Red Fife, Banana Snacking Cake

It's the sun. We've gotten sunshine today.  It has lasted through the duration of the whole, entire day.  It's staggering the difference a little sun can make. Just like that it didn't seem too cold to run out this morning and grab a cup of coffee from down the block.  All of a sudden my butt wants to go out for that afternoon run instead of needing to be dragged out the door whilst kicking and screaming.  All it takes is a little sunshine and winter doesn't feel like a black hole anymore.  The world is a better place all 'round.
The appearance of Mr. Sun beyond generally boosting my morale has also meant that I've had a chance to take some decent pictures.  The yellow-light-kitchen-in-the-dark pictures have been truly bumming me out.  It happens every year.  I make this bad-ass, awesome food and the pictures are just disappointing and frustrating.  It's dark by 4:30 and pitch black by 4:45.  By 3:30 or so using natural light for a picture is not really possible. Sure I could set up some kind of light box configuration or ask Santa for some kind of awesome photography light that makes everything look normal but who's got the space or the time or the money for all of that.  So I wait, most impatiently, for the days when it stays light beyond 4 in the afternoon.  I long for it.  It becomes an obsession, I can taste it.  Today... well, today's gift of sunshine was a little bit of heaven.
And this is the crux of the thing really.  It's not the cold that gets us.  Cold we can deal with.  We bundle up.  We layer.  We're great at layering.  We heat our homes and drink hot toddy's.  It's the dark that really eats away at us.  It's the dark that makes this time of year so difficult to deal with.  I always thought that people had trouble with Christmas.  It's so demanding, so intense, there are so many expectations and it's overwhelming.  But now I think it's the dark that is really the problem.  If Canadians held Christmas in July it would be totally different.

If winter got you where it hurts and you're having trouble dealing with all the stress of the season then it sounds to me like you need some additional potassium in your life.  Potassium is good for you.  Potassium helps your heart and your nerves.  Bananas contain lots of potassium.  Dark chocolate is good for you too.  It has anti-oxidants which help you do stuff better (I don't know - I'm just making it up) and think like a super hero.  And that is why I made this cake.  Mostly.  I also made this cake because I'm working on whittling down the  myriad of frozen egg whites clogging up my freezer and the large bag of over-ripe bananas taking up valuable freezer space.  Now if you want to leave out the chocolate because it just turns it into the equivalent of one of those nasty after-school-specials they used to replace my real after school tv viewing with then I completely understand.  By all means do go ahead but I would highly recommend toasting a few walnuts or pecans and adding them in instead.  The whole thing will be a little ho-hum without a little additional assistance.

Red Fife, Banana Snacking Cake adapted from Canadian Living and an old recipe that I got from a friend.
Makes 1 8x8 cake

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Red Fife or Whole Wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (approx. 3) banana, mashed
6 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp buttermilk
1 egg (+1 more if not using the optional egg whites
3/4 cup sugar (can use half and half brown and granulated sugar if you wish)
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites (optional), beaten until frothy, doubled in volume and peaked
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks (or toasted walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour an 8x8 cake pan.  Set aside.
In a large bowl combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
Combine the mashed banana, melted butter, buttermilk, egg, sugar and vanilla.  Whisk together until blended.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and whisk or stir to combine.  This mixture will be quite thick if you are using the egg white option.  Gently fold in the beaten egg whites until completely incorporated into the batter.  The batter will be much thinner now.
Add in the chocolate chips and stir gently just to mix.
Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for   min.  or until cake tester comes out of the middle clean.
Cool for about 15 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Pulled Pork without the slow cooker

Logical, Rational thought is hurting my brain at the moment.  As a result, I offer you random thoughts straight from my brain to your eyes:

- I got my first Christmas gift tonight.  Eeek
- I don't have a Christmas tree yet which is because I think it's a lot more fun to drag my two kids out of their warm beds at 5:30 in the morning and drive down to the centre of the city where we can donate $10 to the Daily Bread Food Bank and get a tree in return.  Bad Mom.  That whole donation thing doesn't happen until the middle of December.  Further to my defence, there are many whose tradition it is to only get their tree on Christmas Eve.  However, I've only ever known of one family who followed that tradition.
- We watched 'The Grinch' last night and I let Kid #2 stay up late just so he could watch it.  Bad Mom.  We didn't eat dinner in front of the tv though.  Good Mom.
- If you are somebody who likes to peel skin (In a good way, you know, from your toes or from a sunburn) then be sure to get a tattoo at some point in your life.  Awesome.   It's been worth the price for me just to have the peeling experience.
- I've been seeing a lot of these weird blue LED christmas lights.  They're like the 'un'light.  You have to keep looking at them because it's like looking at some kind of weird optical illusion - lights that aren't. Plus they make my stomach feel funny.  I hope that you don't have them where you live.
- Is it weird that I worry about being able to carry on conversations with close friends and family? That  I wonder if Facebook and texting will render long, thoughtful conversations an impossibility.  I was texting just the other day and thought about how weird the words looked.  I marvelled at how little space I took to tell my BFF that things were crazy and I was collapsing.  Four words in total.  It looks bizarre.  I think about these things seriously.  They keep me up at night.
- I'm afraid to go and see The Hobbit.  Afraid.  Not because it's a scary movie but because I'm afraid it's going to suck.  Blow chunks.  I like Martin Freeman.  I 78% loved the 3 Lord of the Rings movies and I'm totally scared to go and see this one because if Martin Freeman bites I may never be able to watch Sherlock again.
- Tip of the Day: If your best friend takes you on a spa day and you both get a pedicure together, don't choose the dark blue nail polish because you read in a magazine somewhere that it's the new 'black'.  Here's the real 'tip' part... it is black.  Choose what your BFF chooses which is 'Slate Grey'.
- Fun Fact:  Concerts Halls only look good from the seats in the house.  Once you go backstage they all look awful.  They're actually the worst looking places ever.
- I've had two amazing cooking days in a row.  Two.  My kids are in shock just a little.  I guess I am too kinda.  Last night:  Tuna casserole with homemade 'canned' mushroom soup.  I had to make it with rice instead of pasta thought because I didn't realize I was totally out of pasta.  It still totally worked.

Tonight:  Pulled Pork.  I know, right.  Pulled Pork.  Serve this stuff with buttered egg noodles and the world will pretty much give you whatever you ask it for.  This isn't the fanciest pulled pork recipe.  It's not even 'authentic' but to be fair I don't even know what that means when it comes to 'authentic' pulled pork.  It's just pork cooked in a tasty sauce at low heat for a long time so that when it's done I can pull it all apart with a couple of forks and it looks almost like sloppy joes except it's pork.  I ate mine served hot over chard greens which sounds kinda gross but my stomach will thank me for it later.

Pulled Pork in the Oven and without a Crock Pot.  
serves 6

2 lbs pork roast or butt (haha - I wrote 'butt')
1/2 - 3/4 cup onion, sliced - diced... whatever, it won't matter
4 med. carrots, sliced - diced... same as above
lard/butter - at will
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp worcestershire
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp lemon juice (half a lemon)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup bbq sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper

Use a heavy, oven proof casserole dish with a lid - (I used my Le Creuset that I picked up at a yard sale(!) a about 16 years ago).
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Paint the bottom and sides of the pot with lard or butter.  Paint the pork with butter or lard.  Place the pork in the pot.  Surround the pork with the onion, carrots and garlic.
In a bowl, combine the worcestershire, soy sauce, lemon juice, ketchup, bbq sauce, honey, mustard and water.  Mix until everything is combined.  Pour over the pork and vegetables.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover the pot and place in the oven.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.  Reduce heat to 300° and bake for another 1 1/2 hrs.  Reduce the heat to 200° and bake for another 1 hr.
Remove from the oven.  Remove the lid and any string that might be tying the meat together.  Use two forks to separate the pork until it's all in strands.  Add a little extra water if it's dry but not more than a half cup.
Serve with buttered egg noodles or in tortilla shells or in egg buns.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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