Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Big Banana Conundrum

I am not sure how it happened, but this year I became an active member of the football booster club. I am more involved than ever before. It's kindof nice to know what's going on with the team instead of the hit-or-miss information I've received the past two years. However, it has it's down side. I'M MORE INVOLVED THAN EVER BEFORE! I don't know how to say no, especially when I know how much the boys appreciate it and that if I don't say yes, someone that I like will be picking up the slack.

So what's the big banana conundrum, you ask? My friend, LaDawn, called me this afternoon and said that every week the boosters have been buying bananas for the team to eat before school. Whatever is not eaten has been thrown into the refrigerator by the coach. She said that two booster moms are taking some of the bananas home to make muffins for the kids' breakfast meeting next Saturday and since she doesn't bake, she wanted to know if I'd help out and bake muffins too. "Sure", said I, thinking that there couldn't be that many bananas! HA! Anthony told me that no one eats the bananas. So I get home, and a box of bananas are awaiting me. Twenty-four pounds of bananas! Yes, 24 lbs. and supposedly this is only a third of the available bananas! I don't have a "go-to" recipe for banana muffins so I Googled and found two so far. The muffins on the right are from and the ones on the left are from Cat Can Cook. I don't really like the batch on the right, but the ones on the left are delicious! This is the one I'll be using, for sure. Now to the conundrum: Each batch of muffins takes 4 bananas. There are an average of 6 bananas per bunch of 4 lbs. They're already at the quite ripe to overripe stage and I really don't want to be baking muffins until I'm 92 years old, so I'm thinking of just freezing them, 4 mashed bananas to a bag. Good idea? My husband suggested that besides the pasta we make for their lunch every Thursday, I should make them some banana pudding for dessert. This, too, is possible. I'm also going to freeze the muffins so I can make a bunch whenever I get the urge during the week and pull them out on Friday night so they'll be ready for breakfast on Saturday. Hmmm. Sounds like I've solved the conundrum.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Beans & rice for lunch

I am such a fan of Pioneer Woman Cooks! and as soon as I saw her recipe knew I wanted to make some beans & cornbread of my own. I didn't follow her recipes, but loved the outcome just the same.

Michelle's Pinto Beans
(Pressure Cooker Method)

4 hamhocks
1 lb. pinto beans, rinsed and picked over for debris
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 lb. bacon ends & pieces, sliced into 1 inch pieces
2 pks Goya Brand Sazon Goya con Culantro y Achiote
3 Tbsp. Goya Brand Sofrito
salt & pepper to taste
cayenne pepper (optional)

Place hamhocks into pressure cooker and cover with water by 2 inches. I use a 7 quart digital pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes. After pressure is released, remove hamhocks to cool. To the stock in the pot, add pinto beans, garlic, and bacon. Cook at high pressure for 27 minutes. After pressure is released, add Sazon Goya, Sofrito, salt and pepper, and cayenne (if you want them spicy). Cook for another 15 minutes on high pressure. I like my beans so that I can smash some and leave some whole. I then uncovered them and let simmer for a few minutes to thicken the sauce. Remove meat from hamhocks and add to beans. After thinking about this, I probably could have put the beans in with the hamhocks and eliminated the first step but I wanted to tell you how I made this batch. I have read that if you add salt to beans while they're cooking they'll remain hard. This is why I add the seasoning after they're cooked. Cook bacon until crisp and stir into the pot before serving.

I like to eat mine over rice, which is half white & half brown rice. My family won't eat plain brown rice and I want them to get more fiber in their diets. I'm surprised they never complained about this.

Since Ree serves her beans with cornbread, I had to make some, too. Unlike Ree, however, I prefer my cornbread on the sweet side. Here is the recipe I used to make my corn muffins. It's from the box of Albers yellow cornmeal that I had.

Sweet Corn Muffins
(Makes 18-20 muffins)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Albers Yellow Corn Meal
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degreese. Grease or paper-line 18-20 muffin cups.

Combine flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, eggs, vegetable oil and butter in small bowl; mix well. Add to flour mixture, stir just until blended. Pour into prepared muffin cups filling 2/3 full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool slightly. Serve warm.

For corn bread:

Pour batter into greased 8" square baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

I loved these beans so much that even though I made pork chops for dinner, I ate another helping of beans and rice instead.

New gadget for making tea? I don't think so.

I read about this new gadget on TeaGuySpeaks and it is touted as being a modern concept. I couldn't find out how much this new one sells for or where to get one. I'm wondering if it's still in the design stages.
As soon as I saw it, it reminded me of a little gadget from my childhood. I'm sure those of a "certain age" will remember these. At less than $9.00, I'm sure it is cheaper than this "new" gadget. When I was little, my family traveled across the country from California to Michigan because my parents bought a new car in Detroit and wanted to pick it up in person. I remember my dad heating his water every morning for coffee or tea with a little device like this. I'm pretty sure they've been around forever.
For other gadget kings and queens out there, check this site. DANGER! Serious gadget pron ahead!

Friday, October 03, 2008

What do I make when I'm not making pads?

I saw a similar Swiffer type duster replacement on Etsy. I thought I could make one of my own, so I did, only a little differently. All it is, is four layers of fleece, 4" x 9". Find the center and mark a line 1 1/2" from bottom x 6" long. Measure out 3/4" to the right and mark a line the same length, then measure out 3/4" to the left and mark a line the same length. Sew along these three lines. These will create your two channels for the fork of the Swiffer handle to slip into. With a sharp scissor, cut a slit about 1 3/4" from bottom, parallel to the bottom, into each channel, through two of the four layers. This will open the channel for the fork to slip into. Then, as in making a rag blanket, cut 1/2" slits all the way around the duster. Throw in the washer and dryer to fluff up. I may be mistaken, but I think using fabric softener makes these better able to attract dust. I like that it's washable, sturdy, and very inexpensive to make. Fleece is always on sale and I happened to get 1 1/2 yards in the remnant bin at Wal-Mart for about $3.00.

What I'm currently knitting is a market bag, similar to the one featured on Knitty, however, I will be knitting it in one piece, including the handles. Picture to follow, whenever it's done.