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Archive for February, 2010

There they sat.  In their bowl on the counter, reproaching me with every glance at them.  Slowly losing their vibrant color, bruises and marks deepening, growing smaller perceptibly every day.  Bananas.  Happy George of the Jungle yellow ‘naners making me anxious and sad with each passing day.  I am not one of those people who relish the brown banana.  Ever since I was a kid and peeled one open on the advice of an adult that it was “perfectly good” and found a soft, slightly slimy, beige-ish, most definitely not my idea of a banana inside, brown bananas make me shiver. Most assuredly I am not the “throw it in the freezer until you want to make bread with it” person either.  Those almost black, withered things lying in the freezer horrify me and make me slam the door and hold it shut with both hands so it can’t possible every escape to terrify me in the dark.  So….I almost never buy more than two bananas at a time.  I delight in perfectly yellow, just lost the touch of green, firm bananas.  But you have to be diligent because they turn into the banana zombies almost overnight. So two, only two, at a time.  I’ve started to get organic fruit and veggies delivered to the house every week, from Door to Door Organics, and last week, in my bitty box (the smallest one) were 5 bananas.  5.  I thought I’d be okay as I had family here for a few days, and surely, the bananas would get eaten.  But there they were, so I decided this time I was going to use them even if it was technically (according to the banana bread fanatics) too early to use them.  Bah! They worked fine.  They were soft enough that the mixer could smash and mush them up, but still not to the zombie stage.  I had a bit of dark chocolate that I thought I thought would be lovely in the bread, just a hint, to complement and give the bread some depth and texture.  I have to tell you, it worked out perfectly. I went looking for recipes out on the ‘net and ended up combining several to get what I wanted.  No more banana monsters for this girl.

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Finocchio.  Italian for Fennel.  But I think of it in my head as “Fin-noch”, as the person who introduced me to it was Sicilian, and they seem to have a habit of dropping the last vowels from words.  She served it in thin wedges, often just handed to you, after a meal as a digestive.  “Mangia, Mangia, the fin-noch, hace la calma de estomago.”  The fennel calms the stomach.  I have no idea if there’s any truth to it, but she believed it did, so we did.  It did seem to make just a bit more room in there for cannoli.  Fennel has made itself known on a much wider scale now. You can buy it in almost any grocery store, and find hundreds of ways to cook and prepare it.  I’m a bit stuck in a rut  with it, repeating favorite preparations over again and again.  I love it sliced thinly into salads, and am crazy for a softly braised version I do, and this one.  But I almost always cut a bit off to nibble on while I’m cooking, you know, to “calma de estomago”.

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Hi!!!!!!!  Finally!  It’s so great being here.  I’ve been thinking about you a lot.  The holidays have come and gone, it’s a new year (!), and I’ve done a little traveling.  Most importantly, the kitchen is finally back in working order.  I can get back to doing what I really love to do, cook, and share it with you. Now I’m sure a few of you were thinking that I just left you flat.  But you were with me at my family’s house for the holidays, and you were more than on my mind in Mexico.  I was there for the First Annual Food Blogger Camp, and it was a blast!  I learned so many things to make what I do here more enjoyable for you, and met a roomful of extremely talented people.  The little kid inside me is just squirming and bursting to say “Guess who I sat next to, you’ll never guess.  Go on guess!  Then I’m like, okay, be cool, just act cool.  Yeah…we all know that’s not me.  Seriously tho’, it was fun, and those other folks?  They were cool.  But enough about me, let’s get back to you!  I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to, and what you’ve cooked.  Come on, tell.

I wanted a recipe that tasted like you’d want a new year to taste.  I know it’s late, but still.  This dish is bright, in color and flavor, with a lovely depth and silky mouth feel.  It’s relatively healthy, but so satisfying that you’ll never notice that.  We have so much to do this year, let’s get started….

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