Breads

When Life Gives You Mangos…

Mangos!!

Mangos!!

I’ve always said, “Sometimes you get lucky.” Just last weekend when we visited the supermarket, I saw mangos for sale for $5.99/lb. I realized that I hadn’t had a mango all summer, but I also thought that the price was a bit spendy for something that would not be as good as something I could get at the farmers’ market. It’s just that I’ve finally really just started walking again! We did manage to find a couple of small mangos from a nearby tree on the way home from the store, but they were too small to inspire me to cut them open.

Walking again is what  brings me to to this post. I saw my doctor last week for my 6 week appointment regarding my recent knee replacement, and we discussed exercise and how much I couldn’t wait to get back into it. I told him I was already being a bit abusive, with spending a recent Saturday with friends, exploring nurseries in Waimanalo for hours. I told him that I was sore for a couple of days after, but it was totally worth it. He advised me that yes, that was to be expected for a while, but I would still recover. Anxious as I am, I took this as a green light. Also, the way I see it, the only way to build up any kind of stamina is to just do.

So this past Monday morning, I took a little bus ride and a bit of a hike to Kahala Beach to attempt catching a sunrise. I was a bit late for the colors, but I managed to get a couple of really nice shots.

 

Kahala Sunrise

Kahala Sunrise

 

Kahala Sunrise

Kahala Sunrise

 

Couldn't resist the plumeria

Couldn’t resist the plumeria

How I’ve missed it!

 

On the way home, walking through an old, favorite Kahala neighborhood, I happened to run into a lady pulling mangos off of her huge tree, in her front yard.

Ready for picking

Ready for picking

 

Mangos!

Free mangos!

She said hello and I noticed the pile of the fruit sitting on a platform by her fence. “Help yourself,” she said, though I noticed the sign that advised to take just two. I very, happily complied. She said that she was out there almost every morning at the same time to pull the ripe ones off the tree. She could only eat so many herself, so she offered them to whoever happened to pass by. Sweet! I thanked her profusely, and made my way home, dreaming of the luscious mango bread that I was going to make.

Now, I’m going to put a little bit of a kink into this recipe, just because I tried something a little bit different about a month ago with some banana bread I made. That banana bread was a good test for a great variation on any quick bread that you like.

 

 

Banana upside down bread

Banana upside down bread

It is a little bit like an upside down cake, but not using the traditional pineapple and maraschino cherries.

 

Just something different

Just something different

This variation simple means baking it in a round baking pan and melting about 2 tablespoons of butter to put on the bottom of the pan. Then you sprinkle about 2-3 tablespoons of sugar on top of the butter. Arrange fruit on top of that,  pour on the batter and bake. Invert when done. It makes it just a little bit more special.

 

If you have extra mangos, try this!

If you have extra mangos, try this!

This recipe is also very flexible. I used about half white whole wheat flour (I’m a King Arthur Flour fan!) mixed in with all purpose, just to make it a bit healthier. You can skip the nuts if you are allergic, or use whatever kind you have available.

 

Mangos!

Mangos!

So when life gives you mangos, you just follow this recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350º. Butter a loaf pan or round baking pan, if you are trying the variation. Truthfully I needed both, because these mangos were huge!

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup macadamia nut oil (vegetable oil or olive oil will do)
¼ cup melted butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ripe medium mangos (and their juice) peeled,
pitted and diced (approximately 2 cups… more if you’re trying the upside down variation)
¼ cup chopped macadamia nuts
¼ cup chopped walnuts

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, mix together the oils and sugar, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, making sure not to over-mix… that will just make the bread tough.

Lastly, fold in the nuts, if you’re using them. Pour the batter into the pan (or pans, if you have lots of batter like I did) and bake for approximately 45 mins to 1 hour. This will depend on if you are making more than one bread, so I kept checking on it every 15 minutes.

Check with a toothpick for doneness, and when it comes out dry, let it sit in the pan for a bit while it cools.

Upside down mango bread… yum!

Upside down mango bread… yum!

If you make the variation, gently go around the edge of the pan with a small spatular before inverting onto a plate.

 

Mango bread

Mango bread

 

I sent the rest of this one to work with Monty

I sent the rest of this one to work with Monty

 

Mango bread… a treat worth heating up the kitchen

Mango bread… a treat worth heating up the kitchen

 

As the ice cream melts in 90º heat...

As the ice cream melts in 90º heat…

 

Eat it fast, before the ice cream melts!

Eat it fast, before the ice cream melts!

 

Until next time, enjoy the bounty of summer, while it’s here and never take walking for granted. ❤

 

Soda Bread With a Little Extra

Whole Wheat Rosemary Irish Soda Bread

Whole Wheat Rosemary Irish Soda Bread

I’m not sure why we love St. Patrick’s Day so much, because it certainly isn’t because we like to drink ourselves silly, or party on a weeknight. So, it must have something to do with the food. Monty adores corned beef and cabbage.

This year, it’s going to be celebrated a day early, just because Monty has surgery today. So, I made a point of making him a special meal, before he had to fast, and also before I ran out of time. I’ll be pretty busy playing nurse, for the next couple of weeks.

Last year, I made my great-grandmother’s soda bread. This year, I’m going to make some more, but I’m going to deviate from her recipe, just a little bit. First of all, I’m going to make it a little bit healthier by adding in some whole wheat flour. Secondly, I’m going to make it a bit more savory by adding in some dried rosemary.

I’ll keep this simple, mainly because it really is! It doesn’t take a lot of ingredients, and it comes together very quickly.

2½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour + more for dusting
1¾ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons sugar (I used tubinado)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary + more to sprinkle on top
1 egg
½ cube butter, (¼ cup) melted and cooled
1¾ cups buttermilk

—————————————————————

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Prepare a baking sheet by covering with parchment paper and sprinkle the paper with flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients. Make a well in the center.

In a large measuring cup, beat an egg with a fork. Add in the cooled, melted butter and continue to beat them together. Then pour in the buttermilk and beat until blended.

Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the flour mixture and blend with a spatula. It will be sticky, but it will eventually come together, after about a minute and a half.

Put the dough on to the prepared sheet, and gently pat the dough into a round with floured hands. It will look rough and raggedy.

Cut a giant "X"...

Cut a giant “X”…

Cut an “X” into the bread with a wet knife, then sprinkle with a dusting of flour and a bit more dried rosemary.

Bake for 40 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness.

Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

Allow to cool on a rack

Allow to cool on a rack

Remove from oven, then place on a rack to cool.

Whole Wheat Rosemary Irish Soda Bread

Whole Wheat Rosemary Irish Soda Bread

Once cooled, this can be served, as you please.

Good with a little butter

Good with a little butter

 

Don't think this doesn't taste good with some berry jam…

Don’t think this doesn’t taste good with some butter and berry jam…

Made to be served with Irish Stew

Made to be served with your corned beef or Irish stew

Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!

In Case You Haven’t Had Enough Pumpkin

It’s kind of a crazy thing the flavor of pumpkin has really monopolized the entire Fall season, over the past several years. I only say this because I’m seeing things flavored pumpkin, that I’ve never seen before. There are Pumpkin Oreos, breakfast cereal, M&Ms, potato chips, gum, jello, ice cream, yogurt, coffee, tea, beer and condoms. Condoms?? I thought that this was all getting to be a bit much, until yesterday~ I was shopping for kitchen hand soap. I really like the kind that’s scented like lime & coconut, or maybe almond, grapefruit or pomegranate. I about choked when my eye caught pumpkin scented soap. Really? It didn’t even say “pumpkin spice,” but just “pumpkin scented.” Really? C’mon…

Real pumpkins

Real pumpkins

I’m really not anti-pumpkin, though I think the world has gone quite mad about turning every, single last thing that we eat, see or smell into a pumpkin. In fact, I have a wonderful recipe for pumpkin muffins that you might like to try, just in case you also have managed to shield yourself from the avalanche of pumpkin products.

I really like my muffin recipe, just because it’s pretty healthy, with only having a half cup of sugar and butter. The pumpkin is full of vitamin A, and then they can be made from whole wheat flour, without anyone even taking notice. I like to add walnuts and raisins for texture, and then I garnish with sprinkling of turbinado sugar and  pumpkin seeds.

Canned pumpkin

Canned pumpkin

 

The recipe is also really easy, too. Just grab yourself a can of pumpkin and get to it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1-2/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1 cup canned pumpkin

½ cup sugar

½ cup milk or buttermilk

2 eggs

½ stick (½ cup) butter, melted

1 tablespoon molasses

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup raisins

turbinado sugar for garnish (optional)

pumkin seeds for garnish (optional)

—————————————————————

Preheat oven to 400º F.

In medium sized bowl, whisk dry ingredients together~ flour, salt, spices and baking soda. Set aside.

In larger bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, butter, molasses, eggs and milk or buttermilk.

Mix dry into wet ingredients

Mix dry into wet ingredients

Gradually add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, mixing just until everything is moistened.

Garnish first with turbinado sugar

Garnish first with turbinado sugar

Pour into paper-lined muffin tin. If garnishing, sprinkle tops of muffins with turbinado sugar…

Then sprinkle with pumpkin seeds

Then sprinkle with pumpkin seeds

…and a few pumpkin seeds, pressing the seeds down lightly into the batter.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

These are now ready for the oven. Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cooling

Cooling

Cool on wire racks. Makes 1 dozen.

Pumpkin muffins

Pumpkin muffins

Good for breakfast or a snack

Good for breakfast or a snack

Good for a Halloween treat

Good for a Halloween treat!

Have a Happy Halloween!

Using Up “Hurricane Bananas”

Sometimes you get lucky, you know that, don’t you? I’ve been busy the past week, due to the existence of two hurricanes close to our waters. Hurricanes tend to throw a real, curve ball into whatever it is you are trying to accomplish at the time. Whatever you’re doing, you need to stop and prepare to survive. For me that meant gathering supplies, cleaning the lanai, so the plants wouldn’t become hurtling, airborne objects in the wind, and cleaning and organizing the household, so as to lessen any potentially disastrous impacts. It was a lot of work and not something I would want to do every week, but since we hadn’t had such a warning in twenty-two years, it was okay.

Since non-perishable food is so important in such a situation, I was so happy when Monty came home with a huge hand of bananas last Thursday night, given to him by a coworker. It is nice to have something fresh in such a situation. Thankfully, Hurricane Iselle fizzled out once it hit the Island of Hawaii, and Julio drifted well away from us, leaving me with a bunch of bananas, bottles of water, and a bunch of canned food to be stored for another day. Knowing how we only use maybe 3-4 bananas in a week, I knew the day would come soon, that I would have to whip up some banana nut bread. Since they are starting to get brown and soft, today must be the day.

Making healthy banana nut bread can be easy

Making healthy banana nut bread can be easy

 

Here’s what we’ll need:

1/3 cup vegetable oil

½ cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 cup mashed bananas

1¾ cups whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup hot water

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup chopped macadamia nuts

Mash the bananas with a fork

Mash the bananas with a fork

——————————————————————————

Pre-heat oven to 325º.

Grease (or spray with cooking spray) a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oil and honey. If you measure the oil first, the honey will pour out of your measuring cup much easier. Add in the eggs and mix well. Stir in vanilla and mashed bananas.

 

Stir the flour and salt into the egg and honey mixture

Stir the flour and salt into the egg and honey mixture

Gradually still the flour and salt into the wet ingredients, mixing just until everything is almost fully moistened. If you over mix, the bread becomes tough.

 

Stir in the nuts

Stir in the nuts

Next, add in the nuts, again being careful not to over mix.

 

Mix the baking soda with hot water

Mix the baking soda with hot water

In a measuring cup, mix the baking soda with hot water and stir it into the batter.

 

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for one hour. Check with a toothpick for doneness~ mine usually needs another 10-15 minutes, or so.

 

Remove when done, and allow to sit for a few minutes

Remove when done, and allow to sit for a few minutes

Once done, allow to cool for a couple of minutes, before removing from pan.

 

Put on a rack to finish cooling

Put on a rack to finish cooling

Carefully remove from bread pan and allow to finish cooling on a rack.

 

Slice and serve

Slice and serve

Slice and serve. This bread freezes really well, if you’d like to stash some away to be eaten in about six months, or so.

 

Good for breakfast

Good for breakfast

Try it for dessert

Try it for dessert, too

 

Irish Soda Bread ~ In honor of My Great-Grandma, Honora Lydon

My great-grandmother on my mother’s side was pure Irish… She was born in 1877, and she came to America back in about 1900 and was processed as an immigrant through Ellis Island, apparently before they even kept good records. No one was ever able to find one, even though research shows they did keep them at that date. She came to America to escape famine and poverty, and she travelled via a boat in steerage, as many Irish people did. She was also dirt poor, like most Irish people back then. It apparently was a complicated journey, with her husband first paving the way to San Francisco from New York, their first residence being on Army & San Bruno Road…. yes, that was their literal address~ not even a number. They eventually moved to the Mission District, which was Irish before it was Hispanic.

Wonderful, easy-to-make soda bread

Wonderful, easy-to-make soda bread

I barely knew my Great-Grandma Nora, which is what she was called for most of her life.  She passed in 1961~ I was six years old. I always knew her as “Grandma-with-the-White-Hair,” and from the stories that were told, I was apparently quite frightened of that white hair, as a baby. I also remember her always carrying a rosary, being the good Catholic that most Irish people were at that time. I don’t remember much more than that, since I was so young and she was so quiet, in her old age.

She came from the day when people didn’t use measuring cups or spoons for cooking, but rather used “handfuls,” “fistfuls,” “teacupfuls” and “pinches of this and that.” I guess she was a really good cook, because when she passed, someone else had to make the Thanksgiving dressing for the turkey. One of my older cousins commented on it that year, saying that it tasted like cement… I guess that’s when she really became missed.

I guess I’m fortunate that my mom saved some of these old family recipes, and is able to tell me some of her story. The story behind this soda bread recipe is that my late grandfather actually stood around in the kitchen, watching Great-Grandma Nora make this and writing down the quantities. She never needed them, because she knew exactly what to do. Now I know where I get my survival instincts from.

This is actually a really simple recipe. If you want to try this, you’ll need:

3 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking poweder

1 cup dried currants (or seedless raisins)

2 eggs (beaten)

1-3/4 cups buttermilk (notes on this say use old buttermilk~ the older, the better. Buy it about 10 days before using it)

1/2 cube melted butter

2 tablespoons caraway seeds (if desired)

The notes on the recipe say that if someone in the family wears dental plates, forgo the seeds. I have  to laugh just a little bit, because dental technology has come a very long way! 🙂

Meanwhile…

sodabread1

Got a cast iron skillet? I understand that that’s what was really used for this. If not, any bread pan will do. Grease whatever you’re using with some butter or oil. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the currants  (or raisins, if that’s what you’re using) and caraway seeds (if you’re using those).

 

sodabread2

I don’t sift, but I do whisk

 

sodabread3

Add currants now… less stirring makes better soda bread

Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter in another medium-size bowl.

sodabread4

Add the liquid mix to the dry ingredients and gently stir until the flour is just moistened.

sodabread6

Turn the batter into whichever baking container you’re using… I have a wonderful, oven-proof frying pan, so that’s what I’m using. Cut a big “X” is  into the top of the bread to scare the devil away… or at least, whatever evil spirits might be lurking about. This is a traditional thing, so go for it! 🙂 These days, we need all the help we can get.

"X" marks the spot...

“X” marks the spot…

Bake at 350ºF for approximately 1 hour & 10 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick~ poke the center of the bread until it comes out clean. Now, let it cool just long enough so you can make yourself some tea to drink with this!

sodabread8

Fresh from the oven… best served warm

Delicious with tea

Delicious with tea

Serve warm with a bit of butter, and then dream of kissing the Blarney Stone! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all!