Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Are we on the same page?

I actually don't consult cookbooks that often - I studied organic chemistry in college and it's the same basic principle - throw a few things together, get something better! I have a couple of go-to recipes that I use in my handy-dandy red and white cookbook (you know the one, The Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook - type "red and white cookbook" into google and it's the first thing so I'm not the only one who calls it that!) but I don't actually follow the recipes that are in that - I've made changes and wrote them down in the margins. I actually have 2 copies of this cookbook - the falling apart paperback (copyright 1996) that I got in my first apartment and the ringed binder one from my grandmother's house (copyright 1981).
When we cleaned out my grandparent's house after my grandmother passed away, I took the binder one to replace the paperback because, even though it was less than 5 years old, the spine was broken (because, duh, you need it to lay flat to follow recipes) and the pages were falling out. I was going to copy some of my favorite notes (like the for my apple pie that wins taste-tests and the secret ingredient for the topping) but found the recipes so different that I just put a rubberband around my paperback one and found some new faves in the binder. Today, I was reminded of how different these 2 editions are when the paperback edition had slid too far back to reach without a chair in the pantry cupboard. My son had requested banana bread and I was done what I needed to do for the day so I could make it for him. How different can they be?

 I do this all the time - I dive into a project without thinking (or reading) it through properly... Okay, so the older edition used shortening - that's different but the rest must be close to the same, it will be fine... um - what? no cinnamon? There's now something wrong and how do I fix this without going to the store... Uh - about the only thing that's the same is flour, sugar, bananas and eggs... Time to find the other cookbook!
I sure hope my family likes this banana bread well enough to eat it but not well enough to ask for it again because I will never be able to re-create it!

Banana Bread tips:
-freeze your bananas when they are at the peak of ripeness - just as they start to turn brown. This serves several purposes but 2 notable ones 1. You can make banana bread when you want to make banana bread, not when you have extra ripe bananas (because you know, as soon as you decide that you want to make banana bread, your little monkeys will eat all your bananas) 2. Frozen bananas don't blend too well so you easily get little banana chunks in your bread.
-I sub McCormack's Pumpkin Pie Spice almost any time that it says cinnamon in a recipe and then add a little more cinnamon. It's a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. I could probably make a better blend myself from more exotic, less processed versions of these spices (according to wikipedia, there are 4 major types of cinnamon and 7 varieties of the most common one) but honestly, they don't fit into my spice-rack and I have no room for a dehydrator in the cupboards (plus they stink).

 Upcoming holidays: St. Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day Here's one of my favorite V-day bows: