I told my daughter yesterday I’d send her two bread recipes from my family files. One’s a super easy yeast bread I dubbed Irene’s bread after our Burlington neighbor who gave it to me. It’s a simple sandwich bread and tasty. Makes great French toast, too.

The other is the perfect Granny banana bread, this from a nurse I used to work with. You could call it Nana bread because it actually is her gran’s recipe!

The recipes:

Irene’s Bread
Combine 2 1/2 c. hot water, 3 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. salt, 1/4 c. Oil. Add 2 scant Tbsp. yeast, cover and proof until foamy.
Stir in 6 to 6-1/2 c. Flour total (so 4 to 5 c. white if using whole wheat, too). Knead for 3 minutes til smooth and springy.
Oil dough and let rise in bowl in warm place for 45 min., punch down, let rest for 15 min. Put in 2 greased loaf pans. Put in oven for 10 to 20 min. for last rise. Turn oven to 400* & bake from that time for 35 min. Loaves are done if they sound hollow when you tap them — you’ll know. Cool on racks if you have them. Slather with butter or good olive oil (I like Trader Joe’s Greek Kalamata Olive Oil), and sprinkle with some flaky Maldon sea salt. Enjoy!

Jenn Gratton’s Nana Bread
3 large (or 4 small) very ripe (black is good) bananas
1 c. Sugar (I use a bit less)
1 egg or if veganizing, 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp. water
Eggshell full or @ 2 Tbsp. oil
1 3/4 c. Flour
1 tsp. baking soda

Mash bananas, add sugar, oil and egg or substitute. Stir. Mix in flour and baking soda together. Don’t over mix, a few lumps are okay (makes a lighter loaf). Bake in greased loaf pan at 350* for 45 min. When knife inserted in loaf comes out clean (no gooey batter on it), turn bread out of pan onto cooling rack to cool. Another yum!

MUST remember FLOUR

Once again, a Heidi recipe hits one outta the ballpark for me. Occasionally, there’s a recipe of hers I’ll try that I don’t like; but
not her sticky kissed teff loaves, another recipe out of her book Super Natural Cooking.

Sadly, while I already know they will be killer tasty, I may not be able to get them out of the pans. Just after putting them in the oven and after more recipe wrangling than I normally do, I realized that while I did butter the pans, I forgot to FLOUR them. I am not a martyr. I was not about to pour the batter back into a bowl, wash the pans and rebutter AND FLOUR them. So my Sticky Kissed Teff Loaves will be very sticky indeed.

Per usual, I tweaked Heidi’s recipe a bit. I didn’t have all of the molasses or any of the honey the recipe called for so I used what molasses I did have, some maple syrup and some brown rice syrup. I had some coconut oil I wanted to use up so I used that in place of half the butter. The sugar I used was grated from the cone I bought at my local Brazilian grocery store, not quite a cup but this recipe will be plenty sweet for me. Can’t wait for it to be out of the oven. I can wait to scrub the pans however. Hmmmpfh, maybe I can get Marty to do them.

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

If Alice validated my love of simple, Heidi encouraged me to experiment. To be adventurous with ingredients I have or don’t have. To seek a foundation for the ingredients I have on hand and adapt a recipe to them. And I’ve been successful! When I was much younger (although it doesn’t seem as much!), I used to think exotic spices, herbs and other ingredients created a great dish. I could not have been more wrong.
I have since learned that good old salt and pepper can be the best seasoning, maybe butter, garlic and olive oil, too.
Heidi does create recipes with ingredients that I would not necessarily consider combining though and her Sweet Potato Spoon Bread recipe is one of them. But, like I said, she taught me to take more risks in the kitchen. After all, if I’m going to live on the edge, the kitchen’s a fairly safe place to do it. So, I gave the spoon bread a try. And it was delish! So good that I have since repeated it and also discovered another blogger’s recipe that is a sweet potato soup with goat cheese biscuits. In the interest of simple and ease though, I use Heidi’s from her cookbook Super Natural Cooking, leaving out the shallots. So it’s basically just the mashed sweet potatoes with some whole wheat pastry flour and eggs stirred in, layered in a casserole with dollops of creamy goat cheese and baked. Even Marty likes it! Super Natural Cooking was the first cookbook I’d bought new in decades. I highly recommend it with the caveat that one way I’ve figured out I must buy a certain book is when I’ve checked it out from the library several times, keeping it on my shelf longer than the library’s probably had it on theirs!

Simple Potato Gratin

Hmmm, what to make for dinner? Truth be told, I love to bake but am not crazy about cooking. Or perhaps I should clarify…involved cooking. I like simple food. Straightforward ingredients. Seasonal and as local as I can get is good, too. This makes me a huge fan of Alice Waters. If I ever needed someone to validate my need to cook (and bake) this way, it is Alice. Why validate? Because Alice elevates simple cooking to the sublime. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be divine. So thank you, Alice, for helping me realize that I am a great cook sometimes and an even better baker most times.
And here is one of Alice’s recipes from The Art of Simple Food: Potato Gratin. For the details, I encourage you to get her book…if you can’t buy it, borrow it from your local library system.

What I use: several potatoes, thinly sliced and layered in a buttered casserole pan. Salted and peppered on each layer. Overlap the layers and if you’d like, layer in some thinly sliced onions or other veggie you may love (even kale!). Marty, me matey, doesn’t like onions so I sprinkle a light layer of smoked Gouda or other cheese we like. When I’ve used up the potatoes, or filled my casserole, I pour a mixture of milk and heavy cream over it to cover the potatoes. Sprinkle on some paprika, maybe some bread crumbs, and bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for about an hour. Serve with greens and/or whatever accompaniments feed your soul at that moment. Breathe deeply and enjoy!

Why-tos and wherefores…or something like that

Actually, I was just trying to think of a clever name for a post. I haven’t much felt like writing blogs since the laptop crashed, as this computer just has too much stuff on it (and that confuses me, distracts me and so on from my work, more than the usual internet routine). I also don’t like to blog when I’m in pessimist mode.

I’ve been rather gloomy lately, my mood matching the weather. Intended to edit some photos for my etsy shop, but cannot find or open the files on this computer. Just as well because I need to get out while the day is young — scoot to Falmouth and possibly Sandwich for some fresh Thanksgiving veggies.

I haven’t been totally grousing lately — still enjoying books, old movies and developing vegan cookie recipes — low in sugar, high in fiber (trying all kinds of flours but my old unbleached standby). No matter how down I get, I never lose my enthusiasm for simple baking. Maybe it’s because of the yummy reward afterwards? My latest experiments — peanut butter cookies and then gingersnaps yesterday turned out awesome if I do say so myself (Marty, who is Mr. Carnivore himself agrees they are dynamite).

I leave you with my latest polaroid of the Beech Tree, taken this past weekend. It about sums up how I’ve been feeling — bare, exposed, worn.