Simpler than Simple Brazilian Banana Bread

It’s hard to improve on the recipe for Ridiculously Simple Banana Bread, from Susan Mendelson’s Mama Never Cooked Like This.

But I decided to try – not to make it better tasting, just to make it one step easier.

photo(28)I actually wanted to resurrect a recipe that a friend from Brazil gave me many years ago, but I turned to my cookbooks when I couldn’t find it. My friend called her recipe “Lazy Banana Pie,” even though it was a banana bread baked in a loaf pan.

What made it different from Mendelson’s recipe, and any other banana bread I’ve tried, is that the bananas were cut up instead of mashed. Cutting the bananas simplifies an already-easy recipe, and provides an interesting contrast in texture.

Also, my friend’s recipe called for cinnamon, which I’ve been trying to incorporate into my diet lately. Cinnamon has all kinds of health benefits, according to numerous online articles like this one from Medical News Today.

I couldn’t find the recipe for Lazy Banana Pie, so I decided to play with Mendelson’s recipe. However, without the mashed bananas, the consistency was off. I ended up mashing part of one banana, and cutting up the rest. It turned out well… and my kitchen smelled delicious!

Simpler than Simple Brazilian Banana Bread (adapted from Susan Mendelson’s Ridiculously Simple Banana Bread)

1 1/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon, or more to taste

2 eggs

1/2 c. oil

1 c. sugar

2 large ripe bananas

extra cinnamon to taste

1. Sift together flour, baking soda and cinnamon.

2. In separate bowl, mix eggs, oil, and sugar with fork. Add to dry ingredients.

3. Cut two bananas in pieces, and mash about 3/4 of one banana to add to mixture. Blend well, add more cinnamon to taste if desired, and stir in remaining pieces of banana.

4. Spoon batter into greased loaf pan. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon.

5. Bake at 350 for about an hour.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chocolate Sunday – Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

Maybe it’s the elimination diet I was on last month – cutting out chocolate and other foods that I might be sensitive to – or maybe it was finding my junior high Home Economics notebook this week, but I found myself wanting to bake something very basic this week.

banana chocolate chip breadI had more ripe bananas than we could eat, so I searched online for banana bread recipes, thinking I might combine elements from the best three or four, and add chocolate chips if they weren’t already in the ingredient list. But in the end I went back to the recipe I’ve used most often in the past – Ridiculously Simple Banana Bread, from Canadian cookbook author Susan Mendelson’s Mama Never Cooked Like This.

I like her recipe because it doesn’t call for milk or butter, and most of the online versions I found call for both (although it’s easy to substitute oil for melted butter).

I modified Mendelson’s recipe a bit, and may modify it further in the future. I used the white flour that the recipe calls for (I know, it’s not the healthiest). I couldn’t bring myself to use white sugar, though. Instead, I substituted coconut sugar, which has some advantages over white, but should still be used in moderation. I used less than the recipe called for, because my bananas were very ripe.

Next time, I think I’ll replace part of the white flour with whole wheat, and I may include some ground flax seed, to up the health benefits. That was an ingredient in one of the online recipes, but my flax seeds weren’t fresh.

I threw in some dried tart cherries, which are also healthy, but I think they would be better in a more chocolatey loaf. I’ll go back to pecans next time.

So here’s my ideal banana chocolate chip bread recipe, which I haven’t actually made yet!

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread (inspired by Susan Mendelson’s Ridiculously Simple Banana Bread)

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 cup unbleached white flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs

1/2 cup oil

3/4 cup coconut sugar

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1. Sift together flours and baking soda.

2. Combine eggs, oil, sugar and bananas, and add to dry ingredients, mixing until blended.

3. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

4. Pour into greased loaf pan, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes at 350.

Enjoy!

Wild Rice with Sauteed Sweet Potatoes

Now that I’m blogging about food, I’m more motivated to look for creative ways to use ingredients that are already in my kitchen.Image

In recent years – and recent weeks – a couple of things have changed.

1.     Over the last few years, the internet has influenced the way I source recipes and plan meals. Instead of relying primarily on my cookbooks, I often turn to Google, and enter ingredients that I want to use up. I’ve come across interesting food blogs and recipes, and I find it’s an efficient way to use what I have, as well as delay grocery shopping a day or two.

2.     The other thing that’s different is that, as a newbie food blogger, I’m concerned about the risk of breaching copyrights on my blog. From what I’ve read online (which isn’t necessarily authoritative), lists of ingredients are not subject to copyright laws, but recipe instructions may be. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking of ways to adapt favourite recipes to make them my own.

The other day, I cooked some wild rice, which had been in my pantry for months. I considered adding red peppers, snow peas, and cashews, key ingredients in a recipe that appears in Susan Mendelson’s Official Cookbook of Expo 86. Unfortunately – or maybe not – I didn’t have the necessary ingredients.

The dish that I ended up making was inspired by Mendelson’s recipe, and by the limited choice of vegetables I had on hand. Her book dates back to the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, BC, and is a favourite of mine for its appealing pictures and easy-to-follow instructions.

Although the book doesn’t mention it, her wild rice recipe (and mine too) is vegan and dairy-free. It can be made gluten-free by substituting gluten-free tamari for soy sauce.

I used sweet potato and zucchini, which added flavour, colour and contrasting texture to the wild rice. Not to mention that sweet potato is a  so-called “superfood.” We enjoyed the resulting side dish the day I made it, and ate it chilled the next day as a salad.

Here’s my recipe:

Wild Rice with  Sweet Potato & Zucchini (inspired by Susan Mendelson’s Wild Rice with Red Peppers & Snow Peas)                                                  NB – recipe has been updated to make it gluten-free

1 cup wild rice

4 cups water

canola oil to thinly cover pan

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 –inch dice

½ zucchini, cut into ¼-inch dice

1 T. low-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari, for a gluten-free version)

sesame seeds for garnish (and nutrients!)

1.     Cook wild rice according to package directions. Keep an eye on it. Mine was ready sooner than I expected. Drain well.

2.     Heat oil in large non-stick pan on medium high. When one piece of onion sizzles, add garlic and the rest of the onion, and sauté for a minute or two.

3.     Add sweet potato for about a minute, then add zucchini. The sweet potato should be cooked until edible but not overly soft. Taste-test or insert the tip of a paring knife into one of the pieces to check for doneness.

4.     Add soy sauce and vegetables to rice, and combine.

5.     Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

6.     Enjoy!

A bonus today – friends travelling in Costa Rica sent me a link to this blog,  written by teachers from Chattanooga who are on the same tour. Yesterday, they posted food pictures for me! They also have some interesting photos of wildlife, and instructions for choosing a tasty pineapple: http://normalparkfirstgrade.weebly.com/1/post/2013/07/movin-right-along.html