Strange times… Staying at home for the duration is obviously wreaking havoc on us all.
Being an introvert, I haven’t found being physically isolated overly challenging. Fortunately, this is 2020, so technology allows powerful ways to stay connected while remaining sequestered while we try to flatten the curve.
I am fortunate that I don’t have anywhere I’m supposed to be. My schedule is mostly my own. Thankfully, many of the events that give my week structure have moved on-line. I can still “attend” classes at my yoga studio via Zoom. My early-morning boot camp friends have organized for an abbreviated workout also on Zoom. The video lets me see familiar faces, though not so much chatting. My book group even met on-line this week. And I had a video meetup with my sisters with cameo appearances by their other family members.
I’ve also reintroduced daily walks that petered off after our dog died. Sometimes I walk with Howard, sometimes alone. I now realize how much I miss checking what’s going on in the surrounding neighborhood with a daily tour.
I also forced some forsythia from the yard for some early spring cheer. And, I gave Howard a haircut, with clippers. In the long term, I won’t be replacing the barber, but I did a good enough job to fill in for now.
My sourdough starter, normally relegated to the refrigerator between loaves, has taken up residence on the counter. In the past week, I’ve made baguettes twice plus baked an olive-rosemary loaf. And I just pulled a country boule out of the oven.
Grocery shopping is an activity I adore, and normally, I go almost every day. You could almost call it a hobby. In trying to steer clear of germs, for the first time in recent memory, it’s been a week since I stepped foot in a grocery store. This means I’m successfully making progress on my never-ending goal of reducing the contents of the freezer. I’ve found some treasures. We are eating well. There’s plenty in there: a chicken, a duck, CSA vegetables I froze over the summer, leftover scraps like chunks of corned beef and roasted turkey, frozen homemade soup and tomato sauce. Obviously, we’ll need to refresh the perishables soon, but it’s been a fun ongoing challenge .
All the exercise seems to be countering the increased cooking and baking I’ve been doing. I’ve actually lost weight.
On my last foray to the grocery store, I planned ahead for this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe challenge Last-of-the-Bunch Banana Bundt and picked up a bunch of bananas. I have an interesting relationship with bananas. My perfect eating banana is well past where most people will have made a banana bread. I’m someone who buys a bag of bananas off the seconds table and still waits a week before I consider them edible. I can’t stand any hint of that “green” flavor bananas have.
When I was ready to bake the banana Bundt, I used the first of the bunch, not the last. The other bananas are still waiting to be ready for me to eat.
I made a few adjustments to Dorie’s banana Bundt. For one thing, I don’t like coconut. I’ll eat Thai curry made with coconut milk, but the texture of shredded coconut repulses me. I wasn’t sure what would happen if I left out that volume of ingredients, so substituted chopped pecans. I also chose to use extra butter instead of coconut oil for the same reason.
As you might guess, Howard doesn’t eat bananas at all, not even in cake. I’m not currently comfortable about the safety of sharing food I prepare with people outside my house, and the last thing I want to do is eat an entire cake by myself. So, in the interest of minify-ing, I divided by the eggs and made half the batter. Many years ago, I bought a mini-Bundt pan that’s never been used. This was the perfect occasion for its maiden bake. For fun, I followed through with the icing. My milk had soured, so I used cream instead. It took quite a bit to make the icing thin enough to drizzle. I wasn’t so artistic with that.
The end result: half a dozen mini-Bundts giving me a week’s worth of darling sweets to look forward to with an afternoon cup of tea. This was a nice cake! I liked the addition of bittersweet chocolate. It offset the sweetness of the banana. The pecans worked well too.
If you have bananas, you probably already have the other ingredients on hand. Last-of-the-Bunch Banana Bundt makes a good candidate for “distracti-baking” while you’re social distancing at home.
Keep yourself and your family safe and healthy. You are in my thoughts. I’m grateful that we’re connected across the miles, oceans, etc. We’re all in this together.
It’s the end of summer, and it seems like every meal revolves around corn and tomatoes. We’re trying to get our fill before the season’s over, and we’ll have to wait for next summer to come around.
I’ve been slicing tomatoes, roasting tomatoes, making tomato tarts, making sauce, and, of course, making Panzanella, or as we call it at my house, Bread Salad. I make this all the time in the summer. I start with the basics: tomatoes, alliums, toasted bread, and vinaigrette and add whatever else is around and matches my mood. Sometimes, I add capers and olives, other times avocados and corn, tailoring the herbs and the dressing match the add-ins.
This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays is yet another variation: Tomato and Peach Panzanella. It’s the same idea of what I usually make with diced peaches added. The peaches gave an extra boost of late summer flavor. Of course, I had to make this without the peaches and just add them to my portion. As you might expect, Howard wasn’t into the fruit in a savory salad thing. I liked the full-blown combination. I won’t make this one again because of Howard’s rules, though I might add lemon zest sometimes. I liked the unexpected brightness it brought to the bowl.