News

Banana Bread

In just days work crews arrive and demolish and remodel my kitchen.  It struck me today as I was baking that this might be the last time I bake in my oven, which has served me faithfully for fifteen years. (I still remember the first cake I baked in this oven.  It was chocolate and I iced it with a vanilla cream.)

To commemorate the departure of my oven, I had to snap a picture of my banana bread, which I’ve made hundreds of times over the years.   This banana is very basic and quick but it perfumes the house with a sweet scent and there is no beating the taste when it’s hot out of the oven.

Banana Bread

1 to 1-1/2 cups ripe banana

1 tsp rum extract

2 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2-1/4 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Mash bananas in a bowl then add extract, eggs, vegetable oil and sugar.  Mix well.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt into banana mixture and stir until combined.  Place the batter in a greased loaf or bunt pan and bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for about 50-60 minutes. (If you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean, the bread is ready.)   Let the bread cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a platter.  When its completely cooled, I either dust with powdered sugar or drizzle melted jam or very soft cream cheese icing over the top. 

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Kitchen Assistant

Last Friday I had the chance to work as a kitchen assistant at the University of Richmond’s Culinary Arts Center.  Being a kitchen assistant is a great chance for me to get away from the computer and spend time working with other folks who love food as much as I do.  This class was a Wine and Dine Friday and featured Glazed Shrimp with Oregano Roasted Shallots on Baguette, Smoked Salmon Napoleon, Pan Roasted Grouper with Ratatouille, Pesto Risotto and Basil Sauce and Lemon Tart with Fresh Blueberry Sauce.  

If you’re curious about the program, check out the website: (http://scs.richmond.edu/personal/culinary/courses.html).

 

It was non-stop action for most of the evening but I did have a chance to snap a picture of dessert.  The lemon tarts were garnished with blueberries that were tossed in melted apple jelly.  A dusting of powdered sugar finished off the look.

It was non-stop action for most of the evening but I did have a chance to snap a picture of dessert. The lemon tarts were garnished with blueberries tossed in melted apple jelly. A dusting of powdered sugar finished off the look.

 

 

Signing More Books!

Books-A-Million opened their new Richmond, VA store and invited Natale Stenzel and I to sign as part of their grand opening celebration.  We had great fun and I must say the new store is gorgeous!

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Kitchen Redo

I’m getting ready to gut my kitchen. The kitchen is over thirty years old and even though I’ve replaced appliances here and there and even painted the farm-house cabinets a lighter color, the time has come to redo the whole thing.  I’m dreading the mess and the chaos that comes with a project like this but already I am looking forward to the extra cabinet space, a larger refrigerator and a double oven.

In the spirit of cleaning out the cupboards for the demo crew, I came up with these bar cookies.  Until the remodel I’ve promised myself that I’ll only cook with what remains in the pantry.   I wasn’t sure how these bar cookies would taste but they turned out to be very easy to make and tasty.  The hardest part was letting them cool before I sliced them.

 

Chocolate Almond Bar Cookies

Crust

1-1/2 cups of all purpose flour

½ cup of butter

2 T cream cheese

1/3 cup brown sugar

 

Filling

3 large eggs

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon rum extract

2 cups chocolate chips

1-1/2 cups of crushed almonds

Mini Marshmallows

To Mix the Crust:  Using a pastry cutter, two table knives or a fork and cut together the flour, butter, cream cheese and brown sugar until the mixture is crumbly.  Press the crumble mixture into a greased 13 x 9 pan.  Bake in a preheated 350 F degree oven for 12 minutes.

To Mix the Filling:  In a large bowl, mix the corn syrup, granulated sugar and rum extract and then slowly beat in the melted butter.  Add in chocolate chips and almonds.   Pour filling over warm crust and bake in a 350 F degree oven for 25 minutes.  When the cookies are just out of the oven, sprinkle mini marshmallows over the top and put back in the oven for about a minute.  As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, spread softened marshmallows out like an icing.  Let the cookies cool well—at least an hour—and then slice into bars.  

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RT Booklovers Convention

Just returned from the RT Booklovers Convention in Orlando, Florida. Great people, great weather and a great time!

MB at at the Saturday Author Signing.

MB at at the Saturday Author Signing.

 

MB with Victoria Arias Fraasa from Circle of Seven Productions after the Faery Ball.

MB with Victoria Arias Fraasa from Circle of Seven Productions after the Faery Ball.

Mad Anthony Writers Conference

I traveled to Hamilton, Ohio (40 miles north of Cincinnati) for the Mad Anthony Writers conference.  The event featured a Writers Police Academy on Friday which included trips to the county morgue, tours of the police station and a canine demonstration.   Saturday was just as jam packed with tracks for aspiring writers as well as research sessions (e.g. SWAT, High Risk Traffic Stops, and Crime Fighting Technology).  If you get the chance to go to this conference next year, GO!!

MB in a Hamilton police car with sirens blaring.

MB in a Hamilton police car with sirens blaring.