The Quest for the Best Banana Bread

ChefMom hiking with her little sister and dad circa 1984-ish

While Mr. N eagerly awaits his prize drawing this afternoon, we thought we’d share our latest adventure. One of my earliest memories of cooking is with my dad. We used to make Big Bird’s Banana Bread from one of my old Sesame Street books. After Mr. N was born this memory kept resurfacing and I knew I had to find the same series of books (my old set was ruined in a flood years ago). I was fortunate enough to find them on eBay and acquired the whole set once again. I knew this was a recipe I wanted to share with Mr. N as he got older.

I made the recipe a few years ago and it didn’t quite live up to the hype in my mind. The memory is far sweeter than this particular version of the tasty snack. Then while we were living in Minnesota my friend Doree brought over her banana bread. Now this stuff tasted much more like my memory of banana bread! In fact, this was and so far still is the best banana bread I’ve ever had in my life. So since banana bread holds a special place in my heart we’re going to test out some new recipes as well as some old recipes until we find our favorite. Don’t worry dad, I’ll make sure to bring you a piece of each of them! Continue reading

Don’t Miss Mr. N’s Raffle Prize (or this sandwich!)

Who doesn’t love a good raffle drawing?! Mr. N loves winning raffle prizes. He recently won a paddle ball and you would have thought he won the lottery. It therefore came as no surprise to us when Mr. N insisted on doing a raffle on our blog after discovering that other bloggers also have various kinds of giveaways.

So tonight we present Mr. N’s Raffle Prize drawing. The process is simple: Leave a comment to this post with a suggestion for an up-coming Stateside cooking adventure. (For example you could say, “Illinois and Chicago Style Pizza.”) Each commenter will be entered in our random drawing and Mr. N will draw the name on Saturday, April 30th at 5 p.m. CST. You can also earn bonus entries by sharing our site with others via Facebook, Twitter, or via your own blog by leaving a comment letting us know you shared the post.

As for the prize, well it’s not a paddle ball or millions of dollars, but since Mr. N has become a big fan of slicing and chopping we found these festive pairing knives with cutting board and a colorful, three-compartment serving dish. Both are perfect for serving some fresh fruit or chips and homemade salsa on a warm summer day! Continue reading

Leaving Las Vegas

State night is back! This week we wanted to see what the Silver State had in store for us. Las Vegas as we all know is known for its endless buffets and high-end steak houses, but we thought we’d venture a bit beyond Vegas. In researching the local produce we came upon many references to the pinyon pine nut. The pinyon pine nut has a rich history in Nevada where it sustained the native people of the Great Basin for thousands of years. In fact, we read that it was the primary source of protein for the Shoshone, Paiutes and Washoe nations.

We’re no strangers to pine nuts, but we’ve never had a U.S. grown pine nut. Sadly we won’t tonight either as they’re not available around here, but based on the reviews, you can bet we’ll be trying them the next time we head to the Southwest. As for tonight we’re going to make do with our pine nuts imported from China and whip up a Paiutes inspired Pine Nut Crusted Cod and a Spinach, Portabello and Pine Nut Salad.

The salad requires a simple preparation. Requiring only these ingredients:

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So much deliciousness, so little time!

We have been blogging our food adventures for nearly four months now. It’s been an exciting experience and we have learned more than I ever expected. For instance, we know that a kumara is a sweet potato, that Russian pancakes are called blini and that pao de queijo is amazingly delicious! We have also learned that Mr. N likes to crack eggs, Miss A is an excellent whisker, that dad can stomach a sweet potato and that I like curry. However the thing that amazes us most of all about this adventure is the number of amazing bloggers with such creative content and wonderfully delicious recipes. Life is far too short for the amount of absolute goodness in this world.

In the past few weeks we have been humbled by and grateful to a few fellow bloggers that have highlighted and honored our site. Kay the creator of Pure Complex, a wonderfully creative, diverse and insightful blog passed along the Versatility Award. This honor means a lot considering that Kay keeps one of the most versatile blogs I read. She has the uncanny ability to find some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking concepts and images that I otherwise would never see; and she writes with both grace and honesty. Continue reading

Diddle Diddle Dumpling

Tonight we enjoyed a bonus meal from Miss A’s cooking destination, Russia. Typically we only spend two weeks on each country, but with the holiday and weekend travels we needed something that we could make up quickly. Actually this meal, the traditional Russian Pelmeni, is anything but a quick recipe. It’s a lengthy process that took all hands on deck. What made it work for us this weekend is that we actually prepared the Siberian dumplings last weekend, froze them and were able to quickly cook them up tonight.

The Russian pelmeni is a meat dumpling similar to potstickers or pierogies. According to RusCuisine.com, the dumplings, popular all over Russia, are believed to have originated in Siberia as many could be made at once and frozen for the long winters. The first step to making the pelmeni is to create the dough from flour, salt, sugar, egg and water. It’s a very tough dough to knead at first, but eventually becomes soft and resilient. Once we were satisfied with the consistency of the dough we chilled it in plastic wrap for 40 minutes before rolling it out on a floured surface. Continue reading