No more Mustard Mess

I don’t know about you gals, but I have a VERY clever and ingenious hubby!! I come up with, what I think are good ideas now and again, but this guy is GOOD! Here’s an example of his ingeniousocity (how’d ya like that word?)!! I used to absolutely hate refilling the mustard bottle!! And I wasn’t the only one in our family. When the mustard bottle was low, strangely our family seemed to go on a mustard fast. Nobody would even touch it! So, I’d finally get an ice tea spoon and spoon feed it like a baby – and it was just like feeding a baby – juicy burps like the la brea tar pits, spewing mustard all over my hand and the counter or have a spoonful not go in at all because of an air pocket. It was just like those “real life” black and white dramatized commercials you see where the lady’s making a TERRIBLE mess doing it “the old fashioned way”. It wasn’t until I started working in a bakery, that served lunch, that I was introduced to a better way to refill the mustard. They poured the mustard into a sandwich bag, cut a corner off, stuck the opening into the mustard bottle and – viola! – squeezed the mustard into the bottle neatly as ever!! When I came home and shared what I’d learned, suddenly the mustard fasts were a thing of the past!! While that was still much better than spoon feeding, it took longer to get ready to fill it then the actual process of filling it. And then there’s the sandwich bag waste – not too eco-friendly I have to say. Then my hubby came up with this INGENIOUS idea! Are you ready?!!!

Look at this!!! Okay, so I had already started filling our mustard bottle when I thought to share it with you, hence the thick yellow lip gloss already on the lip of the jar. Here’s what you do: when you first open a new refill jar of mustard , DON’T tear the paper seal off!!! With a paring knife, make a small “X” in the paper seal, at the top of the mouth. Just 2 small slits will do it. That’s your air hole. Directly down from the “X”, cut 2 slashes that will make the sides of a triangle. The bottom of the triangle will be the rim of the jar mouth. Remove ONLY the paper from inside the triangle. SIDE NOTE: Keep in mind, the bigger and wider your “triangle” at the bottom, the bigger and broader the flow of mustard. That’s it!! Now each time you need to refill, just shake and give a little squeeze. I ask you, is this not sheer ingeniousocity!!! Are you ready to see how effortlessly it fills the mustard bottle?!!

Would ya look at that!! Poetry in motion, well, actually mustard in motion – the way it should be! With this wonderful new idea, the next time your mustard bottle needs to be refilled, the family will be clambering over each other to see who reaches the fridge first! So there you have it, from my hubs!! U.S. Patent pending #99458675840322. Just kidding – but I wish.

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Cathy’s Cookbook Corner (say that 3 times fast)

I’m sorry I haven’t posted much lately! I’ve been preoccupied. Actually, I’ve had my nose deeply embedded in 2 new cookbooks that have recently debuted. Then I headed to the kitchen. I’ll be posting some goodies here very shortly.

The first cookbook is Joy the Baker. The author is Joy Wilson, a young girl who couldn’t help but become a baker. Her dad had her baking with him when she was old enough to hold the rolling mat for him to roll out pie crusts and her mom was a cake decorator. She says, “Surrounded by all of that love, support, flour and butter, its no wonder I became a baker.” AMEN! Even though she hasn’t been “professionally” trained, all of that experience under her belt has served her well. She started a blog http://www.joythebaker.com in 2008 and was named the Best Baking Blog by Foodbuzz (another food blog). She also has podcasts. In her cookbook, she’s shared 12 really helpful hints for around the kitchen. Here’s a small sampling: In a pinch buttermilk, how to make your own brown sugar (who hasn’t been out of that when its most needed), anatomy of cake flour, reasons for sifting flour, cold vs. softened butter and how to make your own vanilla. There are over 200 pages of mouthwatering recipes,which include Vegan recipes. She’s more than just a baker. There are recipes for caramel corn and ice cream!! Of course there are cakes, muffins and cookies, cinnamon rolls and for the more adventurous; giant mint chocolate chip marshmallow cubes!! Now, I gotta to tell you, I’ve made marshmallows and they are NOT as daunting as they seem. I know, I know, “Cathy, I can go BUY a bag of marshmallows for $1.00!” (you need to read that with a whine). BUT!!  Just imagine the look of amazement and wonder on your kids’ faces when you tell them you MADE marshmallows!!!  After all, they think only God makes marshmallows!!!! Your friends and family members will be VERY impressed. Just sayin! There are pictures of the finished recipes (I’m thinking there’s a picture for every recipe but don’t hold me to it).  I bought and downloaded this cookbook from Amazon onto my Kindle app. Joy Wilson, in addition to being a baker, is also a photographer who used her own photography in her cookbook. She’s funny, she’s witty and to read her blog and cookbook, you’d think she was talking only with you. I would definitely suggest, if nothing else, that you check it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The second cookbook I’d like to recommend is The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Food from My Frontier. If you’re someone who likes/needs pictures as you cook, this is the book for you!! This cookbook is LOADED with step-by-step mouthwatering pictures! Ree Drummond, who is The Pioneer Woman, is also a homeschooling mom, blogger, writer, photographer and has done the photography for her cookbook as well. This is Ree’s second cookbook. That’s right, I’m on a first name basis with her. She’s also on the Food Network on Saturday mornings at 9:00 central time. Ree lives on a ranch in Oklahoma with her  husband, 4 kids, dogs, cats, cows, horses and other sundry critters. Her blog, http://www.thepioneerwoman.com, not only has recipes but a home and garden section, photography tips, give-aways (YEA!!!!), quizzes (don’t worry, they’re fun), as well as just musings about ranch life. It’s really pretty interesting; Tom and I have learned a few things. She also has periodic guest posts on homeschooling and photography. There’s literally a little bit of something for everyone. Back to the book. She and her family like their food with some spice. Don’t let that scare you away, just leave out the hot stuff (I admit I reduce those measurements). There are about 100 recipes in this cookbook (including a couple of canning recipes) of which some are NOT on her blog. And, just as with Joy Wilson’s cookbook, Ree’s directions and quips make you feel as though you’re having a pint jar of her FANTASTIC iced coffee – oh wait, I’m drinking that now – and just having some one-on-one girlfriend time. This too is definitely worth checking out.

P.S. In an earlier post I showed you the fantastic shelf my hubby made for my cookbooks. I mentioned that I’m very selective when buying any new cookbooks because whenever I get a new one, one has to go. That’s a very painful choice to have to make. Well, I’ve found a way around my own rule!! Remember I said that I downloaded the Joy the Baker cookbook onto my Kindle app?! Hellooooooo!! I’m not saying this is for everyone because it is, after all, viewing a whole recipe in 3 inch increments. Plus the fact, there were times that my phone got flour (and various other ingredients) ALL over it (I don’t recall a “flour clause” in the warranty . . .) but where there’s a will, there’s a way. I slip my phone into a sandwich bag or a zip lock bag. I know!!!! It’s PERFECT!!!  No muss, no fuss, I don’t have to worry about spills of any kind (just make sure you zip it closed – don’t ask why I have to point that out) and I don’t have to give away a book!! Go ME!! Just thought I’d share some wisdom.

My Momma’s Banana Bread

This is another absolutely wonderful and easy recipe! No mixer, just a fork, spatula, a few bowls and a couple of loaf pans. Now I ask, is that easy enough for ya?!

I have to confess however, I’ve never called my mom “momma”;  I just like the sound of it for the title of the recipe. This bread is so moist, so tender and so full of flavor you’re just not gonna believe you made it! Ok, what do I always tell you?!  Trust me!! Have I steered you wrong yet?!

So here’s the ingredient line-up:   This recipe will make 2 loaves.

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 6 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and make sure your oven rack is in the middle of your oven. Both loaves can go side-by-side on the rack, just leave an equal amount of space in the center as at the side. Prepare 2 loaf pans by spraying them with cooking spray and “flour” them with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar – the same mixture you’d put on your toast, or bagel, or English Muffin, or well, that kinda stuff.

 Let’s get started! In a large bowl, use a fork or whisk and beat the eggs.

Add the sugar to the beaten eggs.

. . .and the butter  (an angel choir is singing, can you hear it?!)

With a spatula, stir the mixture only enough to fully combine it. DO NOT stir until the color gets lighter, DO NOT stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, DO NOT collect $200! This is nothing that complicated.

In a medium bowl, peel and mash the bananas using a fork. Give this a little bit of time. Big chunks of banana in the bread are nasty, but small bits are ok. I used to use my stick blender to do this but it liquified them, made for a wetter batter, and made a really dense bread. So back to manually smashing I go.

Add the mashed bananas to the egg mixture, again just stir it with the spatula until they’re combined.

Add all of the dry ingredients into a fine mesh strainer or a sifter. SIDE NOTE: I didn’t use to sift the dry ingredients for this recipe until one day I found some lumps in my flour (the bag of flour got wet when I defrosted the freezer). Since I started sifting I found I have a consistently better final “product” when I’m finished. Didn’t that sound chefy!!

 Sift the dry ingredients into the egg mixture.  I had to laugh when I saw this picture. It looks like I sift by slamming the strainer on the rim of the bowl!! I think I just lost my chefy points.

Using the spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Treat this like you’re mixing brownies; as few strokes as possible, just until combined. This will give you a nice tender crumb. Make sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl while folding to make sure there won’t be any “leftover” flour surprises.

Pour equal portions into the 2 prepared loaf pans.  Bake for 35-45 minutes for large loaf pans (check after 35 minutes and set the timer in increments of 3-4 minutes after that) and 45-55 minutes for the smaller loaf pans (check on them the same as the large loaves after 45 minutes.). When a cake tester comes out clean from the center, remove them from the oven, run a knife around the edges and immediately turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack. When the loaves are cool, wrap them with a combination of wax paper and aluminum foil (I just lay the wax paper on top of the dull side of the aluminum foil, then place the loaf on top of the wax paper and fold both sheets as you would if it was just one.). This keeps the bread moist. Just a warning, if you slice and eat the bread while it’s still hot, you may not think it’s all that great. However, if you wait a little bit longer, warm is great!! It just doesn’t taste sweet enough to me if I eat it hot. Warm bread with soft butter and a cup of coffee, oh now we’re talkin! Cold bread with soft butter and coffee, oh now we’re still talkin! When the loaves are completely cooled you can freeze them – or take one loaf and hide it under your side of the bed. Did I say that out loud?

SIDE NOTE: This recipe can be cut in half very easily.  These can also be made into muffins. If you don’t want to use cupcake wrappers in your muffin tins, liberally spray with the baking spray and use the cinnamon and sugar to “flour” each cup.  Also, you can freeze ripe bananas (peel them first) if you don’t have time to make the bread before the bananas liquify on your counter. Yeah, they’ll do that after several days of “I’ll make the bread tomorrow.”  When you get ready to freeze them, try to make sure they’re lying on a flat surface, in a single layer (takes less time to thaw). Make sure you write, on the outside of the bag, the number of bananas you’re freezing just in case you might not be able to recognize them later. Just sayin.

Now wasn’t that EASY?!! And I promised no mixers!! Your friends will love this and will be asking for the recipe and you’ll honestly be able to say “Oh there’s nothin to it!”

My Momma’s Banana Bread

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 6 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and make sure your oven rack is in the middle. Prepare 2 loaf pans by spraying them with cooking spray and “flour” them with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. In a large bowl, use a fork or whisk and beat the eggs. Add the sugar and melted butter to the beaten eggs. With a spatula, stir the mixture only enough to fully combine. In a medium bowl, peel and mash the bananas using a fork. Do not use an immersion blender, regular blender or a food processor to  mash the bananas. It will liquify them which will make your batter too wet. Add the mashed bananas to the egg mixture and stir with the spatula until combined. Add all of the dry ingredients into a mesh strainer or a sifter and sift onto the egg mixture. Using the spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Use as few strokes as possible, just until combined.  Make sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to fully combine the flour on the bottom. Pour equal portions into the 2 prepared loaf pans.  Bake for 35-45 minutes for the larger loaf pans (check after 35 minutes and set the timer in increments of 3-4 minutes after that) and 45-55 minutes for the smaller loaf pans (check on them the same as the large loaves; after 45 minutes.). When a cake tester comes out clean from the center, remove them from the oven, run a knife around the edges and immediately turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack. When the loaves are still warm (not hot), wrap them with a combination of wax paper and aluminum foil (lay the wax paper on top of the dull side of the aluminum foil, then place the loaf on top of the wax paper and fold both sheets as you would if it was just one).

SIDE NOTE: This recipe can be cut in half very easily.  These can also be made into muffins. If you don’t want to use cupcake wrappers, liberally spray with the baking spray and use the cinnamon and sugar to “flour” the muffin tins.  Also, you can freeze ripe bananas (peel them first)to use later. When you get ready to freeze them, try to make sure they’re lying on a flat surface, in a single layer (takes less time to thaw). Make sure you write on the outside of the bag the number of bananas you’re freezing.

Thanks again for spendin time with me.

Enjoy!!