Hummingbird cake

I believe that my God can turn a mess into a message.

Like this hummingbird cake.

I was in high spirits. The homework was done early and I had plenty of time to bake. Perhaps my spirits were a bit too elated, because I made some…blunders.

I had originally intended to halve the recipe and make one 9″ cake, not two. When I make a recipe for the first time, I like to make a smaller batch, just in case it doesn’t turn out well.

Except…as I flitted about my small kitchen, measuring and pouring, the realization struck me that I had used half the amount of flour called for…but the same amount of baking soda.

I know what too much baking soda can do. It can make one’s cake turn out flat!

EEP!

So I had to add flour and make the entire recipe. Three cups of flour, two 9″ round cakes.

I was pushed very far out of my comfort zone.

Still, something inside me told me to relax; all would be well. I mixed the batter and placed the cake into the oven.

About fifteen minutes into baking, I came to a dire and appalling consciousness.

I. Had. Forgotten. To. Add. Eggs.

This was not intended to be a vegan cake. It was supposed to have two eggs.

I nearly collapsed to the floor.

Still, the inner voice told me to keep calm. This was a culinary mess. God can turn a mess into a message.

The timer counted down. The oven radiated heat. The cakes baked on.

I pulled the cakes from the oven. They looked fine. But how would they taste?

 

Heavenly.

 

Hummingbird Cake

Recipe from Baking Bites

Ingredients:

1.5 cups white whole wheat flour

1.5 cups cake flour

2 cups sugar or Stevia in the raw or Truvia

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil or applesauce

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs (don’t forget them! *wink*)

2 cups banana, chopped (2 medium-large)

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained (or finely chopped fresh pineapple)

Cream cheese frosting, if desired (recipe follows)

 

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, mix together vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.

Stir chopped banana into flour mixture and toss to coat. Stir pineapple into wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry and mix.

Divide evenly between pans. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until done. Cool.

Eat as is, or layer with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

 

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese block, any fat content

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, strained

1 tsp vanilla extract

1T powdered sugar

1 cup Stevia in the raw or sugar

Beat ingredients together until smooth. Chill.

The Only Banana Walnut Bread You Will Ever Need

“‘There was once a small, strange man,’ she said. Her arms were loose but her hands were fists at her side. ‘But there was a wordshaker, too.'”

The Book Thief

I love words.

I love to learn them, take them apart, study them, fondle them.

I’m an abysmal speaker; I rattle on too rapidly to be comprehensible and trip over my clumsy tongue in a flamboyant display of nervousness. The words in my head crying for release protest indignantly at the manner in which they are unceremoniously, inelegantly, and clumsily dumped out through my tongue. I am neither mellifluous nor silver-tongued. The eloquence of my writing is merely satisfactory.

Yet I love words. I love them in their glorious beauty and ugliness. Their pulchritude and power. The best-placed words are simple yet profound, delicate as the petals of cherry blossoms yet impacting and deep as the hammer’s blow.

We have seen throughout the past that words and rhetoric have altered the course of history, for better or for worse. They have pushed wars and made peace, inspired hatred and promoted equality for all mankind.

Words have a history of their own. Languages have come from languages, words borrowed from words.

Words are beautiful.

This banana bread, which I am sharing with you today, is also beautiful.

My mother requested that I make banana bread with walnuts. My mother is always right.

I have some words to characterize this banana bread: enticing, delectable, ineffable, aperitive, saporous, palatable, sublime.

The banana and walnut flavors balance each other perfectly.

Banana Walnut Bread

Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients:

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup cake or AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1 egg white

1 cup Stevia in the raw or sugar

2 tbsp applesauce or oil

1 1/2 tablespoons milk or buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup (about 2 large or 3 smaller) bananas, mashed

1/4 cup or 30g walnuts, toasted if desired

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and spray an 8×4 loaf pan (mine was glass).

Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

In a larger bowl, combine the egg white, sweetener, and oil. Add milk, vanilla, and bananas.

Add dry to wet and stir until combined. Stir in walnuts.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the loaf springs back when lightly pressed.

 

“The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

-Mark Twain

German Cheesecake (Cottage cheese cheesecake)

Don’t leave yet! I know, I know, the notion of a cottage cheese cheesecake seems atrocious. I myself might likely never have tried it had not the fates, taking the form of an unpalatable tub of fat-free cottage cheese, impelled me to such desperate measures. But the result? Superlative.

Permit me to elucidate. I normally like to consume nonfat dairy products. Although healthy fats are an essential part of our diet, animal fats tend to be high in unhealthy saturated fat. That’s the kind that doesn’t make your heart happy! However, when it comes to cottage cheese, I have discovered that I must have 2%.

At first, I was elated to find a tub of nonfat cottage cheese sitting there on the refrigerated grocery store shelf. My buoyancy quickly dissipated, however, when with one bite I discovered a cold, hard truth and understood the cheese’s dearth of popularity.

Fat-free cottage cheese is odious.

I was distressed. What was I to do? Then a lightning bolt of an idea struck me from the heavens. Cheesecake!

Might it work? That was the uncharted expanse. Like any valiant explorer, however, I pressed forth. I pulled out the ingredients, the mixing bowl, the cake pan. I boldly washed my food processor. I embarked on an expedition of preheating, pureeing, pouring. Brazenly I placed the concoction into the oven.

When I took a bite, the new found land proved itself to be rich and bountiful.

 

German Cheesecake

Adapted with alterations from Taste of Home

Ingredients:

2 cups nonfat or lowfat cottage cheese

1/2 cup nonfat or lowfat (Neufchatel) cream cheese

2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1-1 1/2 cup Stevia in the raw or sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1/4 cup white whole wheat or AP flour

 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, then transfer to your food processor (depending on size, you may need to do this in two batches). Puree until completely smooth. No lumps, or you risk an unpalatable cheesecake!

When the batter is pureed to your satisfaction, pour it into a cake pan (a springform would be best. I don’t own one, so I sprayed a regular metallic cake pan and poured the batter in there). Place it in a preheated 325 degree oven.

Bake for about 60-70 minutes, until the edges have set but are not too hard and the center is still a little jiggly. You may need to tent the cheesecake with foil part-way through to lessen/prevent cracking.

Chill until cold, preferably overnight.

Marvel in the wonders of how a previously repugnant food can turn out so delectable. Enjoy guilt-free. It’s healthy.

Sakuramochi

The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival in Philadelphia started Tuesday, but the cherry trees are not quite ready yet! We live about an hour from Philadelphia, and we like to visit the city on weekends. Maybe we will go to see the cherry trees sometime soon.

The National Cherry Blossom festival started on March 20th and will last until the 13th this year. According to the bloom watch, the blossoms are not quite in bloom yet. I’m hoping to see the blossoms there, too, when they open!

The cherry trees in Washington, D.C., were first brought here from Japan in 1912 at the request of then-first lady Helen “Nellie” Taft, wife of William Howard Taft, who visited Japan and fell in love with the cherry trees she saw there. For over a century since then, people have been able to enjoy the beauty of this gift when they visit the Tidal Basin in spring.

Last March, my mother and I were visiting relatives in Osaka, Japan at the peak time of the sakura. I, like First Lady Taft, was enchanted and awestruck at the pulchritude of my ancestral land in full bloom.

In Japan, people celebrate the cherry blossom season with hanami, or flower viewing. People have parties under the sakura trees. When the parties are at night, they are called yozakura. Sakuramochi–cherry blossom mochi–is a popular treat, of course!

There are two types of sakuramochi, Kansai style and Tokyo style. In today’s post, I’ve provided you with Kansai style, but the recipe for Tokyo style is coming soon!

 

Kansai Style Sakuramochi

Ingredients:

360 mL (1.5 U.S. cups or 2 Japanese cups) uncooked glutinous rice (mochi rice)

180 mL (.75 U.S. cups or 1 Japanese cup) uncooked Hukkura 10% milled brown rice (you can use regular white or brown rice; I like this brand because it has the taste of white rice while retaining the nutrition of brown rice)

1/4 cup Stevia in the raw or  white sugar

Optional: very minimal quantity red food coloring, to tint the rice (I left this out; I don’t think food dyes belong in my body!)

540 mL (2.25 U.S. cups or 3 Japanese cups) water

Anko (azuki bean paste)**

Salt-preserved sakura (cherry blossom) leaves (yes, they are edible, and very good!)

 

Rinse the rice.

Mix the food coloring, if using, with the water.

Soak the rice in the water for two hours, then add the sweetener and cook in your rice cooker until done. I was able to cook the rice on the stovetop half-successfully, but I do not recommend this method for glutinous rice…you’d be better off steaming it.

When the rice is done, mash it until the grains are half crushed, but still quite lumpy–you do NOT want to mash it until smooth!

Roll the anko into balls of your desired size (I estimate around 2 teaspoons?) and wrap the rice around the balls.

Rinse the sakura leaves several times until most of the salt is removed.

Wrap the sakura leaves around the sakuramochi. I did not have sakura leaves, but I did have salt-preserved blossoms, which worked as well.

Chill and enjoy, preferably under the boughs of a cherry tree in bloom!

 

**You can buy canned pre-made anko paste, or you can make your own. Boil azuki beans (or buy the beans canned, then rinse them thoroughly), add sweetener to taste (anko is supposed to be very sweet; I add about 1/4 cup Stevia in the raw to 1/2 cup cooked beans), and mash the beans to your desired lumpiness.

 

Recipe is from Cookpad

Fahrenheit 351!

I googled the title of this blog, Fahrenheit 351, to see what would come up. I found this comic:

Fahrenheit351

So funny! It came from this site: http://www.casualoptimist.com/blog/2014/01/21/fahrenheit-351-by-grant-snider/

We always think of the things we pull out of the oven feeding the body…it can also feed the mind! I love you, Ray Bradbury…

Meyer lemon strawberry muffins

“I wonder what a lemon was,” she added inconsequently. “I’ve seen oranges. They’re a kind of round yellow fruit with a thick skin.”

“I remember lemons,” said Winston.  “They were quite common in the Fifties. They were so sour that it set your teeth on edge even to smell them.”

1984

 

These meyer lemon strawberry muffins are perfect for welcoming the spring! The weather around here has been beautiful. I had a meyer lemon in the fridge I needed to use up, and these muffins were the result.

Meyer lemons have been growing in popularity lately. They’re a hybrid between a mandarin orange and a lemon. They have a skin that is a darker golden shade than that of ordinary lemons and a unique fragrance.  Paired with strawberries in these toothsome muffins, they are amazing!

This recipe originally came from Baking Bites. I halved it and increased the lemon juice, zest, and sweetener. I ended up with eight muffins.

 

Ingredients (yields 8):

½ cup plus 2T white whole wheat flour

½ cup cake flour

3/4 cup Stevia in the raw or white sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

Scant 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

Zest and juice of one Meyer Lemon

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

¼ cup and 2T milk or buttermilk

1/3 cup applesauce or vegetable oil (canola or corn oil)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a standard muffin tin with nonstick liners (if you don’t have nonstick, you can spray your liners with cooking spray).

Mix together the egg white, milk, oil, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla in a smaller bowl.

In a larger bowl, mix flour, sweetener of choice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in berries until they are coated with the dry mixture.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, being careful not to overmix. Fill the muffin tins about ¾ of the way. Bake for around 20-21 minutes on the center rack. Cool before serving.

 

Find the original recipe here:  http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/meyer-lemon-strawberry-muffins/