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Super Simple Banana Bread

My workplace has a “health and wellness” program, that includes providing the staff with a box of fruit each week (to encourage us to eat healthily and not rely on the coffee van for cakes, muffins and sweets).  Inevitably, there is some fruit left at the end of each week, especially now that we have a lot less staff to eat it all.  So, I have been taking the leftovers home and making various baked goods with it.  I can’t stand the waste otherwise.  It might as well get eaten and not just thrown in the bin, right?

This week I had a few bananas that were overripe and needed using, so I made banana bread for my brother to take to his workplace for morning tea.  From one workplace to another – I don’t care who eats it, as long as someone does!

Here is my very easy-to-make, simple banana bread recipe.  It takes no time at all to whip up and is very flavourful, even if you only have a couple of small bananas to put in to it.  It slices nicely and is equally good served at room temperature, or toasted up and spread with a little butter.  Keeps well and can be frozen.

Super Simple Banana Bread

2-3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten lightly

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed banana, sugar, vanilla essence and melted butter.  Add the beaten egg and mix well.  Add the sifted flour and salt.  Stir until combined.  The mixture will be quite thick.

Put the batter in a loaf tin, lined with baking paper (or sprayed with non-stick spray, depending on the non-stick-ness of your tin!) and bake at 180 C for approx 30-50 minutes.
(NB : I have found that this cake takes very different amounts of time to bake depending on the amount of banana in it and whether or not you have a decent oven!
Check it after 30 mins, but be prepared that it may take longer).

Have a look every now and then to make sure it is not burning – it has a fairly high sugar content – cake is ready when it is just firm to the touch.  Allow to cool slightly in tin and turn out onto a rack.  Serve sliced, warm, with butter if you like.

That’s it – told you it was simple 🙂  It’s kind of a no-fail recipe and a good one to have in your arsenal of “what can I bake for afternoon tea/unannounced guests/school bake sale?” ideas.  Everybody likes banana bread, right?

Thanks for stopping by x

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Strawberry Muffins

We’re having a little lunch at work this week to sort-of-farewell my library volunteer who is taking some time off to manage some family issues for the next couple of months.  She’s the loveliest person ever and always spoils me with home-cooked meals (which make me feel very guilty but not so guilty that I don’t go home and gobble them up, ha ha) and helps me out in the library and basically supports me more than she knows.  I didn’t know what to bring and didn’t have a lot of ingredients in my pantry to make anything very exciting so I did a quick panicked look through my cookbooks to find something I could bake.  I had some strawberries in the fridge that were a bit past it but still fine to eat so I wanted to incorporate them.

I ended up finding this recipe at Food.com and it worked a treat.  I adapted it slightly, but it was so easy and the muffins are very tasty.  I’m not actually a huge muffin fan, but I wolfed down a few of these – purely as a taste-testing exercise, you understand.  They were delicious.  And they’re a one-bowl wonder which is always good.  No butter to beat or anything fiddly or fussy.  A good standby recipe to have when you’ve got people coming over and have nothing to serve them.  This recipe took less than 30 minutes – from making to baking and then eating.  So quick!  This would be a good recipe for kids (and first-time cooks) to have a  go at.  You could substitute any fruit in the recipe so give them a try with raspberries or blueberries, apple or even pineapple.

Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients

1 2/3 cup strawberries, chopped
2 eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
1 1/2 cup plain flour
2 tbs milk
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180 c
  2. Put a paper baking cup in each of 12 regular-size muffin cups, or grease just the bottoms of 12 muffin cups.
  3. Slightly smash strawberries in large bowl, using fork.
  4. Stir in sugar, oil and eggs and milk until mixed.
  5. Stir in other ingredients just until moistened.
  6. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  7. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until light golden brown or toothpick poked in center comes out clean.
  8. Sprinkle with a little bit of sugar, if desired
  9. Cool 5 minutes.
  10. Makes 12 muffins.

Enjoy! (Best eaten the day you make them)

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Baked Apples and Custard

I love custard.  Sometimes you just want something warm, nourishing, sweet, and just a little bit childish.  It’s total comfort food.  It makes the world a much nicer place and improves just about any dessert.

But, I am ashamed to admit, I usually rely on custard powder to make my custard.  I just figured it’s easier and less likely to fail.  I never bothered to actually make the real stuff, from scratch.  Mostly because I thought I would do a bad job of it and end up with a burnt saucepan and me weeping over the stove.

Tonight I wanted to make something warm and luscious for dessert.  My diet at the moment is terrible;  I am comfort-eating like a crazy person, and today was no exception.  Stress and emotional turmoil make me want to stuff food in my face until the world goes away.  The world doesn’t, however, go away, and I just get fat and fed up with myself.  But, nevertheless, I wanted to make dessert tonight.

I had some apples that were looking a bit sad, and I didn’t want to waste them, so I decided to bake them.  And add custard, of course.  A search through the cupboard resulted in the discovery that I didn’t have any custard powder (I seem to remember similar searches in the past – every time resulting in “no custard powder”.  But do I remember to buy any?  No, I do not) so I decided to bite the bullet and make my own.

It was so easy.  Like, EASY!  In fact, it was easier and less labour intensive than using the powdered variety.  Tasted better too, as you would imagine.  It wasn’t that evil, bright yellow colour that you get from the instant stuff either.  Just custardy-coloured.  I used the recipe and method from the Stay at Home Mum website.

So, here are the recipes for both custard and apples.  Easy to make, even easier to eat.  Make them tonight.  Feel comforted 🙂

Baked Apples

Ingredients (for 2 Serves)

2 large cooking apples
6 dried dates, chopped finely
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs crunchy peanut butter
Tbs butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup boiling water

Method

Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius

Using a small knife (or an apple corer if you have such a thing…
note to self : buy an apple corer), carefully cut out the core and seeds, making a hole in the centre of the apple, about an inch or so wide.

In a small bowl, combine the dates, spice, sugar and peanut butter.  Fill the cavities in the apples with this mixture.  Dot 1/2 the butter on the top of each apple.

Pour the boiling water into an oven-proof dish.  Place the apples into the dish.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until apple is tender.  You can baste with some juices from the pan, if you wish.

Serve with warm custard.

Custard

Ingredients (for 2 serves)

2 egg yolks (room temperature)
2 tsp cornflour
1 cup milk
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

In a jug,

In a jug whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar until well combined.

In a saucepan gently heat the milk and vanilla until warm (not hot!), remove from the heat and add the milk to the egg mixture.

Tip it back into the saucepan and whisk constantly until boiling.  Take off the heat and whisk until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (if mixture isn’t thickening, gently heat again).

Serve hot or cold.  If serving cold – add a layer of plastic wrap to the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming.

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My Week in Pictures

My Week in Pictures

It’s been a busy week.  I haven’t had time to even think about blogging, let alone do it.  Plus, it’s been so hot and my little office where my computer lives is stifling and stuffy and ugh.  So I’ve spent as little time on the computer as possible.

I have been crafting though…I had to make some hot pink earrings for a friend at work but, as hot pink is not a colour I usually work with or like, I had difficulty finding anything in my bead stash to even start.  Which meant I had to go out and buy some more beads, of course.  I won’t show you what I made – I’m not at all happy with any of them.  It’s funny how colour choice affects your (or, at least, my) ability to make and create.  I like paler pinks – more shabby than shocking I guess.

I got them done as quickly as I could then moved on to other orders I had to complete…

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…I had a go with memory wire (and managed to stab myself in the thumb with it – blood everywhere!)…

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…my iron count has been a little low the last few months so I had to have an iron infusion
(look away now if you don’t like needles and hospital stuff…)…

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…I went for walks…(but not as often as I should have…)…

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…lots of bird watching…

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…baby swans!…

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I got some belated birthday gifts…including this gorgeous handbag from a friend of my Mum’s…(I don’t normally wear or use leather but as I didn’t buy it I guess it’s ok…plus it is so lovely and soft and stylish.  Sorry cows, I will still keep to my non-leather-buying values, but I’m keeping the bag…)…

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…and a lovely jewellery box from (drum roll please!) TIFFANY’S!!!…

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…the same lovely lady (my volunteer library assistant) gave me this beautiful gift AND  made me a take-home curry
to have for my dinner (Oh my God – so yum!).  She is too good to me…

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…my penal Rem’s partner Dianne sent me a lovely Valentine’s card…
(you should check out her blog if you haven’t already – it’s great!)

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…I discovered my new favourite sweet treat – frozen grapes!

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I also went op-shopping and bead shopping with my Mum and bought a ridiculous amount of beads.  I think I have a problem…

Now it’s Sunday evening yet again and soon I must pack up and get ready for bed.  I am trying to get to bed before 10pm these days because I am always so tired and can never get up in the morning.  I have a busy day tomorrow – lots of meetings and a three-hour “fire suppression” training (as I am supposedly a fire warden for my building).  I’m hoping the day goes quickly and that I manage to get some things done even though I will not be at my desk.  Every week I tell myself I am going to sort my desk out and get things in order, but I never have time or anywhere to put everything.  So I just try and make all the piles of stuff look tidy.  Moving them from one place to another helps, as does shuffling them, hiding them under the desk and shoving them in the filing cabinet marked “to deal with later”.

Have a great Monday everyone – hope you are more organised than me 🙂

Cats, Cookies and the Country

Cats, Cookies and the Country

I had to go down to my Mum’s today.  She lives about 45 minutes drive away.  I wish she lived closer but in a lot of ways I’m still glad that I get to visit her out “in the country” and get away from the city and suburbs.  I miss living in the more open space with trees all around and a big backyard.  With kangaroos in the backyard (less exciting to Mum because they keep eating her roses but she stills loves them and is now using the “roo poo” to fertilise the garden and fruit trees!) and horses in the next-door neighbours’ paddock.  I grew up there, lived there for over 30 years before I moved out (I was a late bloomer ok?) and it’s still what I call home.

When I walked in the door I was immediately greeted by the smell of baking cookies.  Yum!  Is there any better smell in the world?  These Oat Cookies are very simple to make and always delicious.  Not exactly low-fat but, well, you can’t have everything, right?

YUMMY OAT COOKIES

Makes about 12

1 Cup Rolled Oats

1/2 Cup Plain Flour

1/2 Cup Raw Sugar

1 Egg (lightly beaten)

125g Butter

Melt Butter over a low heat in a medium sized saucepan.  Take off heat once melted and add sugar.  Mix to combine and dissolve sugar a little.  Add other ingredients and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.

Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper.

Bake in 180 degree celsius oven for approximately 20 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.  Eat and enjoy!

My duties today included taking my/Mum’s cat Alexander to the vets.  He’s 15 years old and beautiful, with the softest black coat.  He just needed a vaccination today, otherwise he is in perfect health.  The vet commented on how shiny he is and what good condition he is in for his age.  All our animals live to be pretty ancient.  Our other cat, Bronte (the crabby tabby)  is 19 this year and though starting to look a bit, well, geriatric, she is still pretty feisty and healthy and her yearly check up showed her to be fit as a fiddle and with the constitution of a cat many years her junior.  Anyway, Alexander (or Boyo as he is nicknamed) was very well behaved at the vets and didn’t mind the needles at all.  He came home again as though nothing had happened.

Mum and I picked some oranges from her poor little neglected tree.  It doesn’t get any attention, water, fertiliser or pruning.  Most of the time Mum forgets it is even there (it’s down the back in the paddock).  This year she was rewarded with a tree full of fruit – not nasty, sour, bug-infested fruit that you would expect from such a poor specimen, but lovely, juicy, sweet oranges.  It doesn’t really make sense but there they are.  They don’t look all that flash but they are really tasty and full of juice.  I can’t eat them (no oranges for me on a renal diet!) but boy, did they smell yummy!

We were helped along by lots of buzzing bees…they were out in force as it was a sunny day with plenty of wildflowers to choose from in bloom.  They seem to particularly like the wild daisies that grow everywhere (look closely and you can see one of the little buzzy bees in this next picture…).

All in all, a lovely day.  Now I have to go home to my own neglected garden and do some pruning and weeding…bye for now.  Hope you had a “fruitful” day  🙂