Sunday, March 28, 2010


Goal 100. I will participate in the Daring Baker eight months for every twelve months of the 101 goals, not missing two consecutive months. {2/12}~{0/12}~{0/12}

That word describes both the state of my kitchen and this month's Daring Baker results.

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

Things seemed to go wrong from the beginning.  I bought the wrong kind of oranges and had to do another run, I forgot to add the marmalade in the second to last step.  I waited too long to mix the gelatin in with the whipped cream.  I decided to go family style with my springform pan because I didn't have enough little cookie cutters.  Sigh.  And I don't really care for citrus desserts.  I was hoping I would like it as it was quite a bit of work.  But I don't really.  On the upside, I know how to make marmalade and how to segment an orange.  I didn't even know I didn't know how to segment an orange before.  I was going to deviate and go with a chocolate and strawberries yumminess. But I went with the original. In the end, I am still glad I did it!  It was fun making such a mess of my kitchen!  

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread - Yums!

I had some time on my hands and some bananas on the counter. This meant it was time to test another recipe from the Joy of Cooking. This time it was Banana Bread Cockaigne, page 628. I usually make banana bread from my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.

According to wikipedia, "Cockaigne or Cockayne (pronounced /kɒˈkeɪn/) is a medieval mythical land of plenty, an imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease where physical comforts and pleasures are always immediately at hand and where the harshness of medieval peasant life does not exist." What a delicious concept!

As always with baking, it is best to start with all ingredients at room temperature.  I don't usually plan enough ahead to achieve this.  Someday, I will.

I really need to work on taking pictures of food.  I am not that good at it. This does not look as delicious as it was!
It wasn't as banana'y as I would have liked.  Maybe next time, I'll add a fourth banana.  I also left out the lemon zest and added a teaspoon of vanilla.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable shortening or butter (I used butter)
1 to 2 large eggs (I used 2)
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest (no lemons on hand so I skipped this part)
1 to 1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional and I don't add nuts)
1/4 finely chopped dried apricots (also optional and not found in my banana bread, maybe someday)
8 ounces of chopped semi sweet chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease bread pan.
2. Whisk together all dry ingredients in a small-ish mixing bowl.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, and vanilla until creamy.  Then beat in 2 large beaten eggs.
4. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, beating until smooth with each addition.  Fold in the nuts, apricots or chocolate, if desired. 
5.  Pour into greased bread pan and bake for about 60 minutes or until a knife comes out mostly clean.  The melted chocolate will give you trouble with the clean knife, but you should be able to tell if the banana bread is done with the knife.
6. Cool slightly before unmolding (otherwise it doesn't come out of the pan quite right). 

The book says to cool completely before serving, but that is nonsense.  I love warm, fresh banana bread, especially with a little bit of butter!  Yums!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sloppy Joes!

The last Blog Improvement Project assignment was to work on creative post titles. Clearly, I am not implementing that particular advice yet.

Last night, I cooked for the first time in a long time. I was not feeling that creative and really wanted some comfort food. What I wanted was Manwich, I love Manwich. But we are trying to have more home cooked food. So I quickly googled martha stewart sloppy joes. Loaded the recipe on my iphone (I don't have the Martha app yet, I was just browsing in Safari).  It turned out pretty good with minor changes to the recipe.

6:33 pm We started with 1onion, 1/2 green pepper, 1 celery stalk and 2 cloves of garlic, all finely chopped. Okay, it wasn't really that finely chopped.

6:50 pm Add of this to heated pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.


 I added some McCormick's Hamburger Seasoning to the onion mix.

6:55 pm Put the frozen broccoli in the microwave.

7:02 pm Add meat to pan, brown until no longer pink. Sadly, for the next few steps, my phone was in use so I don't have pictures of the adding and browning of 1 pound of beef.

7:13 pm Add 15 oz of tomato sauce, 1/4 cup of ketchup, and 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.

7:15 pm Set the table.
Next time I make this instead of ketchup I might use tomato paste.  My goal is to make it more Manwich like.  Manwich seems to have less vegs and more tomato taste and feel.   

~ 1 tablespoon olive oil
~ 1 medium onion, finely chopped
~ 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
~ 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ Coarse salt and ground pepper
~ 1 pound ground beef
~ 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
~ 1/4 cup ketchup
~ 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
~ 4 hamburger buns, split and toasted

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add ground beef to skillet. Cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Stir tomato sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce into beef mixture in skillet. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.

4. Season the mixture with more salt and pepper, as desired. Spoon onto buns, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


"This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you."
~Hafez 14th Century Persian Poet

I found this quote while reading Lucy March's blog. It is really resonating with me today as I am constantly looking for and applying for new jobs, trying to work out a more permanent future for my career. Although this position is not permanent, right now, it is where I need to be.  I just wish I could see the map God was looking at.

Monday, March 1, 2010

International Badge Day!

Today is International Badge Day! So I am wearing my badge on my blog and my suit jacket.

I am aware of image of greek orgs and sororities in popular culture and media.  That image is nothing like the reality I experienced as a member of Alpha Sigma Tau.  I attended a predominately male university.  I think the male to female ratio was 3:1, but it could have been 4:1.  I started out thinking I was going to be a chemistry teacher.  Turned out, I don't actually care for chemistry or science or math.  I appreciate them, I just don't want to study these things.   It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with my career (okay, I'm still not quite sure). I know what I want to do with my life, I'm not sure how my career fits into that.  So I waffled around a while in college, didn't study like I should have, was not a great student.  However, I kept my grade point respectable so that I could stay in the sorority.  I stayed in college so I could stay in the sorority.  I learned a lot about myself and other people while living in a house with 4 phone lines, 3 1/2 bathrooms, 2 televisions, and 20 women.  I learned quite a bit about politics without ever talking about politics or government.  I learned about leadership by living without any, attempting to be a leader and by watching leaders in action.  I learned the most from leaders who weren't trying to be leaders, just trying to do the right thing.  My membership in Alpha Sigma Tau helped me become the woman I am today.