On Banana Bread (but not really just banana bread)

Like cookies and reading and the beginning of spring, banana bread is something I would tell you I've loved a long, long time. In this blog's infant years, I baked Joy of Cooking banana bread, Boston bakery banana bread and a banana bread with streusel topping that stole my heart. I baked Mrs. Newman's banana cake and, a month into marriage, banana muffins. I've baked banana bread waffles and, more recently, sourdough banana bread French toast. I love banana bread; I get banana bread; when it comes to banana bread, what is there that's left to know? But then a few weeks ago, some friends had us over for dinner and served homemade banana bread for dessert, saying quickly that it was "half almond flour and half quinoa flour" and made with "almond milk instead of regular milk," and, a few bites in, I was looking at banana bread in a whole new way. Afterward, I, of course, went home and, two days later, pulled out (yet another) a beloved banana recipe, revising ingredients as I stirred … [Read more...]

Moosewood Brownies (+ Etsy Shop Announcement)

About a week ago, Tim and I made a quick stop at McKay's, which, for the record, is the largest, cleanest used bookstore I've ever been to in my life. Set high up off Old Hickory Boulevard on Nashville's west side, McKay's exterior looks more like a bulk warehouse shopping center than a place that makes it easy for anyone to walk in and buy or sell old books any day of the week. You park your car in an eco-friendly brick parking lot and walk inside to a bright, high-ceilinged space filled with aisles and aisles of books, books on tape, CDs and DVDs. The inventory's always changing, so even if you've just been in a week before, you still never know what you'll find when you come. In December, I bought a Mexican cookbook that later had me Googling for information about its illustrator, a woman who loved beautiful buildings and architecture as much as I do. Last Monday, we came looking for a children's book; we left instead with a hardcover Tim had been wanting and a $2 original copy of … [Read more...]

Coconut Milk Mexican Flan (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

I go to used bookstores for the same reason I look into windows when we're driving down residential streets at night: I like to imagine the people inside. The same way I fix my gaze on the warm glow of a table illuminated by candlelight or the man who's sitting in his recliner all alone, I pick up a hardcover, tracing over the handwriting, wondering about the person who underlined that passage or the reader who signed her name in this front flap. This might be what I love about the first-edition copy of The Art of Mexican Cooking, written by Jan Aaron and Georgine Sachs Salom, that I found at McKay Used Book Store Friday Night. Published in 1965, this beauty has all the earmarks of another era, one in which American women still wore skirts and aprons to make dinner and in which Mexican food (along with other ethnic cuisines) was just beginning to enter the conversation. There are hand-drawn illustrations at the division pages, created by artist Dierdre Stanforth, the same … [Read more...]

Panna Cotta with Figs and Honey

“You take two cups of milk and two cups of cream and warm it on the stove,” Tim’s saying to me from the dining room. I place our medium Le Creuset saucepan, the cream one with the handle, on the back burner. “OK, then what?” I call back to him. “Add ½ cup of Sucanat and stir until it dissolves.” While the sugar combines with the milk and cream, I set out a bowl and fill it with six tablespoons of water, then toss five teaspoons of gelatin over the top. I return to the stove. A couple minutes and a few stirs later, the sugar's totally dissolved, and I remove the saucepan from the heat. I add vanilla extract and almond extract, stir, and pour the saucepan's contents into the gelatin-water bowl. Stir. Let it all dissolve. “Then I just pour it into the cups?” I say to Tim, thinking aloud that this has been too simple, wondering if we've somehow skipped a step. He’s in the kitchen next to me now, right beside me while I divvy up the mixture, pour it into oiled ramekins and … [Read more...]

Citrus Honey Basil Creamsicles

Have you ever noticed how everyone wants to speak into your life---give you advice, tell you how to do something, show you what they know? In a perfect world, this would be great but in reality, here's the thing: advice is often wrong. The week before Tim and I got married, we were told the honeymoon would be nothing like we expected but probably bad; newlyweds don't know each other at all; give ourselves some time and we'll probably hate married life; the first year of marriage is the best; the first year of marriage is the worst; and we have no idea what we're in for. In the months since, women have told me marriage can't stay sweet; we're only happy now because it's the beginning; we should have a baby; we should wait two years to have a baby; we should be having sex X number of times a day, a week; all women get sick of their husbands; we won't like working together at home for long; etc. etc. It's not just people, either. There are TV shows and movies, … [Read more...]

Raw Brownies + Chocolate Avocado Frosting

raw brownies

This past week, Tim and I did sort of a cleanse, wherein we ate mostly raw: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, raw dairy, dried fruit. We added homemade chicken soup, nettle and Tulsi teas and, at a maximum of once a day, roasted vegetables, but otherwise it was, for the first time in our lives, an experience in raw eating. It was interesting. First of all, it wasn't hard, at least not in the way typical cleanses are. I wasn't starving, I didn't get major detox reactions, there was no need to summon all my willpower not to eat a cookie. A couple times, one of us would say to the other, doesn't a taco sound good?, but, for the most part, we felt like there was so much we still could eat: a bowl of juicy grapefruit; fresh pomegranate arils sprinkled with flax seeds and coconut; caprese salad (tomatoes, raw mozzarella, fresh basil), morning smoothies, giant green salads (and you know how I like those), frozen fruit mixed with nuts in raw milk, homemade pecan nut … [Read more...]