Monday, October 26, 2009

Going Bananas

Ok kids! There is one more week to go until I do the incredibly crazy thing of running a marathon. NYC marathon to be precise. Two weeks ago I had to take a break from running due to a minor injury. After staying true to a marathon running plan for nearly four months, taking a break was making me go bananas. I had to fill the void of running with drinking, eating, and partying. I is hard.

I am back on track and will be fine for the big 26.2 (with my right ankle wrapped in medical tape, that is.)

So, in honor of going bananas, this entry will salute banana bread. And I asked my furry friend, Sparkus the Tenor Cat, to help. (Because what's more proof of going bananas then pretending a stuffed animal is helping me bake? My thoughts precisely!)
Banana Bread
3 bananas (1 C mashed bananas)
1 C sugar
1/2 C shortening
2 eggs
2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t soda
3 T milk

Mash bananas; mix in 1/2 C sugar. Let stand 15 minutes. Cream shortening; add remaining 1/2 C sugar. Mix well. Beat in eggs. Add banana mixture. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add about 1/2 of flour mixture. Then stir in milk and soda, which have been mixed together. Then stir in remaining flour. Bake in 1 large or 2 small loaf pans at 325 degrees for 45-60 minutes (depending on pans.) (Pretty much....if you stick a sharp knife in the middle and it comes out with batter on it, keep cooking. Banana bread will trick ya! It will look done on the outside WAY before it is done on the inside. Have patience.)

Erika's Extra Notes: I enjoy adding chocolate chips, nuts, or frozen blueberries into banana bread to give it more of a zing/flavor. I also like to add brown sugar on top with about 15 minutes left to bake (as seen below in picture. Right half normal banana bread, left half with chocolate chips because sometimes you feel like a chip, and sometimes you don't.)
Bake well and prosper!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mixed Messages

I am currently on the 13th week of my 16th week training program for the NYC marathon. It's my first marathon to do which means that I try to fit in a run anywhere in my crazy schedule of being an opera singing, church going, basketball playing, hedge fund working, social butterfly. On Tuesdays I usually run home from work.

Well, last Tuesday I realized I needed to pick up a couple things from the grocery store for the impromptu cookie "party" that I decided to host. While walking the three blocks home from the store I realized that I was a type of walking contradiction. A type of mixed message, if you will.

I don't use plastic bags whenever I can help it, and seeing I only needed three things I decided to just carry them in my hands. There I was glowing (aka sweating) in my running gear carrying chocolate chips, chocolate cake mix, and a box of margarine. This made me laugh to myself. "What do passerbys think of this?" I wondered. Maybe that I ran so I wouldn't feel guilty about eating sweets? Ha! Well, they obviously don't know me.'s too short to skip dessert.......even if one had to skip a training run.
So, about my cookie "party". Ever since I started making chocolate chip cookies all by myself (fifth grade perhaps?) I've been known for my cookies. All the way from TX to NYC, my friends love these things. Last Tuesday, an opera singer friend of mine posted on my FB wall, "Cookies soon?" So, I decided that I'd make them that night. Unfortunately he forgot he had rehearsal and had to bail. But not to fear my fellow readers! My great friend Nick came to help eat the cookies. I am quite happy to report that he had them for dinner along with some of the dough. That's my type of man! Dessert first!

And now for the recipe.....straight from the cookbook my mom made for her children many years ago for Christmas. Now you too can be known for your cookies. (Just remember the special ingredients of love and fanatical devotion to desserts. Oh, and also....remember to talk to the cookies!)
Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 stick of margarine/butter (I find that margarine will make them softer. Yum!)
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 egg well beaten
1 cup and 2 Tablespoons of flour (I use white)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla (use the real thing....imitation vanilla is a poser!)
1/4 teaspoon of warm water (DO IT! TRUST ME!)
6 oz of semi sweet chocolate chip morsels (Personally, I'm a Nestle girl.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix margarine, sugars, and egg together until margarine chunks are quite small and well beaten. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together and then stir until well mixed. Add vanilla and then mix. Water and then mix. And then add in the chocolate chips last. Place dollops of dough on cookie sheet with plenty of room between each dollop. Bake 8-10 minutes.
Erika's Extra Notes: To get very lovely and soft cookies, take out of oven when they are still fluffy/slightly uncooked looking. They will cook more while cooling. If baking two sheets at once, make sure to switch the top to the bottom and vice-versa half way through baking.

Last little bit for the blog for now....I just typed up this recipe whilst on the subway. From memory. That's how many times I have made these cookies. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Bake well and prosper!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Well, here we are

I know what you're thinking. Not another food blog. Well, my friends (yes, I realize I AM talking to just myself right now), it IS another food blog. But not the normal type of food blog. Don't believe me? Well, for one, I don't have a fancy schmancy camera, so you won't be seeing overly artistic pictures. (You see what I just did there? I JUST excused any crappy photos that I ever post. I am a genius.) But more than that, I promise you won't see boring pictures of each step of the baking process. I mean, do you or I REALLY need to see what a cracked egg looks like? Instead, you'll be following me in my baking endeavors, my life endeavors, and my just plain silliness. Still don't believe me? Well, check out THIS picture I took whilst baking: *figuring out how to insert a picture* Ah ha! Here we go:
Yes. I take pictures of my oven mitts. Meet Pac-Man Oven Mitt.

Mainly though, I take pictures of me having fun in my little itty bitty kitchen on the UWS in Manhattan. Not to mention I also take pictures of the messes I make in my little itty bitty kitchen.
As you can see, flour is my main messy nemesis. Especially seeing how I am a true New Yorker.....and mainly wear black. Funny how white flour shows up so easily on black.

You might be wondering - why don't you just be more careful? *throws head back in laughter* You obviously do not know me!

*sad violin music playing softly in background* You see, ever since I was little, I was clumsy. My parents even knew this. That's why they never taught me how to cut anything. Young Me + Knives = Disaster Waiting To Happen. Whatever I did, there was always some type of mess...whether it be flour, eggs, or blood. *sigh*

So now my motto is: let it come together organically. (This also just makes me feel better about my lack of ability to not be messy.) If not all the sugar decides to land in the bowl due to my bad depth perception, so be it.

So, this blog will be following me, Erika Beth, The Messy Chef. Let's see how small kitchen + mess waiting to happen turns out.