Friday, June 25, 2010

Classic Banana Pudding

I always enjoyed banana pudding.  It was a part of my upbringing.   The "classic" I grew up with was made with Jello pudding mix, vanilla wafers and bananas.  Southerners are known for shortcut cooking (using mixes and pre-made ingredients).  I am not sure why.  Maybe because it can be kinda warm (OK, it can be really hot . . . and humid) in the summer and reducing time in the kitchen is a good thing.  Summer heat is a good excuse to cook less, especially in the days before A/C.  Who knows?  I lived through an era of canned foods and box mixes and so that is how my mom cooked her banana pudding.  She had five kids, I am sure her hands were full.
Banana pudding is one of those dishes that have always existed in my life.  It was always at family reunions and made appearances at our Sunday dinners. It is one of those southern staples.  It just was.  And will continue to be, although we don't do desert as often as when I was a kid.  How did this simple, but delicious dish come to be?  I never questioned the legitimacy of this desert, ever, until now.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chocolate Cake on a rainy day

Sometimes nothing else will do.  I have been thinking about making a chocolate cake for months, probably years, and it is time.  I can feel it.

I don't ever make chocolate cake except when requested, say for a birthday or other occasion.  It is such an indulgence.  But the weather went from 90 degrees and humid to rainy and 65 degrees, and it consumed me.  I had to do it. Comfort food was in order and I needed some order.  Really.  Isn't that a good reason?

This recipe has been in my cake recipe file for quite some time.  I use this recipe when I need a quick, very good desert.  In my southern mind, it is perfect for a picnic or a potluck because it is a bundt style cake.  It has always gotten great reviews.  But I never paid it much mind.  People are kind when you bake for them.  I have never been a good critic of my own baking (or cooking for that matter) because I am always thinking of ways to tweak it to make it better.  My advice to others is if your audience if happy . . . be happy too.  Stop tweaking.  Maybe I should listen to myself.  But I probably won't.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I know brussels sprouts invoke shivers and revulsion for some.  I do not have a history with them.  In fact, I have no history with them at all, but I trusted the stories and stayed away anyway. It is a sad story but true.  When I was growing up, my family just did not go there.

On one beautiful morning there they were, fresh at the farmers market and they looked so darn cool. I could not resist. I am always up for a challenge and wanted to give them a try.  But with out much effort (so much for the challenge) I found out I love these tasty, roasted morsels.  In my family, they disappear fast and I literally have considered counting them out for each person so the feel as if they have been treated fairly.  We covet them.  There never seems to be enough.
It is the end of their prime growing season (they tend to like cooler weather), although they are available year round, just not locally.  I was excited to find these.  They were on the large size which usually means they will have a stronger flavor.  This was not a problem for me because I have never met a roasted brussels sprout that I did not like.

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