Archive | June, 2011

Bake. This. Now.

27 Jun

You know your food styling skills are improving when your husband says the food "looks fake."

We’ve been going through a bit of a smoothie phase around these parts, which when coupled with the hus-b’s penchant for buying in bulk (Costco’s shareholders should send him a muffin basket) means that we have enough fruit, juice and protein powder to open our own doomed Jamba Juice franchise. It also means that, from time to time when the blender isn’t whirring, we’re going to end up with some leftover fruit that needs to be dealt with post-haste.

So when then hus-b mentioned that some tragically black bananas had taken up residence in the back of our fridge, I immediately thought of banana bread. Healthy? Please. Original? Not so much. But there is something charming and sensible about having a fresh loaf of homemade quickbread on hand. A lady never knows when she might be called to entertain guests, and sliced banana bread and tea would make any guest feel welcome.

Novice housewife that I am, I don’t have a banana bread recipe that I’ve made a zillion times in my repertoire, so some research was most certainly in order. I hit up my usual suspects — Epicurious, Martha Stewart, America’s Test Kitchen (aka the mad scientists behind The Best Recipe and my much beloved Cook’s Illustrated) — but was sold as soon as I stumbled upon the title “Perfect Banana Bread Every Time” over at Food & Wine. Type A personality fodder title notwithstanding, the recipe was also simple, quick and didn’t require a run to the market or the purchase of creme fraiche (which always reminds me of the hilarious and way-too-close-to-home “Creme Fraiche” episode of South Park).

I broke out my KitchenAid mixer and disposable mini loaf tins to further simplify the process, and less than an hour later I had three fresh loaves of banana bread, minimal kitchen clean up and zero gross bananas cluttering up my refrigerator. That was “perfect” enough for me, thankyouverymuch, but then I took a bite: moist crumb, fabulous texture and pure banana flavor. I’m now secretly hoping that the hus-b buys ten pounds of bananas on his next Costco run just so I can try different mix-ins (chopped Snickers sounds insane, no?) and incarnations (a stash of banana muffins would be fabulous to have in one’s freezer). Perfect indeed.

“Perfect Banana Bread Every Time” (Food & Wine, adapted from Sally Sampson’s The Bake Sale Cookbook: Quintessential American Baking)

4 medium overripe bananas, the blacker the better
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup or more nuts, raisins or chocolate chips (P&V favors a combination of golden raisins and chopped walnuts.)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. (P&V used three 5 7/10 x 3 1/3 x 1 7/8 mini loaf tins.) In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with the sugar, then mash in the butter. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. (P&V did all of this in a KitchenAid with the flat beater attachment. If the bananas are ripe enough, no mashing will be necessary and a quick spin at a medium speed will suffice.) Mix the flour with the baking soda and salt and add them to the bowl. Mix just until the ingredients are blended. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and bake until the banana bread is well-browned and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. (To account for the smaller loaf size, P&V baked all three loaves concurrently in the same oven for 40 minutes.) Let cool for 10 minutes, then unmold and let cool to warm before eating.

The Gentleman Farmer?

23 Jun

The hus-b engrossed in his latest project. (To note, he is rocking awesome, uncombed hair and digging bare handed with a *brand-new* pair of potting gloves right in front of him.)

With the remodel complete and a small punch list of tasks remaining, you would *think* the hus-b might allow himself a moment to sit back, relax and admire all that has been accomplished, but the man just can’t resist a project. Whether it’s ripping apart our bathroom, perfecting his Excel spreadsheet of our construction budget or assembling the little lady’s new stroller (he was *crestfallen* that it only took five minutes), the hus-b is all about dedicating himself wholly and completely to a series of discrete projects. His singular focus is actually kind of amazing, and to a certain extent, I’m impressed. The guy gets stuff *done*. But his penchant for projects can get a little tiresome when, say, returning from Home Depot at 11 pm with bakers racks that *have* to be assembled before bedtime or when installing Sonos becomes a multi-day, multi-Best Buy shopping trip extravaganza.

His project du jour? Anything home improvement related, so it was only a matter of time (and a sale at Sloat Garden Center) before he turned his attentions to our front garden. As you may recall from prior posts, we previously devoted a great deal of time tending to our “garden” (i.e., a sum total of four box planters). But along with the remodel came our extended absence and some serious neglect, causing the boxwood to turn an unsightly shade of yellow, and the violas and pansies to meet an untimely (and very crunchy) end. I made a single offhand comment months ago that it would be nice to have pink geraniums when we brought the little lady home from the hospital, and just like that, the seeds of a project were irrevocably planted.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when he awoke early and purposefully last Saturday, or when he offered to let me sleep in while he did the garden center run solo (hugely pregnant wife = albatross). He returned home nearly two hours later with pink and white geraniums for the planters, hydrangea for the previously-unplanted side yard (the product of another of my offhand suggestions) and what appeared to be a metric ton of potting soil. Six solid hours of digging, planting, lunch-skipping (like I said, he’s *focused*) and Crocs-wearing later, he emerged filthy and triumphant. As with all of his projects, I had to give it to the guy: he got he job done and it looked *great*.

See? Like I said, he did a wonderful job and I am incredibly thankful to have a husband so willing and eager to undertake such projects. But did I mention that we were having friends over for dinner that same evening? Or that our half-unpacked house was an unadulterated mess?! I might not complain under ordinary circumstances, but at 37 weeks pregnant cleaning an entire house and cooking a three-course meal on your own is *aggressive*. And while the hus-b’s pet project could not be interrupted for him to accompany me to the market, prep vegetables or tidy the house, he couldn’t get out of the Williams-Sonoma run he’d promised to handle.  Not wanting to interrupt his gardening flow with a shower, he went to Williams-Sonoma so filthy and covered in potting soil that he was the only customer the door greeter *didn’t* say hello to, and the salespeople jumped when he started handling the table linens. “Sir, back away from the white hemstitched tablecloths…”

A kiss to build a dream on…

19 Jun

One year ago today, I officially became the luckiest girl in the world (Guinness Book application still pending). Since the incomparably perfect day captured in this photo, it has been 365 days of joy, friendship and true, abiding love. What if we had told this couple that they would spend one-quarter of the next year living with their parents, or that they would be awaiting the birth of their first child by their first anniversary? Please. They never would have believed any of it, but as it turns out that is *exactly* how it happened. The good news? They wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

My dearest hus-b, may this be but the first of many perfectly imperfect years together. Things are about to get *weird* (and as I’ve heard, covered in poop), and there is no one else I could imagine weathering life with in all of its moments of challenge and beauty. Happy anniversary, darling.


Photo courtesy of Leigh Miller Photography.

The Little Lady’s Nursery Gets Personal

17 Jun

As the little lady’s arrival fast approaches, the pressure to finish the nursery is mounting. The crib has arrived, the changing table is on back-order, and the glider chair and custom decor pieces are being fabricated as we type, so progress is indeed being made. But the bare walls and empty corners are starting to stare back at us (and ominously at that), so we recently began hunting for pieces to add charm, personality and warmth to the space while maintaining our original goal of not making it overly baby-ish. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far…

After weeks of a protracted “pretty vs. comfy” debate over floor coverings (guess which side I was on), the hus-b and I settled on this Lamby Cuddle Rug from Sprout San Francisco, a fabulous local resource for organic baby *everything*. The Lamby is absurdly cozy (so much so that I am half expecting the hus-b to arm wrestle the baby for it) without being corny or juvenile. I expect that it will be trampled and spit up on in relatively short order, but the Lamby is machine washable (sadly, my new favorite product feature) and the price is so reasonable that we could replace it without angst.

The wind is blowing in a Bermudian direction these days, at least when it comes to artwork for the little lady’s nursery. Remembering our original Coral Beach Club inspiration, the hus-b and I went in search of pieces that reminded us of Bermuda. We were originally looking for botanical prints of local flora and fauna, but ended up stumbling upon some vintage Adolph Treidler posters that we kind of adore. The clean, old-timey graphics are totally our speed, and the bright colors would be interesting and stimulating for baby without going full Winnie the Pooh on the poor little darling.

We think this poster is especially charming because the pink and white buildings in the background look suspiciously like the CBC (which may just be wishful thinking given that pretty much *every* building in Bermuda is pastel-colored with a white stepped roof). We’re currently deciding between a single framed print or a pair of framed prints hung side-by-side. A pair just *seems* right, but given that the Bermuda reference is so literal, too much could end up looking silly. Thoughts?


Moving in a completely different but no less personal direction, we also decided to incorporate a cow element in honor of the hus-b’s alma mater, Williams College. When we discovered Carlton Cow at Giggle, we fell in love with his soft, huggable coat and gentle rocking action. When we saw Carlton on sale on Zulily a week later, how could we resist? Accessorized with a jaunty bow in Williams purple, Carlton is already making himself right at home in the little lady’s nursery. And did we mention that he moos?

Monday Links (because we felt like it, thankyouverymuch)

13 Jun

For the busy gentleman with no time to change between the Derby and hunting season.

Prepnecks? No. Just no. (The New York Times)

Kristen Stewart’s whole “being beautiful, wealthy and famous is miserable” act is growing tiresome. She needs a new shtick or at the very least something actually worth being so damn grumpy about. (Lainey Gossip)

The hus-b and I recently discovered a little hummingbird friend frequenting our backyard, and we thought it would be hospitable of us to get a feeder…until we read this. Not sure we can handle the responsibility of changing the nectar often enough not to kill the little darling. (Martha Stewart)

That Claudia Schiffer is suddenly and shockingly emaciated does little to discredit those pesky rumors that her husband is January Jones’s baby daddy. Poor dear. (The Huffington Post)

Cheating against other kids is verboten but cheating against adults is acceptable, at least according to this writer’s 5 year-old kid. Superior logic or moral relativism? (Modern Mom)

Sending naked pictures never pays off. Just ask this guy, this chick or Ben Affleck’s black eye.

How can a Suri Cruise be a “fan” of Marc Jacobs? The only things a 5 year-old girl should be a fan of are swing sets, imaginary tea parties and peeling rubber cement off of her hand. (DListed)

Allegra Hicks + West Elm = So pretty. Would be perfect for decorating a hippie chic guest room or the least man-trappy bachelorette pad ever. (Elle Decor)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,710 other followers

%d bloggers like this: