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Friday, December 30, 2016

3 Simple Steps to the Best Banana Bread Ever!

I love banana bread -- it's filling, relatively healthy, and not so hard to make if you follow these simple tips and steps:

1)  Be willing to substitute and experiment!

One Sunday morning, desperate for homemade baked goods, I found this basic banana bread recipe through a Google search but discovered I didn't have all of the ingredients.  Not to be denied, I started experimenting and substituting and came up with my own recipe (and, don't tell everybody because they will NOT know, it's gluten free!!):

1 1/2 c. Gluten Free Mama's Almond Flour (**
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 bananas (or 3 bananas and half an apple)
2 eggs
1/4 c. sesame oil
scant 2/3 c. sugar (I use the minimally processed turbinado sugar)
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

** I have no affiliation with Gluten Free Mama, I just think they have excellent flours.

You can also add a handful of chopped walnuts and/or chocolate chips.  I find most regular recipes for baked items have too much sugar in them for my taste, so I always cut back (plus, in this recipe, the bananas and almond flour add enough of their own sweetness).

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ones in another bowl; add one bowl to the other (I've found it doesn't matter in which direction you go) and mix well; add walnuts and/or chocolate chips; pour into bread pan or muffin tin; bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour for bread, 35 minutes for muffins (cooking time will depend on your oven; I'd test with a toothpick after 45 minutes or 30 minutes, respectively; after one or two batches, you'll have an idea of timing).

2)  Have your tools set aside together to cut down on prep time

I have two bowls, a spatula, measuring cups and spoons set aside all together so that, when I want to make a batch, I'm ready to go.  I keep the flour in the freezer but the other dry items pretty close together in the pantry and wet ones in the frig, so it's easy to tell if anything is getting low and easy to grab when I'm ready to bake.  As I use each tool, I immediately dunk it into soapy water in a dishpan to soak; it makes clean up so easy.

3)  Make use of your mini-blender or mixer

I like some chunks of fruit in my muffins or bread, but if you don't want it too chunky or with a smoother consistency, blend some of the fruit in a smoothie maker.  For example, I put half an apple chopped up, one of the bananas sliced up, and one of the eggs in my blender for maybe 10-15 seconds, then poured the mixture into the bowl with the rest of the wet ingredients. Then, it's much easier to stir and blend the ingredients together by hand.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, and I'd love to hear what fruit/nut/other ingredient combinations you choose!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Ah, the holiday season is upon us again.  Hard to believe 2016 is almost over and a new year is about to begin.  I always try to have a post at the end of the year reviewing how things went and a post at the beginning of the new year setting goals and aspirations.

This year posed many challenges again, but as I look back at the first post of the year, I feel like I might have done better than I thought...  Although my first goal, a realistic and meaningful blog post schedule, wasn't fully accomplished with respect to consistency, I hope it was successful in providing helpful and interesting information.  And I sure had fun trying some new techniques, like short row heels on socks.  Most of all, though, I do think that the crochet (and knitting) lifestyle is worth exploring.  I made a point of doing a little stitching each day (or some creative endeavor), and I hope to continue to incorporate the concept of "the power of an hour" into my day (more on that to come!).

What possibilities might 2017 hold for me?  Well, please return in January to find out, but I'll leave you with one thought that has been going through my mind a lot lately:  simplicity.  We live in a very complicated world, and the information overload can be overwhelming.  As the commercialization of Christmas is evident once again, I keep coming back to "simplicity" as a guiding principle in gift giving, some early spring cleaning I've been trying to do, and how I've been choosing to spend my time.  I think it might end up being just the right theme for me in crochet design as well.

So, as 2016 draws to a close, please accept my happiest wishes to you for a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday Season, and a New Year filled with new possibilities and adventures.  And meet back here in 2017!