In My Kitchen: Banana Saturday

Spring is supposed to be here.  60-70 degree weather, outdoors, windows open.  Nothing puts a damper in my springtime mood than snow! Indoors and looking around my kitchen, what to do?  Clean? Uh…  well I suppose cleaning out the fridge and pantry might count, right?

Ripe bananas  = banana bread.

This is probably the simplest recipe I could find for banana bread off of the epicurious website.  It’s a great basic recipe that you can doctor up with added ingredients like chocolate or peanut butter chips. I tried using wheat flour and thought it came out a little too “germy” for my taste.  The rest of the family seemed to like it.  It’s a good, moist recipe, but to satisfy my tastes, I think next time, I’ll try doing a 50/50 blend of wheat and regular flour rather than 100% wheat.  Plus, I like my banana bread really sweet, so I’m thinking I’ll try adding more bananas than called for to see how it goes.

Dubbed as Aunt Holly’s Banana Bread.  I don’t have an Aunt Holly, but I’ll gladly adopt the one who came up with this recipe! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tsp baking soda

 

 

Optional:
chocolate chips
peanut butter chips
nuts of your choice

 

 

 

Preheat oven to 350F. Mash the bananas in a bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Bake in a buttered loaf pan until a toothpick stuck into the bread comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Slice and Serve.

 

Such an easy recipe!  Made the house smell fantastic and made an otherwise “boring, inside” weekend, productive!

 

 

Had to break for lunch while the bread baked... PBJ, only the best!

 

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What’s my Focus?

On a recent critique of the photos I had taken of my youngest daughter, a photographer mentioned that my choice of light was good but that I needed to focus on my subject more. He proceeded to point out in several of my photos where I had done a nice job of focusing on my daughter by simply blurring out the background. Huh? Upon closer examination, I see his point. In the pictures where my subject is the only thing in focus, her image just “pops” out at you. The blurred background offers no distraction to my main subject. In food photography, thumbing through other people’s work, I noticed that many shots have a short depth of field. Meaning, that the food item is the only item in focus while all else behind it is blurred out. It makes for an “artsy” feel and gastronomically draws the viewer into the dish. So I decided to take some classes to officially learn the fundamentals of my camera and how to gain the effect I want on purpose rather than by accident or luck – mind you… neither of those hurt to have! I shoot with a Sony α100 digital camera. Why Sony and not Cannon or Nikon? Frankly it’s because my brother-in-law had given me his old Minolta with various lenses and Minolta lenses fit Sony camera bodies. I LOVE my camera and I imagine Sony must be on their umpteenth version by now. (Note to self: add to my wish list the Sony a33). As luck would have it, the store I purchased my camera from offers a curriculum of photography classes free with purchase.  The classes are basic and practical. In them, I learned how to adjust the depth of field, what ISO and Aperture means, and what all those funny little A, P, M and so on settings are on my camera.  They taught me how to set my camera on continuous shooting and gave me recommendations for shooting in low or bright light.  I learned what light flares are! I must say that coming away from the classes, I have a greater appreciation for my camera, lenses and simply the art of photography!  Armed with my new found knowledge of the basic principles, now all that’s left is to practice, practice, practice! Which I’m more than happy to do! 🙂

I had to add this one! My 9 y/o arranged the food and shot this pic herself. It's her masterpiece!

Great Friends Bring Chocolate!

Buried under a mountain of NEVER-ENDING laundry, the doorbell rings. Standing in my doorway is a dear friend holding a little box of chocolate frosted brownies. I, stand at the doorway in my last set of clean clothes-mismatched mind you, while my 15 month old is scooting up the steps clothed in nothing but a diaper and my 3 year old stands in the foyer still wearing her pajamas. Mortified by the state of our appearance?… yes definitely. A smile brought to my face by our surprise visitor?… yes, definitely. Good times made better by a friend bearing chocolate! How blessed and thankful am I!

Coffee would be good with these...

Too many mini-Cupcakes? Who says?? Pffshaw!!

My last post was about cupcakes… and lo and behold, I received more cupcakes that I could take pictures of!  In my mind, there is no such thing as too many cupcakes… There’s always room in our house for more :).  Not much more I can say about them, other than that these are delicious and beautiful!  The company is called Cupcake Crazy and you can find them on the web at http://www.cupcakecrazyincincinnati.com.  Hopefully you’ll see some of my pictures on their website!  My favorite pic: my youngest son was helping himself to a tasty treat!

CRAZY for Cupcakes!

Raspberry Chocolate Ganache

Now I know that cupcakes of late, have been all the rage.  You’ve got the fancy ones made by the premier bakeries and you’ve got the cupcake in a box versions that you can pick up at your local grocery store.  All are definitely good.  I guess I didn’t realize the vast creative, and not to mention delicious varieties that come in between the premier bakery and convenience boxed versions!  My eyes were opened as my family and I were invited to a party a few months back that had served some of the most delectable cupcake treats. Cupcakes of various sizes… The traditional full-size cupcakes to petite mini cupcakes. Not to mention little mini cupcake “pops” – or cupcakes on a stick, similar to a lollipop.  Frankly, I think the minis are more dangerous. How long did I stand over the tables popping different varieties of mini cupcakes? Raspberry lime, wacky chocolate cupcakes, chocolate ganache with raspberry… Oh and the “adult” variations… Those flavored with Baileys Irish Creme liquor or raspberry liquor, or even a cosmopolitan!
Beautifully decorated, moist and fresh, positively yummy!  Seeing as the host of the party is also the baker, we ordered 2 dozen of the mini cupcakes for a party.  They were snatched up before I could blink an eye. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But you know what I mean. They were gone in no time. All I was left with were empty serving platters and a few crumbs.  We may not wait until the next time we have guests to place an order!
As for my photo project,  what did I learn on taking pictures of the cupcakes we ordered?  Model selection… I need to be more observant. I love that I was able to find a cupcake that showed the “swirl” of frosting. As for the raspberry ganache, I would have liked to find a way to make the chocolate more shiny looking, and I would have been more selective on my raspberries. What was it that I read somewhere, to make the food glisten? Spray a fine mist, brush with egg wash?  Maybe I’ll try next time, although, I won’t be eating them up after the pictures are taken!  🙂

Here's were I didn't notice the imperfect raspberry...

 

Loved the caramel creme "swirl" on the Wacky Chocolate Cupcake