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Ahhh, Nuts!


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My husband and I were talking the other night about those odd little things we associate with the holidays and the subject of nuts came up.  So today when I made my colossally big grocery shopping trip I picked up a mix of  the Christmas classics (Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts).  I beamed with anticipation while I held up the bag of mixed nuts for my husband to see as if I was holding up a fresh kill and saying “look, look what I got for you!”
“Man, why didn’t you get the kind with salt on them.”
“What?” (I was still smiling like an idiot.)
“Some peanuts, with the salt on them.”
“Because that’s not Christmas, #@$%&*” (Again, still smiling like an idiot.)
Despite everyone’s disappointment we still had nuts after dinner. The kids hated them.  Sure, it was fun cracking them open and using the little pick to perform meticulous ‘operations,’ but other than that, eh.  

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Erin Sipes
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How NOT to Freeze Your Banana Bread


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To get myself in that baking mood I decided to take some bananas out of the freezer* and make up my farmer’s market sized batch of banana bread.

Everything went well, I’ve posted the recipe below.  It wasn’t until I was trying to decide how to freeze the loaves that I ran into a bit of trouble.  I’m blaming my little sister, because she kept me on the phone discussing how well the imagery of the Holocene video matches the lines and sentiment of the song.  I mean that’s distracting right?  Deep thoughts like that running through your brain and then to be faced with how to freeze banana bread? 

So I had a brilliant idea!  While reaching for the plastic cling wrap I spotted the vacuum sealer rolls.  Yay, I’ll vacuum seal them!  I don’t get to use this little gadget that often so I was really excited that I’d thought of it.  I cut the length I needed, sealed up one end, slid in the loaf of bread, and then started up the vacuum process. 

I hadn’t yet frozen these lovely, fluffy, poufy, soft, moist loaves but surely they were still going to maintain their superb shape once I turned on that lovely machine.  Surely.

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For a very long time the shape of the bread did hold up under the powerful suction and I actually had a feeling that everything was going to be okay.  Then in about 5 seconds it turned into what you see above.  Don’t worry, I did learn my lesson.  The rest were wrapped in plastic wrap - then a paper bag, dated, and put into the freezer.

Besides being an easy and sweet treat for the family banana bread also makes a great food gift if you’re in a pinch!

Farmer’s Market Banana Bread (4-6 loaves)

Ingredients

  • 7 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/3 cup of shortening ( I like to use the butter flavored)
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 4 cups mashed bananas
  • 8 eggs
  • 1  cup of chopped nuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees and spray 4-6 loaf pans.  After buying a number of loaf pans this summer I’ve found I actually prefer using the super cheap aluminum ones.  They are smaller so I can get six loaves out of one batch.

Cream the sugar and shortening.  Add in half the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Next mix in the milk and bananas before adding the rest of the flour.  Mix until everything is well incorporated.  Finally add the eggs one at a time and then add the nuts if that’s your thing.

Evenly distribute the batter between your pans, sprinkle with a handful of nuts, and bake for 45-60 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.

 

*This past summer when I was baking for the Farmer’s Market, I learned about freezing bananas.  So now when the overripe bananas are 29 cents a pound I buy a bunch or two and through them in the freezer once I get home.  They will instantly turn brown but when you take them out to thaw they will liquefy inside their skins.  For real.  I don’t even need to mash them anymore I just cut off the tops and poor them into the bowl.  The ones shown below are ALMOST thawed.

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Erin Sipes
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Hats Off for the Holidays


Wow, has it really been a week since last I posted?  Like everyone else in the free world I’ve been busy.  So, so, busy.  Okay, not really.  I mean yeah there are things to do but that hardly means I’m busy?  Maybe I’ll save my annoyance with the ‘busy’ phenomenon for another day because today I want to show you what I HAVE been working on!  HATS!

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Kids Craft: Toilet Paper Roll Owls


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During the ornament challenge I showed off an owl ornament the kids and I made using beans, acorns, and seeds.  Truth be told I was out of hot glue sticks at the time and didn’t get to make the little critters exactly how I wanted.  But now the glue sticks have been restocked and I’ve finally got the little owl family I had envisioned. 

These birds make me think of macramé and 1970’s string art…and I love them!  Here’s a much better tutorial on how you can make your own! 
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Chalk Cloth Gift Tags


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This weekend I started tackling my Christmas crafting by knocking out the easiest project on the list.  Chalk cloth gift tags aren’t just clever, they’re reusable and a cinch to make! 
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Challenge Follow-up


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If I never see another ornament…just kidding.  I may be a little burned out but I’ve still got other holiday crafting ideas up my sleeve and you can be sure I’ll be sharing them.

The Challenge…ahh, where to begin?  Instead of drawing even more attention to the misses I’m going to go over my three favorite ornaments. 

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