A few weeks ago my lovely wife wrote a lovely post titled Food to Die For (and other gastrointestinal misadventures…). This post got me thinking that we need to add a category to our blog. We need a food/ cookery category. A place where we can share the our thoughts, recipes, and beliefs about what and how we eat.
Food is huge part of our lives. It is a central tenent to our home. We love to eat, and we love to share our food with other people. Beyond that, we believe in eating with consciousness. We prefer to eat foods that come from fresh from the ground, not from a box or a factory. We like are food to be as local as possible and free of unnatural chemicals. We eat mostly fruits and vegetables (many of them raw). We don’t eat the flesh of other animals. We like to try new things and new recipes. Most importantly though, we believe that cooking and eating should be a familial and shared experience.
Our beliefs around food have really grown in the past few years. Only recently has our diet been meat free and primarily whole foods based. Its taken us a while to get where we are. Hopefully, some of you many find some inspiration in our “gastrointestinal adventures.” I feel as though I should also mention the people from whom we have found our inspiration. If you’re interested checkout the following books from your local library:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill Mckibben
The Omnivore’s Dilema: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Maddison
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
So here, is the first of many posts to come about cooking, eating, and other stories of edible merriment.
In the past week, we seem to have accumulated more bananas than we have been eating. This has left us with three brown, fruit fly ridden bananas we’ve been avoiding. Rather than feed them to the compost, I decided I’d make something with them instead. Banana bread is an easy go to. We love it, and it lasts only hours. Yesterday, however, I was feeling adventurous and decided to strike out into uncharted waters. With Hen strapped to my chest, I pulled the Joy of Cooking from the shelf. I find myself going to Rombauer and Becker when I try my hand at baking. Usually, I like the result. Today: Banana Cake Cockaigne with boiled Almond Frosting.
- 2 1/4 cup sifted cake flour (i used pastry flour)
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2-3 mashed bananas
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 stick of butter softened
- 1 cup & 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 large eggs
Start by whisking together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda & powder, and salt). Reduce the baking soda and powder if you live at altitude. Next, combine the banana, yogurt/ buttermilk, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Mix them up real good. In yet another bowl (preferably one that attaches to a Kitchen Aid mixer), beat the shit out of the butter until it is creamy, about 30 seconds. With the butter still beating, gradually add in the sugar and beat it too until it and the butter are light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Once its light and fluffy, mix in your large eggs one at a time. (Question: why do so many recipes call for “large” eggs? I always wonder what constitutes a “large” egg? What about the small ones? Why are they so discriminated against?)
Okay, so now is the tricky part. With your mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with the banana mixure in 2 parts. Beat until smooth. In other words go flour-banana-flour-banana-flour. Once its nice and smooth give it a taste and then toss it in two 9 inch cake pans (I don’t have cake pans so I used pyrex pie pans instead) and bake at 350° F for about 30 minutes or until you can insert a chopstick in the middle and have it come out clean. Toothpicks work for inserting too, but we didn’t have any so I used a chopstick.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 large egg whites (again with the egg discrimination)
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar(us) – *Watch out for Kronos when using
- 1 splash of pure almond extract
This is the first time I’ve ever made boiled frosting. It turned out okay, nothing to write home about in your blog though…
First, stir the sugar and water together in a small sauce pan until the sugar is dissolved. How you do this is a mystery to me. After what seemed like 15 minutes of stirring I still had some sugar at the bottom. Maybe a scientist can weigh in here, but I believe there is a limit to the solubility of water or how much dissolved shit it can hold. 1 cup of sugar seems to me to be beyond the limits of a mere 1/2 cup of water. Once its all dissolved, or you’ve had enough of stirring, put it on the burner and bring it to a boil on high heat.
While the sugary water is on the stove, pull out your mixer again, making sure you cleaned out the banana cake bits, and beat together the egg whites and cream of tartarus until the eggs are stiff. As you’re doing this keep an eye and ear on the sugar water. Once it boils, put a lid on it and reduce the heat to around 230° F. Quickly run back to your mixer because the eggs are probably stiff by now and turn the mixer down to a low speed and keep it mixing. Now, run back to your sugar water and stir it until it is thick and goopey (the softball stage Rombauer calls it), another 5 minutes or so. When the sugar is good and goopey, place the bottom of the pan in some water for a few seconds to stop it from cooking. Then, jog back to your mixer with the sugar in hand, kick the mixer into high speed and slowly drizzle the sugar into the eggs in a thin stream. The idea is that the hot sugar water cooks the egg whites as it mixes leaving you with a frothy some what meringuey frosting. Add in your almond extract (vanilla works too) and mix for another 4-5 minutes.
When the cake is baked and completely cooled, spread a layer of frosting on the top of one cake loaf. Put the other cake loaf on top of that and then cover with entire shabang with the remaining frosting.
Find someone you love and give them a piece to enjoy.
Beer is always a nice addition too.