March 2011

Chocolate Banana Bread with Flax and Whole Wheat

March 29, 2011
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Do you associate banana bread with the 1970′s? I know I do. In that era of hippies and free love, there was a push toward eating healthy and that’s when natural food stores, macrobiotics and crimes against nature like carob came into vogue. But banana bread actually became popular in the 1930′s during the depression as a way to salvage over ripe bananas, along with a rise in the use of baking powder in recipes to create such things as “quick breads.” Regardless of association, banana bread is often thought of as healthy, though it can be loaded with fat and cholesterol and in general is not exactly good for you despite the addition of fruit.

Banana bread is not always my favorite because it’s usually loaded with walnuts (which I loathe). However, remove the walnuts and add chocolate and I’m a happy girl. I wanted to see if …

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Pastrami Made From Scratch

March 14, 2011
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When I saw this month’s Charcutiere Challenge, “to brine, and then corn, a piece of beef” I admit I was disappointed. Not in the challenge part of it, but by the fact that I really don’t like corned beef. Its saltiness and flaccid texture has never appealed to me. My mother agreed and suggested we try making pastrami which is basically brined beef taken one step further by applying a dry rub and smoking it after the brining process.

This is not a single day, cook-to-eat process. It’s a multi-day, you-have-to-really-want-it project. However, like most things which are cooked from scratch at home, the end product is worth it, significantly better than anything you typically buy in the grocery store. I still think pastrami is too salty for my personal preference, but I really enjoyed the sandwiches I ate with it on the home made rye bread I made …

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How to Brine and Roast a Chicken

March 12, 2011
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Sometimes I assume things which I consider to be easy about cooking, things which are common sense to me, are the same for everyone else. But we all know the platitudes about “assuming” and “common sense.”
There I go, doing it again…
They say if you “assume” you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.” They also say, “common sense is anything but common,” but who are these mythical “they” people anyway? I digress…

This concept was brought home to me recently while talking to friends, all of whom enjoy eating, but don’t spend as much time cooking as I do.  I was trying to explain to someone about how easy it was to roast a chicken. They looked at me as if I just suggested they consider making their own bacon.

I said, “All you do is get a whole chicken, throw it in the oven, roast …

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