Friday, August 17, 2012

Experiment: Crock-pot Banana Bread

I usually buy the huge bunches of bananas at Wal-mart because they're so much cheaper than the grocery store.  We often can't eat through all 3 pounds before they go bad, so any that are getting too brown go into the freezer completely intact for future baking.  I had accumulated a few and wanted to clear them out, plus I needed some baking for the weekend, so I decided to make banana bread.  However it's still summer and I am still refusing to run the oven.  I thought of using the bread machine, but when I realized the instruction booklet didn't include a recipe I decided to leave that to figure out another day.  That left the crock-pot and I actually did have a recipe for that.

The following is my adaptation of the Banana Nut Bread recipe from Best-Loved Slow Cooker Recipes. I had 4 bananas, so I basically multiplied the recipe by 1 1/2.  I think plain banana bread is boring, so I always add extra spices.  The original recipe had no flavoring besides the bananas and dark corn syrup (I subbed molasses).  I also used part whole wheat flour and canola oil instead of butter.  The original recipe, including original amounts, is in parentheses.

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour)
1 1/8 c. whole wheat
3 tsp baking powder (2 tsp baking powder)
3/4 tsp salt  (1/2 tsp salt)
3/8 tsp baking soda (1/4 tsp baking soda)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground cloves 
*Whisk together the dry ingredients.

1/2 c. canola oil  (1/3 c. butter or margarine)
1 c. sugar  (2/3 c. sugar)
3 eggs  (2 eggs)
3 T molasses  (2 T dark corn syrup)
about 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 bananas, mashed  (3 bananas)
*Combine the above.  Add dry ingredients.  Then add:
1/2 c. or so chopped walnuts (1/2 c. chopped walnuts)

*Grease and flour the crock-pot.  I used my little 4 quart upright one (which seems to run a little hot?).  Pour in batter and cook on HIGH.  The recipe says 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, however mine needed 2 hours as there was more batter and it was thicker.  When a knife comes out clean turn it off and let it cool before turning out onto a plate.  I ran a knife around the edge and it slid right out.

*All my amounts are approximate.

*Nifty Trick: Before pouring the molasses into your tablespoon spray it with cooking spray.  It'll slide right off into the bowl. How cool is that?

I did let my bread sit a while in the base of the crock-pot before taking the crock out, and I think that made it dry out just a little.  Plus it was slightly burnt on some edges.  Again, I think if I hadn't made such a big loaf that probably wouldn't have been an issue.  Still, it turned out very well and it didn't heat the house up much.  I'd say that means success.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
                                  ~ Isaiah 40:6-8

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A new book find

Certain current food fads (all organic- though I realize there can be legitimate health reasons in some few cases- and locavorism) are among my biggest pet peeves. In fact, I have to be careful whom I talk to about them.  I get frustrated because people who should know better seem to think these are the best ideas ever thought of, and they don't think of the bigger picture problems that could result.  

Ever since I watched Food, Inc. I have been hoping someone would write more to refute it.  Even internet searches for articles with sound economics arguing against these dangerous ideas didn't yield much.  If I could have I would have written more myself, but all I could manage were a couple blog posts.

But recently I came across The Locavore's Dilemma.  I haven't read it yet (I placed a library hold immediately), but based on this review I'm hopeful it includes some good, sound economics on why current fads in food thought are unsound and even dangerous, and the real path to success in truly free markets.

Recipes to make soon

We had an unsatisfactory new meal for supper last night, plus brown rice.  When I eat rice I'm hungry again within an hour.  So I threw together these No-Bake Energy Bites.  They're very good, but they don't taste like no-bake cookies as descriptions on Pinterest said.  They would need cocoa powder for that.  I wish I had looked back at a list I'd made before the trip of recipes I wanted to try soon, because if I had I would have found Chocolate Protein Truffles.  This might have been even better.  Oh well, next time.  Everybody calls this type of recipe healthy.  I'm not really sure it's that.  There's still a lot of fat (even if it is peanut butter) and some sugar (I'm unconvinced that honey is any healthier than regular sugar).  But still, they're good and they could be a lot worse for you.

I found a bag of barley on the Safeway clearance shelf for cheap and wanted to make a salad.  A quick search found Corn-Avocado Salad with Black Beans and Barley, which was exactly what I wanted.  With a few substitutions I can make it right now (canned corn, canned black beans, no avocado, no tomatoes, lime and lemon juice instead of orange).  I love this kind of salad and it's perfect to keep in the fridge for quick lunches all week.      

*EDIT: This is delicious. I really like salad made with a vinaigrette.  All my pasta salads are made like this (who wants mayo in a pasta salad? the egg-allergy niece can eat it), as is the black bean and corn salad I like to make.  I like how the barley holds up in the salad too.  I've made quinoa salad and it all kind of mushes together. It might need a little more seasoning, depending on taste. I will caution you, however.  When you go for the cayenne to add just a sprinkle to jazz it up a little, make sure the sprinkle top is ON the cayenne.  Otherwise you'll end up digging as much extra out as you can, then eating very spicy salad all week. Ahem.* 

I also ran across this recipe for Blueberry Oat Pancakes with Maple Yogurt.  I want to make this one right now too.  Maybe tomorrow I'll make a double batch for breakfasts this week. 

*EDIT: Sickness intervened and I haven't made any breakfasts for the week.  Yogurt and the Energy Bites will have to do for now.  So this one is still on my list of recipes to make.*

I had also been thinking of making Protein Filled Pancakes (maybe in the waffle iron?) before our trip.  Sometime soon I'll try that one too.