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

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