I have just burnt my morning oatmeal and by burnt I mean brown pan-crusted, back breaking to clean, char. It only occurred to me that something might be remiss when my stomach rumbled and I started to think, “Why am I hungry? Didn’t I already eat breakfast?” Doh! I’m so smart I even surprise myself some times. At least if I can’t get the burn smell outta my house, I got to draw that disgruntled face above!
The Cherry on Top
As well as I can whip up the something mouthwatering, I have my moments of utter mentalness in the kitchen. Cherry pie is kinda my kryptonite. When Jon and I first moved into our house, I decided – great idea! – that I was going to fix his favorite cherry pie to celebrate our new, little nest. So I painstakingly pitted the cherries, dressed them in a lattice of crimped dough and slid the pie pan into the oven . . . without a tray underneath. Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle. You can guess what happened next.
I think I enjoyed that pie almost as much as I enjoyed cleaning the thick, cherry goo encrusted on the bottom of the stove. Okay, full disclosure: Jon cleaned it; I watched. He does have stronger arms than me though. And men who clean are just downright sexy!
Salt Cherry Pie
Flash forward a couple of years. I’m all excited over this recipe for sour cherry pie – a way to mix up the old recipe I’ve since mastered – and impress Jon with my baking skills extraordinaire. I should know by now that this cherry experimentation means trouble, right? Ha!
I felt like Betty Crocker . . . for a while. It was a perfect pie: the crust a golden buttery brown, the cherries fresh and sweet. Except, of course, they weren’t. I’ll concede that I might’ve grabbed the wrong sugar. Maybe. I still maintain it was the inherent sourness in the cherries, but either way, I can’t make a cherry pie today without Jon making a crack about it. And life’s all the sweeter for it.
Oh, and by the way, that new fruit tree in the backyard. It’s a cherry.
There are very few pleasures in the kitchen better than freshly baked bread – especially if it’s of the dessert variety. The warm, yeasty scent mingled with a hint of butter, the sweet banana fragrance, the nutty aroma of walnuts. Yum! But, like everyone else, I get bored with the ordinary. I wanted to try something a little bit fresher, something that would perk up my taste buds, and so I’ve rounded up some tricks. Tell me what you think.The Variations:
A Shot of Espresso or Rum (or better yet fruit soaked in rum!)
Sour Cream or Yogurt
Cocoa Powder or Shredded Dark Chocolate
Shredded Coconut or Coconut Milk
Peanut Butter (make sure to use creamy!) or Pudding
Orange or Lemon Zest
The variations are practically endless – just think of other banana recipes you make and throw a few of those ingredients into the bread. It’s amazing the creations you’ll come up with, but if you need to get back to basics, here it is:
The Basic Recipe
- 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 1/2 cup creamed honey
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups of flour (modify depending on the liquid added)
- Nutmeg and Cinnamon
- Walnuts, if desired
Have at it, banana lovers!
Not so banana ecstatic? Mix it up altogether in the bread department. Perhaps a Dark Cherry Chocolate Bread? Just make sure to add some sugar – the dark cherrries and dark chocolate aren’t all that sweet.
Every January I start to get strawberry fever. You know what I mean. You go to the supermarket, stare at the strawberries and their astounding price of $4.99 for that wee carton you could eat in one sitting, and you think, well, why not? They look tantalizingly red and plump. And they’re strawberries. How bad can it be? But then you get home and that first (in)delectable take a bite. American supermarket produce is in a state of poor quality year round, but out of season it’s downright disgraceful. I remember the first time I saw a someone putting sugar on strawberries. I confess, I found it quite gauche. Fruit is supposed to be juicy, bursting with sweet flavor. Smothering it with processed white table sugar most often made of sugar beets? Yech.
To every would-be foodie, there’s one maxim that can’t be repeated enough: buy in season or not at all. It’s truly essential if you want peak flavor. So what’s in store for the winter months, specifically January-February? Citrus fruits and dark greens. Root vegetables, most harvested in autumn to early winter, are also great choices as they store well.
For experimentation sake, I just ordered some super juicy honeybells from Cushman’s in Florida (oranges only available in January). Can’t wait! Click on the photo to visit them.
I’m also looking forward to Tarocco blood oranges, which also just came into season this month. They’re wonderful eaten fresh but also delicious baked. Smitten kitten has an amazing looking flaky blood orange tart I’m dying to try.
There’s a great chart to print out here for seasonal produce. I’m pasting it right on my cook book cabinet for easy reference, but even if you don’t have it while shopping, just use grocery store prices as a guide. If something seems high, then its either out of season, or by ill fortune, affected my some major weather.