Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches + 5 Ice Cream Sandwich Links

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Summer is holding on in New England despite the days inevitably growing shorter.  I’m grateful for the warm breeze and sunshine.  It will all change soon enough.  Tomorrow marks the first day of fall.  Fall feels like a time of reflection.  I am not quite ready to reflect on all the year, so far, has brought my way.  I have trouble letting go. For just a bit longer I will savor summer and eat an ice cream sandwich or two.   I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.  More stories and recipes to come soon.

Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Cookie recipe adapted from Baker’s Royale

Vanilla ice cream recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Ingredients for ice cream:

1 cup whole milk

A good pinch of salt

¾ cup of sugar

3 teaspoons of vanilla

2 cups heavy cream

5 large egg yolks

Directions:

First, pour the cream into a metal bowl set inside a larger bowl filled with ice water.  Set aside.

Using a medium saucepan, heat the milk, salt, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and just comes to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Using a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour a little of the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.  Add the egg yolks to the saucepan with the remaining milk.  Cook the custard over low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the saucepan with a heat-proof spatula until the custard thickens.  The custard is ready when it covers the back of a spoon or spatula.

Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the custard into the heavy cream.  Stir until cool to the touch.  Next, stir in the vanilla extract.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Churn the custard according to your ice cream manufacturer’s instructions.  Store in an air-tight container in your freezer.  This recipe makes 1 quart.  Enjoy!

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

Recipe adapted from Baker’s Royale

Ingredients for cookies:

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon + 1 tablespoon of cinnamon for sugar/cinnamon mixture

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ginger

1 ¾ cups sugar, divided

½ cup of vegetable shortening

1 stick + 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.  Grab two baking sheets and cover with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Using a medium bowl whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening, and 1 + ½ cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice.  Add the eggs, one at a time until thoroughly combined.  Next, add the vanilla.  Reduce the speed to low and add dry ingredients.  Add the milk and mix until just combined.

Mix together 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and ¼ of sugar in a small bowl.

Using a cookie scoop, make round cookies balls.  Roll the dough in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until well coated and place on a prepared baking sheet.  Space the cookies two inches apart.  Place the baking sheet in the fridge.  Allow the cookies to chill for 20 minutes before baking.

Bake cookies until lightly golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Cool on pan for two minutes then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.  Store cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature until ready to make the ice cream sandwiches.

Ice cream sandwich assembly

Working quickly, add a rounded scoop of vanilla ice cream to one cookie.  Place another cookie on top.  Push down on the cookie top gently and evenly until the ice cream is evenly distributed.  Wrap in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag, and freeze for 4 to 6 hours.  Create an assembly line to make this process go faster!  Enjoy!

5 Must Check Out Ice Cream Sandwich Links

The cherry season may be over but don’t let that stop you from making Brown Butter Blondie’s dark cherry ice cream sandwiches.  I love the combination of fruit and chocolate, especially in ice cream.  Yum!

Samoas are by far my favorite girl scout cookie.  In high school I could easily eat an entire box on my own then truly wonder why I had a bellyache.  Broma Baker’s recipe for samoas ice cream sandwich cookies makes me want to make myself sick all over again.  Check them out!

Coffee ice cream fans head to Zoe Bakes for her no-churn coffee ice cream sandwiches.  They look like the perfect treat to whip up this weekend!

Rum raisin ice cream reminds me of my grandmother.  She loved it.  Head to The Candid Appetite for an oatmeal rum raisin ice cream sandwich that is sure to turn any non-believer into a believer.

It is officially fall and time to embrace all things pumpkin and gingerbread.  Head to Canelle et Vanille for a pumpkin and gingerbread ice cream sandwich recipe that is sure to satisfy your pumpkin craving.

Peach Blueberry Streusel Pie + 5 End of Summer Pie Links

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Septemeber is a month of transitions.  We say goodbye to summer without fully realizing it’s gone.  An extra blanket suddenly becomes necessary.  Leaves slowly make their descent leaving pops of red, orange, and yellow on the sidewalk.  We move on once again to the next season with both hesitation and relief for a change.  A noticeable ache is present when summer transitions into fall, another reminder of time moving forward.

Soon we will turn to stews, chilis, lasagna, and hearty meals to warm our bones.  Slow cooker recipes will get us through the crazy school and workweek.  One day will melt into the next.  Before we allow for any of this to happen, lets pause and savor summer one last time.  My peach and blueberry streusel pie adapted from the cookbook Sister Pie by Lisa Ludwinski pays homage to the beauty of summer fruits.  I hope you enjoy it.  Happy Labor Day.

Peach Blueberry Streusel Pie

Serves 8

Recipe adapted from Sister Pie by Lisa Ludwinski

Ingredients for Pie Crust:

2 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 sticks of unsalted butter, chilled

½ cup ice-cold water + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Ingredients for filling:

2lbs ripe peaches, sliced

3 cups blueberries

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup tapioca starch

¼ cup light brown sugar

¼ teaspoon of kosher salt

1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger

Ingredients for streusel:

2 cups fine yellow cornmeal

1 cup old fashion oats

2/3 cup light brown sugar

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

Directions for pie dough:

Using a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt.  Place sticks of butter in the middle of the bowl and coat with flour mixture.  Using a bench scraper, cut the butter into small cubes.  Cover each cube with flour, then using the bench scraper cut the cubes in half again.

Using a pastry blender or your hands, cut the butter while also turning the bowl with the other hand.  Continue to blend the butter and flour until the pieces are the size of peas.  Next, add the water/vinegar mix.  Using the bench scraper, scrape the dough from one side of the bowl to the other side until the liquid is absorbed.  Now, scoop up the mixture with your hands and press back down onto the whatever remains in the bowl.  Turn the bowl, scoop the mixture with your hands, press back down, and repeat.  Once all the flour at the bottom of the bowl is gone it is time to stop.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.  Using the bench scraper cut the dough in half.  Pat each dough ball into a two-inch disc.  Seal any broken edges.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.

The pie dough will last in the refrigerator for a few days and in the freezer for up to 1 year.  Thaw in the refrigerator for one full day if frozen.

Next, blind bake!

Pre-heat the oven to 450F with the rack on the lowest level.  Remove pie dough from fridge and place on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough starting from the middle out, rotate 45 degrees and roll again.  Repeat this process until the circle of dough measures 9 inches.  Place dough in the pie pan, crimp as desired, and place the pie dough in the freezer.  Allow to freeze for 20 minutes.

Remove frozen pie crust and cover with aluminum foil.  Fill the crust with dried beans.  They should come all the way up to the crimps!  Place pie on baking sheet pan and place in oven.  Bake until the crimps are light golden brown, about 25-28 minutes.  Check for doneness by peeling back a bit of the foil.  Remove pie crust from oven and cool on a wire rack for 6 minutes before removing foil.  The pie is now ready to be filled!

Directions for filling and streusel topping:

Using a large bowl, add peaches, blueberries, ginger, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, and tapioca starch.  Mix well.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, oats, brown sugar, salt, and butter.  Combine with your fingers until it resembles wet sand.  Set aside or refrigerate in an air-tight container until ready to use.

Pie Time!

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Pour filling into blind-baked pie crust.  Sprinkle streusel topping all over the fruit, covering it completely.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place pie on baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.  Bake the pie for 60 to 90 minutes or until the fruit juices are bubbling and the streusel topping is a rich golden-brown color.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 4 to 6 hours.  Pie is ready to eat when it is at room temperature.  Serve alone or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

The leftover pie will keep at room temperature for 2 days.  Be sure to cover well with plastic wrap.

5 End of Summer Pie Links

Savor peach season and make Smitten Kitchen’s peach pie.

Looking for a gluten-free summer pie option?  Head to Joy the Baker for her gluten-free peach and blueberry pie recipe.

This pie by Vanilla Bean Blog combines summer and fall flavors in one delicious pie.  Curious?  Check it out!

If you have more tomatoes than you know what to do with head to The Awesome Green blog for a sweet and savory tomato pie recipe that will not disappoint!

Pumpkin-flavored everything season has started.  Embrace it and make Love and Olive Oil’s s’more pumpkin pie recipe!

Farro Salad with Endive, Blueberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese + 5 Summer Salad Links

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If you are looking for another go-to summer salad, this is it.  Fresh blueberries and sliced endive come together with toasted almonds and hearty farro to make this not just a salad but a perfect summer meal.  The shallot vinaigrette is bright and compliments the earthy farro and sweet blueberries.  Fresh goat cheese and thinly sliced chives top this salad stunner adding a little creaminess and a bit of zing.  America’s Test Kitchen does it again.  If you haven’t ordered a copy of Vegetables Illustrated I encourage you to do so today!

Farro and Endive Salad with Blueberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated Vegetables Illustrated

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

1+ 1/2 cups cooked farro

Sea salt and pepper

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 heads of Belgian endive, about 4 ounces each, cut in half, cored, and thinly sliced cross-wide

1+1/2 cups blueberries

¾ cup toasted slivered almonds

1 cup crumbled goat cheese

Directions:

Cook farro according to package instructions.  Drain, rinse with cold water, drain, and set aside.  Toast almonds in a dry pan over low heat until fragrant and light brown.  Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together vinegar, shallot, chives, mustard, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to whisk.  Add drained farro, endive, blueberries, and almonds.  Toss to combine.  Next, season to taste with sea salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with goat cheese.  Serve and enjoy!  This salad makes excellent leftovers for lunch!

5 Summer Salad Links

Looking for a new Caprese salad to add to your collection?  Check out Brooklyn Supper’s shaved fennel and cherry bing Caprese salad.

Summer screams watermelon.  Why not try it in a salad with a little feta and mint?  Head to One-Pot Recipes blog for this one-pot recipe!

Take advantage of fresh corn season and make Kickass Baker’s avocado corn salad with white balsamic honey reduction.

Fruit salad is a welcome addition to any summer gathering.  Head to Bloglovin’ for a list of 5 fast and fancy fruit salads that are sure to be crowd-pleasers.

Israeli couscous salad with pickled shallots, peas, and feta is a must make every summer.  It’s also one of the most popular recipes on this blog.  Check it out!  I promise it will not disappoint!

ATK’s Oatmeal Raisin Bread + 5 Delicious Bread Links

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It has been a month since my grandmother passed.  I continue to walk around in a fog, seeing and hearing her everywhere I go.  Maybe at some point, I will continue my story of Ann and Tess based on my relationship with her.  Maybe I’ll share her final days with you.  Maybe not.  For now, I’ll continue to bake and cook.  I feel closer to her when I do as she was an excellent cook and baker.

I made bread for the first time.  This recipe hails from America’s Test Kitchen Cook It In Your Dutch Oven cookbook.  This bread is a project.  It’s a commitment but like most things that take time, it is worth it.  Rustic, earthy, slightly sweet, toasts well and especially satisfying with a generous slab of butter are all great descriptions but really you should just make it and find out for yourself.

Oatmeal Raisin Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Cook it in Your Dutch Oven Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup (3 ounces) old-fashion rolled oats

¾ cup (6 ounces) water, at room temperature

2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour

½ cup (2 ¾ ounces) whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons instant yeast or rapid-rise yeast

1 ½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk, at room temperature

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

½ cup raisins

Directions:

Microwave ¾ cup oats and water in a large bowl. Be sure bowl is covered. Stir occasionally until oats are soft and water is completely absorbed, 5 minutes or so. Cool completely and set aside.

Using the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk bread flour, whole-wheat flour, yeast, and salt. Whisk melted butter and milk together in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Attach the dough hook and begin mixing on low speed.  Very slowly, add milk/butter mixture to flour mixture. Mix until a dough forms and no dry flour is visible about 2 minutes.  You may need to scrape down the bowl as you mix.

Increase the speed to medium/low kneading the dough until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add raisins.  Next, slowly add oatmeal two tablespoons at a time.  Mix until well combined, about 3 minutes. Lightly grease a large bowl. Transfer dough to bowl and cover tightly with plastic.  Allow rising for 30 minutes.

Using your fingertips gently fold the dough over itself by folding the edge of the dough toward the middle. Turn bowl 45 degrees and fold again.  Turn bowl and fold 6 more times, 8 folds total. Cover tightly with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes.  Repeat the process of folding and rising every 30 minutes, 2 more times. After the 3rd fold and rise process, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes to 1 ¼ hours.

Place a large piece of parchment paper, about 18x12inches, on the counter and spray with vegetable oil spray. Transfer dough to parchment paper. Stretch dough to 10-inch round. Be sure to deflate any gas pockets bigger than 1-inch. Working around the perimeter of the dough, fold the edges towards the center until ball forms. Flip dough so the seam of the dough ball is now on the bottom. Cup your hands and drag tiny circles on the counter until dough is stiff and round.  Mist the dough lightly with water on all sides.  Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of oats and press gently so the oats adhere to the dough.

Place loaf, seam side down, on the parchment paper. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap.  Let dough rise until loaf increases in size to about half and the dough slightly bounces back when gently pushed with your knuckle, anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Thirty minutes prior to baking place your Dutch oven with the lid on in the oven on the lowest rack.  Pre-heat the oven to 500F.

Slash the bread with a sharp paring knife, making two 5-inch long and a ½ inch deep slashes to form a cross in the center of the bread.  Remove any exposed raisins.

Remove Dutch oven from oven and place on wire rack. Remove the lid. Using the parchment as a sling, lower the dough into the Dutch oven.  Tuck in any excess parchment paper and place the lid back on the Dutch oven. Place in oven and reduce the temperature to 425F. Bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the loaf is a deep golden brown and the temperature of the bread is 200 to 210 degrees, about 20 minutes.

Using the parchment paper sling, remove the bread and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely for 3 hours, before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

5 Delicious Bread Links

Alexandra’s Kitchen is my favorite blog.  I have yet to try a recipe that isn’t completely satisfying and delicious.  Check out her recipes for the easiest focaccia bread and the best no-knead brioche buns.  They will not disappoint!

Food 52 claims their milk bread recipe will produce the most addictive bread you will ever eat.  Curious?  Here is the recipe.

Looking for a breakfast bread to serve at your next brunch?  Check out What Should I Eat For Breakfast’s cinnamon raisin walnut bread and The Surban Soapbox everything bagel brioche bread.

 

 

Creamy Leek & Potato Soup + America’s Test Kitchen’s Vegetables Illustrated Cookbook Review

Cook’s Illustrated new cookbook Vegetables Illustrated is a beautifully compiled cookbook of delicious, easy to make, and crowd-pleasing recipes featuring vegetables as the star.  The cookbook reads like a reference guide with vegetables separated into individual chapters accompanied by tips, tricks, and innovative recipes that any meat lover will enjoy.

I chose the creamy leek and potato soup because I was craving something warm and comforting with the taste and colors of spring.  April in New England is a bit like Jekyll and Hyde, sunny and warm one day then raw and raining the next!  This soup did not disappoint in flavor or comfort.  The flavor of the leeks shines through while the thyme compliments its earthy flavor.  The addition of the russet potato and bread make this soup hearty without the addition of cream.  Seasoning to taste with salt and pepper is important as both bring out the flavor of the leeks.  I added a bit of Maldon sea salt flakes which is a must buy for any salt lover.  Just a sprinkle is all you need.  Serve this soup with fresh, crusty bread and you have comfort in a bowl.

Next on my list of must makes from this cookbook is the southwestern radish and apple salad, quickly followed by a carrot cake recipe that makes my mouth water every time I look at the photograph.  With four hundred and eighty-five pages of recipes, I have a lot to explore and just in time with fresh produce from farmer’s markets arriving soon.  You can purchase this cookbook here.  I highly recommend it.  Happy Spring!

I reached out to America’s Test Kitchen who sent me this cookbook for free.  All opinions are my own.

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

Serves 4 to 6

Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Vegetables Illustrated

 Ingredients:

2 pounds leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise and sliced thin, dark green parts halved and cut into 2-inch pieces, (be sure to wash all of it thoroughly)

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)

2 cups of water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

Kosher salt and pepper

1 small russet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼ inch slices

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of fresh thyme or tarragon (I used thyme.)

1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, toasted a bit and torn into ¼ inch pieces

Directions:

Add broth, water, and dark green leek pieces to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  Using a fine mesh sieve strain broth over an empty bowl while pushing on the solids to release as much liquid and flavor as possible.  Set aside.

Add butter to a now-empty saucepan and melt over medium-low heat.  Add sliced white bread, green leeks, onion, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Reduce heat to low and cook stirring often until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Next, increase the heat to high and add broth, potato, bay leaf, and herb sprig.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until potato is soft and bread breaks down about 10 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and herb sprig.  Process soup in batches in a blender or use a handheld immersion blender to save you time.  Process until smooth.  Bring to a simmer and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt flakes and thyme leaves.  Serve with crusty bread if desired.  Enjoy!

 

 

America’s Test Kitchen’s Bucatini with Peas, Kale and Pancetta

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America’s Test Kitchen just recently came out with a new cookbook called Cook It in Your Dutch Oven.  I flipped through three hundred pages of beautiful images of food with easy, mouth-watering recipes before settling on bucatini with peas, kale, and pancetta as a new weeknight meal to try.   Pasta is such a comfort food, especially during a cold New England winter.  Why not add one more in our weekly rotation of comfort food?

This recipe is light but heavy on flavor thanks to the addition of bacon crumbles and lemon infused panko bread crumbs.  Five cups of kale add a healthy green and a bit of a bitter flavor which offsets the rich bacon undertones.  The crunchy, bright breadcrumbs and crisp bacon add excellent texture and depth.  Easy, kid-friendly and all of it made in your Dutch oven, what’s not to like?

Cook It In Your Dutch Oven includes recipes for one-pot dinners, classic soups, hearty stews and chilis, roasts and braises, fried foods, simple sides, bakery style breads, and dessert.  Lamb meatballs with orzo, tomatoes and feta, spicy Thai-style shrimp soup, classic beef stew, roast chicken with cranberry-walnut stuffing, and California-style fried fish tacos are just a few of the recipes that are now on my must make list.  My desire for sweets takes precedence over my desire for savory so I may need to start with chocolate lava cake for a crowd.

Interested in buying a copy?  Head to America’s Test Kitchen or Amazon.  Enjoy!

 

*I reached out to America’s Test Kitchen.  In exchange for testing a recipe and posting it on my blog, I received a free copy of Cook It In Your Dutch Oven. *

 

Bucatini with Peas, Kale and Pancetta

Serves 4 to 6

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cookbook Cook It In Your Dutch Oven

Ingredients:

½ cup panko bread crumbs, toasted

1 ½ ounce of Parmesan cheese, about ¾ cup

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Salt and pepper ( I used Kosher salt.)

2 ounces of pancetta, cut into ½ inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup dry white wine

2 ½ cups water, + more as needed

2 cups chicken broth

1-pound bucatini

5 ounces of baby kale, about 5 cups

1 cup of frozen peas

Directions:

Toast breadcrumbs in a small skillet with a bit of olive oil until golden brown.  Next, mix together toasted breadcrumbs, ¼ cup of Parmesan, olive oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Cook pancetta in your Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Set aside until ready to serve pasta.

Add garlic and remaining lemon zest to Dutch oven and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.  Add wine, scraping any browned bits and cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Add water and broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in pasta and return to a strong simmer.  Cook pasta, stirring often until the pasta is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add kale and peas.  Stir and continue to cook until the peas and kale are tender about 4 minutes.  Add remaining Parmesan and stir until pasta is creamy and completely coated about 30 seconds.  Add extra hot water if pasta seems too dry.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve and sprinkle each serving with crispy pancetta and lemon panko breadcrumbs.  Enjoy!

St. John Banana Bread + 5 Must-Try Banana Bread Links

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“Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver

Tess arrived two days after Ann’s daughter was born with warm banana bread in one hand and a dozen red roses in the other.  Tess wasn’t much for hugs or kisses and I love you showed far too much weakness.  Tess was many things but never vulnerable.  She was never brought to her knees in love or heartache, grief or anguish.  And if Tess had, no one was witness to it.  Food meant love.  And flowers? I’m thinking of you. Happy Birthday. Congratulations.  I’m proud of you.  I love you but I’ll never tell you.  Ann understood this about her mother.  She didn’t mind Tess’ peculiarities about love.

Ann hugged Tess harder than usual feeling her breasts now engorged with milk and nipples raw and tender press against her mother’s own aging breasts.

[Breasts that eleven years later would turn against her, forming cancer that Tess ignored, eating her body, mind, and soul a bit each day.  Days turned into weeks into months, months into years, an act of war leaving open wounds that could not heal for those that loved her.}

Mae, still pink from birth with bits of patchy Neanderthal hair on one shoulder and perfect rose-colored lips, cooed from the other room summoning the women to attend to her.  Tess picked her up and held her with such tenderness Ann felt like crying.   Ann blamed postpartum hormones on the tears forming but never coming to fruition. And yet she knew the tears were more than hormones.  Watching her mother become so accessible to this child made her heart hurt.  Ann could not bare to watch them interact any longer and then Tess asked Mae: “I wonder what your purpose will be?”

Ann thinks of this now as she sits with Tess who is covered in afghans because she can’t get warm enough. Tissues fill the basket next to the tattered chair she cannot leave and half of a banana sits on the side table next to Tess which Tess promises to eat…later.  Ann watches her mother’s swollen belly move with each breath, bandages from Tess’ now concave breast peak outside from the top of her shirt.  She notices Tess’ hair, the perm she always had now faded.  She listens to Tess repeat herself over and over while trying to draw out the woman she once knew.  Ann manages to find Tess again simply by asking: where is your banana bread recipe?

St. John Banana Bread

Makes 1 9x5x3 inch loaf

Recipe handed down by my grandmother and slightly adapted by me

Ingredients:

½ or 1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups of sifted unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 large very ripe bananas, mashed

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ raw sugar

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional) I did not use them.

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Grease and lightly flour the loaf pan and set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand-held mixer cream the butter and sugar on medium speed, scraping the bowl once or twice with a spatula.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle with ¼ cup of raw sugar.  Bake until golden brown or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean 50-60 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Once cool remove the bread from the loaf pan.  Slice and serve.  Enjoy!

**Once cool wrap bread in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.  You can also freeze this bread until ready to use.  Be sure to defrost overnight. **

5 Must Try Banana Bread Links

If you are looking for a few interesting twists to banana bread head to the Wall St. Journal for recipes like coffee-hazelnut banana bread or black sesame coconut banana cake with white sesame cream.

Nutella lovers everywhere must check out Zoe Bakes Nutella swirled banana bread.

This banana bread recipe is one of King Arthur Flour’s recipe of 2018.

Chocolate and banana are one of my favorite combinations.  Head to Pastry Affair for chocolate cacao nib banana bread recipe that is sure not to disappoint.