Two recipes for Banana Bread! One is the original recipe from the Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu, the other is mine.
I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, not another banana bread recipe!” A search on the internet will probably give you over a hundred hits, not to mention Aunt Lilly's handwritten recipe card or your grandmother's recipe. Everybody has a banana bread recipe. I make no claim that mine is the best, as l am convinced that there are some absolutely fantastic recipes that are better than mine. If you have one, please send it to me.
But I have to say that I have been experimenting with my recipe for the last six months. It began several years ago when the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu welcomed us with a loaf of warm sweet macadamia nut banana bread. It was divine (and so is the hotel)—rich, sweet and love at first bite. I posted their recipe (the bread came with the recipe attached). It is such a special treat. My goal was to produce a somewhat healthier version, if there is such a thing. I bought more bananas than needed and started to experiment with it to the delight of my neighbors and friends. I slowly reduced the amount of sugar, used whole wheat flour, used roasted walnuts or pecans, raisins and chocolate chips. My personal favorite is the the recipe I am posting here. It is cake-like, fluffy and melts in your mouth. The raisins and chocolate chips add sweetness and flavor. During one of the earlier version I added ½ cup of oats, some people liked it but it was too dense for me
You can read where to eat and what to do in Maui on my Wanderlust Blog
I need protein for my morning meal and these delicious pancakes pack in 10 grams of protein and are ready in 10 minutes. They have three ingredients: a ripe banana, one egg, and 2 tablespoon of whole wheat flour.
In general, I am not a pancake person, but when I saw this recipe in Cooking Light I was intrigued. I have made them several times, sprinkled them with some blueberries, roasted nuts and a little bit of maple syrup. I like these pancakes because they are soft and fluffy and only have 228 calories without the toppings. This is important to me right now since I have expanded a bit over the holidays . I don't like to deprive myself of good food—and don't like being hungry.
Sometimes when life has too many hurdles and I don't have the answers or solutions, I go for a ride or a walk into the countryside. Nature gives me a helping hand. It smiles upon me and let's me forget the worries of the world. It calms my fears and reminds me that there is always a new beginning and beauty wherever I am.
Last week, before New Year’s 2016, my husband and I went on such a ride exploring the country roads off beautiful Highway 1 along our Pacific coast. As an afterthought, I took my camera. This stretch of highway between San Francisco and Santa Cruz is stunning and beautiful—and I can never get enough. But the small roads off Highway One are even better—and not so crowded. One of my favorites is Swanton Road, which parallels Highway One in a horseshoe for about 8 miles. On the way back to Santa Cruz, we stopped at Davenport Landing, another small horseshoe-shaped road on the ocean side of Highway One. There is a place that raises abalone, which I’ve never tasted and hope to get to one day. I have always loved the little town of Davenport, which reminds me of early days of coastal California. Davenport has a great glass studio, Lundberg Studios, where I have gotten several special pieces. They even have a great seconds studio. There is also a wonderful inn and restaurant, called the Davenport Road House, that has live music Tuesdays and Fridays. All the locals seem to like the Whale City bakery, that has a great menu and delicious home-baked treats. Not to mention beer & tacos for $2 each on Thursday nights. With live music..
On the ride back to Santa Cruz, I always go along West Cliff Drive. As many times as I have walked along West Cliff Drive, I never tire of the beauty, serenity and ruggedness of the views where the Pacific Ocean meets the land mass of North America. So many many times, I have sat on one of the benches along West Cliff contemplating my life, sometimes with tears, but always soothed by its never-ending beauty. I am so privileged to call this place home.
As the sun sets on our Pacific coast many of you have already started the New Year hoping for peace and new beginnings. No matter where you are I wish you all a happy and peaceful
filled with love, happiness and renewed hope.
I would like to thank all of you for the kind and encouraging comments and for visiting my humble little blog. It means a lot to me to be able to share this part of my life with you.
and cheers to a new year wherever you might be. I hope to be able to share some new adventures and recipes with you and wish you all the very best.
Hopefully, I will find some time for baking my favorite sweet treats for Christmas. Last year, I baked up a storm, packed most of it to take to the mountains where we have celebrated Christmas many times. As we left on December 23, I got messages from my niece saying that my 91-year-old mother had fallen down and was on her way to the hospital with a fractured hip. I made my poor husband turn around and was on a plane to Germany the next day, December 24, arriving in Germany on Christmas Day. My mom by then had peacefully passed away with my brother's family around her.
I took a tin of cookies with me sharing them at the airline ticket counter and later in Germany. They were a connection to my life in California. Food can be so comforting and nourishing. As long as I can remember, I have baked goodies for the holidays. I don't always bake the same things. My Christmas recipe folder is bulky. Depending on how I feel, I bake different things, some of which I haven't posted yet. For my girlfriend, Marie, I bake the hazelnut
meringue cookies (click for recipe here). My husband's favorite treat are his mom's sugar cookies that my sister-in-law bakes every year for him. His second favorite are my chocolate chip walnut bars (click for recipe here). I like gingerbread cookies, but nobody else does, so I don't make them very often. My Vienna vanilla nut cookies remind me of my childhood (click for recipe here).
My fruit and nut chocolate chunks are a healthy and tasty treat. Click here for the recipe.
I enjoy making individual graham cracker gingerbread house ornaments with young children. These cute little ornaments are a lot of fun and children just love them (click here for the recipe ).
Another staple in my family have been blueberry mini-muffins.These tiny muffins have a crunchy almond sugar flavor with a burst of blueberries and lemon. The recipe comes from an old Gourmet recipe and is my son's favorite.
I hope your holidays are filled with warmth and happiness.
I am back from my whirlwind trip to Germany. It was short, but I was so happy to see my German family and friends. I love them and miss them when I'm here in sunny California. I am fortunate that I can visit them often and stay in touch. Read about my four days in Berlin and my visit with my family on my Wanderlust blog (click here).
It's time to share some of my holidays recipes with you. Every year, I make my country pâté for the lighted boat parade party at my friends’ house. Here in Santa Cruz, people decorate their boats for Christmas and parade around the harbor just after dark. Hundreds of people come to watch, which is the launch of the Christmas season. The pork country pâté is rich but delicious and a great treat for a large party. It has to be made ahead of time and will earn the cook many compliments.
For those of you who prefer a lighter vegetarian appetizer, my goat cheese with fresh herbs olives, and garlic is easy to make and tasty.
For another party, I will make my party rolls, which have been a staple for years. You can fill them with anything you like. There are a meal unto themselves. Enjoy the season!
Even though this turkey is moist, tender and juicy—the gravy puts it over the top. What you have here is a classic turkey with some added depth and flavor. The meat tastes of sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Here we are, the third and final post for my pre-Thanksgiving dinner. I bought a 9 1/2 pound fresh petite Diestel Turkey (I call it the Gerlinde butterball). I can hear you all say that's too small, but it isn't. So far, we had eight servings and several turkey sandwiches —and there is still some left. In the past, I have bought 12 -16 pound turkeys. The Diestel turkey farm is in the Sierra foothills and we drive right by it when we go to the mountains.
My turkey has several components. It is dry brined with herbed salt. I then put herbed butter under the breast skin and cover the top of the bird with cheesecloth soaked in butter and turkey stock. I make my own turkey stock the day before, using the neck bone and gizzard. The stock adds great flavor to the turkey and the gravy.
You will be rewarded for all this work with a great-tasting bird. My photos of the turkey are horrible, as I had no time and it shows. I will replace the photos when I make this turkey again—but in the meantime, bear with me.
There is always something to be thankful for
Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving with friends and family
I'm trying to organize my Thanksgiving and holiday recipes. In my previous post, I shared my cranberry ketchup and cranberry sauce recipe with you.
For me, the most important dishes for the Thanksgiving dinner table are cranberry sauce, gravy and stuffing. Forget the turkey. I did for years when I was a vegetarian. In those days, I often created lavish Thanksgiving dinners for friends and family. Since the stuffing was the centerpiece, I would bake it in a pumpkin or some sort of squash, using vegetable broth and making a vegetarian gravy. Now that the turkey has fallen back into grace at our table, I still make the stuffing, but most of the time I bake it in a pretty dish. So if you are a little pressed for time (who isn't these days?), use a casserole dish instead of a pumpkin. Although If you do use a pumpkin or squash, you will most likely end up with extra stuffing that you bake in a dish.
I made the stuffing for my pre-Thanksgiving dinner in our cabin. I removed the seeds and some of the flesh from a little red Kabocha Squash and filled it with some of my stuffing. The leftover stuffing went into a greased iron casserole. The stuffing in the squash was moist while the stuffing in the casserole was crunchy and dry. I preferred the crunchier version but enjoyed the stuffed squash for leftovers. It makes a great lunch with some sauce and pieces of the squash.
This cranberry ketchup and my simple cranberry sauce are a tasty addition to any meal—and not just for the holidays. Freeze some extra bags of cranberries to make throughout the year.
Life is full of surprises with ups and downs like a roller coaster. One moment you are on top of the world (knowing that it won't last), full of anticipation and fear of the unknown as you contemplate the ride down. Personally, I don't like roller coasters, I prefer a gentle ride on a carousel. Last November and December were such roller coaster months for me. I had a wonderful visit with my mom in Germany. Afterwards, my husband and I went to Berlin, Prague, and Nürnberg. I came home and got ready for Christmas in the Sierras, baked cookies, tarts, made cranberry ketchup and cranberry sauce. Two days before Christmas, we loaded all our goodies into the car and left for the mountains. As we began our journey, I got messages from my niece saying that my mom had fallen and broken her hip badly. She was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. On the first summit, I decided to turn around and go back home to make arrangements to leave for Germany. I was on the plane 24 hours later, and landed in Germany on Christmas Day. By then, my mom had peacefully passed away with my brother's family around her. I am so thankful for their love and care.
Last year, while looking through my folders, I came upon a recipe for cranberry ketchup. Since I love cranberries, I decided to make some. It was still in my fridge when I returned from Germany after my mom’s funeral. It was comforting to put on my sandwiches and added flavor and richness to many meals. I promised myself to make it again. This year, I will be in Germany for Thanksgiving to celebrate my brother's birthday. So, I decided to have a pre-Thanksgiving dinner in the Sierras in our cabin with my sister-in-law and her husband. The late fall here is gorgeous. There are very few people there now and we were expecting a dusting of snow for the weekend.
I made the cranberry ketchup and cranberry sauce several days before we drove up. The ketchup is fantastic and a spoonful will enhance most any meal. It lasts for a long time in the fridge and needs to sit for a couple of days to develops its full flavor.
Every time I cook a turkey, I make cranberry sauce. Turkey without cranberry sauce is not an option on my table. For many years, I have made the same recipe—not because it is the best or special—but because it is the one my family and I like the best. It is simple and easy to make. I always make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. There have been fleeting moments when I thought about adding ginger or a minced jalapeño, but I haven't. Maybe someday I will.
The amount of sugar depends how tart you want it to be: I used ¼ cup this time, but I think I will use ½ cup the next time. The tartness of cranberries has to be balanced with something sweet like orange juice and sugar. All my tasters liked the tartness of the thick sauce.
Think of this tart as a giant cookie made with a simple shortbread dough that is used for both the crust and the strudel topping . It is made in no time, and perfect for the beginning baker.
I am having a real problem with time lately—it is simply going by too fast. Summer has gone and fall is here. Another year has just gone flying by. Twenty years ago, which feels like yesterday, my husband and I had a wonderful time visiting Venice and the Veneto. It was such a fun trip. We drove with friends from Munich to Venice, where we stayed for several days. It was February, between Carnival and spring and Venice was not overrun with tourists. After Venice, our friends dropped us off in the Veneto and continued on their trip to Switzerland, while we stayed there and enjoyed this beautiful area without many tourists. We took the train to the Cinque Terre and hiked through all the villages. It was wonderful. We had no reservations until we got to Florence. What I remember most about this trip was hanging out with the locals and hiking until we got tired. I remember on one of these hikes, we ran into an older Italian man resting under a tree on a Sunday morning, drinking wine and pointing at our water bottle. He was shaking his head and saying, “agua bad, vino good.”
This year, I was invited to a beautiful wedding of a charming couple. Although the groom is Italian (from the Veneto), he is now living in San Francisco with his American bride. Unfortunately, I couldn't go. I just hope that one day I can visit this gorgeous area again. In honor of the wedding and the Veneto, I post this wonderfully easy, yet so delicious and tasty, cake. It is really like a giant cookie that even a non-baker can do in no time. The original fregolotta was created by Pasticceria Zizzola, who lives near Treviso. My version is a nutty, lightly sweet and crunchy cake tasting like a cookie. Trust me, you will nibble on this delicious morsel until it is gone. There are seldom any leftovers when I make it for my friends. It is great with an espresso coffee or tea. Buon appetito my friends.
These savory little mini-quiches are just right for my new life as a student. There are easy to carry with you and make a great healthy snack. They taste good, even when they are cold. You can customize them to your own liking and add only those veggies you or your loved ones enjoy.
I would love to make them with young children and have them choose as what vegetables they would like to put in them—a great way to introduce kids to new veggies. I think the potatoes are a necessity, but you could try sweet potatoes. I put in mushrooms because I like them and I had some leftover cooked kale. I think spinach would be just as good, if not better. I added some zucchini and that tasted good too. I would like to experiment with little pieces of ham or bacon to make it like a Quiche Lorraine without the crust. As you see, the possibilities are endless.
Yes, I enrolled in our local junior college to take a class in digital photography. The junior college gives people the opportunity to go to college and prepare for a job or a four-year university education. It gives people like me a chance to be a life-long learner. I can wholeheartedly support such worthy institutions. When I came to this country many moons ago, a different junior college gave me a chance to get an education, for which I'm forever grateful.
It's apple season and time to make my Apple Strudel Cake.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me and I love to hear from you .
Comments in English and German are welcome!