Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Challenge - Follow Up

I realize that I never followed up on the results of my Lent challenge to cook all my own food from scratch. Let's just say that I have been recuperating since Easter and filling myself with some less than healthy convenience food items (BBQ potato I love you so!). But I am ready now to get back on track and eating more healthfully again. I have joined with Stephanie at Keeper of the Home for her "Cook More Real Food Event." I want to refocus my efforts at whole foods cooking, utilizing my freezer and making my own. Before I do that, however, I need to get some closure on my last efforts. I conducted an exit interview with the family at Easter. The results were not that surprising:

What was the one thing you missed most?
Me: "Orange juice. Juicing your own by hand is a pain."
The Husband: "Not much. It was all good." (But he cheated and bought his own food for work.)
The Girl: "Cereal." She could eat this everyday, and usually does.
The Boy: "Kraft Macaroni and Cheese." He could eat this everyday, if I would let him.
The toddler didn't have much to say about the food. She ate as she usually does.

What was the one thing you liked most?
Everyone agreed that the homemade ice cream was the best. The Husband said that the bread was good, too. I think he just said that to make me feel better. I was surprised at the ease of shopping. I could ignore over half of what was in the store since I focused mostly on raw ingredients. Plus, I spent at least $25 less each week despite the fact that I was buying a few items that were more expensive than I usually would, such as King Arthur Flour instead of Kroger brand.

What didn't you really miss?
I thought I would miss my snack crackers and cereal, but I really didn't. I found other things to snack on and enjoyed the variety at breakfast. No one missed the store bought ice cream; and the yogurt, though runny, was a good substitute for the store bought.

What should I keep making?
All - "Ice Cream!" No surprise there. Are you sensing a theme? We really liked the ice cream. The chocolate chip was the best, in my opinion. I have been wanting to try some other varieties. The Girl says I should also continue to make "white bread" in the bread machine.

What was surprisingly good?
The tortillas were a big hit once I got the hang of making them. The last batch I made turned out beautifully. I would still like to get a tortilla press/cooker gadget. It would make them go much faster.

What should I never make again?
Me - "Bread! LOL I had some successes and many failures. I need to continue working at it to find the right recipe that everyone likes. The yogurt was runny, but tasted good. I need to play with some other methods of making it and perhaps straining it to make a thicker consistency.
The Husband - "Bagels! LOL" My bagels were a complete disaster. The dough that I used was not very good and had sat in the refrigerator too long. They turned out completely inedible.
The Girl - "Whole Wheat Bread!" She didn't even like the bread made with white whole wheat flour.
The Boy - "Vegetables!" (He just doesn't like them any time.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Rainy Day Baker takes on bananas

photo by KB
My family loves bananas. If I can, I usually buy the cheaper grab bags of ripe or loose bananas at Kroger for 10 cents cheaper per pound. These bags sometimes include organic bananas, too. We often eat them in a few days, but just as often we get a few that end up looking like this.

photo by Debasis

What to do with over ripe bananas? Here are our top five favorites:
  1. Banana Bread - There are lots of recipes for banana bread out in the world.  I personally have about six, but our favorite by far is Classic Banana Bread. I sometimes add chopped walnuts. If I have lots of ripe bananas, I double the recipe and freeze (or give away) a loaf. The recipe makes great muffins, too.
  2. Banana Muffins - Again, recipes abound for banana muffins.  My favorite banana muffins are these Double Chocolate Banana Muffins. I made these tonight and used peanut butter and milk chocolate chips. They were yummy and require a cold glass of milk on the side.
  3. If I only have one banana, I will make another Banana Snack Cake: Monkey Bars. This tastes like banana bread and are very moist.
  4. Of course on the simpler side there is always using them in a Fruit Smoothie - the riper they are, the sweeter your smoothie will be. Freezing the banana chunks make the smoothie nice and creamy without any yogurt.
  5. And the simplest thing of all is Banana Fingers - My friend Linda does this and they were a hit with the children. Simply split the ripe banana down the center into three strips. Put the strips into a baggie and freeze. Eat them while frozen. These are a great snack for toddlers.