Archives for the month of: May, 2012

Earlier this week, I’d toyed with the idea of making a crock pot cake to use up the excess strawberries we had left over from our berry-picking adventure, and to do so without heating up the trailer. I found a few recipes online and they all seemed pretty similar: dump cakes that involved pie filling and cake mix. I hadn’t either, and was trying to use fresh strawberries, but thanks for nothing, internet.

This morning, I decided to experiment. A caveat here: There are SO many awesome recipe/baking sites on the internet. There is no way I can produce content like Picky Palate, Punch Fork, Pioneer Woman, Allrecipes, Food Network, et al. The stuff that I post here is to encourage you to experiment with things and develop an intuitive way of cooking, so that you don’t have to use recipes. That’s one thing that I really like about Alton Brown’s “applications” approach to cooking.

That said…

1) Strawberry pie filling? Ummm…

Strawberries, some honey, and some sugar in a pan. Heated it until it bubbled like this. It was a lot more runny than pie filling, but I had a plan for it, so I left it that way and dumped it in the bottom of the crock pot.

2) Cake mix? Nope. Here’s what I did have…

Yup. Blueberry wheat pancake mix, shortening (the recipe had called for butter), and really, REALLY old (to me) already old (and on sale) buttermilk. Remember the banana pudding? Yeah.

I mixed them together until they were about the same consistency as dumplings, then I dropped the stuff in spoonfuls over the strawberries and juice.

Then it cooked for several hours.

Tick tick tick tick.

CAKE!

And Little Women.

But… CAKE!!! With strawberries on the bottom. Not too sweet, and would probably be absolutely delicious with a bit of ice cream. Daphne loved it!

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I was just looking over the search engine terms that have led people to this blog. Might I share with you some of my favorite, please? Thank you…

1) Variations on McDonald’s Steak, Egg, and Cheese Bagel are by far the most represented.

2) Oklahoma Sugar Arts Festival.

3) Taco Bell Locos Doritos Tacos.

4) And then other products/places I’ve reviewed like Capriotti’s, L’Oreal hair color, chocolate bars, etc. The key here, I guess, is to keep up name brand reviews in order to draw viewers to this site. Maybe they’ll stay here and enjoy themselves. 🙂

5) Several random people, including Gretchen Ort, who owns Savor the Moment Bakery, and whom I met very briefly at Jen Yates’ “Wreck the Halls” book tour last year; Kerry Vincent, who is famous and you should know who she is; same thing with Alton Brown (and his associated “2011 book tour”); my employer, and the search included her maiden name, a la Facebook… Umm, you might have a stalker, woman. Don’t go outside after dark.

6) “worst cats for children.” We got ’em!

7) “slimfast shaker.” I’m sure this is because of the hair color shaker tumbler thing to which I referred once. Sorry for the Rickroll, searchers of the interwebs.

8) “trailer trash art.” I almost bought a weather vane at the Dallas Arboretum last month. It had a spinning sunflower, and a counter-spinning something else behind it. Would it qualify?

9) “last minute desserts for groups.” Yea!

10) “messed up hair with L’Oreal Courleur Experte.” Maybe because you can’t read? Like the label? AND the directions? Oh, and P.S… HEY!!!

11) “why is sweet potato tots so greasy” *shrug* Maybe YOU’RE the greasy one?

12) Lots of variations on Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Did I write about that?

13) Cherry Berry versus Yogurt Story. Aww, don’t get us started on THAT again. (Also, Cherry Berry versus TCBY)

14) “icecandy.” What is that?

15) “renting a place and you thought the utilities were included.” I know, right?!

16) “good eats ‘the once and future fish’ is that alton’s daughter?” Yes. Yes, it is.

17) “Claire’s gummy bear necklace.” Eww. Sticky.

18) “how much do sylvan learning office managers make?” No idea.

19) “christening cakes for older girls.” Are we christening older girls like, baptismally? Or with cake? And wouldn’t that be like a bachelor party?

20) Lots of variations on fondant.

21) “hot trailor trash ladies.” Well, shucks, you four… This one is for you.

Keep searchin’ and keep visitin’! See you soon!

This guy.

Our RV park was probably paved when it was first built in 1886. Since then, as rain and use have wreaked havoc on the drive, it has been graveled over.

There are several pretty severe potholes. Occasionally, after a rainy season which has displaced a good deal of gravel, one of the managers  will get out with a small front-loader and move stuff around until the holes fill back out.

It usually lasts until the next rain.

I’m sure many of us have had the idea that it would be much lower-maintenance and a lot better on the vehicles around here if they would just repave the drive, but I’m sure that is an expensive proposition.

So, every time it rains quite a bit, this sweet man gets out with his broom and sweeps rocks into the potholes around his space. There are a dozen or more.

I don’t know anything about him, except that he’s probably in his 80s and that this seems to be his sweeping uniform. Today, I noticed him out when I was doing laundry. He was at this job on and off for 4 hours.

Fortunately, there is no rain in the foreseeable forecast. Hopefully he can take a well-deserved break.

Fellow gym mom and new friend Gabrielle Grafrath styled my hair, make-up, and clothes and took way too many pictures of me last month. 🙂 The pictures are here; take a look at them and consider hiring her for your portrait needs!

One of the things I love about Allrecipes (and, actually, I believe Google has this function now, too) is that you can type in ingredients you have and want to use and find a recipe that has those things in it.

Today, I had some red bananas left over from the nanner puddin incident, and I also had some sour cream I wanted to use. So I searched for and found this well-received recipe for sour cream banana bread.

But you know me; it’s difficult for me to stick with a recipe. Plus, I was making some for a friend who cannot have sodium, so that eliminated the salt and baking soda. Also, I just don’t typically enjoy nuts in my breads/sweets at all.

Sometimes, my recipe toying is a fail. Other times…

How DID she leaven that?!

Here is my modified recipe, halved on the site because I had no need to make 32 servings of this stuff, even giving some of it away.

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup non-dairy whipped topping
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1-1/2 eggs (1 whole egg and 1 egg white)
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa nibs

The first step makes it all crunchy on the outside!

First, spray the baking pans (as you can see, I did muffins and a loaf) with cooking spray, then dust with a mixture of the sugar and cinnamon. I ended up having to use MORE cinnamon and sugar for the tops of the bread. This isn’t a step included in the original recipe, but I figured that if having that sweet crunch around the bottom and sides of the bread would be good… hello? More=better?

Next, I mushed the bananas in the mixer and added the eggs, sugar, whipped topping, sour cream, vanilla, cinnamon, flour, and finally, cocoa nibs. If you’re newish to cooking, you don’t want to mix up anything too violently after you’ve put the flour in or it activates the gluten and you’ll end up with a super chewy (and not in a good way), gluey finished product.

You can’t just omit baking soda and expect your baked goods to turn out “right,” but in this case, I figured that the egg proteins would leaven the bread enough for my purposes. Besides, a little density in banana bread isn’t a bad thing. The texture turned out great.

These bake at 350 degrees until they’re done. It’s different for muffins and loaves, and your oven is a lot different than my propane box, so just keep an eye on them and when the tops start to crack and the middle is only mildly puddin-y (it WILL keep cooking after you’re finished, as long as you let it sit for a while), you’re done.

Lest you expect this to be like a chocolate-chip banana bread, understand that cocoa nibs are not what you think of when you think “chocolate.” They’re not sweet. They’re a lot like chopped up coffee beans, but their fat content is higher, and they add a nutty flavor to the bread without adding sodium. (Yeah, I know they make unsalted nuts, but why on earth would anyone buy those?!)

Daphne thinks the nibs are “a bit much,” but that’s because they DO have a rather intense and distinctive flavor. I think it’s a perfect balance to the sweetness of the banana. Try it and let me know what you think!

Yesterday, I wanted to take something yummy to take to a friend’s house… but, as we learned last year, baking in the RV during the summer is tantamount to starting a fire in the middle of your living room when it’s 93 degrees outside and your a/c hasn’t shut off since sunrise.

Since I’d just seen Paula Deen’s “Not Yo Mama’s Banana Pudding” at birthday party last week, that was fresh on my mind. Also, I had some left-over chocolate chips from my most recent marshmallow Peeps dipping (which I was supposed to have given my nephew but instead left in my car the whole day when we were at Six Flags, and they all melted into a clump and Daphne and I have been eating them ever since; Happy Birthday, TJ!), so I was thinking algebraically.

Where a=awesome and b=banana pudding and c=chocolate, if b=a then b+c=x (an unknown quantity that might make one’s head explode from pure rapture). So I tried.

Now, I will say that I had push back from one friend who claims to be a “banana pudding purist.” But the overwhelming consensus by those who tried this is that it was fabulous and actually tasted a lot like a banana candy bar. Try it! You’ll like it!