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Digesting

A perfect snack

I wrote this post about a week ago – and never posted it. Oh my goodness, it feels so good to read over this post now, a week later, remembering how stressed out and tired I was then and how GREAT I feel now! I am finally done with nursing school’s dirty little trick – summer boot camp. I didn’t get an ulcer, I am not sick with the flu (yet), and I did pretty darn ok! I am going to write another entry shortly, reflecting on my experience over the summer, since I didn’t get to digest it before…but for now I have this for you…

(Written a week ago…) The inspiration for this recipe hails from my mom. Clearly, I cannot make her recipes taste better, nothing tastes better than the mom-infused touch, but I can at least try and make it healthier. Ah, the dreaded words. However, in nursing school bootcamp, with little-to-no-time to exercise (a lame excuse, I know) I am trying to be more conscious of what I eat. For the time being. Because I am in the 6 day countdown till FREEDOM, and once that bell tolls, it’s all about running, and playing and eating freely!

Healthful Yogurt Banana Bread

  • 2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2-3/4 C. sugar (depending on how ripe your bananas are: more ripe=less sugar)
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 C. toasted walnuts/pecans; chopped coarsely–about 1 cup (optional)
  • 3 very ripe, darkly speckled large bananas
  • 1/4 c. yogurt (I use plain greek yogurt)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled (I used less, probably about 3 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract, cinnamon if you like!

1) Use a regular loaf pan, grease and flour bottom and sides. Preheat oven to 350.

2) Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, nuts.

3) Mash the bananas well, and mix them with the yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Fold this mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake 55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, transfer to wire rack.

Of course, there are many fun variations you can try too. Banana bread is never boring! Try using a flavored yogurt, such as vanilla. My mom regularly made her famous banana bread studded with chocolate chips. You can try different nuts, adding coconut, substituting some apple sauce, adding in some zucchini to fraternize with the banana, etc, etc — the possibilities are endless. Let me know if you come up with any fantastic variations. I can’t wait to try it!

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2010 in Breads & Muffins, Snacks

 

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Beer in my belly: A recipe for the road

Beer in my belly: A recipe for the road

This puppy is coming with me.

I have been trying to perfect this recipe from scratch ever since my mom brought home an AMAZING mix for beer bread. It was truly phenomenal. Locally milled flour made it taste even better, but somehow there was something not quite as satisfying when saying, “I made it from a mix.” I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the 50’s housewife in me raring her perfectly coiffed head to shout (demurely), “Baking from scratch is the only way to bake!” So, a few beer bread mixes later, a number of failed attempts and one or two blind taste tests, I have honed the recipe to one that I believe is in the same league as the original (squirm) “mix” bread.

And it is excruciatingly simple.

You’ll never make another bread without thinking of the simplicity of this one. And when you eat an entire loaf in less time than in takes to drink a Fat Tire, you don’t need to feel bad because you can have another loaf piping hot from the oven in less than an hour. Now, down to the deets:

Classy Drunk Bread

  • 3 C self-rising flour*
  • ½ cups sugar (don’t scrimp)
  • 1 12 oz beer (this is classy beer bread, use the microbrew, it packs a sweeter punch in flavor)
  • Few Tbsp melted butter (the mix called for ½ a cup, but I find a few tbsp to be just as good)

*You can make your own self-rising flour. However, when I did it, I found the taste to be lacking. A little too salty and maybe a little more dense? I still haven’t perfected the measurements, but this is the common technique: for each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 ½ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt. (I would consider adding less salt next time.) Mix to combine.

Preheat oven to 375. Sift or spoon flour into measuring cup and carefully level off. Don’t put in too much flour or the result will be dense. Add sugar, and then beer, room temperature if possible. Mix, but do not overmix! Just mix until everything is barely combined in a sticky glob. Dump into a well-greased loaf pan (or skillet…I love the skillet bread). If you are dying to spend more time on this bread, consider letting it rest for 30 minutes. It will rise and become a little lighter. Not necessary, but delicious. Then, pour a few tablespoons of butter (or ½ cup if you feel like being decadent) over the bread. Yes, pour it over the unbaked loaf. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Don’t burn your tongue, but enjoy it warm! Is it possible that this bread tastes even better the morning after? Hair of the dog….if it lasts that long…

 
 

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A Spoonful of Food Tripping

My food adventure through the lens of my camera begins here. Enjoy the ride…and try not to salivate on your keyboard like I am doing now.

The first supper. Medialunas are the mana of Argentina.

Yerba mate: the national drink. I strive to adopt it.

Empanadas de todos los gustos

The Day I Discovered Eggs Benedict. Oui Oui!

The perfect cafecito. Also Oui Oui...Argentine French cuisine done best.

Since Argentine breakfasts were lacking, Oui Oui became a mild obsession

Dilly-dallying in the art of Argentine asado

A typical Argentine parilla (the BBQ)

A typical Argentine asado hosted in our Iguazu hostel. Love the signage

Another Argentine national beverage, Fernet Branca + Coca

The beginning of another feast: FONDUE

A painful waiting game

Maybe not so typically Argentine, but beautiful all the same

A side trip to Brazil, in beverages at least. Caipirinhas!

Known for their delicious pastas...demonstrated by her inability to wait for me to take the picture

Little gnocchi clouds

This food trip certainly does not lack carbs. Here is the token fruit. Just coming into season! 5 pesos for half a kilo.

My least favorite meal of the entire trip. Bus food is inedible. I know that now. Not a pretty picture. Nor was I post-bus ride.

Very few things could make me more happy than drinking mate on a cycling break.

And the last supper. My family's "famous" banana bread recipe cum Argentine. It has been adopted by mi familia Argentina. Recipe follows...

Ladies and gentleman, we are reaching our final destination. Thank you for choosing Healing Spoonful for your travels today. We hope that you enjoy your stay here, or wherever your final destination may be. If you will be staying in the area, we invite you to enjoy this complimentary recipe, courtesy of the family. 🙂

Banana Muffins

  • 1/2 C softened butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 bananas (well ripened, mushed well)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

This recipe may be quite easily doubled or even tripled. I guarantee that it would be good foresight to do so.

Butter and flour a muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the softened butter with the sugar until it has a smooth consistency. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition. Combine the banana puree and vanilla and mix well. Seperately, combine the flour with the salt and baking powder. Add it little by little to the batter and continue mixing until it is fully integrated.

Fill the muffin tin, being careful not to fill each cup too high, as the muffins will grow while they bake. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are a light golden brown.

The recipe follows in Spanish…just for kicks.

Muffins de Banana

  • 1/2 taza de manteca pomada
  • 1 taza de azúcar
  • 2 huevos
  • 2 bananas cortadas y pisadas
  • 1 cucharadita de esencia de vainilla
  • 2 tazas de harina tipo 0000
  • 1 cucharadita de sal
  • 1 cucharadita de polvo de hornear

Enmantecar y enharinar un molde para muffins.

Batir la manteca con el azúcar hasta que tengan una consistencia ligera. Agregar los huevos de a uno, batiendo después de cada adición. Adicionar las bananas hechas puré y la esencia de vainilla; batir nuevamente para unificar la mezcla. Mezclar la harina, la sal y el polvo de hornear. Agregarlos a la mezcla anterior y seguir batiendo para obtener una preparación homogénea.
Colocar la mezcla con una cuchara en los moldes para muffins. Tratar de no pasarse del borde superior del recipiente utilizado, porque van a crecer durante la cocción. Cocinar a horno suave (aproximadamente 180/200ºC) durante 15 ó 20 minutos. Para chequear cuándo están listos, no abrir la puerta del horno, porque si no se detiene el crecimiento; en vez de eso, encender la luz del horno y asegurarse que esté dorada la parte superior de los muffins, eso es signo de que están listos.

– Por: Agustina

 

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Zucchini Loaves & Legs

I only work three days a week at my assisted living facility. The upside of this is: I only work three days a week! The downside is: I never know what to expect when I come in for a new week of work. Much can change in the four days that I am off. Assisted living is full of surprises. To catch up, I read the Daily Logs from the past few days (like reading a novel) and cross over pertinent information with the last shift. But, there’s nothing like actually working with your residents that truly catches you up to the week’s events. This week, a care manager informed me that one of my residents, Marlene*, had fallen a few days ago and fractured her pelvis. Marlene is an 80-pound waif, still brimming with vigor and vim, and I was devastated to hear about her fall. Until then, she had been fairly independent, walking around with only a “scooter” and bringing herself to meals and socials. I helped her prepare for bed and gave her a hydro once a week. Needless to say, with a fractured pelvis, she was about to lose much of this independence.

That same day, I found out that one of my other residents, Addie*, was given a quite different piece of news: she was cleared by the doctor to start walking again. Due to a blood clot in her leg (deep vein thrombosis) she had been told that she could no longer walk because the doctors feared that the clot would travel upwards. Her leg became swollen, red and hot to the touch, the hallmarks of inflammation. We talked about it nearly every night while getting ready for bed. Addie felt understandably distressed about her “fat” leg and didn’t completely understand why it had just appeared one day, and why she couldn’t just go “buy another one.” We looked at it mostly with humor, but I also understood that she was frustrated. The fact that she had been cleared to walk again most likely meant that some of her edema would dissipate, but more importantly, she would regain some of the freedom that the wheelchair had stolen. We relegated the chair to a dark corner of her room, and relinquished control of her walker. It was a happy day for Addie. Despite feeling weakness in her knees, she powered through walking to social and dinner, all without asking for the wheelchair even once. It took some delicate huffing and puffing to make it there, but we did it. I was so proud of Addie.

That night, while caring for Marlene, I struggled with these two tales. I celebrated Addie’s recent achievement, but wondered about her regained independence. Was it Marlene’s independence that had brought on this truly unfortunate accident? There are statistics that they tell us about Falls when we start working as care managers. One of the most striking stats is that “The average resident will die 5 years after his/her first fall.” Clearly, statistics can be manipulated, and I certainly hope this one is not entirely accurate, but it has staying power. I think about it as I help grimacing Marlene stand up in the bathroom. I think about it when she tells me that she is in too much pain to have a hydro that evening. They say that all falls are avoidable (which makes you feel terrible if you are ever present for a fall). Yet, they also say that you must help your residents maintain as much independence as possible. How can both statements be true? I understand that the ISPs (individualized service plans) serve the purpose of evaluating every resident’s unique needs and tailoring a care plan specifically to that individual, but it only takes one accident for that care plan to become null. As I mulled it over, I helped Marlene put on the two legs of her pajamas. She bit her lip while trying to lift the “Bad” leg. Then, she looked up at me and grinned. She said, “I guess this is why God gives us two legs.” I looked at her curiously. She continued, “So that when you screw one of them up, at least you still have the other one to be happy about.” We laughed together and I felt better. Marlene will recover. She has plenty of life left in her. And I will help her to regain the independence that she is so proud to have.

*Names changed

—–

We are going to the Olympics today! Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are staying in Vancouver and Whistler, in the homes of family friends. Since these friends have made clear to us that they could easily rent out our room for a royal sum if we weren’t staying with them I wanted to bring them a little something to make us more valuable as house guests. Clearly, my famous zucchini bread is the answer.

This recipe is my own. It was modified from another one, found a few years ago (I don’t know where) when I was living a summer drowning in zucchini. We had planted 3 or 4 zucchini plants in our P-Patch garden. Being novices, we did not understand that a singular zucchini plant will feed a family of 12…and 4 zucchini plants will make you feel like your entire body will turn to zucchini shreds if you have even just one more bite! The only thing to do with so much zucchini (literally grown to the size of baseball bats) was to turn it into beautiful, tan, and chewy-crunchy loaves of zucchini bread. I made enough for our entire neighborhood of friends, twice, and then froze as much of it as I possibly could in perfectly proportioned batches of shredded zucchini for to make two loaves of bread. Now, 2 1/2 years later, I am finally down to my last bagful of frozen zucchini delight. And it is traveling to the Olympics!

Drowning in Zucchini Bread

Rachel Deutsch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients

3 C. Flour (I prefer equal parts whole wheat and all-purpose)

3 C. Grated Zucchini (I use a food processor to grate it coarsely)

2 C. Sugar

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 tsp. Baking Powder

3 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

3 tsp. Vanilla

3 Eggs

3/4 C. Vegetable Oil (downsized from the original recipe which called for a full cup. Sometimes I even use 1/2 a cup)

1-2 C. Walnuts or Chocolate Chips (optional, but delightful)

Directions

This is one of the easiest recipes to whip up. Mix it all together. That’s it! Truly. Grease two loaf pans WELL. I put in the chocolate chips (if I am using them) very last, only seconds before I pour the batter into two greased loaf pans. Otherwise, they have a tendency to fall to the bottom.

Bake ~1 hour at 350. Times may vary. Check with a toothpick when the top is a beautiful golden brown.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2010 in Breads & Muffins, Healing Spoonful

 

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Uff Da!

Nelly*, one of my residents, regularly disarms me with her dry wit. For example, her daughter gave her a calendar for Christmas. You know those calendars that you can made at a photo shop or online? Well, it is one of those. And every single month features the same little blonde girl, striking various poses, participating in a multitude of activities…you get the idea. So, after flipping through the calendar one day while chatting with Nelly, I asked her about the girl. “Nelly, who’s the cute little girl in all these pictures?” She looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said, “Oh God, doesn’t it just make you sick? Poor girl’s going to grow up thinking that everyone wants to look at her, be her friend, give her anything she wants. It just makes me sick to think how her parents are raising her.” I stutter for a second, “Oh, well, um isn’t she your granddaughter?” “Oh of course she is, and she’s a real sweetie, and she sure is pretty,” Nelly replies, “But that doesn’t mean I have to want to look at her 365 days a year!” I crack up because, I mean, well isn’t that the plain Jane truth without all the candy coating?

Nelly’s also easy to care for. She pages to use the bathroom at least once an hour (and that’s a conservative estimate) which certainly makes my legs tired from all the jogging up and down the stairs, but it’s not difficult. When I walk into her room she says, “Yup, need to use the toilet again,” I position her wheelchair, lock it, and firmly plant my arm in the crook of her armpit and, on the count of three, we heave up together from her recliner chair. I barely have time to help her plant her feet on the floor, before she plops down in the wheelchair, crooked, cockeyed, and without any pretense of grace. I look at her, slightly exasperated, and say, “Nelly, if you don’t wait for me to help you pivot, one day you’re going to end up on the floor!” She just laughs and replies, “I’m a dumper.  I dump in my recliner and I dump in my wheelchair; I just gotta get there!” I shake my head, but I am smiling. All I can do is be there to make sure she transfers safely. I can’t always control whether it looks pretty or not. Once we’re in the bathroom, I wait just outside for her to finish, staring at the magnets on her fridge, proudly declaring that she is a “Ballard Norwegian” and “uff da!” The other day, the med tech knocked on the door just as Nelly was finishing. I ask Nelly if it’s okay if she comes in, and she says, “Oh, why not.” When the med tech offers her the small cocktail of pills and a cup of water, she chuckles, looks up at both of us and says, “There really is nothing like taking your medicine on the pot!”

*Names changed

In honor of Nelly’s refreshingly simple attitude, I am including this no-nonsense, ridiculously easy, recipe for bread.

No Knead Bread

From: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes via Honey and Jam

Perfect for simple butter toast, sandwiches, pizza dough, bread bowls, naan…the list goes on, and on…
3 C. of lukewarm water
1 1/2 T. active dry yeast
1 1/2 T. coarse salt
6 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

Grab a very large mixing bowl, or a big container that you can cover. In it, mix the water, yeast, and salt. You don’t have to heat up the water to a precise optimal temperature for the yeast. Even regular tap water works. Just let that sit together for a while, then dump the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon. You don’t need to knead this, and you’re not looking to make it come together into a dough ball. You just want everything mixed well, with no streaks of flour left, and you’re done.

Leave it in your container, covered (but not airtight, or it’ll pop), for a few hours (1-2 worked for me). When it has risen and then deflated a bit, your dough is done. It’s ready to be used or stored in the refrigerator.

To bake the bread, just grab a chunk of dough (any size, the recipe suggests the size of a grapefruit). Dust your hands with flour to help prevent sticking, and gently pull the sides of the dough toward the bottom, rotating the dough, until you get a roundish shape with a smooth surface. It should only take you about a minute or less to do this. Don’t worry about bunching near the bottom. It will look rustic.

Put it on a cutting board that’s been dusted with cornmeal to prevent sticking, and let it rest for at least 40 minutes. No need to cover it. If the dough has been refrigerated, it helps to let it rest a little more, until it’s no longer chilled.

Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake, put a cast iron skillet (or a pizza stone) in the middle rack of your oven, and put a broiler pan (I used a cookie sheet) in the bottom rack. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Dust some flour on the top of your loaf, and slash the top, about 1/4-inch deep.

After twenty minutes of preheating, it’s time to bake. (You can put the bread in after 20 minutes, even if your oven hasn’t reached 450 degrees yet.) Slide the loaf onto the baking stone, and then quickly pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler pan. Then quickly shut the oven door to keep the steam inside.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until you get a nice brown crust. Remove and let cool completely, if you can wait that long.

Recipe notes: It might seem difficult to incorporate all of the flour into the yeast mixture, but just keep mixing. You can add just a little bit of water at a time to help, if needed. The recipe calls for a pizza stone, but Honey and Jam suggested a cast iron skillet, which worked perfectly for me. Also, The Ivory Hut suggests that you let the dough sit longer during the rest period to encourage a nice sourdough flavor. I will try that next time! You can also mix your next batch together in the same bowl with the remnants of your last batch and get the same sexy sourdough effect.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2010 in Breads & Muffins, Healing Spoonful

 

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And as I promised…

…the bread I am baking.

Matt asked me why I am cooking so much. (Goodness, doesn’t the boy know not to question about his good luck?) We both decided that I am cooking to deal with my stress regarding (1) what Oral Surgery program Matt would get into and (2) what Nurse Practitioner program I will get into. Now that it is just me left, I am keeping my fingers crossed as I knead the bread dough. (Sort of awkward, made me want to crack my knuckles. Didn’t last long.) Cliché perhaps, but I found the kneading very therapeutic. And the sweet yeasty smell of this yummy bread recipe is now making my mouth water incessantly. So, without further ado…

Maple Oatmeal Bread

From the kitchen of “One Perfect Bite” Courtesy of: Bernard Clayton

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
2-1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon oil
5 to 6 cups all-purpose/whole wheat flour + flour for kneading

Directions:
1) Place oats in a large bowl. Pour in boiling water. Stir and set aside for 1 hour.
2) Add yeast, syrup, salt and oil to the oats. Add 3 cups of flour and mix well. (I used a 3:1 ratio of whole wheat to all-purpose.) Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until small bubbles form on surface of dough, about 1 hour.
3) Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough comes together. Turn it onto a floured surface and knead, using flour as required, for ten minutes. Dough will still be sticky, but it will form a cohesive mass. Shape dough into 2 loaves and place in 2 greased pans. Cover and let rise another 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
4) Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until bread is brown and sounds hollow when thumped with a finger. Transfer pans to a cooling rack. Brush tops lightly with butter. Remove from pans and cool to room temperature before slicing.

Yield: 2 loaves.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2010 in Breads & Muffins

 

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