refreshments

This weekend I had the pleasure of accompanying Kate and her wonderful family, who was visiting Chicago for the weekend, to the Randolph Street Market Festival, a gargantuan crafts fair bearing everything from handmade earrings, to antique furniture, to whimsical paintings and sculptures, to my personal favorite, vintage cookware. I somehow managed to muster the restraint to not purchase a banana shaped paperweight, scallop-edged cake stand, or retro toaster (although I did devote ample mental energy trying to convince myself they would be necessary additions to my life). What I did walk away with something sweeter. After two hours of making our way through the myriad indoor and outdoor stalls in the sweltering summer heat, we were parched. To our delight, there was a Middle Eastern food stand stationed smack dab in the middle of the outdoor lot that beckoned us with a giant frosty pitcher of lemonade teeming with bright green mint leaves and thick yellow lemon slices. With just one sip, I proclaimed this lemonade to be one of the best I’d ever had. It had just the right balance of sweetness and tartness, and the mint added a coolness that refreshed me from the inside out. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful summer afternoon with the Adkins family.

I attempted to recreate this drink to share with friends at a potluck yesterday evening. It was simple to put together and served as a great accompaniment to cool down the delicious spice-packed food that my friends concocted. I have a feeling that this drink will be making its way into my glasses quite often this summer, and even when the summer fades and the cold sets in, I’m making a mental note to make a batch of this lemonade to refresh even the wintriest of days with a summer state of mind.

Mint Lemonade
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups water
7 lemons
1 cup mint leaves
Ice

To make simple syrup: In small saucepot, boil together 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water until sugar is dissolved (microwave method: microwave 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water for 2 minutes). Let it cool to room temperature. The simple syrup can also be made ahead and stored in the fridge.

Juice 6 lemons into a large pitcher or container, straining out the pulp and seeds. This should make a little more than 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Add 3 cups of cold water and mint leaves. Cut the remaining lemon into thin slices and add to the mixture. Add about 2 cups of ice cubes. Stir lemonade, cover, and store in fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with extra ice cubes.

To make Mint Arnold Palmers: Fill a glass half-full with mint lemonade and fill the remaining half with iced black tea.

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Rabbit food of the most delicious kind

When I was a rebellious little punk of a vegetarian in a meat-and-potatoes world, people would often ask me why I was only eating “rabbit food” when there was, well, meat and potatoes to be had. I became an expert at making a meal out of the salads and side dishes at barbecues/Thanksgiving dinners/you-name-the-meat-centric-event-here.

Sounds a little grim and self-pitying, but the truth is that I really love salad. I’m a much better vegetarian now than I was back then (helloooooo soy-based sources of protein!) but I still find myself drawn in by creative, fresh vegetable-packed salads. My roommate, when asked to guess my favorite food  after living with me and watching me cook  for a whole year, guessed broccoli. I’ll take dark chocolate over any vegetable any day of the week. But broccoli definitely makes my top 10 list, followed closely by carrots.

If you don’t have a tube of harissa in your pantry yet, don’t wait another day to add it to the spice rotationa It is a middle eastern hot sauce that adds a smoky flavor to everything from eggs to salads to tofu. Believe me, it’s not one of those exotic ingredients you’ll use once then shove to the back shelf and forget that you bought. And if it does turn out to be one of those ingredients for you, you can send me your extras and I’ll quickly use them up.

This carrot salad with a kick is a great recipe to have in your repertoire for sweltering summer days when all you feel like eating is mango sorbet and watermelon. It has complex flavors yet simple ingredients, it’s a breeze to make. Throw it in a wrap with some feta and something protein-y, put some of that watermelon on the side, and you have yourself a meal fit for a rabbit perfect summer night.

Harissa Carrot Salad

3/4 lb carrots, peeled and grated

3 T olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed or grated

3/4 t cumin seeds or half as much ground cumin

1/2 t paprika

1 t harissa (adjust for your preferred level of heat)

1/2 t sugar

Juice of one lemon

2 T chopped parsley

2 T chopped mint

Salt, to taste

In a small saute pan, heat the oil and cook the garlic, cumin, paprika, harissa, and sugar until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Pour over the carrots and mix. Add the herbs. Top with crumbled feta. Serve cold or at room temperature. Keeps well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator

[Ad]dressing my upcoming move

We’re moving apartments in less than three weeks, and while I’ve yet to pack a single thing, I have embarked on the much more delectable endeavor of clearing out the remaining boxes of grains, cans of beans, and bags frozen vegetables that have graced our pantry and freezer for the past too-many months. This dish was inspired by a deliciously lemony, creamy tahini dressing I had made before for this recipe. Combined with the whole wheat rotini and frozen edamame that have haunted my shelves for months, and brightened with the freshness of roasted carrots, yellow bell peppers, and sauteed kale, this was the perfect summer pasta dish. I’d imagine that it’s going to be even better leftover as the flavors meld. Whether you’re looking for a way to dress up pantry remnants or searching for a light, zesty sauce for a summer salad, I highly encourage you to whip up this tahini dressing soon!

Tahini dressing
1/4 cup tahini
2 lemons
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Combine tahini, juice of 2 lemons, garlic, water, olive oil, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

For pasta dish:

1 lb carrots
1 yellow bell pepper
6 oz whole wheat rotini (or any pasta you prefer)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 bunch kale, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Peel carrots and slice on a diagonal. Cut bell pepper into 2 inch slices. Toss carrots and pepper in 2 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a greased baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, tossing them halfway through.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente. When the pasta has 5 minutes left of cooking, add the frozen edamame. Drain pasta and edamame and transfer to a large bowl.

Return empty pasta pot to stove and add 1 tbsp of olive oil to pot over medium heat. Add kale and cook for 3-4 minutes, until slightly wilted but still tender.

To assemble: In bowl with pasta and edamame add roasted carrots and pepper, sauteed kale, and tahini dressing. Toss to combine. Serve warm or cold.

Easy being green

Of all the things to love about early summer — long weekends, visitors from home, the beach (!!!) — the thing i’m loving the most is how everything is so green around here. Even in the middle of the city, the greenness is staggering and endlessly mood-improving. I think I was subliminally influenced by all this color to make my second recipe from Plenty (see last week’s post on Baba Ghanoush), green couscous. With no less than 9 green ingredients, it surely lives up to its name.

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At the heart of the green couscous is a knock-your-socks-off herb paste which I am heretofore inspired to add to everything I cook for the rest of the summer. The recipe calls for parsley, cilantro, tarragon, dill, and mint, but I officially give you license to use what ever green herbs are ready in your garden or cheap at the market. In fact, the whole recipe lends itself to improvisation. I made a second batch this week with rice in place of the coucous, and it worked equally nicely. I can imagine subbing baby spinach for arugula, though the arugula does add a perfect crunch to the salad.

Green couscous (adapted from Plenty)

1 c couscous

3/4 c boiling water or vegetable stock

1 T olive oil or buuter

1/4 t salt, to taste

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp sugar

Herb paste

1/2 c chopped parsley

1 c chopped cilantro

2 T chopped tarragon

2 T chopped dill

2 T chopped mint

4 T olive oil

1/2 unsalted pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

3 green onions, finely sliced

1 fresh green chile (I used half a Poblano), finely chopped

1 1/2 c arugula leaves, roughly chopped

Place the couscous in a large bowl, cover it with boiling water or stock, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 10 minutes while you prep the rest of the salad

Fry the onion in the oil/butter on medium heat until golden and completely soft. You’re going for near-caramelization. Add the salt, sugar, and cumin just before it’s done cooking. Leave to cool slightly

Make the herb paste: Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add a little more oil to make a consistency like a thick pesto

Add the herb paste to the couscous and mix everything with a fork to fluff it up. Now add the rest of the ingredients, including the onion mixture, and gently mix.

Serve at room temperature. Makes a good side dish, or a main course/lunch topped with feta. Keeps well for lunch the next day!

mangos + minnesota

Today was a very long day. I took the overnight bus home from Minneapolis and we managed to get delayed in the only 5:30 am stand-still traffic jam in the history of mankind. I was late for work because my trusty 172 bus changed to its annoying summer schedule. I planned an elaborate grocery list (pistachios! tarragon! arugala!) only to find, on my way home from work, that Hyde Park Produce was closed because of a freak power outage. But all was not lost because I came home and made a super-comforting dinner of scrambled eggs and pickles and the food currently topping the list of my favorite things on God’s green earth: homemade mango sorbet.

ImageExciting thing #1 that happened in the first week of summer: I bought an ice cream maker! I’d had my eye on it all year, and I decided to reward myself for finishing my first year with its purchase. I baptized this newest addition to my ever-growing small appliances menagerie with mango sorbet. There is not much to say about it except that it is sooooo darned good. It makes me want to go somewhere tropical (Miami friends, you must try this recipe with your famous mangos and report back). It makes me want to never buy Haagen-Dazs sorbet again (and that’s saying something). Keep reading for the recipe at the end of the post.

Exciting thing #2 that happened in the first week of summer: I went to Minneapolis. It is not exactly tropical, but it is home to a significant chunk of my heart and a good number of my favorite people in the world.

ImagePlease allow me to introduce you to the drink of the summer, Pimm’s Cup. These beauties were poured by my dear friend Anna, one ever-hip Madison-by-way-of-MN mixologist. All there is in the way of a recipe is: one part Pimm’s No. 1, 3 pars ginger ale, lots of ice, cucumber, strawberry, and lime. This way when you tire of mango sorbet, you can switch to Pimm’s Cup. In my dreams, that’s how summer goes, at least…

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In honor of Joanna’s amazing brunch post, I wanted to share the brunch that Jinai cooked for us on Sunday morning. Advice for a happy life: if you have an amateur chef friend with a rocking cappuccino machine in her kitchen, visit her often, even if it takes a miserable overnight bus ride to get home. This brunch alone was worth the sleep deprivation and smelly seatmates.

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The last meal of the weekend was noodle salad from Jasmine Deli, the best Vietnamese restaurant in Minneapolis and maybe in the world. I thought of ordering one to go (though then I would have the been the smelly seatmate). But I left it behind, up north, until next time and came home to a pretty good city that I call home and a big serving of mango sorbet left in my freezer. Not a bad trade.

Mango Sorbet

2-3 large, ripe mangos

2/3 c sugar

3/4 c water

1-2 T fresh lime or lemon juice

1-2 T rum (to taste)

Peel the mangos, remove the flesh from the pits, and chop roughly. Place mango plus all other ingredients in a blender or food processor. Squeeze the pits and skins over the bowl to get all the good juiciness out. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Taste and add more citrus or rum as desired. Chill for at least an hour in the fridge then process according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Delicious when fresh but also keeps well in the freezer!

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On brunch

I was born at 11:28am. I’d like to think this is why I have a deep fondness for the mid-morning hours and particularly for the sweet and savory smorgasbord that is brunch. I’m almost certain that I entered the world with a keen sense of the fluffy omelettes, jam-smothered toast, and foamy lattes being consumed all around me. To this day, I find great comfort, security, and serenity in brunchtime.

Brunch is leisure. It is protected time in which the day is still young and full of possibility. Time is counted not in minutes but in the number of coffee cups that have been refilled.

Brunch welcomes everyone to the plate. Salty smoked salmon, slices of juicy fruit, drippy eggs, rich pastries, crisp salads, and bubbly champagne are merrily married.

Brunch is friendship. It is the meal over which I have shared some of the best conversations with people dearest to me, allowing sweet memories to languidly linger in pools of maple syrup.

Summertime has afforded both Kate and I the privilege to brunch at some delightful cafes around Chicago in the company of good people (hello Claire and Danielle!). My brunch philosophy: 1. Find friends who like to share 2. Order two items—one sweet, one savory 3. Split them down the middle 4. Savor it all with a big cup of coffee.

Kingsbury Street Cafe — 1523 North Kingsbury Street. The sweet: lemon pancakes with blueberries, creme anglaise, and lemon sauce (ah-mazing). The savory: goat cheese, spinach, and mushroom omelette with roasted tomatoes and homemade multigrain baguette toast.

The Bongo Room –1152 South Wabash Avenue (South Loop location). The sweet: vanilla bean brioche french toast with vanilla bean sauce, strawberries, and chocolate crumble. The savory: artichoke, pesto, roasted yellow pepper, feta, and avocado omelette with dill potatoes and multigrain toast. Pardon the mishmash of a photograph.

Medici on 57th – 1327 East 57th Street. Abandoned my philosophy and went to town on the incredible homemade pastries: carrot muffin and chocolate croissant. Side of fruit for good measure. Enjoyed on their rooftop patio.

I am always on the hunt for new brunch spots, so please share your favorites!

Wishing you many beautiful brunchtimes.

drunken & smokey

Who knew black beans could be so scandalous?

I feel kinda blasphemous for concocting this recipe. Amongst my family, black beans are a sacred food, and Abuela Miriam’s Cuban beans sit atop the highest altar. Every Christmas Eve for our Nochebuena celebration, she spends the entire day making three enormous pressure-cooked pots of them. They are a tad bit tangy, slightly tweet, and utterly addictive. Unfailingly, it’s soupy pools of Abuela’s famous beans that dominate everyone’s plates and palates, out-competing a whole roasted pig, mountains of fried plantains, and mojo-laden yuca. I’ve had the privilege of learning the secrets of Abuela’s black beans while cooking alongside her. I really should try my hand at making them myself, but I just know that they will not have the same je ne sais quoi if made without her, so I’ve sheepishly strayed from any attempts at recreation.

Instead, I’ve gone rogue on my black bean roots and tried my hand at something wildly different from Abuela’s recipe. These black beans are doused in a bottle of beer, brightened with the zest of a whole orange, and infused with the sultry flavor of smoked paprika. Rather than serve them with rice, I piled them high into a sweet potato, which made the perfect vehicle for the spicy, citrusy beans. While nothing can compare to Abuela’s recipe, these beans were pretty darn tasty. I can only hope that I won’t be banished from my family for the bastardization of our beloved black beans.

Drunken & Smokey Black Beans (adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp cumin

zest of an orange

2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed

8 oz. beer

1/4 cup tomato sauce

2 tsp sriracha

salt and pepper

lime wedges, for serving

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add smoked paprika, cumin, and orange zest and cook for another minute. Add black beans, beer, tomato sauce, sriracha, and a generous dose of salt and pepper. Allow beans to simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring every so often.

They were delicious served atop a sweet potato with a squeeze of lime, but I’d imagine they would be great with rice or corn tortillas and with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Baba ghanoush(y)

I take a strange measure of satisfaction in recipes that allow me to burn things on purpose. I’m the kind of weirdo who leaves her popcorn in the microwave for an extra 15 seconds so the bottom pieces will get brown and toasts my bread twice to get it dark enough. I chalk up this quirk partly to the fact that, as a vegetarian, I mostly miss out on the smoky-flavored goodness of barbecue and have to seek out that charred flavor in other ways.

One of my favorite burnt food fixes is baba ghanoush, a roasted eggplant dip with tahini and lemon. With it’s one of a kind flavor, it is possibly the most crave-able food on the planet. If you haven’t tried it, you should find a Lebanese restaurant that will deliver to your home and order it right this minute. But if you get addicted, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This adaptation of burnt eggplant dip comes from the utterly fantastic cookbook Plenty by British chef Yotam Ottolenghi. My dear friend Marlene bough the book for me last weekend. She said it was a gift to celebrate my surviving the first year of med school, but I’m pretty sure she bought it for me so she will no longer have to wait for me while I drool over this book for 20 minutes every time we go into a book store. I’m entertaining ideas of cooking my way through every recipe in the whole darned book, Julie and Julia style. Stay tuned. But for now, here is the eggplant. It’s not baba ghanoush per se, more like baba’s hip British cousin, so I call it ghanoush-y dip.

Even I, the pyro chef herself, was skeptical of leaving the eggplant under the broiler for a whole entire hour. High on the list of things I don’t enjoy setting on fire: my apartment building. I checked it every few minutes in the beginning and quickly realized that I just needed to put my trust in Mr. Ottolenghi. If you’re lucky enough to have a gas range, you should probably opt for the stovetop options of roasting. Just please don’t burn yourself. I am only one quarter of a doctor and I will not be available to heal your wounds for another three years.

1 large eggplant

1/3 c tahini

1/4 c water

2 TBSP pomegranate molasses (you can find this at a Middle Eastern grocery or health foods store)

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 c chopped parsley

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 of a large cucumber, chopped

3/4 c cherry tomatoes, halved

First, burn the eggplant. If using a gas stovetop, line the area around the burner with foil to protect against drip. Put the eggplant directly on a moderate flame and roast for 12-15 minutes, rotating frequently with tongs. It is done when the flesh is soft to the point that the whole thing looks deflated and the skin is charred. If using the broiler method, pierce the eggplant with a sharp knife, place on a foil-lined tray, and put directly under a hot broiler for one hour, turning a few times. The eggplant is done when deflated and charred all over. When cool enough to handle, split in half and scoop out the pulp into a colander, avoiding the burnt skin. Let drain for at least 30 minutes or your dip will be soggy!

Chop the eggplant roughly and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients except cucumber and tomato and mix well with a whisk. Taste and adjust seasonings (I found it needed more lemon and salt). Stir in the veggies. Top with pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of olive oil if you’re feeling fancy. Pita wedges and carrot sticks are good for dipping.

a taste of home

You guys, rhubarb is sooooo in right now. Almost every one of the (embarrassingly numerous) food blogs I follow has somehow featured the humble “pie plant” during the last month. Every time a new rhubarb recipe springs up on my blogroll, I have to laugh a little at how late the online foodies are to this ballgame. My people, the folks of Dexter, IA, were several decades ahead of this rhubarb renaissance.

“I come from a line of rhubarb purists.” That’s what I told the man giving out chocolate samples at the grocery store today when he looked at my cart and asked if I was making a strawberry-rhubarb crisp. He’s probably out there somewhere blogging about the weirdo girl who talked his ear off about pie recipes today when he was just trying to sell some $6 chocolate bars. But I speak the truth: the Adkins family would scoff at anyone who found merit in a use for rhubarb other than Grandma Ida’s pie. The recipe for this famous pie was probably the first recipe I knew by heart. All you need are a pie crust, eggs, sugar, flour, and a whole lot of rhubarb. The shorter the interval of time from when the rhubarb is harvested from the patch to the time the pie goes in the oven, the better. This principle goes for most summertime cooking, as far as my clan is concerned. Somebody back home once told me “you should start the water to boil on the stove before you go out to the garden and pick your sweet corn.” This philosophy has set me up for a lifetime of disappointment trying to replicate the tastes of my childhood with produce from a grocery store. No amount of culinary skill can compensate for that kind of freshness if it’s missing.

I loosened up my grip on tradition and piemaking purity today to make this rhubarb-raspberry galette. For the whole spring, I’d been lamenting that I was living in a rhubarb desert (not dessert, mind you) here in Chicago- the offerings at the market were just wimpy and anemic. But today the rhubarb at the store was looking not beautiful but alright. And I was badly in need of some comfort food with an awful weekend of full-tilt cramming for finals behind me and a full week of exams ahead of me.

I rarely use a food processor when I make pastry because I’m convinced it is flakier when done by hand, but I used the processor today for convenience’s sake. I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference if I wasn’t so particular. If you have confidence in your crust skills, it might be worth it to use your pastry cutter and a spoon instead of the processor. But very little, if anything, will be lost if you just follow the instructions below. The whole wheat flour makes the dough a little finicky to work with, but don’t skip it! The earthy flavor is a great foil to the tartness of the fruit.

I found the filling to be just this side of too tart. It would probably be just right balanced by some ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. But if you’re going to serve it ungarnished, you may consider upping the sugar to a full cup.

I promise to post Grandma Ida’s rhubarb custard pie someday soon- it is a true gem! But for now I suggest you whip up this galette, make a big jug of mint iced tea to go with it, and enjoy outside in the sunshine. I’ll catch up with you as soon as I get these finals out of the way…

Raspberry Rhubarb Gallete (adapted from Lottie and Doof)

Crust:

1 c all purpose flour

1/2 c whole wheat flour

2 T sugar

1/2 t salt

3/4 c cold butter, cut into 1″ cubes

1 large egg

1 T whole milk

Filling

1/4 c cornstarch

3 T water

4 c rhubarb, sliced 1/2″ thick (about 1 1/2 lbs)

6 oz red raspberries

2/3 c sugar (more to taste)

1 large egg, beaten

Make the crust. Combine dry ingredients in the food processor bowl and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until it’s in pea-sized pieces (this will only take a few seconds). Whisk together the milk and eggs, add to the food processor bowl, and pulse until things clump together- don’t overdo it! Gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and chill for at least 2 hours.

While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and then set aside. Combine rhubarb, raspberries, and sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until the fruit begins to release juices and the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and bring the whole thing to a boil. Transfer to a bowl and cool for 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step- the filling needs to thicken a little or it will run all over when you put it on top of the crust.

While the filling cools, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface. It should be 12″ round. You may roll it onto parchment paper to make it easier to transfer to the pan. Don’t worry about cracks in your pastry- the beauty of galettes are that they’re supposed to look rustic! Transfer to the pan and brush the whole crust with beaten egg. Spoon on the cooled filling, leaving a 1 1/2″ border. Fold the borders up and over (see picture), pleating at the junctions. Brush the border with egg and sprinkle with sugar (raw or regular). Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. Cool on the pan on a cooling rack.

Piece Offering

Ten months ago, I moved out to Chicago bearing three oversized suitcases, a turtle shell of a backpack, and a freshly baked loaf of banana bread.

Amidst my clothes, books, and cooking utensils, it was this sugary delight that carried the greatest importance (and, not to mention, the greatest aroma to accompany me through a three-hour flight). You see, no less than four hours after disembarking the plane in Chicago, I had scheduled appointments with various local Craigslist sellers to acquire a giant plush couch, a coffee table, end tables, a full-size bed, a chair, an ottoman, two bookshelves, and an elaborate multi-piece desk. Call me crazy, but I wanted to feel settled in to my new city as soon as I could.

And that’s where the banana bread came in.

A simple post on our budding med school Facebook group’s wall requesting a helping hand in exchange for some banana bready goodness, and I was met with smiling faces, strong arms, and growling stomachs. Some may call it bribery, but it’s how I made my empty apartment a home, and more importantly, it’s how I made the first of my wonderful, generous friends here.

I’ve been making this banana bread for years, and it’s come to serve as a vehicle for my journeys in sharing the joys of baking with others. Through this bread, my mom taught me how to level flour and know the difference between wet and dry measurements when I was but a budding baker working by her side. Through this bread, I fundraised for Relay For Life by turning my dorm kitchen into an underground commercial baking operation. Through this bread, I’ve been able to ship my love cross-country in tightly-wrapped brown boxes. And most recently through this bread, I’ve brought finals-weary med students together to celebrate almost being done with our first year of this journey.

Over the years, through experimentation and taking tips from others, I’ve created something that’s uniquely my own, but always shared with others—as an offering of gratitude, friendship, and love.

Joanna Banana Bread

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk (or soy milk)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional, but highly recommended)

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together oil and sugar. Add eggs. Add mashed bananas. Add dry ingredients (flour through salt). Add vanilla and milk and whisk until just combined. Finally, lightly coat the chocolate chips in some flour and fold them into the batter (this will prevent them from sinking while baking).  Pour batter into greased 9x5x3” loaf pan* and bake for 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely (if you have the ability to resist the temptation of just digging in!)

*Dust the pan with sugar or cinnamon sugar after you have greased it for a delicious crunchy crust!