Simple Unexpected Surprises

(Banana Bread and Waffle Recipes below, scroll down)

Trumpet Flowers, out my kitchen window, in the morning sun

The recipe testing e-mail below was originally written in March 2009. This morning, when I was rinsing the breakfast dishes, I looked out the kitchen window. The morning sun was shining on my trumpet flowers and their beauty made me smile. I originally only sent the below e-mail to the recipe testers because I thought seemed too personal (or silly of me) to put on the blog. But this morning the trumpet flowers reminded me of the violets. My friend, Ann Hutchison, suggested I plant the trumpet flowers about 3 years ago, so that someday in the future I would have a beautiful view when I looked out my window. Well, they didn't bloom forever. They grew lots of green, but no flowers. I thought I was doing something wrong. The first day they bloomed was the day I found out the Kornbluth's house had burned to the ground in the fire in Santa Barbara. I was devastated by the loss of their home because I felt so connected to the earth when I visited them. Their house was such a part of them, their art, their music and their lives. It had magnificent natural views of the mountains and ocean. The loss of the house was an extra blow because Peter had already heroically saved the house in the previous fire. When I walked outside with my heavy heart, after hearing the news that the house was gone and the moutains had burned, the trumpet flowers were outside blooming for the first time. And somehow I felt it was a sign that the Kornbluth's would rebuild and their gardens and trees would grow back and the mountains would become green again. It gave me hope for a chance at renewal and blooming. I wasn't going to write any of this now because it seemed too depressing or perhaps too trite that a simple flower blooming would somehow make me feel better about their house. Afterall, it wasn't me who needed to feel better: it was them. But I have to be honest and say that every time I look at the flowers, I look at their natural beauty and then think of the day they first bloomed. I will send the menu and recipes from Max and Day's wedding in one of my next post as well as pictures of Day and Max on the beautiful Mountaintop.

March 30, 2009

Recipe Testers,
Last night we had a campout in the backyard with 8 of the homeschool girls. My girls and their friends had been begging me to do a cooking class/sleepover again for months and things have been so busy that I just wasn’t able to fit it in. But we made a plan a month ago for last night and it worked out. We pitched two tents in the backyard and they brought over their sleeping bags. It’s not quite as wonderful as camping at the beach or Yosemite, but for the Mom it is a lot less work and packing and the kids still have a great time. I’m sure the neighbors weren’t exactly overjoyed with the happy screaming, (Sorry neighbors. I did continually ask them to quiet down!) We made lasagna and then s’mores and they actually went to bed on time (with only two reminders.) They woke up at 6:20 A.M because of the cold and asked for more blankets, then ended up getting up around 6:40 anyway. We made crepes for breakfast. Last time we made crepes we made apricot sauce and in a separate pan, blueberry sauce. This time we also made two separate sauces: apricot sauce and then guava sauce. Both were hits. The point is that you can make any kind of fruit sauce quite easily either from fresh fruit or from jam. Super quick and super easy. If it is fruit then just put it in the pan with some sugar and a little lemon juice or orange juice and cook it over medium high heat until it bubbles and looks like a fruit sauce. If it is jam, then scoop half the jar of jam into the pan, add a little juice (to the apricots I added orange juice and to the guava I added grapefruit juice) and a little more sugar and then some allspice or nutmeg if you’re in the mood for a spice. Or just keep it simple with the fruit taste. Cook it until it is warm and bubbly and looks like a sauce. Add more juice if you want it to be thinner.
After the crepes we made banana bread. They loved the banana bread and asked for the recipe (they already had the crepe recipe). I went to look up the banana bread recipe to give them and discovered I’d never typed it. I have post-it notes of the measurements and variations I’ve changed over the years in my notebook, but had never taken the time to type it up. (I noticed that I sent Karen’s banana bread out in the summer of 2007 because that was the only recipe that was typed up and someone needed a recipe quickly.) My banana bread isn’t unusual. It is fairly simple and just tastes like bananas and butter. I’ll include Karen’s too for those of you who have been put on the list since I mailed it out. My girls have called my banana bread Banana Cake ever since they were little. And maybe their nickname is appropriate because is does seem a bit like a cake in the shape of a loaf of bread. I should compare it with an actual banana cake recipe to see how they differ.)
So after breakfast and making banana bread, I starting cleaning up from the various projects. I was rolling the trash cans out to the street, because our trash is picked up on Mondays, and I went through the side gate and turned around to be pleasantly surprised by a bunches of blooming violets. Now I know violets and nasturtiums are considered weeds, but they are my most favorite weeds ever. The unexpected violets made me so happy: like God just gave me a little bouquet. I was already in a happy mood because of the kids, and I know it sounds silly to let violets mean so much, but they truly made my whole morning. Spring is my favorite season and after all the glorious rain we had in California the wildflowers are blooming everywhere. When I drove to Solvang last week you could see the lupin glowing on the hills and there are tons of California poppies. The hills are all bright green and dotted with flowers. And even on the side of my house I have the wonderful signs of Spring in the violets. It is truly my most favorite time of year.
Anyway, I’ve included the Banana Bread recipe here. The crepe recipe I’ve sent out about 100 times, so I won’t include it again. (If you are new to the list and would like it then please e-mail me and I’ll send it to you.) This afternoon I had a request for a waffle recipe. I’m attaching a super quick waffle recipe that I’ve been making since the 1990’s. There may be another one you may like more where you beat the egg white and egg yolks separately. But this is a quick one that I make in a heart-shaped waffle maker all the time. The girls love them. I also have a Belgian waffle maker and after coming back from two weeks inAntwerp, where my daughter ate about 4 Belgian waffles a day, I had to learn how to make the real thing. (Chances are the Belgian waffles you are eating out are not the real thing, even if you’re pouring the batter into a Belgian Waffle maker) The real Belgian Waffles are very involved and have yeast in the batter and require you to wait a minimum of an hour and also to beat the yolk and whites separately. They are wonderful, but they are a major production. I’ll get that recipe out for those of you who’d like to devote an entire morning to true Belgian waffle making.) For now, I’m including the quick recipe, which is also quite delicious.
This week I also had some questions about prawns vs. shrimp. I answered in length about the difference between langoustines, scampi, prawns, blue prawns and shrimp. I’ll wait to send my answer to the rest of you when I accompany it with a langoustine recipe.
Finally, the people that went out and bought the Panch Puran are wondering WHERE the vegetarian chile recipe is that I was supposed to send out last Monday. Somehow I got side-tracked and didn’t type it yet, but I will tonight.
Then the last unexpected surprise is that the Mom’s whose daughters had the sleepover picked them up and took my girls to Disneyland with them. So I had this wonderful afternoon to myself that I didn’t plan. When you are a mom (and a homeschooler) moments alone are extremely rare and very treasured. So this was a HUGE unexpected surprise. Then my husband e-mailed me and said Happy 18th anniversary because I hadn’t realized it was March 30th and it was 18 years ago today that we met on our blind date at West Point. So the unexpected surprise of having the girls go to Disneyland turned into an unexpected date with my husband.
So here’s to all the simple (yet wonderful and beautiful) unexpected surprises that come up everyday. (And not all of the surprises are perfect. I also unexpectedly stepped in a melted marshmallow from the s’mores and had it and a bunch of grass and other stuff stuck to the bottom of my sock as I walked around the kitchen. And we also discovered Hershey bars from the s’mores melting in the bottom of the tent. Thank goodness they were actually chocolate and not from our dog, Princess).
Enjoy the good ones and laugh at the not so good ones.

Quick Vanilla Waffles

Makes 6-8 Waffles

We added a whole banana and a little nutmeg to this basic recipe and it was delicious. Other variations could be to add other types of fresh fruit, such as berries or peaches. Lemon zest, orange zest and/or cinnamon could also be added.

3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar

1. Beat whole eggs in a bowl until thick.
2. Beat milk, melted butter, and vanilla into eggs.
3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Sift into egg mixture, and mix well. Pour batter into waffle iron and bake.
Adapted from Vitantonio instruction and recipe manual, 2000

Classic Banana Bread
Makes 1 Loaf
This is a very simple recipe. You can add spices or nuts or whatever you like. I just like this one because it tastes like bananas and butter. Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking more is better by adding more bananas. I did that when I first learned to make banana bread and it would never get firm in the center. I think that is most people’s first banana bread mistake. I make mine in a Kitcheaid mixer. Adapt the recipe for whatever works best for you.
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (dark brown or light brown, it doesn't matter)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 bananas (mashed with a fork - should make about 1 cup mashed)
1/2 cup sour cream (or 1/4 cup buttermilk, I almost always use sour cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Generously butter a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars until butter looks light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Mix them together so there won’t be a pocket of baking soda in your bread. Add the dry ingredient mixture a half-cup at a time to the creamed butter and sugar. Either add this while the mixer is running on low or turn the mixer back on after each addition.
4. Add the sour cream, bananas and vanilla and combine well.
5. Pour into the buttered loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Classic Banana Bread, Bread Draft 1 typed by Maili Halme Brocke, Maili Productions, Inc Cookbook Maili Halme Brocke March 30, 2009, Draft 2 updated April 28, 2010 MHB
Notes: A number of people have either added oatmeal to the recipe or substituted some of the flour with oatmeal. Reduce the flour to one cup in the original recipe and then add a cup of oatmeal to the recipe.


Syd said…
Can you make pancakes with waffle batter?
Carol Sawyer said…
I use oatmeal in my meatloaf.

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