Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ABC Award and Seasonal Banana Bread

There is a recipe on this post, but it is waaay down there. First there is the ABC Award (Awesome Blog Content) from Katie of Apple and Spice. I've visited Katie's blog for quite a while now and I can confidently say that she is not only a wonderful blogger, well deserving the ABC Award herself, but an intrepid one. She has always baked delicious treats but made the change to gluten-free with such grace that, unless you really look carefully, you can't tell if her goodies have gluten or 'poor me' from this fabulous baker! In some ways it has unleashed an even greater talent for baking and creativity. Do visit her blog so you can see what I mean!

So I thank Katie for the Award, but I took a while to post about it because it came with a list to make. I always have trouble with those lists. You've got to give some random facts about yourself, one for every letter of the alphabet! So here's my 26 alphabet related facts about me, although I'm not sure how fun it is. Mostly these are things I do, 'hats' I 'wear':

a - artist, author These two go together since my book Classic Comfort Food depends on the artistic photographs to shine.

b - baker, bread maker, business woman At one time these went together, too, when I had a wholesale muffin business. Now baking is for fun and gifting. Bread making is a passion that seems to go on and on. Being self-published, I'm running my own business again.

c - cook This is a life-long vocation and pleasurable pursuit. Fortunately, it's something I get to do every day. It is also one of my vehicles for another 'c' word, creative.

d - designer, daughter Although graphic design is my latest effort, I've also had a stenciled designs tee-shirt business, have designed gardens and clothing for myself and lots of other things. I'm grateful that my Mom is still alive so I get to be her daughter a while longer.

e - economist of the household variety

f - friend My first friends were my siblings and they are still my friends. I'm lucky to have a handful of true blue friends whom I can be completely myself with. Virtual friends like Katie are a blessing and I still struggle with how to be a good virtual friend myself.

g - graphics specialist, gardener During the past year these have been two interests that have been really high on my list of priorities. Just finished designing a children's book and have more graphic design projects lined up. The garden is burgeoning with flowers and veggies and I love being out in it enjoying the fragrances and colors.

h - homemaker Although other pursuits often mean my house isn't dust free and pin neat, it is a home and one where visitors say they always feel relaxed. I feel very lucky to live where I do and I love our home.

i - InDesign user Until last September I was a confirmed Pagemaker and QuarkXpress graphic designer. Now I love InDesign. All of these are programs used for page layout and graphic design. I spend a lot of time using them (and Photoshop) so it is really great to have found such a wonderful program.

j - journeyer In truth we are all on a journey into the unknown...exciting isn't it?

k - kitchen wench Anyone who loves to cook and bake as I do either finds someone to help with the clean up or becomes a kitchen wench. Although Sweetie helps sometimes, often it's me and the sink.

l - lover When he was in kindergarten, our son Max made a picture that said he was special because he was loving. It was very true. I think it might be true for me, too. I love a lot of people and I try to let them know it.

m - mom The hardest job of all, and much of the time the best one, too. My daughter Katherine is one of the greatest joys of my life.

n - never bored If you know me at all this one won't surprise you. I always have many more ideas and things I want to do than there is time. Occasionally I find it frustrating but mostly it feels like money in the bank.

o - outside-the-box thinker This sort of goes with the one above. Never met a recipe I didn't itch to change. When I 'problem solve' I often come up with unexpected solutions. Sweetie knows I think differently. My siblings claim I have my own logic system. This is not always the most comfortable trait to have.

p - Pi lover I'm besotted with our new dog, Pi. It's as simple as that.

q - queen of the hill We live at the top of a hill with a nice view back over the plain. Looking out that way from our deck I often feel like the queen of the hill even though most of what I see isn't really mine except to look at. I do appreciate how beautiful it is.

r - reader Books are everywhere in our home and I usually have a stack of unread books next to the bed. I love to read and so am rarely up on the latest TV shows or even music. So many books and so little time is absolutely true in my case.

s - seed starter and saver Growing things from seed is such a creative, life-affirming process. I've figured out how to get a high germination rate and every year start seeds, especially veggies, for the garden. I also save seeds from sweet peas, morning glories, scarlet runner beans (and more) for growing next year.

t - tomato maven There is nothing like a ripe tomato from your own garden, especially some of the heirloom tomatoes. I've gotten pretty good at growing them, plus I always give away seedlings in the spring to friends. If the seeds germinate really well I usually have more than I can plant.

u - universe's child This refers to a belief that, mostly, things are unfolding as they should. It is counter intuitive having lost my son 13 years ago yesterday in an auto accident when he was almost 17, but it still seems to explain a lot of other things.

v - voter This year especially it's an important thing. From the Presidential race to the local fire service race and everything in between, many, many things that impact my life and yours will be influenced by how the people vote and by how many actually cast their ballots. It may be weakened by forces beyond my control, but the democratic process of voting is still essential to America staying free and strong so I vote. You should, too.

w - wife The most important of all my pursuits, and the most enjoyable. I'm lucky in love. Thanks Sweetie!

x - xacto knife wielder Hey, it's getting tough to find activities. I did this the other day when I made special "Signed by Local Author" labels for some cookbooks to be sold at a local market, so it counts.

y - young at heart Now that I see gray hair when I look in the mirror, this one is kind of funny, but true anyway.

zzzz - tired of me yet? zucchini grower extraordinaire Since I'm sharing pounds and pounds of zucchini every week with neighbors and friends, eating some every day, and since I have one plant where the leaves are each about a foot and a half across, I claim this title with happiness.
I think I'm supposed to nominate others for this award, and there are certainly plenty of blogger who qualify, but not sure I want to also 'award' them the list making. Might need a few more days to decide. Stay 'tuned'.

Now for the recipe. Lots of ripe bananas often means Banana Bread! 

The wonderful thing about a basic recipe is that you can use it as the basis for creative changes. My Mom's Banana Bread from Classic Comfort Food has been altered to make it tropical, to use dates and nuts, to be a base for a Christmas time cranberry banana bread and more. I did switch out butter for the vegetable oil and exchanged some of the sugar for either brown sugar or molasses. The fruits and nuts change often and sometimes I throw in something like coconut or (today) shredded zucchini. As you can see it is a versatile recipe.

This time I'm going to add some orange zest for a fresh zing, summer berries for sweetness and a bit of the zucchini that is taking over the garden (because I need to find ways to use it up). It makes a lovely summer tea time treat!

Mashed Up Banana Bread with Berries and Zucchini
based on my mom's banana bread in Classic Comfort Food, 2012
makes one loaf

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas (or 2 large), mashed
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup fresh blackberries
1/4 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup shredded zucchini, loosely packed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

Beat butter, brown sugar and sugar together until fluffy.

Add eggs and banana pulp and orange zest and beat well.

Sift together the whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. Set aside 1/4 cup of the mixture. To remaining flour mixture add baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a small bowl combine the blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and zucchini. Sprinkle the reserved 1/4 cup flour mixture over and lightly stir to coat the fruits and zucchini with the flour mixture. Set aside.

To the banana mixture add sifted dry ingredients, vanilla, and milk and yogurt. Mix just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in fruit-zucchini mixture and nuts.

Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake about 1 hour. Test for doneness with a toothpick in center. When done, toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs on it. Cool well. Store overnight before cutting...if you can wait that long. A serrated knife makes cutting easier.


  1. Hah! Applaud your ability to work all the way through to z! X-acto knife wielder was amusing!

    Watched the resident four-year-old make a bread much like this one with her mum the other day - much eating of ingredients did occur. I think if we added berries, it'd be even more eating!! Which is part of the fun...

  2. You are never bored or boring! That's a wonderful list!

  3. Yeah, that's why I'm reluctant to pass this one along Tanita. Love that much ingredient eating was done...I do that too. See, young at heart :)

    Tanna, thanks! Remind my daughter of both and I'll enjoy talking with her more. Would you like to make the list? I DO need to pass it on and your blog certainly qualifies...:)

  4. Wonderful list! It gives a real insight into your personality and life. I never knew you used to run a wholesale muffin business!

    Thanks for your kind words, the banana bread looks amazing with the berries.