Tag Archives: friends

Freezing!

It’s October 1st and we are freezing!

Wait. What? It’s a beautiful, sunshiny, warm-ish (for October in the Pacific Northwest) day! But alas, my household is freezing. Our spending, that is.

Ruth over at Living Well Spending Less has put out the challenge, and I am up for it! The challenge: 31 Days of Living Well and Spending ZERO! Yes, ZERO! I’m a little nervous, but my nearly non-existent budget for the last…well, as long as I can remember…has prepared me for this day and this challenge.

My long-time blog readers and followers may recall me going on assorted different spending freezes, clean out the fridge/freezer/pantry challenges, and just plain being broke over the years, but this will be the first time I take on the challenge of actually committing to spending NO MONEY (aside from necessities and bills, of course.)

$10 Menu and Shopping List (Yes, I used coupons. No, I don't always spend so little at the store.)

$10 Menu and Shopping List (Yes, I used coupons. No, I don’t always spend so little at the store.)

All of this means that I am going to be brewing my stock-piled coffee stash (my beloved Starbucks Tribute will find its way into my coffee cup this month), will not be drinking wine (this isn’t a necessity, and I did NOT stock up before taking this challenge, because, well, that kind of defeats the purpose, right?) but may pull some long-forgotten vodka from the back of my freezer as I dig around in hopes of locating an also long-forgotten yummy treat to enjoy, and our menus will be fun and maybe a bit quirky as we use what is floating around our pantry, fridge, and freezers. This also means that my lunch-time visits to Starbucks are on hold for the month, as well as my more-frequent-than-I-care-to-admit trips through the McDonald’s drive thru for lunch (good-bye cheeseburger and small fries. I don’t think I’ll actually miss you, and I will be happy to keep my $2.62 per visit all to myself!)

What would you have the most difficulty giving up for a month, or even indefinitely? For me, it’s coffee (I know, shocking, right!? :)). And chocolate. My chocolate stash will surely run out this month…good thing I have plenty of chocolate chips. Yes, I know they are meant for baking into yummy treats, but I see no harm in popping a handful of that semi-sweet chocolatey goodness in my mouth while I give myself a pep talk convincing myself I do NOT need to go buy more Godiva chocolate (at the mall, where of course I will want to stop in at all my other favorite stores as well…). Don’t worry, Godiva, I WILL be back again. I won’t leave you forever, I love you too much and you make my stress melt away. xo

Now that you know what I *won’t* be buying, let’s talk about what I *will* spend money on. Bills. Gas (so I can get to and from work so I can get paid so I can pay those bills). Required school fees for my teens.

Perishable foods including produce (if needed. But we have an awesome neighbor who likes to share his garden goodies with us, so those may not be needed. Plus, I already spent the money on a Bountiful Baskets contribution that I get to pick up on Saturday, which should hold us over for a couple of weeks at least.), dairy, perhaps bread (I may decide we should just get back to making our own like we used to…) Our grocery budget is generally low anyway, in about the $200/month range, but we are cutting way back to just the basics and I anticipate spending around $40 this month.

Stick with me this month and see how much fun we can have without spending any money! It CAN be done, even with two teenagers roaming the house with me. They’re on board for the challenge too. I think. I hope. Well, if they’re not, I guess it’s time for them to get jobs. 🙂

I may not post all my random ramblings about this challenge here on my blog, so pop on over to my Instagram account and join the fun there. ThatCookGirl on Instagram

2 Comments

Filed under Life in General

Cheesy Goodness

Cheesy Goodness | www.ThatCookGirl.com/CheesyGoodness | Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Cheesy Goodness | www.ThatCookGirl.com/CheesyGoodness | Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

 Years ago I had a pretty amazing boss and work “family”. Our boss’s wife was really amazing too. And a pretty darn amazing cook! When we were having a potluck lunch she would almost always bring macaroni and cheese. I wanted to make it and I decided I had to have the recipe! So during a lunch celebration at our boss’s home in which his wife again served up the cheesy goodness, several of us were swooning over the amazing flavor and I declared “I’m going to ask her for the recipe.” Everyone looked at me in shock. They had for years wanted the recipe but none of them dared to ask. Here I was, fairly new to the office, and unafraid to ask! As I always say, “If you don’t ask, it’s already a no”.

I stood up from the table, found our gracious hostess and gushed to her about how much I love her macaroni and cheese and what a wonderful cook she is. Then I asked. I simply looked at her and asked: “Would you perhaps be willing to share your recipe?” She was so happy to pull out her cookbook and share the recipe with me, and all the girls were looking at me, completely astonished at my immense bravery. Ha! Us Cooks have no fear about asking for a recipe. Really, the worst that could have happened is she could have said “I’m sorry, it’s an old family secret” (which I have heard more than once) or she could have provided me with a different recipe than what she actually uses. Either way, no harm done. And I got an awesome recipe!

I have now made this, many years later, only a handful of times. And I usually use different cheeses than what the recipe calls for. I really like adding in some smoked cheese, sometimes even a creamier cheese like brie. Once even a small handful of bleu cheese crumbles got added in. The important thing is to use cheese that you like. And to make plenty for everyone. Oh and if by some chance you happen to have leftovers, please do yourself a favor in reheating them and do so in the oven. I promise you, the flavor of reheating in the oven vs microwave is well worth the time you wait!
Today I am making this most amazing cheesy goodness for a friend’s family. Her children have declared “what’s wrong with Kraft Mac and Cheese”. Well, nothing, I suppose, unless you want actual cheese in your macaroni and cheese. I have the blue boxes sitting here too, just in case I am unable to sway their tastes on this one. But really, it’s cheese, butter, and pasta! How can they not like it? Love it, even? These children are for sure my toughest critics. Since I have known them, I have cooked many meals for them. Most a hit, some are eaten, but I’m not sure enjoyed as much, and when they don’t like something, they speak up about it. (I don’t think I’ll ever be allowed to forget the caramelized carrots fiasco… apparently “caramelized” means something entirely different to a 9-year-old girl than to a 30-something woman who has an immense love of food!)

To make this cheesy goodness for yourself and your faves, you’ll need about 2# of cheese a pound of pasta, plus some butter, flour, milk, spices…oh, and maybe a recipe… please don’t be intimidated. Read through the whole recipe before you start and then just relax and let the process work.

The reviews from my critics have come back and here’s what my toughest critics have to say:
1. I was so stoked to eat it! (14 yr old)
2. So stoked on this macaroni, it’s so dialed! (15 yr old)
3. It was very scrumptious, but very hot (like heat hot) (11 yr old)
4. I thought that it was awesome. (13 yr old)
5. It tasted good. I mean, I ate all of it… (17 yr old…who seemed a little confused that I was asking)
6. It’s ****ing amazing (17 yr old [yes, there was swearing…very excited swearing…] )

Next time I make this, hopefully some adults will be around to enjoy it. Until then, I am pleased that I was able to share this cheesy goodness with a houseful of teens and tweens. 🙂

The Great American Macaroni and Cheese
This recipe is from the Pasta & Co. Cookbook

They say not to substitute a smooth tube dried pasta but to always use rigatoni for the best results. They also make a note that it is not a fiery dish, even though it calls for Tabasco and chili powder. The spiciness of the sauce and powder enhance the cheddar flavor.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 lb mozzarella cheese, grated
3 cups milk
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup flour
1⁄2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1⁄4 cup romano cheese, grated
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1⁄3 teaspoon white pepper
1 lb rigatoni pasta
3⁄4 teaspoon chili powder
3⁄4 cup milk

DIRECTIONS

Combine grated Cheddar and mozzarella and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat milk until near boiling. Turn off heat. Melt butter in a heavy pan large enough to hold the pasta after it is cooked. (It will take at least a 14-inch saute pan or a large casserole that can take direct heat.) When foam from butter recedes, remove from heat, add flour, and mix well. Return to medium-low heat, and, stirring occasionally, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to cook, but not brown, the flour. Gradually stir in hot milk. Raise heat to medium-high and continue stirring until mixture is smooth and thick (about 5 minutes). Add Parmesan and Romano cheeses. Whisk until smooth. Add Tabasco and white pepper and blend.
Cook rigatoni in boiling salted water about 4 minutes. (It will be underdone, but will finish cooking later.) Thoroughly drain rigatoni and fold it into the cheese mixture.
If cooking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Layer one-half the rigatoni mixture into a 9×13 pan. Top with one-half of the Cheddar and mozzarella. Repeat layers. Top with chili powder, sprinkled evenly over top.
If not baking immediately, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. When ready to bake, drizzle the 3/4 cup milk over the dish. Bake for approximately one hour. If frozen, add at least 20 minutes to baking time. The dish should be rusty brown on top. Should it appear to be browning too fast, cover with foil for part of cooking time. Be sure to check for doneness in the very center of the dish.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Cooking With Love, Pasta, Recipes

Shots and Ice Cream

Shots and Ice Cream For Dinner | ThatCookGirl.com | Some days just require a shot (of espresso)...and ice cream for dinner

Some days just require a shot (of espresso)…

Some days just require (espresso) shots and ice cream for dinner. Today was just such a day. I wouldn’t say I had a bad day, it just wasn’t particularly good. It began with receiving some sad news that didn’t quite allow itself to settle in. And then the day just went on as any usual day at the office would, people dropping in for different things throughout the day, appointments and meetings, coffee breaks (of course…I mean…it is MY office. There IS coffee!), just the usual goings on of the day. And then just before the day at the office ended, more sad news. And this time it took a good 15 or 20 minutes to settle into my heart and soul, and when it finally did, both bits of news settled into me all at once and it took all my strength to finish my day and get myself home to my babies.

Shots and Ice Cream for Dinner | ThatCookGirl.com | Some days just require a shot (of espresso) and ice cream for dinner

…and Ice Cream for Dinner

Life is precious and short and sweet. Celebrate the smallest moments. They are the biggest. Hug someone you love a little tighter today and every day.  Call someone. Take a chance you’ve been scared to take. Don’t wait another second to tell someone you love them, even if you think they already know. Have ice cream for dinner. Have a shot (of espresso).  Go for it! Live while you’re still living!  As my daughter wisely said once “Live; You Might Like It

Leave a Comment

Filed under Life in General

Garlic, Ginger, and Raw Honey

Everyone around me is getting sick these days. Cold, flu, nasty flu, bronchitis, pneumonia… It seems nobody, even my healthiest friends with the strongest immune systems, can fight off the illnesses that abound. And yet, I am trying… I am throwing together every natural remedy I can think of or find, in pure stubbornness and refusal of getting sick. I have been able to dodge the symptoms so far. A tiny sniffly nose here and there, but an extra dose of the next natural remedy I have discovered has been able to scare those germs away before they take a full hold on me. I am hoping to keep that up as I am starting to feel a little twinge of something coming on this evening. Some extra garlic pieces with dinner, a few shots of my home remedy concoctions and early to bed tonight will hopefully knock it out of my system! I figure if I eat enough garlic and ginger, the germs won’t want anything to do with me. (This may also contribute to my single status…perhaps I should re-think my healing strategy?)

My wish for you today is that you are healthy and happy. My wish to all my friends, family, and blog-readers who are ill or fighting off illness is for fast healing. To help nurse you back to health, I share with you some remedies that I hope will help in your healing. They have certainly helped me in fighting off the germs, and I hope they keep doing their job.

Honey Tea: 3 Ingredients to relief from cold and sore throat symptoms Fresh Lemon Slices Fresh Ginger Local Raw Honey

Honey Tea:
3 Ingredients to relief from cold and sore throat symptoms
Fresh Lemon Slices
Fresh Ginger
Local Raw Honey

In the last 3 weeks or so I have boiled fresh ginger and added raw honey for a ginger tea. I tracked down a supplier of dried elderberries to make elderberry syrup. My local bee keeper and his family have seen me in their shop multiple times, picking up more raw honey for my next concoction. Today I finally chose a larger container (3#, it fills a glass quart jar) that is refillable, so I can save a little money on my next trip. I considered getting the 6# half-gallon jar, but thought that may be overkill. I would have been wrong. I already used over half the jar I did purchase, and that was just a few hours ago! I also picked up some buckwheat honey at the bee keeper’s recommendation. It is a much darker honey, sweet and rich like molasses with extra benefits to help fight off the cold and flu.

I made my first round of Honey Tea, using local raw honey from Bees in the ‘Burbs a couple of years ago. I still use their honey and have gotten to know the family that runs the local business and I like giving them my business, even as seldom as it may be. I made 3 jars of Honey Tea today, so I can bless some friends with this treat. Among the most simple remedies, this “tea” requires only 3 ingredients (raw honey, ginger, and lemon) and takes about 5 minutes to put together. Store it in the fridge and when you need a boost or want to add flavor to your tea, mix it up and add a spoonful or two to your hot water.

A search last month for natural cold and flu remedies brought me to many, many links for elderberry syrup. It quickly became my new favorite remedy and I have started calling it my Feel Better Juice! I found a place near-ish my office to buy dried elderberries, but if you don’t have any luck with that, there are several Amazon.com retailers selling them. The remaining ingredients were already in my arsenal at home.

Feel Better Juice | Elderberry Syrup | Cold and Flu Remedy |ThatCookGirl.com |To make your own Feel Better Juice, you'll need whole sticks of cinnamon, whole cloves, fresh ginger, dried elderberries, water, and raw honey. Simmer all except the honey for about 20 minutes. Drain, discarding the solids and reserving the liquid. Allow to cool slightly. You don't want the honey to cook, just melt. You lose the benefits of raw honey if you let the good stuff cook out. Pour your Feel Better Juice into jars and take a shot or two every day, sick or not.

To make your own Feel Better Juice, you’ll need whole sticks of cinnamon, whole cloves, fresh ginger, dried elderberries, water, and raw honey. Simmer all except the honey for about 20 minutes. Drain, discarding the solids and reserving the liquid. Allow to cool slightly. You don’t want the honey to cook, just melt. You lose the benefits of raw honey if you let the good stuff cook out. Pour your Feel Better Juice into jars and take a shot or two every day, sick or not.

You will find many more natural remedies on the web, or better yet, Pinterest! That way you can save all the great things you find into one place, like I’ve done on my Pinterest page. Of course, you’ll want to create different boards to keep yourself organized. My Natural Remedies board has a pretty good collection of remedies with everything from headache relief to cold and flu symptoms, and everything beyond and in between! I hope you find some remedies that work for you! And as I find new ways to make my family healthy without putting drugs into our bodies, I will share them with you.

Now go get yourself some garlic, ginger, and raw honey and feel better soon!!!

2 Comments

Filed under Journey to Real Food

Celebrate With That Cook Girl

National Kahlua Day | Happy Birthday That Cook Girl |ThatCookGirl.com

Raise a glass with me! Cheers to another year of awesomeness!

Is it a coincidence that National Kahlua Day and That Cook Girl’s Birthday fall on the same day? I think not. Every year on February 27th the world rejoices. I share this day of rejoice for the awesomeness of Kahlua and for surviving another year of this crazy ride we call life.

I spend the month celebrating my birthday. I spoil myself because I deserve it, and I learned years ago that people will treat you only as well as you treat yourself.

This year I will end my birthday month celebrations enjoying a glass filled with this yummy homemade coffee liqueur I made using my favorite coffee.   Raise a glass with me! Cheers to another year of awesomeness!

I know, I know…you all want to know why I’m not sharing the recipe for this awesome, yummy, sweetness. Well, because I haven’t decided this will be my “go-to” recipe. It’s the first time I’ve made coffee liqueur. I did not use the recipe my Mom uses (ssshhh don’t tell her). And since making this recipe, I have come across many other methods I want to try. Some methods require an instant coffee, others use a cold brewed method, while still others use whole coffee beans (!!!). And then there’s the different choices of alcohol. My Mom’s recipe would use Everclear, and her liqueur is quite tasty. I used a mixture of Rum and Brandy for mine, giving it a bit more depth of flavor. Several of my friends have received gifts of the yumminess I made back in December, and I hope they are enjoying it.

:::CHEERS::: Much love to you, and wishes for another fabulous year!

1 Comment

Filed under Life in General

A Thankful Life

Hello my loyal blog-readers. Are any of you still out there, waiting for me to get my act together and start posting again? I hope so.

Well, today seems as good a day as any to see what I can do about getting back to blogging. You may be thinking “How does she have time to post on her blog when she should be busily preparing Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd?” Easy. I’m not hosting dinner this year. Nor have I for several years. You see (and I’m about to get really real with you here), I stopped hosting the big Thanksgiving dinner when my life turned upside down a few years ago. I tried desperately to turn it right side up, to no avail. Life has had me upside down, inside out, backwards, right side up,right side out,and forward again more times than I can count. So I just started rolling with the punches. And boy were there a lot of punches thrown my way in the last 5+ years. All the while I dodged a few, threw a few back, and found myself left breathless and disoriented by even more. In the last 2 years I have held 5 different jobs and had 4 different addresses to call home. Somehow I managed to keep my head held high, if only barely at times. So, I hope you will forgive my immense absence from the blogging world, and just welcome my attempts to return. I make no promises for how often I will blog. I only promise to try to be entertaining when I do.

This morning as I prepare to have Thanksgiving dinner with some much-loved people in my life, it hit me just how very thankful I am. Not only today, but every day. I saw this saying recently that sums up my feelings pretty well:

It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.

I am thankful for more reasons than seems reasonable at times. But I am thankful nonetheless. For the love I have been surrounded by, the opportunities life has presented to me, the friends who have become family, the friends and family who have stood by my side as I made choices that they may or may not have agreed with but supported me no matter what. More than anything, I am thankful to have my 2 pretty darn amazing teenagers who keep me going when all I want to do is give up. I will show them and the whole world that life doesn’t have to be perfect or even go your way to live it happily.

Now, I am being summoned by a cup of coffee that needs my attention and my world famous artichoke dip that isn’t going to make itself.(It’s famous in my world, that counts, right?)

My wish for you is to be thankful for the small things and the big things, the good things and the bad things, and for every choice you make, the good ones and the poor ones. Each of these things will make for a happy life if only you can find a way to be thankful for them.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Life in General

Better Butter

First, I’ll allow you a moment to recover from the shock of me posting two days in a row. When I get the chance to “steal” my girl child’s computer to do some blogging, and I actually have something to blog about, I take the opportunity. And this is a post I’ve been wanting to make for a couple years now.

It’s no secret that I love butter. I’ve mentioned fresh butter several times in my postings. I’ve even talked family members who were over for dinner into helping  to make butter (once, even a sister’s ex who only dropped in to see their daughter and wasn’t even staying for dinner helped to make the butter). I don’t always make my own butter, but if I’m making a nice dinner or yummy bread, I like to have really great butter to go with it. More than once, people have said things to me along the lines of “You know they sell that at the store, right?” and “There are easier ways to make butter than that”. “I know” is pretty much my response to all of the comments. So, would you like to make your own fresh butter? You just need one ingredient, one “tool”, and a little muscle (or several little muscles with the help of some kids)

IMAG1341

Pour 2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream into a chilled 1 quart jar with a tight fitting lid. If you have access to fresh, raw milk and the cream that comes from that…well, I’m jealous if you do, but… it will make an even creamier, sweet, beautiful butter! Screw the lid onto your jar. Make sure it’s tight. It is important to not fill the jar all the way. Half-filled is perfect. The cream needs room to move around and do its thing to become butter.

IMAG1344

You can shake the jar yourself, or if you have some bored teenagers roaming around like I do, you can hand them the jar. It’s a tiring job, so usually more than one person and some turn-taking will make the task a little easier. I’ve set kids up in a circle on the floor and let them roll the jar around between them, but that takes longer (although, it keeps little ones entertained for awhile, if you need an easy activity for them!).

IMAG1350

You will know when the cream is turning into butter because it will start to kind of “thud” against the side of the jar. And once that starts to happen, keep shaking, as hard as you can (I almost always have taken over the task from the teenagers with tired arms by this point and finish it off myself), until there is a mass of butter and the liquid has separated. That’s buttermilk, by the way. Save it and use it in some pancakes, or Breakfast Cookies.

IMAG1355

Pour the liquid off into a bowl (or into a clean jar to store for later use, in the fridge of course), and spoon the butter into your favorite butter dish. Mine is a French Butter Dish I got from a friend’s shop last year.

There you have it, fresh butter. One ingredient, and a wonderful treat for topping for your favorite breads, and anything else you love topping with butter!

And now, my dear friends, family, and blog-readers… I must go. The battery on the girl child’s computer is near the end, and Red Widow is on. Have you started watching this show? Oh, you should! You really should!!!

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking With Love, Recipes, Sauces/Dressings

I’m Not Irish

It’s true. I’m not Irish. But you can still kiss me. 😉 And you may want to when you see how easy and fuss-free it is to make a hearty Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner for your family. I have talked to at least 4 people in the last week who have either never had corned beef and/or never made it. So, this is for everyone out there who has never made corned beef, especially if you have never made it because you are intimidated by the task. This will make the top 5 list of “least intimidating recipes” I will ever share with you, I’m sure!

IMAG1320Here are your ingredients:

Corned Beef

Red Potatoes

Carrots

Green Cabbage

Water

 

This is a recipe where you will be so happy you own a slow cooker. It’s what makes this such an easy meal to make. Are you ready? Get your knife out and let’s COOK!

  1.  Prepare carrots in the manner you prefer. (Either peel and cut into 1-2 inch pieces, or wash them and leave them whole, with our without the peel. I prefer unpeeled, whole carrots, myself.) Place carrots in bottom of slow cooker crock.
  2. Wash potatoes and cut in half. Place on top of carrots.
  3. Open the corned beef and rinse well. (Keep that little packet of spices. You’ll need it!) Place the corned beef on top of the potatoes in your slow cooker, fat side up.
  4. Pour about 1/2 cup water into the slow cooker.
  5. Now back to that packet of spices. You can take your pick of methods on this one, too. Personally, I don’t like the little bits of spice seeds, but the flavor is amazing and necessary for the roast, so I do use it. If you don’t mind the seeds, open up the packet and sprinkle over the top of your roast. OR, you can put some holes in the packet with a small knife and toss the whole thing into your slow cooker.
  6. Put the lid on your slow cooker, turn it on low, and walk away. In about 6-7 hours, the corned beef will be cooked and vegetables will be tender. (You can use the high setting as well, if you want it to cook faster. Same results!)
  7. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the cabbage! Cut the cabbage into wedges. Now, if your slow cooker is large enough and there is room to put the cabbage on top of the corned beef, add it to the top 1-2 hours before dinner. If you don’t have room for it, remove the meat and move it to a platter in a warm oven (COVERED, and maybe add a little of the juice from cooking to keep it moist), and then add the cabbage for cooking.

That’s it! Your dinner is done and it will taste as if you slaved over it all day. Your secret is safe with me, if that’s what you want your family to believe.

In our home, we serve this with bread (and fresh butter of course!) and put some butter and sour cream out for the potatoes, and vinegar and/or lemon for the cabbage, along with mustard and/or horseradish for the corned beef.

There you have it! Enjoy. You may now kiss the Cook Girl. 😉

3 Comments

Filed under Main Dishes, Recipes, Slow Cooker

Best Banana Bread

Over the past few months, I have promised several people that I would share my favorite banana bread recipe. It is not my own recipe, it is just my favorite. I mean, it’s hard to improve on a Betty Crocker recipe (but I think I managed, just because of my own special touches). The original recipe is here, which I found in a magazine-style recipe collection titled “Brunch”. I love brunch. Not because I’m pretentious and like to say things like “Let’s do brunch.” No, it’s because mornings come too early and I don’t like to cook in the early mornings, so if I’m cooking in the morning, it’s more likely to be a late breakfast/early lunch kinda thing, which is typically referred to as “Brunch”. (It’s laziness, not pretentiousness…lol)

Yesterday was a day off from my “day job”, so we had dinner early, which gave me time to make banana bread for dessert. The pictures and recipe, along with my commentary follow below:

Gather your ingredients:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

You’ll see in the picture that I am using the vanilla sugar and vanilla extract I made back in April. I also had the girl child make some butter while I was gathering all my ingredients, and this produced just a bit of buttermilk, so I included that in the recipe so it didn’t go to waste. I love getting all the use out of our food as we possibly can!

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.
Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. 

 

Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

I know you’re “supposed to” mash the bananas before adding them. But I hate taking the extra step and dirtying an extra bowl (that I’ll have to argue with the kids about getting washed. Too much effort…). I use very brown bananas, smash them a little while they’re in the skin, and then you can use either a strong whisk or a potato masher to mix them into the batter.

Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened.

Stir in nuts. Pour into pans.

If it is ever said that I’m an evil mother who doesn’t care what her children like/want, let this serve as proof to the contrary. Banana bread needs walnuts. The girl child doesn’t like them. So, I mix nuts into just half the batter, and divide the batter in the pan so we get a half loaf with and a half loaf without walnuts. Then I sprinkle extra nuts on top for easy identification of which side is which.

Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

If you’re patient, you’ll let it cool completely like the recipe says. But if you’re me (or anything like me), you’ll wait just until it’s cool enough to touch and slice into it so it’s still nice and warm and the freshly made butter melts right into it! YUM!

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Breads & Rolls, Breakfast, Recipes

Honey Tea

Honey Tea

A friend shared a picture on facebook today that included a link for a “honey tea” useful as a sore throat remedy. I can’t begin to tell you how exciting this was to me. I see these “tea” concoctions all the time. Elaborate, time consuming concoctions that taste awful but are supposed to contain amazing healing properties. I’m sorry. I’m all about natural remedies, homecooking, and all that jazz… but if it tastes awful, I’ll just never use the remedy, so it’s pointless.

This “tea” is so easy, I don’t think it can be messed up.

3 ingredients, 2 preparation “tools”
Honey (preferably raw, local honey)
Lemon
Gingerroot
Knife
Jar with lid

I found my honey at a local place called Bees in the Burbs. I know the owner of the place from my “day job”, and my daughter is friends with his daughter at school, too. So I was thrilled to go in search of their shop that they recently opened, where they were happy to show us around, even taking the boy child outside to show him a swarm of bees that were gathering around an area where some syrup had spilled.

I chose the wildflower honey at his suggestion, and as you can see from the pictures, the honey is crystallizing a bit. That’s a good thing. That means the honey is raw, not pasteurized, a process that cooks out all the good healing properties. At room temperature, raw honey will do this. It has not gone bad (honey is a natural preservative). If you want to be able to pour it into your drinks or cooking at home, you need only warm it lightly.

Thinly slice 1 lemon. This should be enough to almost fill a pint jar.

Peel the outer skin from about an inch-long piece of ginger root. Thinly slice it and add it to the top of the lemons in the jar.

Add the honey to the jar with the lemons and ginger. My 12 oz honey bear filled it to the top. Just the right amount. I stirred it a bit to get the honey mixed in with the lemons and ginger, and that was it. Throw the lid on that baby and put it in your fridge. When someone in your home starts to feel a tingle of a sore throat coming on, pull out your honey tea, place a spoonful in a mug, and mix it with a cup of hot water. Drink and feel the magic of nature go to work!

 

For once, I am actually going to use a “tea concoction”. I’m almost looking forward to that first winter cold now, just so I can pull my honey jar from the back of the fridge and put it to use. (Ok, not really. I actually hope we stay healthy and don’t have to use it, but it’s there if we need it.)

For information on the health benefits of honey, lemons, and ginger, check out the links below. And for goodness sake, find yourself a local, raw honey supplier! You’ll thank me later. (Especially if you’re an allergy sufferer! Local raw honey has been shown to reduce or even eliminate pollen allergies. Why? Because you are ingesting the local pollens and this helps build up the body’s immunity to those pollens.)

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-organic-locally-grown-raw-honey/

http://www.amritaveda.com/learning/articles/ginger.asp

http://www.beliefnet.com/Health/Physical-Health/Hidden-Health-Secrets-of-Lemons.aspx

4 Comments

Filed under Cooking With Love