Sunday, October 26, 2014

Exploring the Bike Trail

Hendrix learned to ride his bike without training wheels in August, and we have ventured out a little bit on the bike path in Rapid City. But not far. 

This afternoon, I had planned to take Hendrix to the park on a special date for just him and I, but he decided to whine, be ungrateful, and throw a tantrum like a two-year-old, so needless to say - I didn't take him to the park.

And that left me so frustrated.  Not only did I want him to be able to play, but I also wanted to sit in the sunshine and enjoy this beautiful 75 degree end-of-October day.  To work off my frustration, I hopped on my bike and took off.

I didn't wear my Garmin watch. I wish I would have, but oh well.  I'd imagine I rode between 5 and 6 miles.  Not a lot for serious bikers, but it was just such a beautiful day, I was simply enjoying the sunshine and breeze.

I'd be lying if I said I fell in love with Rapid City and the Black Hills the moment we moved here.  It took me a good 6 to 9 months to adapt.  But now, having lived here almost two years, I'm so in love with the sheer beauty of the hills and surrounding area.

Last October, fall was robbed from us by the Blizzard Atlas, as trees were stripped of their leaves while they were as green as could be.  This year, the brilliant fall colors were amazing, and the photos I took today are at the tail end of the color explosion, so you can imagine the way everything looked a few weeks ago.

Here are some photos from my bike ride today.

Rapid Creek.

"Near "M Hill."

Also near "M Hill."

Rapid Creek.

It's "Selfie Sunday." :)

I finished my day with a glass of wine on the patio.  The highs for the week to come are in the lower-50's.  It's looking to be nice again next weekend, but you just never know when winter will come to stay.  

What adventures did you have this weekend?

Do you have any amazing bike or hiking trails where you live?

Just for fun - where do you live?

Make it a great week, friends!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Breaking the Menu Monotony: Banana Bread

On a very rare occasion recently, we had some bananas over-ripen on us.  Bananas don't usually last long in our house, but they did this week.

So, banana bread - obviously.

I remember my mom making banana bread regularly when we were kids. Oh, it was so good. I won't even pretend that the version I made this week even comes close to rivaling hers, because
1) I made it and
2) it's gluten free.
While gluten free foods are tasty, they just seem to lack something, let's face it.
(Probably the gluten.  Eh?)

But anyway, I wanted to make a banana bread that all four of us could enjoy together, so gluten free was the only option.  I used this recipe.

I had a couple of very handsome helpers.

Alrighty, so the recipe I used called for a store-bought GF flour blend.  Well, you know me.  No can do.  So here's the blend I used. 

3/4 c. brown rice flour (ground myself)
1/2 c. white rice flour (ground myself)
1/4 c. corn starch
1/4 c. potato starch
1 1/2 tbsp xanthan gum

- TOTAL of 1 3/4 c. GF flour blend - 

So my kitchen assistants poured in the flour.  We only spilled about 50 cents worth of xanthan gum.  Geesh, that stuff is expensive.

Once our GF flour blend was mxed up, we added:

1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking soda

Once all the dry ingredients were mixed well, we transferred the mixture to another bowl so we could mix the wet ingredients.

Take a fork and mash your bananas.
The recipe called for 1 banana, but I added 1 and 1/2.
In the future, I'll add 2 whole bananas.

I followed the recipe and creamed together the following:
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter
2 eggs
the bananas

Turns out, the recipe calls for 2/3 c. sugar, but we spaced and only added half of that.  It works.  I think it would taste better to add the whole 2/3 cups, but if you're looking to lower the sugar content a bit, 1/3 will get you by just fine.

Also, in the future, I would first cream the sugar and butter together, then add in the eggs and bananas.  The way the recipe called to do it leaves the butter kind of chunky throughout.  Didn't ruin it by any means, just think I'd do it differently next time.

Once the wet ingredients were mixed thoroughly, I added about half the flour mixture, and once that was incorporated, I added the other half to create this sticky glob of dough.

If you've worked with GF dough much, you know that this is common.  I just scraped it off the whisk attachment, no worries.

That leg belongs to the KitchenAid switch operator and that hand belongs to the butter-adder.

My assistants and I scraped the dough into our loaf pan and it did this - another common thing when working with GF dough.  A sticky mound that doesn't spread.

Easiest way to get around this is to wet your fingers and smooth the dough out with wet fingers.  Works like a charm.  It leaves the top of the loaf wet and a little slimy, but that all disappears while it bakes.

350 degrees for 30 minutes equalled this beautiful brown loaf of banana bread - and a wonderful smelling house! shrivelled up as it cooled.  This happens to me constantly when baking GF.  Does anyone know the remedy to this, or is there one?

Regardless, it looked find once it was sliced.

And it tasted fine too!  Again, I'd add the full 2/3 cups of sugar next time, but this is a recipe I'll stick to in the future - yum!

Popped in the toaster, then buttered.  Divine.

Side note, I remember my father-in-law giving me a hard time because I toast and butter my banana bread.  Am I odd in doing this, or do others do this to?

If you eat gluten free, I recommend trying this recipe, and share your experience!

Next up on the blog - I finally found an awesome gluten-free pizza crust that tastes just like the real deal.  Stay tuned!

Banana Bread - love it or hate it?

What's the last thing you baked?

Really though - how to I stop my GF baked goods from shriveling up when they cool??