Monday, August 20

Good Eating Monday: Bread Machine Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

In summer I prefer to not bake in the oven, but I have a bread machine and decided to try out some Pinterest sweet quick bread recipes for bread machines!
The bread machine does all the work, baking up a cute little Banana Chocolate Chip loaf!
It is helpful, while the machine is first beginning to mix the ingredients, to open the lid and, with a rubber spatula, scrape the edges down.
You use the "Quick" setting on your machine and "Light" crust.
A very nice, easy moist bread
(photo is my own bread)

(I like to use turbinado sugar in baking, such as Sugar in the Raw, which makes being light brown, makes for a slightly darker colored bread.)

Bread Machine Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
Ingredients:
2 large eggs, beaten
1/8 cup milk
2 mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
2 cups bread flour
 (or all-purpose flour; either is fine.)
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bakin soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Remove the bread pan from the bread machine:
1)  Pour beaten eggs, milk, melted butter and mashed banana into bread pan and set aside.

2)   In a medium bowl: combine all the dry ingredients plus nuts and chocolate chips. Mix together, then add to bread pan.
 Insert in bread pan machine.

3)  Press "Quick" or "Quick Bread" setting on your bread machine and "Light Crust."   

4)  When bread machines signals it's done, check bread with a skewer or knife inserted in middle to see if comes out clean. You can use the  "Bake" setting for additional minutes, if needed.
(Mine cooked perfectly in the Quick Bread cycle!)

5)  Remove bread pan and let sit on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then dump out bread to finish cooling on rack.
(The paddle using comes out inside the loaf. I cut my loaf in half just to one side of paddle, then popped the paddle out.)
Slice when cool and enjoy!

*****
The loaf fit easily inside a gallon plastic zipper storage bag.
I served the slices cut in half. The Army kids Hubby took them too devoured them.

Thursday, August 16

Mama Kat Thursday: The Rules of Camping


The Mama Kat Thursday prompt I chose today is to write a post inspired by the word "Camp."

Camping is what my family did when we traveled. Tent camping.
It was cheaper then a motel and certainly more interesting. We had some our most memorable family adventures camping. Then after I married, Hubby and I camped in tents for many years, mostly just for long trips. It wasn't anything he'd ever done before he met me, but he adjusted readily.

Turns out there's some unexpected rules that come with tent camping:

1)  Evolution Comes With Experience:
Hubby and I started out with just a pup-tent, but there was no way to stand up inside it. So, we evolved to a pop-up dome tent, but the  air mattress took up the whole floor, so when it started leaking, we got a more traditional square tent for actual standing space.
(Ever tried putting pants on laying down?)
Sleeping on the ground in that first pup-tent was uncomfortable, so we evolved to queen size air mattresses that could be blown up by a pump we could plug into the car's cigarette lighter spot! Ah, the comfort!
My parents evolved from a large canvas tent to a simpler pop-up tent trailer with fold-out sections that had actual mattresses, plus it was handy just parked out in the yard for guest sleeping.

2) You Will Always Forget Something.
I remember the year my family went camping and we packed everything---except a can opener.
(Walmart didn't exist yet.)

3)  You Won't Always Be Comfortable.
I remember as kids, we camped at a State Park by a lake on one trip and though it was summer, it was still so unexpectedly chilly during the night because the lake made the night air cold, none of us slept well.

Another time I went camping with my college friends in the late fall in Indiana, when it was about the end of October and the tent was an old style National Guard type square canvas tent with no floor. I had a sheet of plastic under my sleeping bag, but that was it. I lay awake most of the night, shivering.

Another thing: a tent's ability to repel rainwater eventually fails. If not the whole tent, at least along the seams and when it rains, it rains inside the tent----something I've had happen many, many times.

4)  Never Spray Mosquito Sprays Inside A Tent
Mosquitoes get in the tent and zing around your ears and you'll be tempted to spray that can of mosquito repellent---DON'T DO IT!
The insect spray chemicals will melt the your tent's water-proofing!
We made that mistake as a family one time camping in a local Indiana State Park and, as a result, a downpour rained right through our canvas tents skin. Literally, flooded us out and we ended up sitting in the car, drawing pictures on the steamy windows.
(You can read about that in detail here.)

5)  Your Stuff is Vulnerble When Camping
Among campers, there's normally a kind of etiquette of respect and most of the time you're safe going off and leaving your tent for the day. People kind of look out for each other.
But, there are always bad apples.
 Fortunately, in all my years camping with my family and with Hubby, I've only experienced 2 incidents of having stuff stolen:
*Once when my family was camping at a park in the vicinity of Kings Island in Ohio, we came back from our day at the park to find someone had stolen my Dad's vintage Coleman Lantern.

* And once while Hubby and I were camping in Virginia near Norfolk, someone went in our tent and stole a pillow and our cooler that did have food in it.

That you can lock an RV is probably their one significant advantage, but if you're tenting it, just be aware and do your best to secure anything you want to hold onto in your car.
So, we wise and don't leave suitcases, purses, coolers or anything you want to keep in a tent while you're away.
****

That's my list of camping rules from my many years of camping.
| Do you have any?


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(photos from Pixabay)

Wednesday, August 15

Garden Pic Wednesday: Pink Pampas Blooms!

Last week I posted a photo of my white Pampas Grass blooms.
This week: Pink!



The Pink and White are parallel, on either side of this part of the yard, which borders my neighbors property.
The White is taller.
They're so pretty in autumn!

*****
We had our annual termite inspection with the company we've been with for years and years and we got a clean bill of termite free health. It's pretty much an essential here in Florida.
 It's one of those "ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," sort of things.
One of our neighbors across the road hadn't been with any termite program for years and just few weeks ago discovered unpleasantly that the whole front wall of their house by the front door and the adjacent garage wall on that side so infested they had to have them completely replaced all the way to the interior sheet rock---all at their own expense.
Luckily, our neighbor next door knew a structure repair person, who's doing the work for them at a reasonable price.
But what a mess.
Anyway, that's the excitement in my neighborhood.

Monday, August 13

Good Eating Monday: Tropical Pineapple Coconut Bars!

I like bar cookies and am always looking for an interesting recipe. I found this one for "Tropical Pineapple Coconut Bars," on Pinterest and gave it a try this past week, since pineapple and coconut are some of my favorite things!

They're good. Not hard to make. Recipe has a crust portion and a filling batter portion. Flavor of both pineapple & coconut is very mild and these bars are surprisingly less sweet tasting then you'd expect for something with 2 cups of sugar and a whole can of crushed pineapple!
If I made them again, I'd add nuts both in filling and in crust. Maybe chopped maraschino cherries might be good. Definitely I'd add coconut to the filling because I like more coconut flavor. All the coconut the recipes calls for goes into the crust.
Chocolate chips might be fun.
If you'd like a fruity bar cookie, you should give this recipe a whirl! Though, the favor is best if you make it a day or two ahead of when you want to serve them.
(photo is my own of my own pan of bars.)

Tropical Pineapple Coconut Bars
Ingredients
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, divided in half (or 2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 20oz can of crushed pineapple, drained well

Optional Garnish: Toasted flaked coconut
Optional additions: nuts, extra coconut, chocolate chips, maraschino cherries. 

Directions:
1) Preheat over to 350 and oil spray a 13 x 9 baking pan.

2) In a large bowl: combine 2 1/2 cups flour, coconut, brown sugar and baking soda, cut in 1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick) and cut with a pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly.

3)  Reserve 1 cup of crumb mixture for topping and press the remaining crumb mixture into bottom of 13 x 9 pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

4) In a medium bowl: beat remaining 1/2 cup of softened or melted butter (1 stick) and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in remaining 1 cup flour. Then stir in drained crushed pineapple.

5)  Spoon mixture over baked layer, then gently spread to even. Top with remaining crumb mixture, sprinkling it over top.

6) Bake for 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. 

7)  For garnish, toast another 3/4 cup of sweetened flake coconut in a skillet until just lightly browned, the sprinkle over top right after pan comes out of oven.
Let cool, then cut into bars.
Keep refrigerated.

Thursday, August 9

Mama Kat Thursday: High School Friendship

The Mama Kat blog prompt I've chosen today is to, "share how I met my best friend in High School."

It was 1972 and I was in 9th grade, the era of bell bottoms, platform shoes and long hair. The Vietnam war was still in full swing, but no one talked about that.
The high school needed more space, so they'd added temporary buildings in back, outside to provide 3 additional classrooms. These looked like small houses on mobile-home type frames, called "Re-locatables."
I was taking a class called "General Business" being held in one of those Relocatables the semester I met Cheryl, who later became my best bud.

We were in desk chairs side by side and struck up conversation, I guess. 
I knew who she was. I'd seen her around school. She was in both Marching and Jazz Band, always on the high honor roll, in the Sunshine Club, in the National Honors Society and a volunteer in the school office for an hour daily.
Quite the busy.
I, on the other hand, wasn't involved in anything.
I was terribly introverted and awkward socially, but actually quite good at academics and, once I got past Algebra, which I skid through on a D- and, having to go to gym class, which I was never more then a C student in, I was always on the honor roll ever after.

Besides the General Business class, Cheryl and I also shared a Study Hall period held in one of the cafeterias. It was 50 minutes we could spend sitting at tables there, doing homework or piddling around as we liked as long as we were quiet. (A teacher was always present to assure we were quiet.)

If I had homework, I did it there and once I was done, I'd use the time for writing fan fiction.
On notebook paper. With a pen.
(Remember---personal computers and cell phones didn't exist yet. We weren't even allowed to use calculators at school!)

I had some favorite shows back then, like Emergency! Also reruns of the Green Hornet. I wrote in a script-like style, like this: 
Britt Reed: "Come on Kato, to the Black Beauty!"

After many talks here and there during General Business class, I finally shared my fan fiction with Cheryl. She loved it and started writing some her own. She was a fan of the TV show "Mannix," at the time and created a character named "Carrie," to interact with
Mike Connors as Mannix
 Mannix in her own fan fiction.

We started sitting together in Study Hall, writing and talking about what our characers were doing was a constant conversation for us. We'd talk on the phone and we'd stay-a-night with each other and it was great fun.
I think her greater ability to be social helped draw me out in the High School community a little bit along the way.
She tried to help me with the Algebra in Study Hall, too, but I just wasn't ready to get that stuff.
I did have a couple other friends in High School as well and we were all friends together, but it was that creative writing connection with Cheryl that made that friendship special.
*****
After High School, I joined the Air Force. She attended local Business College while living at home and we did meet up  whenever I'd come home on leave and after I got out for several years.
Eventually, though, we drifted apart and fell out of touch as such things don't last forever.


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