Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hindsight

Hindsight would be useful if only I could find some way to get back to the fore and to hold on to the sight. The earth does help by spinning and making for a calendar that works cycles, with seasons and holidays that happen year after year. But thirty-six years into this whole cyclical living experience and although I have spurts of taking excellent notes for next year, I still take them on whatever scrap of paper is closest at hand, which usually ends up in a stack somewhere, or else tucked into the pages of some-usually unrelated except I happened to be reading it at the time-book. Perhaps some great Google server will turn out to be the filing system I’ve been waiting for. Perhaps the dedication to local and season cooking that Renée and I have undertaken together will prompt me to get into that filing system just before this time next year. Perhaps we’ll turn this into a printed cookbook that I can peruse in the weeks and days before Thanksgiving in years to come.

Thanksgiving Hindsight


The Turkey was perfect. I remembered to cover it in bacon before I cooked at, and between that and the brine assured divine tenderness (with no basting necessary!). I also remembered to get out of the basement the enamel turkey pan with lid that I bought last year, and didn’t have to struggle one iota with unruly foil. Oh, and I bought 4 extra drumsticks when I picked up the turkey. I could have used just two, but the others will make good soup later in the winter.

It’s hard to mess up the ham.

I didn’t get around to making the cornbread and it was not missed.

There were too many sweet potatoes. I put in one mini sweet potato per person; I could have used half as many. The sweet potatoes were also so cooked they were hard to handle. I let them bake for 2 ½ hours. Half that would have been better.

I completely forgot to put out the cranberry sauce, and no one missed it! I discovered it around midnight when I was bringing in the drinks from the back porch. Luckily, it was really still the night before Thanksgiving so I gave half to Stephenie to take to her Thursday meal and I took half to Mac and Helen’s. There was way too much. The twenty of us at Mac and Helen’s didn’t even make a dent on the two I took. Two cranberry sauces should be plenty. The two best from this year were the cranberry orange relish from the side of the bag (12 oz cranberries, 1 orange with peel cut into 8 pieces, 1 cup sugar. Put half of the ingredients into the food processor, pulse until well chopped and blended. Repeat with second half. Serve cold.), and a ginger-port recipe I put together on the fly:
12 oz. cranberries
1 cup port
1 large (3 inch) chunk of ginger, peeled
3 shallots
1 cup brown sugar
2 T salted butter
Sauté the shallots in the butter until translucent. Add all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 30-45 minutes, until the cranberries are turned to mush. Cool and serve at room temperature.

The green beans were excellent—I made the green beans with bacon and chestnuts from one of my magazines—but I tripled the recipe and I could have doubled it.

The best stuffing was one with chestnuts and prunes. I bought raw chestnuts; scored them with an x then sautéd with oil for a few minutes about 30 nuts, then baked them in the pan at 300 for about 30 minutes. I peeled them while they were hot. Did this the night before, then Blanca broke them up into the stuffing when she made it. She also cut up about 1 cup of dried prunes, into buts the size of the chestnut chunks.

I ended up making only two salads, both without actually looking at the recipes I think I read. They were delicious, and just the right amount for the twenty of us. One salad used one box of Olivia’s baby arugula, 1 red onion sliced thinly, and 3 clementines peeled and with the pieces cut in half. I used a dressing with 1 part olive oil, 1 part rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp fresh pepper, 1 tsp. honey. The other salad used one box of Olivia’s mixed salad greens plus one radicchio cut up, 4 oz. blue cheese, broken into chunks, and about 1 ½ cups roasted walnuts. I roasted the walnuts the night before, spread out on a pan in a 300 oven for about 30 minutes. I dressed that one with my standard 1 part olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp red wine vinegar, 1 tsp mustard, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper.

The mashed potatoes, of course, were great. I made them early in the day and reheated them in the microwave just before I put them on the table.

The creamed onions were well worth the rather intense labor it takes to blanch and peel all those little pearls.

The pies were fantastic. I made the crusts the night before, then left them chilled (not yet rolled) in the fridge. The benefit of baking them while we ate was they were piping hot; the problem was that there were by then so many drippings at the bottom of the oven that we kept setting off the smoke alarms, and having to jump up and wave napkins at the offending beeps. Also, the berry pie would have held together better if it had had some time to cool. For the apple pie, I followed Renée’s recipe but instead of regular spices I used garam masala for a great twist. No one, and I mean no one, but me ate the mincemeat pie, but I have to say it was fantastic mostly because I came up with a brilliant top crust idea: in the food processor, I pulsed together 2 cups of pecans, 1 stick of frozen butter, cut into chunks, and ½ cup of flour. I piled that on top of the mincemeat and it was divine. It also helped cut the sweetness of the mincemeat. And, a guy in line at Trader Joe’s told me to check out John Doer (spelling? He said: like the liquor store…), a butcher in Newton who might actually make mincemeat!
On serving the dinner. I must remember to put one bowl of each thing on each table. This year we had three big tables in an L. Passing worked, but it would have been so much easier to just divide each thing into three serving dishes.

Fall Hindsight

At Thanksgiving, I used up the last of my farmer’s market shallots, red and yellow onions, and potatoes. I’d used up the last sweet potatoes a week before. If I’d bought more at the last farmer’s market, they’d easily be good for another month. I still have a few rutabaga, turnips, and parsnips at the bottom of the vegetable bin, but I could use many more.

The list of things I should have stocked up on over the summer is long, very long. What I’m most bemoaning are: Bags of blanched green beans; many many more whole berries and peeled and sliced peaches; bags of blanched spinach; bags of blanched kale and collards. I’m sure as winter progresses I’ll think of more.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Continued

It's cliche to say that everyone has a different Thanksgiving tradition, but it's also true. So there. I love to hear about what other families do. My family, both sides in fact (how odd!), do the following: turkey (my parents' homegrown one which is out of this world juicy), mashed potatoes, green peas, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, creamed onions, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and mince meat pie.

My husband's family adds sauerkraut and pecan pie, but didn't do creamed onions until they met me. Now my family does sauerkraut and pecan pie. We've melded our Thanksgiving dinners the way Dave and I have melded other family traditions, to the benefit of both, I think. One of our first combined family gatherings was Thanksgiving in Vermont, when Dave's grandparents and parents made the long trip from Nebraska.

We're going out to Nebraska this year, and I'm in the middle of looking up my pumpkin pie recipe, which came from my stepmother, I think. I'll do apple, too, and even though only my husband's grandfather Ralph and I like mince meat, I will do that as well, because it's not Thanksgiving without it. I love Keja's idea of getting it from a butcher. One of my favorite Joy of Cooking discoveries was Irma's recipe for mincemeat that yields enough for 20 pies and includes 9 quarts of apples, 4 lbs. of ox heart, and 4 lbs. of raisins.

So, pumpkin pie. This recipe makes one pie.

Use the crust from pie blog entry.

Caramelize 2 1/2 cups of pumpkin in a frying pan, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat 4 eggs, 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar, 1 1/3 cups evaporated milk, 1 1/2 teas. powdered ginger, 2 teas. cinnamon, and 1/8 teas. mace (I never have this so never add it and it's always delicious).

Add pumpkin and 1 teas. fine salt, and stir well.

Pour into a prepared crust, crimping edges of crust, and bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until a one inch circle in the center remains liquid. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Favorite Holiday

Cooking and gardening relax me. I find a similar sense of accomplishment in both: creating a tangible product; putting something beautiful and good into the world; sharing and caring for others. Most of the year, I take that in the little pockets I can squeeze out between teaching, writing, cleaning the house, walking the dogs, and playing cars with my three-year-old. But once a year comes a holiday that grants me my greatest wish: two entire days devoted only to cooking. And a week or two before of perusing recipes, jotting down ideas, scanning cupboards and supermarket isles. The anticipation of Thanksgiving is almost as good as the day itself. And we’ve managed to spread the holiday out, so now it covers two days.

The night before Thanksgiving, we have a full feast with friends and neighbors. This started because Blanca, a firefighter, was working Thanksgiving Day. We just moved the holiday over. Somehow this happened two or three years in a row. Then, a year came when she was off Thanksgiving Day. We told our crowd that we could do a Thursday celebration. Everyone was crestfallen. They had traditions with relatives or travel plans that day, and pleaded with us to stick to Wednesday. So we did. For a few years, we took Thanksgiving day as a freebie, a day when no calls could be made, no errands could be run, and we’d clean the house and take a long hike. Then we reconnected with my cousins who live nearby, and get to enjoy two Thanksgivings, the best of every world. On Wednesday, I get full control of the entire meal. The only thing I delegate is the stuffing, where Blanca reveals her fantastic culinary creativity every year with three or four superb surprises. Then, on Thursday we get to be part of the best kind of pot luck, where Mac and Helen take care of all of the main dishes and the twenty or so other cousins each bring a side or a dessert.

I’ll post some notes on Thursday reflecting on what we actually did, but of course a Thanksgiving blog is most useful the week before.

My meal is about half my own creation, recipes I have made and modified so many times that I’m no longer sure where they originated and can safely claim my own. The other half or so are new experiments, gathered from my favorite cooking magazines. Here’s the current version of the menu. We’re still working on a head count, but it looks like 15-20.

Turkey
I order a fresh turkey, pick it up Tuesday morning and brine it for about 24 hours in cold water, about a box of kosher salt, about a cup of sugar, a few bay leaves, a handful of pepper corns, and a handful of juniper berries. I use a big cooler which I fill with ice and water, then keep it out on the back porch so it stays below 40 degrees the whole time. Of course, before I put the turkey in the brine I pull out the giblets and save them for the stuffings.

3-4 stuffings, à la Blanca

One goes in the turkey, the others get baked in pans on the side.
There are a few keys to the stuffings. The first is to make a great broth for them by boiling the giblets, neck etc. taken from the turkey with a few stalks of celery, an onion, a carrot, and plenty of salt and pepper. Start this first thing on the day of the meal. Then, we use Stouffers packages, with their proportions. But the real treat is that Blanca at the very end adds in a fantastic selection of fruits, fresh and dried. She works out 3-4 different combinations. I can’t promise what it’ll be, but usually involves apple, mango, dried cranberries, currents, and pineapple.

Baked Ham
Luckily our neighbors come to the meal and let us use their oven for overflow. We just buy a Spiral Honey Ham and follow the directions on the package.

Baked sweet potatoes
These go in the pan stuffed around the turkey. We put them in around the same time as the turkey goes in, and they are very very well cooked when they come out.

Mashed potatoes.
Recipe already in this blog!

4 cranberry sauces/relishes.

I’m still selecting these. I always do the orange and cranberry relish from the recipe on the ocean spray cranberry bag, and one sauce with ginger, shallots, and port or Marsala. I’m still looking through my magazines for two more.

1 green bean dish
I found a recipe in Gourmet Magazine for green beans with chestnuts and bacon that I think I’m going to use.

Creamed pearl onions
I combine the recipes from Joy of Cooking and the Fannie Farmer cookbook.

2-3 salads
These are always new. I’ve found several great ones in Gourmet Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and Better Homes and Gardens that I think I’m going to do this year.

Cornbread
I have about 10 cornbread recipes, and always forget which is my favorite. I like a sweet cornbread, and always serve it with the Alexanders’ special spread: equal parts corn syrup and soft butter, stirred to a white creamy perfection.

4 pies
I usually use the pâté brisé recipe from Joy of Cooking for all of them, but this year I’m trying Renée’s crust. I do a version of the Joy of Cooking’s pumpkin pie, with a pumpkin left over from Halloween. I do one apple pie where the key is that I use as many different varieties of apple as possible. About 8 apples fills a pie. So if the store has eight varieties, I use eight varieties (regardless or origin, organic-ness… this is a once a year deal). I use a full top crust on the apple pie. I do one berry pie with berries frozen over the summer, usually a mix of red and black raspberries, ½ cup of honey, and 1-2 T of cornstarch. I use a lattice top crust on the berry pie. And then I do one mincemeat pie. When I was little, once or twice my mother found a butcher who made his own mincemeat. I don’t remember the details of how she found him or why we didn’t get it every year, but I will never forget the taste of real mincemeat. One of my projects for next year is to find a local butcher who does or will make real mincemeat. In the interim, I buy the jarred stuff and it’s only a sorry substitute. I’m usually the only one who eats the mincemeat pie, but this year I think I’ve recruited two adventurous new friends, Stephenie and Andrei, to at least try a bite.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Doubting Thomas

I've been feeling very busy lately, running around doing too many things in too short a time. Yesterday, my family and I went to the grocery store at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, when everyone else was there, too. It was a madhouse, and they were out of many things and I felt both overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. I usually shop midday, when the stores are pretty empty, and I can take my time to compare products and go back for things I forgot in other aisles and answer the kids' questions. But yesterday, I was rushed and frustrated.

Namely, the apples were bothering me. I know from research that apples are one of the important fruits to get organic, if possible, because of the pesticides used on them. But, Keja and I have made a commitment to try to get as much locally produced food as possible. The apple selection at Whole Foods yesterday consisted of organic apples from New Zealand and Washington State, or locally grown apples that were not organic. What to do? I don't know the answer. I looked at my two kids and picked the organic ones, but I don't know if that was the right choice. Washington is a long way away, and New Zealand is half the world away. Who knows when those apples were picked, and I can only imagine the fossil fuels that went into their travel to my grocery store. So this is my rant. My post full of self-doubt and questions. If someone has an opinion, I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jill's Fall Favorites

In my other life, I am an English Professor at Salem State College. But rather than pulling me off in a different direction, teaching at Salem State offers another way for me to explore what it means to live, shop, cook, and eat in New England.

Nearly all of my students are either New England natives or else have immigrated here. Like Jill, they know the names of the best apple orchards around and the seasons for oysters, lobster, and cranberries not because they are already locavores, but because those things are part of the landscape of New England. Others, like Ramon, know what it is to stare gloomily at the rows of imported tropical fruit and know that even in the heart of summer they will never taste as sweet and rich and thick as they do right off the vine. Ramon savors fall apples not only because when he was younger apples were a delicacy but because in the Fall they have, with a totally different taste, that same quality he can only long for in the mango: the whisps of fresh air that still cling to a vine-ripened, fresh-picked piece of produce.

This semester I’m teaching Composition, World Literature, and Food Writing. We’re blending analysis and practice as we read and write our way through the semester. We started with Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. Then Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable Miracle tansformed the way that at least two students eat. The two seasonal New England Cookbooks in print, Duncan MacDonald and Robb Sagendorph’s Old-Time New England Cookbook and Leslie Land’s Yankee New England Cookbook, left the students quite clear that a publication which successfully combines both a deep sense of New England tradition and a contemporary spin on ingredients and cooking directions remains to be written. One of their writing assignments was to compose a small section to go into that newer, better publication. The work was so good, that it belongs in the publication, and we’ll be posting it here from time to time.

JILL DEMBOWSKI

The moans and groans of children all over the U.S. can be heard to mark the beginning of Fall. But the back to school season is not all Fall is famous for. In New England as soon as the leaves start to turn we know that fair season is right around the corner. Fairs have some of the tastiest, unhealthiest food you will ever eat. Anything and everything is fried or covered in sugar. Some of these tasty treats can be made right in your own home giving families the chance to have their own family fair. These fairs only come around once a year so put down the Weight Watchers book and go crazy.

Candy Apple
8 medium sized apples
8 wooden sticks
3 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

Wash and dry the apples. Remove any stems or leaves and insert a wooden stick into the end of each apple getting it as close to the top without poking through. Set apples aside. Heat and stir sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan until sugar has dissolved. Boil until the syrup reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer, or until a little syrup dropped into cold water separates into breakable threads. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and food coloring. Dip one apple completely in the syrup and swirl it around a little with the stick to coat. Hold the apple above the saucepan to drain off excess. Place apple, with the stick facing up, on a well greased pan. Repeat with remaining apples. If syrup thickens or cools too much, simply reheat briefly before proceeding. Let cool completely before serving.
NOTE: For even more candy to your apple roll it in candies M&Ms, or for something a little healthier go for nuts or shredded coconut. This process should be done just after the syrup coating.

Apple Cider Donuts

2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup fresh apple cider
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons melted butter Vegetable oil Powdered sugar

Beat the eggs and the egg yolks together in large bowl, then gradually add cider and both brown and granulated sugar. Sift the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices together and stir into egg mixture along with the melted butter. Stir only enough to mix. Turn dough out onto work surface, floured just enough so the dough won't stick as you roll it out. When dough is 1/2-inch thick, cut out donut shapes using a well-floured cutter and let them rest 5 minutes on lightly floured surface. Keep the holes to fry also. Heat enough oil to fill your frying pot to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. When it reaches 365 degrees F, drop 3 to 4 doughnuts in. They should not be crowded. As soon as they float to the top and are holding their shape, turn them. Fry until golden on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove as they are done and drain on absorbent paper. After they have cooled dust lightly with powdered sugar.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fall Clean-Up

As fall firmly settles, I start cutting down dead plants and puttering around the backyard, pulling this, moving that. But there is always one weekend, usually in late October or early November, when my husband and I realize that summer really isn't coming back for a while and so we do a major overhaul. We empty the fountain, pull in the table and chairs, stack up the massive amount of outdoor toys, empty the rain barrel and compost bin. It's cathartic to put everything in its place, hibernating, in the same way it just feels right to bring it all back out again in April, waking everything up in preparation for a busy summer ahead.

This year, however, we're doing a few things differently. First, we are trying to keep the compost going over the winter. Decomposition generates heat, and it's a big experiment to see if it will create enough to keep the compost working. If not, we'll leave it frozen in the bin and have a barrel-full ready to go in the spring. We use an old olive oil container on a stand with a rod running through the middle so we can easily turn it to mix everything up. It's perfect for the city because it's (knock on wood) rodent proof and requires little else other than giving it a turn or two every time we dump a bucketful of scraps in.

I'm a haphazard gardener and composter. I don't know what I'm doing but enjoy the process a lot. We originally had a worm composter in the basement but I would lie awake nights, envisioning rats sleeping in the container. I was freaked out to open it to add more food, lest a mouse jump out at me. We never saw any rodents, but the fear was too great. So we switched. The first year we used the olive oil container system, I only added food and we had a stinking drippy mess. So I got online and learned that you need to have dry stuff - leaves, paper. I started adding dried leaves from my yard and shredded paper from my house.

It's an amazing process. We get two to three full barrels of beautiful dirt a summer. I hope to get at least one more from the fall/winter cycle.

The second new thing we're doing is getting raised beds. We ordered them from Gardener's Supply. Gardener's Supply is a great resource because their customer service is staffed by actual gardeners who like to talk shop. Our soil is not even worth testing for lead. We know it's there. We live a few blocks from a highway that used to spew leaded gas fumes and are surrounded by houses covered in lead paint. I've tried container gardening and had little success. So, we just ordered an easy-to-assemble bed. We're going to line it with a weed mat to keep lead-tainted soil out but also drain water.

I'm really excited to try this. I love the idea that from leaves in our tiny backyard and scraps of food from our house, we can grow more food. Sunlight is a bit of an issue. The sunniest spot on our property is the front yard, which I've spent the four summers we've lived here turning into flower beds. It's finally looking a little bit how I imagined it would look and I hate to give up on it. So, we're going to put the raised bed at the far end of our driveway, where it gets quite a bit of sun and won't even take up precious lawn or flower bed space. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Versatile Potato

Potatoes of course can be used in almost anything, but we don’t often think of them as a Latin staple. Funny since potatoes are native to South America and Peru is the origin of most of the varietal potatoes we know. So I’m going to try to disabuse New Englanders of the idea that potatoes are the province of the Irish.

Papas con chorizo
This is a standard Latin dish, which can be served on its own or used as filling for quesadillas, sandwiches, burritos, tacos… Traditionally, it’s made using big brown potatoes, the kind that are in season from Maine right now. But once, I was halfway through making it when I realized I had fewer potatoes than I needed. So I threw in a few sweet potatoes to make up the difference. It turns out that sweet potatoes not only work, they add a gentle sweetness that perfectly compliments (and calms) the spice of the chorizo (chorizo, or chouriço in Portuguese, is a spicy Latin sausage). Now, I usually use all sweet potatoes. That opened up the idea of playing with the other ingredients, and my papas con chorizo has become almost as pliable as my soup.

The Original
Serves 4
4 potatoes
3-4 chorizo sausages
1 can “salsa roja” (red sauce)
2 tomatoes, diced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Remove the chorizo meat from the casing, break into pieces and sauté in a little olive oil. Peel and cube the potatoes and add to the pan. Add the salsa roja and diced tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook, covered and stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Variations
Sweet potato: replace all or part of the potatoes with sweet potatoes or yams
Other potato: discover the particularities of other potato varieties by using them, exclusively or mixed.
Green tomato or tomatillo: use green tomatoes or tomatillos instead of red tomatoes, and use “salsa verde” (green sauce) in place of “salsa roja.” Gives the dish a wonderful tartness, but I don’t recommend combining this variation with the sweet potato variation (spicy, sweet, and tart takes the tastebuds in too many directions at once, as far as I’m concerned).
No spice: use sweet Italian sausages instead of chorizo and replace the “salsa roja” with two extra tomatoes. Works with any kind of potato.
Sweet: use sweet Italian or apple sausages instead of chorizo and replace the “salsa roja” and the tomatoes with 4 apples. Works with any kind of potato.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Time changing banana bread

Ah! The time change. Yuck. It does remarkable things to my hibernating habits: I draw the shades at night, I turn up the heat, I stay inside more, I eat more, I bake. Lately, my son and I have been making banana bread. We use an old recipe from the Mary Meade's Country Cookbook by Ruth Ellen Church. I got this book from my grandmother. She was not a big cook, though she made the absolute best gravy ever; I cannot imagine ever having better. She also gave me my Joy of Cooking, which still included how to skin an opossum and bleed a rabbit. They got rid of that a while back, much to my chagrin. I'm not going to skin an opossum but the fact that it was there, in black and white, meant that I could. Maybe some people still opened up that book to get instructions. It was like a story passed down from generation to generation, that is never forgotten because each generation learns it by heart.

But I digress. We've been baking banana bread together, and it's easy and fun and delicious. I always have bananas since my non-fruit eating daughter actually likes bananas, but I also have a bunch frozen. It's a great way to preserve a banana that's over the hill. Throw it in the freezer (I don't even wrap it up) and when you want to make bread, pull it out an hour or so beforehand. It will thaw quickly and be perfect in bread. It's actually quite disgusting when it thaws, and I have to power through the minute it takes to get it out of the peel. It should be noted that I'm not a banana fan at all, short of bread, so you may have no such squeamish moments.

One thing I love about this recipe is that it's a snapshot of the times (1960s). It calls for butter or margarine, soda (baking soda - when I was ten or eleven and first starting to bake and using an old Joy of Cooking, I thought you had to add Coke/Pepsi soda, and since we never had it in the house, almost stopped cooking then and there!), and sweet or sour milk (buttermilk?).

I've modernized this for today's reader, though the actual recipe remains the same:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease one bread pan.

Cream 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup sugar (we've been using dark brown sugar though any works; we cut the sugar just a bit, too).

Add 2 lightly beaten eggs

In another bowl, add 1 1/2 TBSP regular milk or buttermilk, 1 teas. lemon juice, and 1 cup bananas (around 3). Mush until bananas are slightly chunky. (The recipe calls for mashing them through a sieve but it's both tedious and unnecessary.)

Add banana mix to butter mix.

In another bowl, stir 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teas. baking powder, 1/2 teas. baking soda, 1/4 teas. salt. Add to wet ingredients and stir until just blended.

You can cook it as is, though the original recipe suggests adding a cup of chopped pecans or walnuts. We add chocolate chips instead. Cook for around 45 minutes.

We decided it's best hot from the oven, with too much butter, but it's pretty good cold, too.