Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Homemade Life

As one of my New Year's goals is to read a new book every month, I am feeling exceptionally ahead of the curve having just finished my first. This leaves, of course, time to read my favorite book of all time, Redeeming Love! But more on that another time.

Today's post is reserved to share my current enthusiasm after finishing A Homemade Life. The author, Molly Wizenberg, is also the creator of the blog Orangette, one of my favorite blog reads. While I think she is a delightful writer, I am also a sucker for great food and a delicious love story. But then, who isn't?!

When I first put this book on my Christmas list, I honestly just really loved the title and figured that since I enjoyed her blog, surely I would enjoy her book. But I got so much more than I expected from this inspiring read! Not only does each chapter conclude with a recipe, but you come to know Molly and the journey that brought her to where she is today and most of all, how each recipe is entwined into her life.

She had me giggling at her obsession with Paris, crying at the loss of her Dad to bone cancer and even blushing a little as she recalled her first love and heartbreak.

I came away with the realization of how intertwined food really is in our lives. Being someone who loves to cook and share food with people I love, I discovered that meals are so much more than the food we eat, but an outlet to share joy and create memories with those dearest to us!

Think about it, aren't the recipes you cherish most passed down from someone very special? Maybe your grandma used to make you certain cinnamon rolls every time you visited her, or your Dad made you his special french toast on Sunday mornings? I am willing to bet that your "special recipe" isn't necessarily the best ever, but because it has fond memories for you, it makes that dish a million times better!

Personally, I think this book is only enhanced when read like this...

And you know I couldn't blog about this book without actually trying one of her recipes! So, last Wednesday I made her Banana bread with chocolate chips and crystallized ginger. Despite my silly over site of leaving it in a few minutes too long, it was quite delicious, and definitely didn't lack moisture and sweetness. Although I must admit, the ginger did cut the sweetness quite nicely!

Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger
From “A Homemade Life” p. 26 by Molly Wizenberg

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or a chopped up bar)
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup well-stirred whole-milk plain yogurt (not low or nonfat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350F. Grease a 9 by 5 loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.

In a small bowl, microwave the butter until just melted. (Be careful and do this over medium power in short burst because it can explode or splatter and that is a big mess.) Or melt it in the preheating oven. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter with be thick and somewhat lumpy, just make sure all the flour has been incorporated. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake into the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to an hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with foil.

Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 mins. Then tip out onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing (if you can wait that long).

The loaf freezes well wrapped in plastic wrap and again in foil to protect from freezer burn. Try it cold, sliced fresh out of the freezer with a glass of milk or a cup of tea. Divine.

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