Monday, August 20, 2007

More Bread . . . and a Bird

Frustrated with the bread machine experiments, I set out to make a loaf of banana bread, sans bread machine. Good excuse to use some of the over-ripe bananas from the freezer, and to use the new LeCreuset loaf pan Grandma Margaret got me for my birthday. It's fantastic in comparison to the previous two loaves/bricks from the bread machine. The interesting part of this story relates to the freezer. . .

My friend Amanda was at my house recently. We were cooking up a storm, using vegetables from her garden. Somewhere along the way, she opened my freezer and noticed frozen bananas. She told me she was proud to see bananas in the freezer (as opposed to the trash!). Amanda and my friend (and former roommate) Lesley have been gently working to get me to be a better "economist" in the kitchen. They both set a good example, but I'm still not buying generic chocolate chips or peanut butter! Anyway. . . I told Amanda that I also had bananas in the freezer in the basement that REALLY needed to be used.

After dinner this evening, I went downstairs to retrieve the bananas from the freezer. I spotted one ziplock bag of bananas, and saw the top of another ziplock bag peeking over the railing of a compartment inside the door. That bag must have the oldest bananas in it, I reasoned, because I didn't even remember putting it in there. When I picked up the bag, I should have realized it was too light to be bananas . . . but instead, I brought the bag closer to my face to see what was in it . . . and realized I was peering at a . . . frozen quail carcass. Feathers, beak, and all. Eww.

Here is the recipe for the banana bread.

Bananas can be frozen in their peels in a ziplock bag, just thaw on the counter for an hour or so before use. I don't recommend substituting frozen quail!

Banana Bread

2 cups flour (I used unbleached all-purpose)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup ripe banana, mashed (2-3 bananas = 1 cup)
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tbsp. milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup walnuts, toasted (I omitted these because I wasted my last package of walnuts on the pumpkin bread)

1. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour, the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pudding mix. Add the banana, butter, milk and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until combined. Add eggs and remaining flour. Beat until combined. Stir in walnuts.

2. Transfer batter to greased loaf pans (two 8x4x2 or equivalent - I used one larger loaf pan and 2 mini-loaf pans). Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan, remove loaf and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling. Wrap and store overnight.

- Recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

McKenzie vs. the bread machine, round 2

Due to last night's "wonder bread" experience, I decided to make another loaf of bread this evening to see if I could get one right. I haven't been to the grocery store since returning home from 2 weeks away at the Missouri State Fair, so my options were limited. I did have all the ingredients for the Pumpkin Walnut bread from the cookbook included with the bread machine. Although I'm not quite ready for fall flavors in the August heat, it satisfied my need to try the bread machine again. This particular type of bread used the "quick breads and cakes" cycle on the machine. However, there is nothing "quick" about using this cycle on the bread machine . . . it would have been faster to mix it by hand and bake it in the regular oven.

Once again, I followed the instructions (and even paused the machine to aid in the mixing process four minutes in, as instructed) . . . and once again, the machine produced an inedible little brick of a loaf.

It didn't rise . . . fine, it's a quick bread. But it's not moist and dense either. It's dry and hard. And it tastes like BAD Thanksgiving leftovers. Really bad.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Grilled Corn & Grilled Bananas

People cook anything and everything on a grill these days. And for good reason. Grilling is simple, adds a rich, smoky flavor to food and doesn't heat up the kitchen.

Whether the idea of grilling fruits and vegetables is new to you or you're a grilling pro, you're sure to enjoy these recipes:

Grilled Corn with Basil & Parmesan
4 ears sweet corn (husked)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, softened
1/4 cup Parmesan (or Parmigiano-Reggiano) cheese, freshly grated
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil (or dried basil if necessary)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic

1. In a small bowl, combine butter, cheese, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Mix thoroughly.
2. Brush 1 tbsp. butter mixture on each ear of corn. Grill directly over medium heat 10-15 minutes, until corn is tender and browns in spots. Turn occasionally during grilling.
3. Serve while warm. Use extra butter mixture to brush on corn after grilling.

Spiced Banana Sundaes*
4 bananas, peeled (ripe but still firm)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
Chocolate Sauce (see below)
Vanilla ice cream

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cinnamon and ginger, stir.
2. Place bananas in skillet and brush butter mixture on to all sides. Carefully remove bananas from skillet on to plate. Transfer bananas to grill.
3. Grill bananas 2-3 minutes over medium direct heat until bananas warm and develop grill marks. Turn once during grilling.
4. Transfer bananas to work surface and cut into 1/2 inch chunks.
5. Scoop vanilla ice cream into bowl, top with bananas and chocolate sauce. Serve immediately.

Chocolate sauce:
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (or use chocolate chips)

1. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove pan from heat and immediately add chocolate. Stir until chocolate combines with cream and sauce is smooth and dark (or use prepared chocolate sauce from a jar!).
*Tip: Make sure you clean the grill VERY well before grilling bananas. Leftover meat flavors do not taste good on bananas!

These recipes were adapted from Weber's Real Grilling. It is a great resource. I received it as a Christmas gift last year from my dad. Initially, I doubted its usefulness. Maybe it had something to do with the cold December weather, or maybe it was because my husband already grills fantastic pork loin and also does a great job with steaks, burgers, chops, etc. . . . but I was wrong. I have used it a lot this summer, and probably will for many summers to come. (Pictures coming soon)


In the past year, I have found some great new restaurants and businesses. Some truly are new, others are just new to me. Either way, I'm happy they exist, and even happier they're close to home!

Brix Wine & Cheese - Quincy, IL -
Main St. Kitchen - Hannibal, MO -
A great collection of kitchen gadgets, cookware, spices, gifts, etc. at reasonable prices. They also do "effortless entrees."
Quincy Steamboat - Quincy, IL (I can't belive it took me more than a year of living here to find out about this place!)
Literally a house full of kitchen and home goods, plus cooking classes, parties, showers, and more.
Paddlewheel Popcorn & Candy Co. - Hannibal, MO
Try the "Becky Thatcher" . . . yum . . .

Unfortunately, some of the places I discovered (and liked) have closed.

Twainland Cheesecake Co. & Italian Pasta House - Hannibal, MO
I only recently discovered this place . . . and I'm not sure how I'm going to live without the rosemary bread!
Java Jive-Thru - Hannibal, MO
Fortunately, I can still get good coffee drinks at Java Jive's downtown location.
Pirate's Cove - Hannibal, MO

Hannibal's only Beef Backer award winner. Will miss the steaks and the collection of football helmets.

Back to Blogging

It has been a year since I have posted a new blog. One whole year! Why so long? First, I've been busy (mostly with work). Second, I forgot the username/password combination for Kenzie's Kitchen. I'm still pretty busy, but I found time to retrieve the username and password, so I'm back to blogging!

In the past 12 months, a few of the things I missed blogging about include:
  • Fall trip to Memphis, TN (it's all about Corky's BBQ!)
  • Our super bowl party
  • Award-winning Beef Bruschetta
  • A wedding shower I hosted for Amy C.
  • Ken's family reunion
  • Winning the Marion Co. Fair Apple Pie contest for the second year in a row
  • New restaurants, cooking gadgets, foodie businesses, recipes, etc.

I'll do my best to catch up on the old stuff and stay up-to-date on the new.