Banana Bread & Babies

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I had a few bananas on the verge of death and so I decided to make banana bread. I’ve been recovering from a medical procedure and I needed some comfort food! I love banana bread and so I pulled out an old stand-by recipe. It made me nostalgic and so I decided I’d share it with you.

For some reason when I think of Banana Bread I remember my babies, Joel and Katie. I think it’s because the recipe for Banana Bread that I always use is found in my old, ragged, well-loved cookbook, “Whole Foods For The Whole Family.” I got the cookbook when I was was pregnant with my first child, Joel, and working at a health food store. It was first published in 1981 by La Leche League International. It’s an organization that promotes breastfeeding.

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It’s funny, but breastfeeding back in the 1980s was considered a little radical. It was a groovy, tree-hugger, earth mother sort of activity. It’s funny to me because the 80s doesn’t seem that long but I’ve lived through huge changes in childbirth trends since those days. Even the 3 years between my son and my daughter’s birth saw huge changes. Those two births were totally different. With my son, I was in a hospital “surgery-type” room, all sterile and cold, bright lights and scrubs. With my daughter, I was in a birthing center, in a bed with lamps and anyone was free to come and go. So different! This is me and my 1st, my son, leaving the hospital. 

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I remember getting ready for my first child and I thought making and freezing food would be helpful, and it was! I did it again with #2. This banana bread recipe freezes great and was such a comfort. It would be great to make some, freeze them and give them to a new mom.

Let me warn you, it’s a “healthy” recipe which translates to “not very sweet” haha! You can bump up the sugar if you want something that’s sweeter.  This photo is of me pregnant with #2, my daughter. 

I don’t think the awesome cookbook is being printed anymore, but there are a few used

copies on sale on Amazon, here’s a link.

Whole foods for the whole family: LaLeche League International Cookbook

Enough nostalgia, here’s the recipe for

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

1 cup mashed bananas

1/3 cup oil or melted butter

1/2 cup honey or brown sugar (add more if you want it sweeter!)

2 eggs, beaten

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (I substituted all-purpose and it’s fine)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup hot water

(You can add 1/2 cup chopped nuts if you want to. The original recipe calls for it. I just don’t like nuts in my banana bread.)

Beat oil and honey together. Add eggs, mix well. Stir in bananas. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with hot water; mix until smooth.

Bake in greased 9 x 5 x 3″ loaf pan at 325 degrees for 55 -60 minutes or until center tests done. Cool on wire rack for 1/2 hour before slicing. Freezes well.

Enjoy!

Cowboy Caviar Recipe Just For Y’all!

Cowboy caviar recipe

My stepmother rolled out a bowl of Cowboy Caviar years ago and I loved it! It became one of my and my daughter’s favorites. We’ve adapted it to our taste. I’ve seen many versions of this recipe and so feel free to add or take out ingredients to suit your particular taste. I just recently saw a version in a new cookbook I bought and it was called “Texas Caviar” of course Texas would claim it, haha!

It’s really easy, quick and healthy! Double it to feed a crowd! It is a real hit at parties! It’s awesome!

Ingredients and Directions: 

Open and drain: 1 can each of black beans, black-eyed peas, and corn

Chop equal amounts: tomato, green onion, cilantro

Mix everything together and add bottled Italian dressing to coat but not drowning ingredients. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes, longer if possible. If it seems dry, add more Italian dressing. Serve with corn chips.

Enjoy!

Optional ingredients: 

We’ve used these ingredients to change it up: chopped jalapeno, green and red bell pepper, parsley, avocado.

 

For The Love of Irish Soda Bread

I have no memories of my mother. I never knew my grandparents. My older father was as silent as a rock. All the history of my family was in the grave or locked in people who were silent or was locked inside kin I didn’t know. So it’s no wonder that in my adult years I yearned, clamored and even demanded to know my heritage. With the help of  ancestry.com, a hired genealogist and scraps of clues the first ship from Ireland emerged from the mist.

Photos of the Emerald Isle and recipes in various cookbooks were my first contact with my origins, my homeland. In 1990 Jeff Smith’s cookbook, “The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors” was the first to introduce me to Irish Soda Bread.

Like a first kiss and a first child, Irish Soda Bread introduced me to the world of food as history and heritage.

Jeff Smith’s recipe has been followed and cherished in my family for 29 years now. My daughter now makes it for her family on St. Patrick’s Day which has become one of our family’s favorite holidays.

So, even though this article by Chowhound, “What Is Soda Bread And Is It Really Irish?” denounces that the origin of soda bread is actually Irish, it does state that the Irish have claimed it as their own! By virtue that there is a Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread I think that even if history doesn’t prove it out, we can give Soda Bread to the Irish!

This is Jeff Smith’s Irish Soda Bread recipe that we’ve used every year. I’m putting it here because I think his cookbook is out of print, although, you can get it used pretty cheap on Amazon.

Jeff Smith’s Irish Soda Bread

Makes 2 Loaves

6 cups all-purpose flour     

2 teaspoons baking soda                                                                                                                       

2 teaspoons baking powder                                                                                                                 

3 tablespoons cornstarch                                                                                                                     

2 teaspoons sugar                                                                                                                                 

1 teaspoon salt 

2 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix very well. Pour all of the buttermilk into the bowl at once and stir, using a wooden spoon, just until a soft dough is formed. Do not try to make it smooth at this point. Pour the contents of the bowl out onto a plastic counter and knead for a minute or so until everything comes together.

Divide the loaf into two portions and shape each into a round loaf, pressing the top down a bit to just barely flatten it. Place the loaves on a large ungreased baking sheet. (I like to use the nonstick kind.) Sprinkle some additional flour on the top of each loaf and, using a sharp paring knife, make the sign of the Cross in slashes on the top of each.

Allow the loaves to rest for 10 minutes and then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and done to taste.

Cool on racks.

New Year, New Recipe!

Even though I am grateful for Jeff’s recipe that has kept me for years, I decided to take a chance and try the SPISB’s recipe that they have online. The recipe intrigued me in its simplicity. I liked that it had no sugar, too.

So, I made it! I mixed up the 4 ingredients and in the time it took the oven to preheat, I had it mixed and shaped.

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(That little gadget is a dough scoring tool I bought. You can use a sharp knife, but I love gadgets, haha! You can buy one here. )Risingbreadtool Bread Lame Dough Scoring Tool with Fixed Blade and Cover - Baking Baguettes, Sourdough and French Bread Quick and Easy

 

 

 

I deviated from the recipe in that it calls for you to cook the bread in a covered cake pan. I decided to use my cast iron dutch oven instead.

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It worked amazingly well! It looks, smells and tastes delicious! The crust is delightfully crunchy and the center is moist and hearty! I slathered the hot bread with real butter and it was “slap-your-mama” good! I hate to say it but it’s better than Jeff’s! I can’t believe I said that!

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(That beautiful end-grain cutting board was made by my woodworker friend, Pete, at PMG Woodworks in Georgia. Look him up on Facebook!)

I’ve included the link to the recipe but here’s the recipe straight from the SPISB’s site:

White Soda Bread (reminder: 4oz by weight is a dry “cup”)

  • 4 cups (16 oz) of all-purpose flour.
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 14 oz of buttermilk

Method:

Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees.  Lightly grease and flour a cake pan.

In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.

Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough.  Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)

Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.

Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible  (I think they mean like a dutch oven) pot).  Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped so show it is done.

Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.

 

I wonder if my Irish grandmother, Mano Kennedy, every made Soda Bread?

mama mano kennedy hay

 

Enjoy!

irish flag

Erin Go Bragh!

Hard Eight’s Cornbread Salad Recipe

There’s a BBQ restaurant in Roanoke, TX that is AWESOME! One of my favorite side dishes is the Cornbread salad. It’s like some kind of addictive crack salad! I went on an online search for the recipe and this is the best one I could find. The blogger claims she got it from the manager. I made it and it’s pretty darn good.

Hard Eight’s Cornbread Salad is a little on the dry side and that’s why you have to eat it with their pinto beans and jalapeno sweet corn – my oh my!

It’s easy as pie! Just make two boxes of cornbread mix

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Chop up a few fresh ingredients and BACON and CHEESE!

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Mix in a little Miracle Whip and voila! Delish!

Here’s the recipe from www. whatwearecookingnow.blogspot.com

The author writes:

One of my fav. BBQ placed in DFW serves this dish and its great. Well, last time I was in talked to the manager and he gave me the recipe so figured I would share. Its really good stuff. 

Hard 8 BBQ Cornbread Salad. 

2 pkgs sweet cornbread mix, prepared and crumbled
1 lg. tomato, seeded and diced
4 – 6 slices crisp cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 c minced red onion
1/4 c sliced green onion
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Approximately 2T Miracle Whip (I like a little more, but just do it to taste)

Combine first 6 ingredients. Add mayo sparingly. Cornbread should be crumbly, not stuck together! Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate before serving.

Enjoy!!!

St. Patrick’s Day Gifts & Stuff!

My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve

I know it’s a little early but as distance grandparents, we’ve got to think ahead! We have to have time to get gifts and cards in the mail.

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my family’s favorite holidays! We are part Irish and we love to celebrate our heritage as well as that famous Saint, Patrick.

We have some things that we did every year when the kids were younger and they have continued some of them with their own families. One thing was I always cooked some classic Irish dishes like Shepherd’s Pie and Soda Bread and we’d watch one of our favorite Irish movies! Darby O'Gill And The Little People

 

The Quiet Man

 

Here are a few fun things you can order for your kids and grandkids on Amazon.com to remind them to be proud of their Irish heritage or just to have fun! Order them now and have them shipped before the Day Of Green arrives. And don’t forget to add a box of Lucky Charms cereal or treat bars for more fun!

Just click on the photo to be taken to Amazon!

 

Tee Luv Lucky Charms Raglan Jersey - Lucky The Leprechaun 3/4 Sleeve Shirt

Lucky Charms Gluten Free, Breakfast Cereal, Large Size, 14.9 Oz

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

 

 Intimate Boutique Women's St Patrick's Day Irish Long Sleeve Shirt         

DII Cotton Holiday Dish Towels, 18x28" Set of 3, Decorative Oversized Embroidered Kitchen Towels, Perfect Home and Kitchen Gift-St Patrick's Day

Pete the Cat: The Great Leprechaun Chase: Includes 12 St. Patrick's Day Cards, Fold-Out Poster, and Stickers!

 

FIBEROMANCE St Patricks Day Pillow Cover 18x18 Green Clover Farmhouse Happy St Patricks Day Decorations Lucky Decorative Cushion Cover Pillow Case for Sofa Couch Spring Home Decor F108

 

Threadrock Distressed Green Shamrock Unisex Raglan T-Shirt

         

KWUNCCI Celtic Hold Moon Dangle Drop Earrings with Sterling Silver plated Fashion Jewelry for Women/Girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.925 Sterling Silver Traditional Claddagh Celtic Ring

Whaline St. Patrick Costume Set Include Sequin and Shamrock Suspenders, Bowtie and Necktie, Adjustable X Back Elastic Suspenders St. Patrick's Day Party Accessory    The Little Celtic Knot Coloring Book: Ireland, Irish Pride & St. Patrick's Day coloring for ages 8+                                7 ate 9 Apparel Boy's St. Patrick's Day Vintage Baseball Tee

 

BANBERRY DESIGNS Shamrock Candle Holder with a LED Candle - Stained Glass Shamrocks and a Flameless Candle - Irish Candle Holder

 

The Farmette Cookbook: Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm

 

Roman Petite Standing Cross Celtic Irish Blessing

St. Patrick's Day Activity Book: A Magical Workbook Full of Lucky Leprechaun Coloring Pages, Dot to Dot, Mazes, Word Search Puzzles and More

Thinking About A Spicy Shelf To Organize Your Spices? Here’s My Experience

the minimalist grandma

My spice cabinet has been getting on my last nerve.

I’ve been in my new house for 6 months now.  I left a wonderful, huge pantry that I designed with a wall of small shelves just for spices. The shelves for spices were the perfect depth for one spice bottle and they were long enough to fit about 20+ bottles across. I could walk in my pantry and see all my spices all at once. It was spice organization heaven. I was spoiled.

Now I have a cabinet by the stove hood.

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It was getting on my nerves because I can’t see what I have at glance. I have to dig around, push stuff out of the way. I hate it. And the spice collection I have is only going to grow, so I need help!

I looked around for organization ideas. I came across this product with the corny name, Spicy Shelf.

There are two Spicy Shelves in this particular box. I guess it’s really one if you stack them like they’ve done in the photo.

The first thing I really liked about this product was you have several size options to choose from. It has the flexibility to quite possibly fit the space you have. In regards to the width, it can be shrunk or stretched to fit your cabinet. There, of course, is a limit and you should check the dimensions to be sure it will fit in the area you need. In regards to height, you have 2 leg heights to choose from. You can attach the longer legs on the bottom shelf and the shorter legs for the top shelf as seen in the photo on the box. Or you can use the leg lengths in any combination to fit your needs. Make sure you think about this because you may have to remove or readjust the existing shelves in your cabinet like I did. And if your existing shelves can’t be adjusted, you need to really check out the dimensions. This is from the Amazon details for this product:

Each Spicy Shelf Deluxe can be adjusted to as narrow as 7.5” to as wide as 17”. The depth of the shelf is 10 3/8”.

You can use one shelf alone, as I did. Or you can stack them like the photo on the box. The legs make it so it can stand alone or you can install it with screws inside your cabinet.

It was easy to put together. The instructions were clear. The feet have rubber pads and it was pretty sturdy so it felt good, not like it was going to break apart at the slightest touch.

The shelves are narrow, the width of a spice bottle, but I did use the second one in my pantry closet for canned goods and it was fine.

After all is said and done, it really didn’t hold as many spice bottles as I would like, but remember I’m spoiled!

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And it didn’t magically transform my little cabinet into a huge pantry like I wished. I still have to move things around to see everything I have. But it’s better than it was!

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Since my goal was to be able to SEE everything I had, I think this is the best product I’ve come across. If you want to be able to stock as many spices and as many canned goods as you can in a given space, this is not what you’re after. You can see in my photos that there’s wasted space. But remember my goal was to SEE it all.

I think it’s a great product and I recommend it! Buy Spicy Shelf on Amazon here!

Peace & Organization,

Jill

3 Real Cookbooks For Real People

There are 3 categories that I put cookbooks in:

  • Beautiful but not practical – I love these cookbooks because they have beautiful photography and they inspire me to be a better cook (in the same way Superman inspires me to be a superhero) but are not practical enough for me to really use them.
  • Interesting but not practical – These cookbooks are great because they are historical or cultural and I love to learn about people through the food they eat. While they are interesting, they probably include ingredients that are just not in the purview of my everyday. Like capers and prawns are not going to make it on my shopping list.
  • Real Cookbooks – These are cookbooks that include recipes that have ingredients I will actually buy and eat and the instructions are not outrageously complicated.

Lately, I have 3 “REAL” cookbooks that are my go-to’s when I need a nudge out of my food rut.

  1. Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

magnolia table

I love this cookbook because it fits my criteria for a “Real Cookbook.” There are lots of recipes when you’re craving that comfort food like Chicken Pot Pie, Scalloped Potatoes or Chocolate Chip Cookies. But be sure to make her Sour Cream Enchiladas! They have been a big hit at my house. And I’d like to add that the photographs are beautiful and so it also falls under the category of a Beautiful Cookbook.

2. The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinnertime by Ree Drummond

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I just got this cookbook for Christmas so I haven’t made a lot of the recipes, but it’s not difficult to tell that this is a “Real Cookbook.” With recipes like Baked Ziti, French Dip Sandwiches, and Cheese Biscuits, you know this is “real.” The cookbook is loaded with photos, clear and complete instructions, and little personal notes from Ree scattered throughout. I think that the photos of her handsome husband nudge it into the category of a Beautiful Cookbook, too.

3. SkinnyTaste Fast and Slow by Gina Homolka

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I heard about this cookbook from my Weight Watcher friends and I’ve used it for several years now. I have to say that at first, I was put off because of some of the exotic sounding recipes that I didn’t feel that I would make. However, when you dig into the book you’ll find that most of the recipes are really down to earth and “real.” You also get the added benefit of a nutritional breakdown of each recipe if you need it. And there are a bunch of slow cooker recipes to help you if you have a busy schedule. You need to try her “Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner,” “Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls,” and “Cauliflower Fried Rice.”

These cookbooks are nice enough to give as gifts, too. I highly recommend them!

Peace,

Jill

Bread Baking With Pam from “The Office”

If you don’t follow Jenna Fischer on Instagram, stop right now and go follow her. She is a hoot! So funny and so real. (msjennafischer)

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She’s not afraid to look totally crazy…

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and she shares a lot about what it’s like to be an actor from getting a spray tan to the struggles of picking up her kids from school on time. She shares behind the scene things from her new show, “Breaking Up Together.”

She also has an obsession with baking bread that she developed after reading Bonnie Ohara’s book, “Bread Baking For Beginners.” 

And I totally get it. Bonny owns her own cottage micro-bakery in Modesto, California called “Alchemy Bread.” She has worked with dough so intimately that she can explain the process freely and easily. It’s easy to get addicted to making the recipes in the book. Not to mention her cottage micro-bakery is the coolest and grooviest and I wish I had thought of it.

So, Jenna is making these recipes and filming it and posting it in her InstaStories. Her stressing about her dough babies is hilarious. Trying to figure out if she has time to pick up her kids from school between risings is so real I feel like she’s my best friend.

So, two things: go follow Jenna and buy “Bread Baking For Beginners.” I think you’ll like both!

Peace and Bread for the world!

Jill

Christmas Treats

Maybe it’s a holdover from my teaching days. Maybe it’s just having grandkids, but I got the hankering to make some fun treats for Christmas.

So off I went to Pinterest and found the instructions for these cuties! I pinned them to my board called “Christmas Food” if you want to try them yourself.

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I love the kind of project that is quick and easy and is like already half made. Chocolate dipped Nutter Butter Reindeer and Vanilla dipped Rice Krispie Treats are right up my alley.

Merry Christmas Treats!

Jill

Scottish Tattie Scones

So, I’m collecting and testing recipes that I want to include in our Christmas celebration and the days that our family will be together this year. Last year, my grandboys were just one year old and still so little, but this year the oldest two boys will be eating what we eat. I want to gather some recipes that will become our family traditions, those recipes that the grandsons will remember for the rest of their lives. I really want to include some authentic Scottish, Irish, British and Spanish foods since that is their heritage.

My first experiment was a Scottish potato scone recipe I got from Christina’s Cucina. She gives very thorough instructions and I followed them to a tee. They turned out great. Sort of bland, but she very clearly says that traditionally the scones should be fried with the bacon to absorb the flavors of the bacon.

I think these will be a great addition to our breakfasts. I think this one is a keeper!

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Peace,

Jill