Sunday, April 15, 2012

Banana Bread Bazinga

For the past year, I've had a hankering for banana bread. I love all kinds of cakey-breads: banana, poppy seed, lemon, blueberry, doesn't matter. Unfortunately, every time I want to make banana bread, I never had what I needed to make it with — not even the bread pans. My mother-in-law bought me these fabulous Farberware bread pans for Christmas, and I finally had everything I needed.

Well, except a a sieve. I purposely bought the sifter around Christmas to make banana bread (my instructions ask me to sift), and then, I've already lost it. Sigh.

Anyway, this is a recipe from my high school home economics teacher that I still keep in my recipe notecard collection from home ec (it includes a basic dough recipe, homemade pizza, monkey bread, etc.). I made it tonight, and it turned out sooooooo good, even though I didn't sift my dry ingredients, and even though I didn't grease my pans enough.

The key to the recipe is a trick from my mom: Before placing in the oven, sprinkle the loaves generously with sugar for a little razzle dazzle crunch.

Just thought I would share...I'm not a baker by any means, but it felt nice to bake something that didn't arrive at my house in plastic first!

Without further ado, here it is:

2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup bananas
1 1/2 cup sugar 
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Cream shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Add to creamed mix. Add bananas and milk. Divide into two greased loaf pans — sugar the tops! Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes in medium-sized loaf pans. Cool on wire rack.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lap Quilt Deluxe

After a busy, busy, busy March, I've returned to show you my latest project. I have a few weddings coming up and decided to personalize their wedding gifts with a bit of quilting.

I found this great pattern, featured here on the cover of Quilts and More, a Better Homes and Garden special interest product, and went to work. The original pattern calls for a reversible quilt, but since I have two upcoming weddings, I decided to make the quilt one-sided, and save the other "front" for another gift.

My next job was to pick out the fabric. My mom recently acquired a ton of fabric, and I found this lovely gray print with about five yards in it and I knew I could use it for a quilt. I took a swatch with me to Hancock's of Paducah, which sells dozens of jelly rolls and Tonga treats and such and matched up with a jelly roll. The pattern calls for 2 1/2 inch strips, and I could make the two tops out of one jelly roll.

I couldn't quite figure out how to productively use my rotary cutter to cut the strips, so I created this form of measurement and just used my scissors.

I found a great pastel teal fabric to use as the border, then took the whole top in with me to another fabric store, where I picked out a black-patterned backing. I was looking for something in white cream, but the black just called to me (and it adds the perfect touch of modern sensibility to the quilt). Since the fabric wasn't large enough at 44 inches, I pieced it together, making sure I left plenty to hang over for the binding.

I debated whether to tie the quilt or get it machine quilted, but decided in the end to go ahead and get it machine quilted by the same lady who did my last quilt. She also binds it for you. :)

So this is the finished product, as shown by Baxter. It is a lap quilt, and measures 51 inches x 60 inches.

Close up of some of the fabrics and the feathered pattern I went with.

The backing with its patterns.

In the end, I love the machine quilting, but the cost, though worth every penny, was slightly pricey simply for my tiny budget ($50 for the quilting, batting and binding). So the next one I make, I think I'll tie it.