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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Banana Cake

Just your basic, delicious banana cake for those overripe bananas sitting on your counter. This is my version of the classic from Betty Crocker.

Banana Cake

1 1/2 c. mashed banana (4-5 medium)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. yogurt or milk
3 eggs
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 1/3 c. flour (use a mix of whole wheat and white if you want)

Mix mashed bananas and sugar until the lumps are mostly gone. Add softened butter, milk and eggs. Cream for 2-3 minutes. Add baking powder, soda, and salt; stir to combine. Stir in flour. Beat on low 1-2 minutes, until everything is fully combined.

Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 325° for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting if desired.

Monday, December 11, 2017

I'm on Grandma Duty Now

I'm on vacation visiting my grandkids and delivering Christmas presents. So enjoy this video. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Noodles Romanov

Costco has enormous tubs of sour cream. Really big ones. I was running on habit when I went Thanksgiving shopping. I'm used to making food for giant crowds - minimum of ten and up to thirty or forty or more for things like Thanksgiving. We had a grand total of nine for dinner this year. And only five of us around to eat all the leftovers. I don't know how to cook or shop for only five.

So I have this giant tub of sour cream in my fridge. We're not that big on dairy at my house. One child can't eat any. Most of the rest of us can only eat small portions. We usually get our dairy allowance from cheese. Or Tillamook Vanilla Yogurt. That stuff is really tasty. Point is, we really don't eat much sour cream.

I'm getting creative at ways to use it in cooking. I made a lemon sour cream pound cake the other day that was pretty tasty. And last night, I made Noodles Romanov. The plan was Beef Stroganoff, but my daughter wouldn't have been able to eat the meat sauce if I'd done it traditional. But since she can't eat the noodles anyway, we put the sour cream in there.

Serve this stuff with a hamburger and mushroom gravy and you have a pretty close approximation of stroganoff. At least close enough for me.

Noodles Romanov

1 12 oz package pasta (I used spaghetti, traditional would call for egg noodles)
1 T. butter
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper (adjust to your taste)
1/2 c. shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 c. sour cream
1/3 c. chopped green onions

Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente noodles. Drain, then dump back into the pot.

Add the butter and gently stir until it's melted and the noodles are coated. Stir in the garlic salt and black pepper. Add the cheese, sour cream, and green onions. Gently stir until coated.

Serve warm.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

More Book Giveaways!

I'm taking a break from recipes for a while. My favorite recipe right now is the speed dial for Chinese delivery. So enjoy some free books instead!

I'm really enjoying being on Instafreebie. If you haven't heard of them and you love reading, go check it out. They have book bundles and book giveaways happening all the time. You download the book directly from the site, so no coupons or other codes to worry about.

This one ends pretty fast - December 3 is the last day to claim your free books, so zip over and snag some great science fiction.

And another great line-up of books that are free through December 31.

Go over to the site, download your choice of some great science fiction, and enter the giveaway for prizes like a Nook or Kindle fire and other great stuff!

Monday, November 27, 2017

More Movie Reviews

For some weird reason, I spent way too much time on Netflix months ago and added a whole long list of old movies to my queue. We're finally getting them shipped. Yeah, I still do DVDs through Netflix because it's the only way to get my fix of some of these things.

While I've enjoyed a lot of the classics, like Singing in the Rain and the Trinity cowboy movies, others have been real duds. There is a reason I never heard of them before. I'm surprised someone cared enough to release them on DVD. Or maybe they were just trying to milk the cash cow. Here are the latest two stinkers. Still very watchable compared to the more recent disasters I've tried to watch.

The Pirate (Gene Kelley, Judy Garland, 1948)

This had a decent plot idea, but it was a mess of really bizarre dance numbers, very uneven acting, and bad directing. What promised to be a fun Gene Kelley pirate movie turned into a snooze fest of epic proportions. And I kept wanting to substitute lines from Wizard of Oz for all of Judy Garland's dialogue.

If you want to watch a movie about an actor romancing the girl and saving the day, go find a copy of The Court Jester with Danny Kaye. You won't be sorry. It's a fun romp and the musical numbers add to the story. The Pirate? You won't be sorry, but you probably won't be very entertained, either.

Du Barry was a Lady (Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Gene Kelley, 1943)

I have a secret thing for Gene Kelley. I admit it openly so I guess it isn't such a secret.

Lucille Ball threw me for a loop. I had to look up the movie to find out it really was here. She played someone much different from Lucy.

Red Skelton just looked young and not as goofy as he was in later years.

The music in this one was off-kilter and felt like they had a bunch of really fun songs they wanted to perform so they strung them together with a sketchy plot they cooked up over one two many drinks the night before. Most of the movie felt like a musical variety show with Hollywood film direction.

It was weird, slightly silly, and mildly entertaining.

The other thing that struck me about these older movies is how utterly misogynistic they are. Women are to be pretty and silent. If you aren't young and elegant, you aren't worth talking to. But then the men turned into idiots whenever a woman was present, so I guess the stupidity meter went both ways back then. In both movies, they had a long, drawn-out song about all the beautiful women which turned all those beautiful women into nothing more than pin-up posters and the men into leering lust-buckets. No class, no taste.

So, I'd pretty much skip these unless you have watching every Gene Kelley movie ever made on your bucket list.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Hush Puppies (GF, DF)

I've got some Southern blood. My great-grandmother came from North Carolina. I blame that for my hankering for fried foods and enormous cakes and having to feed anyone and everyone that shows up at my house.

The quintessential Southern food has got to be hush puppies. Deep-fried balls of cornbread goodness. Mm-hm. I ate mine with honey.

Bonus! This recipe is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. It was definitely a winner.

A word about corn masa versus corn meal. Corn masa is sold in bags and is a finely ground corn flour. Corn meal is the yellow crunchy stuff that's been around for ages. Masa is usually used for making corn tortillas or tamales. Corn meal is the more traditional ingredient for cornbreads and traditional hush puppies. I used masa because 1) I had it in my pantry, and 2) I wanted a finer texture. Please don't substitute one for the other. They cook differently and absorb different amounts of liquid. I need to experiment to find a good corn meal version of hush puppies.

Hush Puppies (no pics because we ate them too fast!)

2 c. corn masa flour (see note above)
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. lemon pepper seasoning
2 t. baking powder
3 T. sugar
1/4 c. freeze-dried onion bits
1 T. dried parsley
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut milk (you can use the drinking stuff or the lite canned stuff)
oil for deep frying

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add eggs and coconut milk (you can use other kinds of milk or milk substitutes, but I like coconut because it adds creaminess). Stir until combined. It should be a thick batter, slightly sticky but not quite thick enough to roll out like biscuit dough. If it's too dry, stir in more coconut milk. If it's too wet, let it sit for 10 minutes to give the flour a chance to soak up the extra liquid. If it's still too wet, stir in a couple tablespoons of the corn masa.

Heat the oil to about 350° in a nice deep saucepan. You want it hot and shimmery, about where you'd fry doughnuts.

Drop one spoonful of batter into the oil to test the temperature. I used a smallish cookie scoop. The oil should start bubbling. It should take about 3-4 minutes for the hush puppy to brown nicely. Pull it out of the oil and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Break it open to check for doneness. Adjust your oil as needed. If it's still doughy inside but the outside is getting too brown, the oil is too hot. If it takes forever to cook and is like eating a greasy sponge, the oil is too cold. You can also change up the size. If they are cooking much too fast on the outside but still raw in the middle, you can try using a slightly smaller scoop. A good rounded tablespoon size seemed to be about right for my batch.

Scoop into the oil in batches of 4-8, depending on the size of your pot. Cook until done. Repeat until you run out of batter.

Serve warm with butter, honey, hot sauce, or fried catfish nuggets. Or just eat the little balls of deliciousness.

Makes around 3 dozen or so, depending on how big you scoop them.