myself.

After just waking from an entirely unsuccessful night of rest, I find myself sitting here at this computer screen, bathed in the glow of Christmas lights from all directions, watching the snow make it’s way onto the early morning ground.  I cannot help but think about my past, present and future in a whole new way.  There are very clear things that I want – no, need – in my life.  As I tossed and turned to see each hour passing on the clock throughout the night and into the morning, it all became clear – the world does not wait.  There will never be a perfect moment in which to have that specific conversation, a more appropriate time to ask for what you need or a better circumstance in which to let someone know how you feel about them.

There are many things I am attempting to work through in this head of mine, but the universe has made one thing quite clear to me over and over again these last few months – the importance of telling people how you feel about them and what they mean to you.  It’s really that simple.

Words may fail me a lot of the time, but I do know that I try my best, in other ways, to reach out.  Instead of necessarily vocalizing my appreciation, I communicate my admiration and affection for others through food – cooking, serving, feeding.  The desire to nurture and nourish lives deep within.

It just might be my second constant.

I have been filling this house which isn’t quite our home with the aromas of comfort and warmth the only way I truly know how.  Many pots of stock have been simmered, many soups have been ladled, many meals prepared and offered with the hope and promise of a calmer tomorrow.

What, then, can be as representational of acceptance as a family recipe – passed from generation to generation?  I made this Banana Bread from my husbands side of the family – it was the recipe his mother used and so I knew it would bring him comfort.  While it may not be the best banana bread you have ever tasted (we all have our favourite family recipe), the recognition in the act is the same.  The flavours here are quite muted and gentle on the palate, which can soothe rather than stir – something that has it’s own redeemable quality.

Despite it being nothing more of a quick bread, what it offers, like so many of my favourite recipes, is ultimately so much greater than it’s humble parts.  This bread represents home.  It is a symbol of comfort, of speaking without words, of letting someone know that they are your family.

Tell a friend that you appreciate the person they are.  Let someone else know their words impact you. Thank those around you for being there, because we really don’t know when that relationship could end.  And if someone takes the time to do this for you, please recognize that act and thank them.  Shine a light on someones day and take the mere moment to perhaps change the outlook of another person for the better.

Give the gift of aromatic warmth to someone you love.

It really is that simple.

Vera’s Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

6 tbsp butter – softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup bananas – very ripe and mashed

Method:

(1)  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and blend.

(2)  In a separate bowl beat butter with sugar until soft and light.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Then add the vanilla.

(3)  Fold in the bananas and the flour mixture, taking care not to over mix.

(4)  Bake in a 375F oven for 45-55 minutes or until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Cool 5 mins on wire rack then remove from pan.

*  For the best flavour, wrap and set aside overnight.

Advertisements

Pumpkin Granola

There’s something to be said about seasonality – that is, cooking with echoes of the current season and embracing all that is resonate.  Autumn, of course, means pumpkins and nutmeg, apples and cinnamon, squash and sage.

The crisp air reintroduces the warm breath of the oven back into the home.  It welcomes back hearty breakfasts laced with leisure, proteins cooked low and slow, root vegetables, herbs and stock that are simmered gently and eventually find their way into a warm and welcoming bowl.

I am not one to shy from tradition.  In fact, I adore everything that it brings.  And while I might not be the first person to run out to the store for fresh pumpkins in which to make their own puree, or even stockpile the canned variety for the weeks ahead, I do recognize the value of accepting convention and, ultimately, the predictable.

I woke this morning earlier than expected, to an unusually cold floor underfoot – windows were wrapped up in a blanket of frost and the kitchen stood blissfully still in the early morning light.  The rush of the day was just starting to take shape outside and I understood, then, the value of tradition – the routine of it all.

Much like my need for a steaming-but-not-too-bitter-cup-of-coffee as I first rise each morning, tradition brings with it the comfort of anticipation, reliability and consistency.

And so I decided to make a batch of granola just as I have done many times in the past.  Only this one would be flavored with pumpkin, and it would be laced with the spices of the season – cinnamon, nutmeg, clove.  It would be a sweet and salty reminder of the reassurance that predictability can bring.

I urge you to try your hand at this recipe.  It is one of my favorite granola recipes to date and, truly, there are few things as encouraging as having your own home made granola waiting for you in the morning.

Pumpkin Granola

Ingredients:

4 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1 Cup Pumpkin Seeds – Natural and Unhulled

1/2 Cup to  3/4 Cup Pecans – Chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon Clove – Ground

1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar – Packed

1/2  to 3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree

1/2 Cup  Applesauce – Unsweetened

3 tablespoons Maple Syrup

A good pinch of sea salt – preferably Maldon

Method:

(1)  Preheat oven to 300F

(2)  In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients well to combine.  (Oats, nuts and spices)

(3)  In a second bowl, mix all wet ingredients well to combine.  (Pumpkin, applesauce, brown sugar and syrup)

(4)  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  If too dry, add more applesauce or pumpkin puree.  Spread onto baking sheet and sprinkle with the sea salt.  Bake for 40-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.  Bake until granola is golden, dry and starts to form small clusters.

(5) Store in an airtight container.  Serve with cold milk, yoghurt, or use as a topping for ice cream.