Sunday Morning Coffee: BANANA SNACKING CAKE


ImageWhile I like the flavour of banana cake, I find most too dense. So, when I excavated three frozen bananas while cleaning my fridge’s freezer, I set about to make a lighter version with all the flavour of traditional banana snacking cake, but without the heaviness. I knew it was a hit when we all had one little piece after dinner…then another and another and… As you can see from the photo, it wasn’t long before the pan was half empty!

June 2, 2013 NOTE: in the original post, a “1” was added in front of the 1/2 cup of butter required. Yikes! The corrected version follows. My apologies to anyone who tried the recipe in its first posting — unless of course, you like a VERY buttery cake!

LIGHT AND FLUFFY BANANA SNACK CAKE

  • 3 medium bananas [I freeze overripe bananas and use them without thawing]
  • ½ cup butter or hard margarine
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Greek style yoghurt or sour cream*
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 ½ cups white flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 squares semi-sweet chocolate [or ¼ cup chocolate chips]
  • 1 T vegetable oil

Beat butter. Add sugar, eggs and bananas and beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, mix yoghurt and baking soda and stir with a fork: it will become light and puffy. [*You can use regular yoghurt if you like, but you will need to add about ¼ cup more flour to compensate for the extra liquid, and your cake may be a little heavier.]

In a third bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

Add flour mixture and yoghurt to banana mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Mix only until moist. Stir in walnuts (you can leave the nuts out if you wish or add chocolate chips instead/as well as — there’s always room for chocolate!)

Pour into a greased 9×12” pan – I use a large rectangular Pyrex® dish. Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and cake springs back when touched.

NOTE: it will look like there’s not enough batter, but this cake rises almost double. I was worried when I checked half way through: the center looked puffed and gummy, but it was perfect when it was finished. 

While the cake is baking, microwave the chocolate and oil on low until melted, stirring to mix. After removing cake from the oven, cool on a rack while you drizzle the chocolate over the top. [I’m told that chocolate is optional for some people….just not anyone I know!].

I think this might freeze well, but don’t imagine I’m ever going to find out for sure! If your family has more restraint than we do, drop me a note to let me know! 

God bless

Kim

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May 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm 2 comments

Life Along the Way: CURSES!


james and me

photo by Fred Barton

My mother was big on cursing.

Not the foul language kind [she was too ladylike for that!]  Tall, slender, athletic, auburn-haired former fashion model: nothing prepared her for parenting a short, opinionated, klutzy, argumentative bookworm. Faced with a daughter who was an alien in her household, poor Mom resorted to wishing dire consequences whereby I would grow up to understand exactly how awful it was for her to be my mom.

The most common curse:

  • I hope you have a kid just like you! 

Funny thing about word curses: sometimes they come true. And, sometimes they become the greatest blessings in our lives.

When he was an opinionated, klutzy, argumentative teenager, James and I  spent many a happy hour nose-to-nose yelling at one another. Even then, I knew I was blessed.

As an adult (especially as an adult adoptee),  when I look into his eyes and see my eyes looking back, I am blessed.

When he sends me a text from work with something sad,  funny or weird to share; or when we exchange books, recipes,  [and, I admit – sarcastic comments], I am blessed.

When he makes me laugh like no one else can, (even though everyone  is rolling their eyes),  I am so blessed.

My mom usually followed her curse with a prophesy:

  • Someday you’ll thank me.

So,  here it is, Mom:

Thanks for the curse Blessing!

Kim

On Kim’s Design Wall this week: a new baby quilt project in blues, greens and white. Stay tuned for more.

May 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm 1 comment

Sunday Morning Coffee: SWEET or SAVOURY SCONES


Image

Scones for Flo’s memorial tea: cheese and onion [bottom]; cranberry and white chocolate [middle].

Some Sunday mornings, it’s all I can do to drag myself out of bed and turn the oven on, let alone dream up a complicated treat for coffee time. On those days, the temperature is set to 425°, and  I throw together some variation of this basic scone recipe. For a tea party or morning coffee gathering, make two varieties at the same time, or choose to make one batch of either sweet or savoury. The recipe doubles easily to serve a crowd.

BASIC SCONES [makes a total of 12 medium sized or 16 small]

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup cold butter [ you can use hard margarine, but butter really is better]
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup plain yoghurt OR 2/3 cup buttermilk

Stir together flour sugar, salt and baking powder

Cut butter in until crumbly. At this point, if you are making sweet and savoury scones, split the flour mixture between two bowls. Add any one or two* of the following to each bowl [amounts given are approximate for a FULL recipe: halve if you are making two varieties – add more or less to taste].

*or none for lovely plain scones perfect to serve with butter or jam.

SWEET OPTIONS

  • 1/2 cup raisins, currants, dried cranberries, glazed fruit
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped strawberries or cherries, whole blueberries or other berries
  • 1/3 cup dark,milk, white chocolate – chopped or chips.
  • 1 tablespoon or so of grated orange or lemon rind [I like to combine lemon rind and finely chopped candied ginger]
  • 1/2 cup shredded apple [you may need less liquid if the apple is juicy]
  • finely chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger to taste

SAVOURY OPTIONS

  • 1/2 cup shredded or crumbled medium or sharp cheese – cheddar, asiago, swiss, etc.
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion or minced onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped ham
  • 2-3 slices bacon, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
  • garlic, oregano, basil, black pepper to taste

In a separate bowl, beat together egg and yoghurt. Pour into flour mixture [half to each bowl if you’re making two varieties], adding just enough to moisten the mixture so that it clumps together but is not sticky. Depending on the thickness of the yoghurt, you may need to add a tablespoon or so of milk if the mixture is too dry.

Knead two or three times to form a ball, then pat each ball into a 6″ round on a greased cookie sheet: if you are only making one variety, make two 6″ rounds. Score into wedges: I usually do 8 small wedges; for larger scones: 6 wedges. You can also roll the dough out  about 1″ thick on a floured board and cut into rounds with a glass or biscuit cutter.

Optional: brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar [or cinnamon sugar for apple or nut scones]. For savoury scones, you may wish to brush with milk and sprinkle a little extra cheese on top.

Bake at 425° for about 15 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Serve warm.

Enjoy!

– Kim

May 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment

Life Along the Way: MOTHERS and DAUGHTERS and me


Image

When my boys were little and loud and so very boy-ish, my only request for Mother’s Day was “take them away and let me read my book in peace.” No breakfast-in-bed, no smarmy card, no overpriced candy, and, for goodness sake, no plants for me to feel guilty about as they die from inevitable neglect. Just . leave . me . alone . in . the . blessed. quiet… aaah! Image

So, thirty years later, it’s no surprise that yesterday didn’t look much like a Hallmark® celebration here. Frank was off being a rockstar for an acquaintance’s 50th anniversary. Our elder son JD lives in Montreal, three time zones away, and our younger son James was recovering from emceeing a wedding/brawl on the other side of the strait in Vancouver. Just me, alone in the blessed quiet, up at 7AM to bake for church: [Strawberry walnut muffin recipe to follow.]

Lest you start feeling sorry for me,”alone in the quiet” is still a good thing. Time to chop, pray, stir, pray, scoop, pray and bake while I reread  Amy Young’s brilliant “Open Letter to Pastors”. Amen, Amy – you preach it, girl! I know I was not the only pastor to include Amy’s eloquent words yesterday, though I may have been the only one to snap “Mother’s Day is NOT a liturgical celebration!” Amy’s words stirred something deep and left me mentally standing on tiptoe anticipating nudges from the Spirit throughout my non-traditional Mothers’ Day.

Image

Prom dress fitting for my friend Emily; lunch with her mom Lynette and sister Nina; driving my son James home from the ferry; listening to phone messages: none of the activities of my Sunday looked like a greeting card celebration of Motherhood.

So, I breathed a sigh of relief that the dress fit(!); advised on boutonniere selection; teased Nina about her disdain for cooked celery. And thought to myself: “I’m so glad this family has let me into their lives.”

Blessed are the moms who are wise enough to know when to step aside and make room for someone else to speak into their child’s life (even if it’s silliness like  “carnations are for when your date is your cousin and his mother made him take you.”)

Later, as I drove from Departure Bay Ferry Terminal,  James talked about the wedding celebration gone sideways when family dysfunctions erupted under the influence of alcohol and stress. I marvelled at his aplomb as he emceed the event, doing his best to smooth over the very rough spots. I was glad to lend him to another family to support their Mom and Grandma, brother and father through a tough couple of days. He didn’t give me a card or flowers: he gave me the gift of himself sharing life; and left me once again thinking “I must have done something right: he’s such a decent man.”

Blessed are the sons and daughters who understand that appreciating their mother is not about cards and gifts, it’s about living values learned from Mom who did the best she could.

And as we stopped by the house for James to pick up a vehicle [that’s a whole ‘nother story for Father’s day!], we listened to messages. A “Happy Mothers’ Day” from, JD celebrating  with Bre-Anne, the wonderful mother of our four grandchildren who still longs for the Mom she lost two years ago.

Blessed are the adult children who understand  their first priority is to love their spouses and to provide a sound foundation for their own children. Wise grandmas cheer from the sidelines and pray hard for those who are still in the midst of it all.

Image

Waiting for Everett James Fontaine’s arrival – it does my Mumma Graham heart good to see the little smocked outfit I made is hanging on the change table.

Finally — trembling lip and  tear in my eye — another Happy Mother’s Day message from Megan: James’ dear friend who was still in school when she lost her mom to cancer.

I have been “Mumma Graham” for more than a decade now – not trying to fill the shoes, but standing in the gap where Mom should be. With no daughters of my own, because Megan made room for me: I shopped for bridesmaids’ outfits; smocked a flower girl dress; helped pull together a backyard wedding reception; gave unsolicited advice and encouragement; delegated a huge amount of work for Frank’s retirement party; plotted a surprise birthday for James.  And now, [any day now!], I wait for the arrival of our “honorary” grandson.

Today, I’m cleaning the prom dress carnage from my sewing room and the deck where I left a mound of satin and lace shrapnel. As I’m thinking about yesterday, the lesson from the Spirit has come clear in Day-after-Mother’s-Day thankfulness for Miss B.and Doris, Rosemary and  Gwyneth, Shirley and Gaye who all cared for me when I needed someone to be “Mom”.  And, praise His Holy Name, there’s blessing for me too, with Allison, and Cindy and Megan.

Blessed are you who stand in the gap where Mom cannot or will not be. Blessed are you who come alongside: to walk through the valley and to dance in joy; to encourage and to pray. Blessed are you, the mother-who-is-not-her-mother, because I give you to each other as a sign of My unending Grace.

I am blessed. So very blessed. 

Kim

May 13, 2013 at 3:33 pm 2 comments

Life [and Death] Along the Way: FLO


Florence May Patterson

For those who may be wondering: the Celebration of Life for my friend Flo was beautiful. Flo would have loved the laughter as family members shared stories, memories and songs. She would have dissolved into giggles as her granddaughter Colleen hammed it up with kindergarten-style actions while practising Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam. She would have enjoyed the leprechaun jokes about her Irish background (and her diminutive size.) She would have been tickled to see her daughter-in-law’s flamingo scarf – a nod to grandson Brian’s nickname for his grandma: “Flossy Flamingo.”

It was especially wonderful to hear “thank you” again and again as each successive generation remembered their mom, grandma, great grandma. I spoke about Flo’s “attitude of gratitude,” and it was clear that her whole extended family (almost 50 of them!) had been well schooled in the fine art of thanks-giving.

Sunday at LaRosa, we gave over our church time to a more casual celebration. No basic black there: much ‘wearing of the green’ in honour of our little Irish lady. The family joined a crowded room full of staff and residents as we sang the old songs and laughed at stories of Flo in her Easter bonnet or her hockey jersey [go Canucks, go!]. We remembered the excitement of her excellent adventure at Christmas and smiled at her determination. We marvelled that she really lived right up to the very end: thinking about others, thankful for the care she was given.

The great-grandchildren served goodies and shook hands and smiled and said “thank you.” And her daughter Marg said “I’ll be thanking you a long time.” And her granddaughter said “We were worried about Gram when she came to LaRosa, but she loved it here and we knew you took care of her. And we all want to say ‘thank you for loving her’.”

You’re welcome, Colleen and Marg and all the others. Thankful people are easy to love. Over the course of a couple of days, we learned to love you too: what an extraordinary, unexpected gift from God!

Our church family will be missing one precious little lady, but He gave us her whole wonderful joyous family to take their own places in our hearts and our prayers. Thanks be to God.

Pastor Kim and all of Bridges at LaRosa

May 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm 2 comments

Life Along the Way: FLO


My friend Flo died last week. So, here I am sitting at my computer thinking about preaching at her funeral on Saturday. I want to get it right; and I want to tell her family how precious she was. And I want them to understand that she still is, only better, and stronger and purer. And I want to honour her memory here and celebrate her eternity there.

But, mostly, I want the real pastor to show up: the one who isn’t going to worry about bawling like a baby when the family sings “You are my Sunshine” because Grandma Flo always sang it to them. The one who doesn’t mumble and search for words to speak into the grief. The one who doesn’t have to worry about forgetting something important. That one: the man [and I’ll be honest, in my imagination, it’s a man] who looks authoritative, and fatherly, and comforting in his backwards collar and conservative suit.

But I’m the pastor they’ve got. So, I’m not going to try to be profound, or authoritative or even ‘pastoral.’ I’m going to tell a story, because Flo always liked it when I told the Bible stories. I’m going to talk about nine lepers who believed and were obedient and were physically healed.

Mostly, I’m going to talk about the tenth one who was more: he was grateful. I’m going to talk about how it was the ‘thank you’ that Jesus said made him well.

I’m going to tell that story because Flo was always thankful: she rubbed her aching arthritic hands and thanked Jesus for the life he gave her; she buried a son and thanked her church friends for praying her through; she visited a daughter-in-law devastated by Alzheimers and thanked Frank for taking her so she could go and pray and say “Hi sweetheart, it’s Mom. I love you.”

And in the last day of her life on this side of forever, she was thankful for the nurses who came to poke and prod and catheterize and measure.

She told the nurse “this is my friend, Kim.” Then she corrected herself and said “this is my Pastor Kim.” It was clear that she liked the friend Kim, but she loved the pastor. And, Glory be, she was thankful that God had brought me to keep her company on this last mile of the journey.

So I held the twisted little hand and we prayed that God would take away the pain and that Jesus would make her well. And she thanked me for praying and for sitting, and for being pastor and friend.

I’m going to stand up on Saturday and, even if my voice trembles a bit, I’m hoping I can help them understand that she’s thanking Jesus face-to-face now. No aching twisted fingers, no bent back: there are no walkers in Paradise.  I believe with all my heart that her faith in Jesus has made her well in every possible way that matters.

I still want to grow up to be Flo. Godspeed, my friend: I am so thankful for you.

Pastor Kim

May 2, 2013 at 10:14 am 6 comments

Sunday Afternoon Coffee: Old Fashioned/New-Fangled Oatmeal Cocoanut Cookies


cookies2Not for church this time: I seriously doubt these will last that long! Sunday afternoon quiet finds me puttering in the kitchen making a variation on an old-time family favourite from my Saskatchewan Grandmother’s CCF cookbook dated 1947.

While the internet is an amazing resource, there’s something soul-stirring about leafing through this piece of Canadian domestic history: so many recipes are “eggless” or “flourless”; “butterless” or even “sugarless” as scarcity and rationing challenged the creativity of women across the country trying to make appetizing meals and treats. I wonder how Mrs. D.J. Macdonald figured out that she could substitute Jelly powder for sugar in her “original cookies”?  Did Mrs. A. Marchant from Westbank, BC pick her own Queen Ann cherries for homemade Maraschino cherries?  And what would V.M. McKechnie from Tuffnell, Saskatchewan think of me sitting here with my computer on my lap typing in my variations on her recipe for Oatmeal Cocoanut [her spelling] cookies?

I’m sure she’d be amazed at the variety of options in my cupboard: if she was like my grandmother, she probably added a handful of raisins as a treat for special occasions. Dried cranberries would seem exotic beyond imagining! (Not to mention my precious stand mixer with its large capacity bowl and specially designed beaters!) I picture her sitting down at her  kitchen table to write a “good copy” of her favourite recipe and  mailing it to the CCF volunteer assembling the book. What would she think of  a “blog post” that will reach all of you with a click of the Publish button?

Our pantries, our kitchens and our methods of sharing have changed, but Mrs. McKechnie and I have a common aim: letting other cooks and their families enjoy recipes that work for us. I hope Mr. McKechnie enjoyed the cookies his wife made as much as Frank is enjoying these. I hope you do too.

OLD FASHIONED/NEW FANGLED OATMEAL COCO(A)NUT COOKIES

(original Recipe by VM McKechnie, Tuffnel Saskatchewan in Canadian Favorites [2nd edition] published by the CCF in 1947)

375° oven for about 12-14 minutes

Makes 4 dozen 2″ cookies

  • 1 cup butter (margarine really doesn’t work as well)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups oatmeal OR
    • 1 cup rolled oats [NOT instant oatmeal]
    • 1 cup multi-grain cereal meant for porridge and baking [I use Rogers 9-grain]
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 ½-2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • OPTIONAL
    • a couple of  handfuls of raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit [I used Craisins®] and/or
    • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter together with brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.

Mix oatmeal [or oats and multigrain cereal] together with cocoanut, baking powder and 1 cup of the flour. Add to butter mixture. Stir in any additions you choose. Add enough additional flour to allow you to handle the dough without it becoming too crumbly: I usually find that an additional 1/2 cup is all I need.

Roll walnut-sized balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with a fork dipped in water. Bake in 375º oven about 12 minutes until golden brown. I find I have to switch the pans halfway through the baking time to get even browning. Cool on pan for a couple of minutes then transfer to racks to cool completely.

These freeze well….at least I’m pretty sure they do. Frozen cookies apparently taste pretty good too, so they’re always all gone by the time I get to the freezer! These are crispy rather than chewy, so I store them in a closed container.

Hope you enjoy making your own variation. If you know anyone from Mrs. McKechnie’s family, tell them my family says “thanks!”

God Bless!

Kim

April 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm 2 comments

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