Over-ripened bananas, bitter dark chocolate , and a sweet, salty, crunchy peanut topping
When I was young, I hated bananas. They are stringy and soft and, at times, off-puttingly sweet. I don't think that any of my sisters ever cared for bananas much either, but for whatever reason, my mom kept buying them. It seemed as though we constantly had a big bunch of uneaten, overripe bananas sitting in our fruit basket. Thinking back on it now, I wonder if my mom knew each time that she purchased bananas that their fate would be to become banana bread. I don't think I know a single person who doesn't like a good banana bread, regardless of their stance on bananas- myself and my sisters included. And we ate a lot of banana bread growing up. Not only did my mother make it often, but every time we visited my Nana, she'd send us home with a loaf or two and a jar of peanut butter. I'm happy to report that I do enjoy bananas now. In fact, I have several banana trees in the yard and harvest dozens upon dozens of little apple bananas every year. But once a banana starts browning, even the slightest, it may as well be banana bread already. Bananas are like peaches or melons, in that if you don't eat it in just the right window of time, they loose all of their best attributes. So I buy my bananas under-ripe and as soon as the body yellows up, I start eating them daily. Somehow last week, the bananas got neglected, and since there are few things more unpleasant to me than eating an over-ripe banana, I knew exactly what I had to do. And as often happens in the kitchen, a simple recipe that I intended to follow (my Nana's) got away from me. Happily, it led me to this creation, which, so far, has only received reviews along the lines of "Oh my god- that banana bread!".
A simple no-kneed bread recipe with long overnight rise
There was supposed to be a post before this that explains my recent absence from LWM but weebly and I are having some... issues with that one... and it's late, and I promised you bread so here it is.
Taking on a homemade pantry is an art of dedication, vigilance, and time management. When I first started working at the bakery, and we had very little money, I was probably the most committed to it that I've ever been. A couple of dollars any given week could mean the difference between overdrawing my account or not, so it was driven as much by necessity as it was my own interest and determination. But it was also a welcomed outlet and incredibly rewarding. When you take the time to make something right, food from scratch will always beat out something processed- in flavor, in texture, and in satisfaction. Well, as you could imagine, I wasn't making any bread at home when I was working for the bakery. I made bread all day in a kitchen with a big strong mixer, ample fine ingredients, and a massive steam injection oven. Today I'll take home and Asiago cheese loaf, on Monday a cranberry walnut... I was spoiled to death as far as bread was concerned. And when I stopped working for the bakery, I just about stopped eating bread. Nothing could compare! And bread from the grocery store? Stuff in bags? No. No no no. No thank you. That's not bread. If the crust is only noticeable by a slight change in color and the interior has no signs of air bubbles, I am not interested. And I was too lazy/busy/distraught? to be regularly baking my own loaves, so bread just started fading out of my life.
A rich, spicy and satisfying Indian curry with fresh, buttery naan
That rain we never got has been sitting in the sky, getting heavier and heavier. Southern California is not a humid place by any means- even the most humid of days in Riverside is less humid than an ordinary day on the east coast. But when it's over 100 degrees, that 20% humidity is surprisingly palpable- and it is seriously unpleasant. The hours of 9 am to 8 pm are all but resigned to being indoor hours, which always makes this time of year difficult for me. I'm an outdoor person. There are few afternoon plans that I find more appealing than spending a good six hours out in the garden or going for a nice long hike. Of course, most of the year here is very conducive to outdoor living. All winter long I can camp, hike, and garden to my heart's content- but from roughly June to September I feel stuck. I feel cooped up in the house, frantically trying to squish all outdoor activities into the couple of light hours in the morning and evening that are bearable to leave the house in. With or without the humidity, the summer here is mostly a wash for outdoor things unless we hitch a ride to the coast or the mountains, but at least the dry heat is slightly more comfortable to contend with. So today, with grey clouds once again filling the sky, all I can do is cross my fingers and hope that maybe, just maybe, it will finally rain. The humidity will dissipate, the parched soil will be quenched, and I will sit by the window with a cup of tea, dreamy and nostalgic about rain. Although, it's been so very long since it last rained here that I may just have to go out and stand in it, letting it soak me through.
A vegetarian version of a Vietnamese classic
I moved to California shortly after graduating college. I had a bit of money saved up and a place to live, but no job prospects to speak of. But I had a good degree, a spotless academic record, 8 years of solid work experience under my belt, marketable skills... how hard could it possibly be for me to find a job? If you've been unemployed any time since 2008, you're already nodding you're head at me, fully aware of how naive a question like that is. It doesn't matter how qualified you are- these days finding a job is incredibly difficult. So I went through the same monotonous soul-sucking motions as anyone else in that position. For months I spent 6 or 7 hours a day scouring job sites, sending in resume after resume, writing cover letters, taking skills tests. This process is so grinding, so disheartening. I'd send out a hundred resumes in a day sometimes and never hear anything back. So when I did finally get an offer, I jumped on it. So what if it's something I've never done and know very little about? I have loan payments that are going to start coming due next month. I have rent to pay! So I took the job. It was awful. Awful! I was working for peanuts in this lonely office on the other side of town, spending all day long arguing with banks over lost paperwork and unfair denials of loan modifications. If you've ever had to call a bank for any reason whatsoever, you can imagine how truly horrible and infuriating this line of work was. Hold music... talk to a machine for 20 minutes... more hold music... talk to a representative who makes you repeat everything you already told the machine.... get transferred to someone else.... repeat. A month or so later, I started my job hunt again.
Hi there! I'm Cara- plant ecologist, gardening addict, and whole foods enthusiast. My whole life revolves around plants, including my kitchen. Join me here at LWM each week as I post local, seasonal, plant-based recipes and write about my never ending quest to find balance and tranquility in this crazy little world.