Sunday, December 30, 2018

My Top Ten Favorite Recipes of 2018!

This year was by far the busiest year I've ever had. Maybe it's because I went back to work after taking time off, maybe it's because my daughter is a senior, or maybe it's because both kids are in several different activities. Either way, this year flew by!

I had a few #FOODGOALS that I made back in January. The first was to blog about my mom's recipes. I cooked them, but I never got around to sharing them because I could never find the words. I don't think I realized how hard it would be. Hopefully, I'll find the words in 2019. The second goal was to teach my daughter how to cook some new recipes. That was a much easier goal and I definitely succeeded in that. The third goal was to share ALL of my dishes on Instagram and while I certainly didn't share them ALL, I did manage to share most of the dishes I shared here on Stirring The Pot.

Now let's talk about my food trends of 2018. I started the year addicted to food on toast. I think I lived off random things on toast for the first four months of the year. Also big in 2018 was shrimp, a big staple in the Stirring the Pot kitchen, year after year. However, the biggest food trend for me this year was hands-down potatoes! Holy cow... I made A LOT of potato dishes this year, and to prove it, there are FOUR potato dishes in this roundup.

By far, one of my favorite things to do this year was going to The Farmer's Market at The Castle. I enjoyed the peaceful ride down the winding country roads and all the wonderful goodies in my weekly farmer's box. It was such a delight! I love winter and spring, but I will definitely be counting down the days until I can do it again next year.

And, lastly, I'm ending my roundup with two of my favorite desserts. It's always good to end on a sweet note!

Happy New Year to all! I wish you all the best in the coming year.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Ruth Reichl's Cheddar and Garlic Twice-Baked Potatoes

My Mom was a big fan of twice-baked potatoes. They were pretty much a Christmas classic in our house, a yearly tradition, served next to the standing rib roast.

She would get out her cookbook, open it to the page, and it pretty much stopped there. It dawns on me as I write this...she never really looked at the cookbook. It just sat on the counter because she never followed the amounts, never set a timer, and she seasoned her food however she pleased. In fact, if the recipe called for 4 potatoes, she would use 5 just out of spite! That woman was a rebel like no other. And, when it came to cheese...well, she almost always doubled it. If she made you a twice-baked potato it was likely to be the cheesiest potato you'd ever have.

Then there's me. Rule-follower extraordinaire. I actually like to be told what to do. Except, in this case, I don't like sour cream, so I substituted with heavy cream. That's about as far as I go in breaking the rules. I was tempted to make 5 potatoes instead of 4, but I just couldn't go through with it.

I've made my fair share of twice-baked potatoes and I gotta say, this version is delicious. The slow roasted garlic lends a lovely touch of garlic to the potatoes, giving them a good punch of flavor. These take time, but they are most definitely not difficult, and I like to believe everyone loves a good twice-baked potato.

These are for you, Mom.

Cheddar and Garlic Twice-Baked Potatoes
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
by Ruth Reichl
Serves 4

1 medium head garlic 
4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 heavy cream or sour cream
1-1/2 cups grated Cheddar
salt and pepper, to taste

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F.

Cut off and discard top quarter of garlic head. Wrap garlic in foil. Prick potatoes with a fork. Bake potatoes and garlic on oven rack for 45 minutes. Remove garlic and let cool. Continue baking potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes more.

Squeeze pulp from garlic cloves into a medium bowl and discard skin. Stir in butter, cream, and 1 cup cheddar. Cutting lengthwise, slice off top quarter of each potato and discard. Leaving 1/4" thick shells, scoop the flesh out of potatoes and add to cheese mixture. Mash with a fork to combine. Season with salt and pepper and divide among shells.

Arrange potatoes in a buttered baking pan and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar. Bake until heated through and slightly golden brown on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Ruth Reichl's Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

I had gingerbread once as a kid and didn't love it. Then I never had gingerbread again...for like forty years. I just assumed I wouldn't like it. However, my feelings were complex because I wanted to like it. Gingerbread is quintessentially festive and it smells SO GOOD. I needed to like gingerbread. So, I  decided to try it.

I did a little research because I wanted to give it the best chance. Most people said good gingerbread depends on the type of molasses you use. All of the recommendations said to use unsulphured molasses because it is the sweetest and makes the best gingerbread. My grocery store only had one jar of Grandma's brand molasses and it happened to be unsulphured so I was thankful for that. 

The second thing I noticed was the addition of ground ginger, cinnamon, and clove. I have never liked a heavy taste of spice in my desserts. I find it too overpowering, in both aroma and taste. After years of experimenting with spices, I've found that I simply DO NOT like clove at all. It is simply far too strong, so I always leave it out.

Making the gingerbread was easy! It came together in no time and filled the house with a wonderful holiday aroma. The color was a lighter brown and I could tell right away that my gingerbread wasn't overly spicy. Major success! I decided to serve mine with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I was pleasantly surprised and found the gingerbread to be delightful.  

The flavor is similar to pumpkin pie, which makes sense considering the spices are the same, but the texture was much different since gingerbread is quite dense and thick. I know some people shy away from dense cakes and desserts, but not me. I found the dense texture of the gingerbread to be a wonderful contrast to the cool and creamy whipped cream I served on top. 

Ruth calls this Old-Fashioned Gingerbread and it definitely does look and feel old-fashioned. It's simple dessert, nothing flashy, and something about the scent of the spices takes you back to your Grandma's kitchen. Overall, I really enjoyed this for dessert and will have no issues finishing it off in the coming days.

 Is gingerbread my favorite dessert? No, I still prefer chocolate and fruity desserts the most, but I definitely DO LIKE gingerbread and can see myself making a batch each season to celebrate Christmas.

 What are your thoughts? Do you like gingerbread?

Old-Fashioned Gingerbread
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
by Ruth Reichl
Serves 9

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
2/3 cup hot water

Notes: I left out the cloves because I'm not partial to them. Include them if you'd like.

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

Stir together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt into a bowl. Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in molasses (batter may look separated). Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture, then add water and mix until batter is smooth about 1 minute.

Pour batter into baking pan. Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for about 20 minutes and serve warm.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Lentil, Sausage, and Brown Rice Stew

"House to myself. Quiet music playing. Chop. Slice. Sizzle
Stir. Nothing but my senses. I am at peace."

I love a quiet kitchen. Gives me time to think while I do some of my favorite things: chop, slice, stir. The sound of onions sizzling in the pan, and the aroma that follows shortly thereafter, hold the promise of good things to come.

Kitchen therapy is the best kind of therapy. Crafting something with my own two hands. It doesn't get any better than that.

This stew lends itself perfectly to kitchen therapy as I sliced, chopped, stirred, and smelled my way to happiness. Not to mention, I was even more satisfied at the chance to use up an abundance of brown rice and lentils I found languishing about in my pantry. I always feel quite accomplished when I use up all the bits and bobs laying about.

This is a soul-soothing wintry stew that comes together with humble ingredients and love. I'm convinced it holds the power to heal whatever ails you.
Ruth says, "In cold weather when we ponder what dish will provide comfort all weekend long, we decide with remarkable frequency to make this stew. The beauty of using brown rice is that it keeps its texture during the long cooking time (white rice becomes too soft). Adding about a pound of smoked sausage makes a great dish even better. For a vegetarian meal, use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock"

Lentil, Sausage Brown Rice Stew
Adapted The Gourmet Cookbook
by Ruth Reichl
Serves 6-8

1 (28-ounce to 32-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
5 cups chicken stock 
3 cups water
1-1/2 cups lentils picked over and rinsed
 1 cup brown rice
3 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4" wide pieces 
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/3 - 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (to taste)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or to taste
salt and black pepper, to taste

 Combine tomatoes, with their juice, stock, water, lentils, rice, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf in a 6-quart heavy pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils and rice are tender, 45 to 55 minutes.

Stir in cilantro, vinegar, salt, and pepper and discard bay leaf. Stew will be thick, and it will continue to thicken as it stands; if desired, thin with additional hot chicken broth or water before serving.

Kitchen Therapy @ I Heart Cooking Clubs

Every Sunday @ Kahakai Kitchen

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Brussels Sprouts & Caramelized Onion Ravioli with Brown Butter

Ravioli make for a super speedy and satisfyingly delicious weeknight supper. Awhile back I made Giada's Cheese Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter and I fell in love. It is a dish that has been repeated over and over again ever since. I even wrote a letter about it.

I absolutely love that meal and thought it was perfect just as it was until I discovered Trader Joe's Brussels Sprouts & Caramelized Onion Ravioli. This ravioli, my friends, is the stuff of dreams. It is cheesy and creamy with the perfect balance of Brussels sprouts and caramelized onions and it goes EVEN BETTER with the brown butter, walnuts, and Parmesan.

It is quite simply a masterpiece! If you can still find this ravioli at Trader Joe's I encourage you to grab as many packages as possible and give this a go. If you love these flavors then you will LOVE this dish!

Brussels Sprouts & Caramelized Onion Ravioli with Brown Butter
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

18 to 20 ounces store-bought ravioli
6 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup walnuts
Parmesan cheese, to taste (1/4 cup, or more)
*Optional: Add a splash of Balsamic vinegar to the brown butter if you like!

Bring a medium saucepan to boil and cook the ravioli according to package directions. Drain and set ravioli aside.

In a medium skillet add the butter and walnuts and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter begins to foam. This should take about 2-3 minutes. At this point, the walnuts will be toasted and the butter should be browned. If not, cook the butter another minute. Do not overcook or the butter and walnuts will burn.

Add the ravioli into the brown butter and mix carefully. Add in the Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Ruth Reichl's Cranberry Crostata, A Dear Ruth Letter, and {Five Cranberry Recipes You'll Love}

There are three types of people. Those who like to cook. Those who like to bake. Those who say things like "I forgot to eat." We won't worry about the last. They were probably born on another planet.

I love to cook. It's forgiving. You can do your own thing. Add a pinch of this or a dash of that. I find the whole chopping and stirring bit therapeutic. For the most part, everyone usually says they really enjoy my cooking.

I love desserts. They are my one true weakness. I do not love to bake. Cookies, yes. Cakes, maybe. Rolling out dough, absolutely not. However, I love dessert and get this, my family and friends say they like my baked goods better than my cooking. It's like a curse.

So, I tried my hand at Ruth's Cranberry Crostata and this is what I have to say about it.

Dear Ruth,

Your Cranberry Pecan Crostata sounds delicious, original, and perfect for Thanksgiving. I hadn't baked in awhile and I thought I had the required level of patience to approach this recipe. I bought the fresh cranberries. I gathered the ingredients for the filling. The filling is on the stove, but it's nowhere near done in the time you indicated so I cook it longer. There is a fine line when the filling is perfect and apparently I missed it, Ruth. I have cranberry jelly, but I suppose I can deal with that.

Slightly frustrated I get out the flour (I hate getting out that messy flour, Ruth). It's not your fault. It's mine. I have no patience already. I'm already gritting my teeth, Ruth. I start reading the recipe for the dough (You'd think I'd have learned to read the recipe first, Ruth). I'm now frustrated because I thought I was making pastry dough and therefore needed cold butter, but now I'm reading that the dough is like a cookie dough, and therefore the butter needs to be room temperature.

Losing all patience, and shrugging my shoulders, I place the butter in a bowl and microwave it a touch to soften it slightly. Making the dough is easy, but there is flour on my counter and that sets me off.  I DO NOT LIKE FLOUR ON MY COUNTER. It's not your fault, Ruth. It's mine. 

I am starting to approach a whole new level of "I don't care", but I get out my plastic wrap and form disks rather easily. I think I've got this down now. I put that pesky flour back in the pantry out of my sight. I can't be bothered to look at it anymore. I've got 30 minutes for the dough to refrigerate. I have 30 minutes to calm down and gather myself. I can do this.

While the dough is doing what it does in the fridge, I gather my cookbook and set about writing my post. It is at this point when I read the recipe in its entirety for the first time. I realize that I don't have a springform pan. Then I realize that this crostata also requires latticework. I shove the cookbook away from me in total disgust. I realize that there is no amount of time that will cause me to calm down now. Baking requires patience, skills, and equipment that I simply do not have!

I write the post. I decided that I will not use a springform pan and I will not do latticework. I brainstorm while I approach a whole new level of baker's angst. I declare I will never bake again. I decide I will make two small rustic crostata. You know, filling in the center with the dough folded up all rustic and nice over the filling. Just like Giada makes. It'll be fine.

It's going to be fabulous I tell myself. I get the dough out of the fridge and place my rolling pin in my hand with high hopes. I will not roll this dough on my countertop because I cannot be bothered with messy countertops so I roll my dough out on the plastic wrap. I place the dough on the cookie sheet and all is right with the world. I artfully add the cranberry filling and spread it around like I'm God's gift to baking. Then I start trying to fold the dough into the center to cover the filling.



I grab my trusty little Pampered Chef spatula with the sharp edge and I angrily start slapping the dough up over the sides of the filling. The dough is breaking and the filling is oozing out the sides and getting messy. The dough gets stickier and stickier and I care less and less as I slap that dough up over the sides of the filling.

Dear God! The second crostata is even worse because I was dumb enough to let that dough sit out while I slapped the first one together. I care even less about the second one, Ruth. I slapped that dough over the sides of the filling with a fury of a 1000 men going to battle!

Looking at the second one caused me to laugh in a maniacal way. I scared the children, Ruth. I become even more angered when I realize that my dough is bare. I feel as though I should be brushing it with egg or butter and sprinkling it with some fancy baker's sugar. Why is the dough bare, Ruth? Filled with the rage of 10,000 lunatics, I remember buying some fancy Bourbon Vanilla Sugar and I throw it haphazardly over the tops of both crostata. 

I'm not lying, Ruth. I threw those crostata in the oven uttering all kinds of nasty words. The pans hit the back of the oven and bounced back on the racks with a vengeance. I got some satisfaction from that.

When I pulled them out of the oven they looked beautiful and rustic and I recovered. "I can't wait to have a slice", I said to myself. I don't even want to tell you what happened after I discovered one of the kids ate all of the vanilla ice cream.

When I finally recovered from the Vanilla Ice Cream Debacle of 2018, and got my hands on some vanilla ice cream, I sat down to enjoy a slice and you know what, Ruth? It was all worth it. Every bit of it. The messy flour, the sticky dough, the nasty words. Even the trip to the store for more ice cream. It was all worth it. This Cranberry Crostata could take on any shape, it could have beautiful latticework, or it could be slapped together. Either way, it is a sweet, tart, flaky cookie dough delight with ice cream on top and I love it!


P.S. The dough really could use a brush of egg yolk or butter to help it turn a nice golden brown.

P.P.S. You shouldn't really waste the zest of the orange. Save it and sprinkle it over the top.

Cranberry Pecan Crostata
Adapted from My Kitchen Year
by Ruth Reichl

1/2 cup pecans
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 orange
4 ounces apricot preserves
12 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 lemon

*Note: I omitted the pecans because I'm not a fan of nuts in my desserts. I also do not have a springform pan so I basically did my own thing and made two rustic crostatas, without lattice tops because that is way too fussy for me!

The nice thing about this particular tart is that the crust is essentially cookie dough, which means that this tart is as good on day two as on day one. You can make it ahead of time- or really enjoy the leftovers.

Gently toast the pecans in a small skillet until they're fragrant, allow them to cool, then grind them fairly fine. (I skipped this step as I'm not a fan of nuts in my desserts).*

Beat the butter with 1/2 cup sugar until very light. Add the egg, the ground pecans (if using), a pinch of salt, the vanilla, and the flour. Grate in the zest of the lemon and mix well.

Form into two disks, wrap in waxed paper and chill for 30 minutes or more.

Meanwhile, cook the raw cranberries with the juice of the orange, the apricot preserves, and the other 1/2 cup of sugar, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Roll out one disk of dough into a 12-inch circle. Don't worry too much about this step; the dough will tear, but you can just press it into a 9-inch springform pan, bringing the sides up about 1/2 inch.  Spread the cranberry filling onto the crust.

Roll out the remaining disk on a sheet of waxed paper, put it on a sheet pan, and cut it into 8 to 10 strips. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes, which will make the next step easier.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375F for about 45 minutes until golden. 

Set on a rack to cool for half an hour, then remove the sides of the springform pan. Cool completely, on the rack, before serving.

 Five Cranberry Recipes You Will Love
(click on the recipe titles to be directed to the original post and recipe)

A Very Happy Thanksgiving Holiday to everyone celebrating!!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Ruth Reichl's Oatmeal Brûlée with Macerated Berries

 Sunday morning. Pajamas. Soft baked oatmeal. Creamy custard.
Handheld blowtorch. Crispety-crunchety sugar crust. Colorful berries. Morning glories.

I love oatmeal and when I laid eyes on this recipe I instantly became enamoured. Oatmeal with a crispety-crunchety sugar crust on top? How brilliant! I mean, why hadn't I thought of it before?

As I started putting the dish together I started to wonder about the custard. It seemed heavy with egg. How was this going to work out? Was the custard going to be creamy or eggy? I instantly knew that this dish would go one of two ways: absolutely delicious or not so great.

Consider a few things before making this dish. Find a shallow bowl, one that will produce a thin layer of oatmeal and a thin layer of custard. Pay attention to how thick your layer of custard is. You don't want a thick layer of custard here. Lastly, and most importantly, pay attention to how long you bake your dish. Times below are a guide. All ovens are different. The goal is to warm the custard and allow it to be cooked through where it is safe to eat, but also to remain somewhat creamy without setting. If you allow your custard to set, then you are going to have a layer of oatmeal topped with an odd eggy layer with sugar and berries on top, which is not so great! I know be..cause it happened to me!

I made this dish twice because I thought it was probably worth perfecting, and it was! My second try yielded perfection! Satisfying oatmeal with a creamy custard topped with a crunchy sugar crust and glorious berries. It's delicous fresh out of the oven and also cold straight out of the fridge! Try it and see for yourself.

Oatmeal Brûlée with Macerated Berries
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
by Ruth Reichl
Serves 4

3-1/4 cups water
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 cups mixed berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and quartered strawberries
1/4 cup Champagne 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup very cold heavy cream
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
Special Equipment: a blowtorch

Macerate the Berries: Combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small saucepan and heat over moderately high heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Gently stir together berries, Champagne, mint, and sugar syrup in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for at least 4 hours. *Berries can macerate for up to 1 day.

Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400F.

Make the Custard: Whisk 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl until it just holds stiff peaks. Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and remaining 14 cup cream in another small bowl, then gently whisk in whipped cream until smooth.

Assemble and bake the Brulees: Bring remaining 3 cups water and salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in oats and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and tender, about 5 minutes. Divide oatmeal among four flameproof soup plates or shallow bowls and smooth with the back of a spoon. Allow the oatmeal to cool slightly before pouring the custard on top or you will start to cook the egg in your custard. Pour custard over oatmeal. Put bowls on oven racks and bake, switching position halfway through baking, *careful not to let the custard completely set or it will become eggy, about 10 minutes. (Or transfer oatmeal to a very shallow 2-quart baking dish and cover with custard. Bake in middle of oven until set, 10 to 15 minutes.).

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon remaining granulated sugar evenly over each custard. Caramelize topping on one bowl at a time with a blowtorch, moving flame evenly back and forth, until sugar is melted and caramelized. With a slotted spoon, mound some berries in center of each brulee. Serve with remaining berries on the side.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Ruth Reichl's Shirred Eggs Over Potato Puree {Comfort Food Extraordinaire}

The Ruth Reichl recipe. The must make at the top of my list. Welcoming egg with ozzing yolk. Silky buttery potato puree. Best enjoyed with a spoon. Soft and comforting. Belly warming. Comfort food extraordinaire. One for the books.
"When you want to be really, really good to yourself,take the time to make this soft egg, gently cooked on a pillow of butter-rich potatoes. Then eat it very slowly, with a spoon. Each bite reminds you why you're glad to be alive." - Ruth Reichl in My Kitchen Year

Shirred Eggs with Potato Puree
Adapted from My Kitchen Year
by Ruth Reichl
Serves 4

4-5 young Yukon Gold potatoes (about a pound)
3/4 cup cream
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter
4 eggs
chives, bacon, cheese, for garnish*

Peel the potatoes and cut them into half-inch slices.Put them in a pot,cover them with an inch of cold water, and add a teaspoon of sea salt. Bring the water to a boil, reduce it to a ere burble, and cook for 20 minutes, until the flesh offers no resistance when you pierce it with a fork. 

Drain the potatoes and put them through a ricer. Or mash them really well with a potato masher. In a pinch, use a fork. Season with a light shower of salt and pepper.

Melt the butter and stir in half a cup of cream. Now comes the fun part. Whisk the cream mixture into the potatoes and watch them turn into a smooth, seductive puree. Season to taste, doing your best not to gobble them all up.

Heat oven to 375 and put a kettle of water on to boil. Butter 4 little ramekins and put about a half an inch of potato puree in each. Now gently crack an egg on top of each (being careful not to break the yolks). Set the ramekins into a deep baking dish and pour the boiling water around them (being careful not to splash the mixture or yourself). Set the dish in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the whites have begun to set.

Spoon a tablespoon of the cream over the egg in each ramekin and bake for another 5 minutes or so, or until the egg whites are set but the yolks are runny. Garnish with flakes of salt, bits of chopped chive, or if you're inclined to true indulgence, crispy crumbles of bacon.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Ruth Reichl's Banana Bread

Black bananas sitting on the counter. No room for any more in the freezer. Couldn't bear to throw them out. Forgotten. Sad. They had great plans to be split down the middle, dolloped with vanilla yogurt, and drizzled with a handful of colorful berries for a beautiful and healthy breakfast that never happened. Instead, they sit staring at me, reminding me of all the things I planned to do and couldn't.

Busy weeks. Busy weekends. Run every single second of the day from the first crack of dawn til everyone's in bed. Decide something has to give. Realize nothing can. Instead, get even more thrown on your plate. Wake up and repeat. Maybe even throw on your camo shirt. After all, each day is starting to feel as if you're going to war.

I didn't have time to enjoy my breakfast banana splits last week. However, I did remedy that by making Ruth's Banana Bread because I sure as hell have time to grab a bag with a slice of banana bread in it and eat it in the car.

Banana bread should win a prize for versatility. Plain or with nuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter, dried fruit, coconut. Bourbon banana bread. Cream cheese banana bread. Banana bread with a chocolate glaze. Banana bread with a maple glaze. The possibilities are endless an usually all delicious. I have tried several variations over the years.

However, I must say that my all-time favorite banana bread is just the regular old-fashioned loaf. No fussy add-in's or adornments. This loaf fits that bill. What's different about this recipe is that it's made with buttermilk, which we all know produces a very tender and dare I say it...moist loaf. I had never made banana bread with buttermilk before and I must say I liked the result! I think you would too!

Is this my all-time favorite banana bread recipe? I'd have to say no but only based on personal preference. My all-time favorite banana bread recipe belongs to Tessa Kiros and you can find that recipe HERE. The reason I love Tessa's Banana Bread is that she uses a hefty dose of brown sugar (1 full cup to Ruth's 3/4 cup) and I'm incredibly partial to brown sugar for both it's aroma and flavor. Tessa's recipe also uses 3 to 4 bananas, whereas Ruth's only uses 2 bananas, and while I appreciate the subtleness of Ruth's Banana Bread, I found I like a more pronounced banana flavor. Additionally, Tessa's recipe includes cinnamon and cardamom, which add a lovely degree of warmth to the bread. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I do love Ruth's recipe and anyone would be more than happy to eat a slice, or two. I just feel a responsibility to compare and contrast and share my own personal preferences, especially since I've posted several banana bread recipes to my site.

Inspired by Ruth's short but sweet writing in My Kitchen Year I could sum up this post by saying this short quote:

"Black bananas. Forgotten and sad. Shortage of time. Feeling defeat.
Camo shirt. Hair in a bun. Banana Bread."

I've always been long-winded. That ends now.

Banana Bread 
Adapted from My Kitchen Year
by Ruth Reichl
Serves 6-8

2 very ripe bananas
3/4 cup buttermilk
8 tablespoons butter
3/4 brown sugar
1/2 sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325F. Cream the butter and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl with a mixer. Beat in the eggs.

Mash the bananas and squash them into the butter mixture, along with the vanilla. 

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and add it into the butter/banana mixture, alternating with the buttermilk (you can also use yogurt).

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for about an hour.