New Equipment and Banana Bread

Good evening, my dear readers.

Today, I embarked on new fangled territory and finally put to use the mixer that gran and grandad got for us as a wedding gift. I used an old favourite – banana bread, something my mum has made for years and that I have fond memories of from when I was younger – but I used a recipe that involves bran flakes so it’s more like a sweet breakfast loaf rather than a cake.

This is the recipe I used, albeit with a few changes: Kellogs Banana Bran Loaf

I didn’t make many changes… I had no walnuts but I did have macadamia nuts lying around (if you’re buying ingredients for this recipe specially, buy walnuts… macadamia are much nicer but go for an arm and a leg!). I also didn’t use raisin bran – I’d already picked up some Tesco’s own bran flakes so I used them instead and rather than just add raisins, I added chocolate chips. What? We didn’t have any raisins. I used super dark chocolate and not much, so that’s my excuse. I also don’t like raisins a whole lot. They have their place, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to make sure they ended up in a recipe.

Now, my first observation is that it feels a bit like I’ve cheated with the mixer. I’ve never really used a mixer when baking and am used to doing everything by hand. That said, I don’t wash my clothes by hand and if we had space to plumb in a dishwasher, I wouldn’t wash the dishes by hand so I can’t see it taking me long to get used to it! Modern living and all that. It made the whole process surprisingly more streamlined and, whilst this may be a comment on my mixing/whisking ability, it didn’t take anywhere near as long for the batter to be ready to go. I’m impressed, I must say. I had assumed there might be some things I would always have to do by hand, but barring a few things I’d choose to do by hand, it covers basically everything. The food processor and blender attachments come in handy too – I have used those already a couple of times for soup and such.

I do know I wouldn’t ever dream of using it to make a proper bread mix though. It does come with a kneading attachment and whilst I’m sure it does a fine job, I just like feeling for myself when the bread is ready. Plus, it’s an upper body workout πŸ˜‰ can burn off some of the calories that come with the end product! I will also reserve judgement on things like fairy cakes that shouldn’t be over-mixed. I would imagine it’s quite easy to go too far in the mixer, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it πŸ™‚

So, the recipe.

When Matt was licking the bowl clean, he noted that the mix seemed really light which was a promising start. On getting the bread out of the oven it smelled amazing and had certainly risen like a proper bread loaf. I originally thought an hour seemed like quite a long time but after checking it at 45 minutes, even in our beast of an oven it needed even more than the full hour – it took an extra 10 minutes or so on top of the original cooking time to cook all the way through.

The bread itself is indeed lovely and light, and not all that sweet. The chocolate gives it a nice bitter-sweet edge and the macadamia nuts give it some bite. The bran flakes haven’t gone to complete mush either, so they help give it a really nice, interesting texture. We couldn’t resist whilst we were waiting for it to cool, so our first encounter is a bit crumbly, but I’m looking forward to a slice for supper with a good spread of butter!

I’m also pretty impressed with the recipes on the Kellogs website generally. It’s not a place I would’ve looked for recipes, but there’s some pretty interesting things on there like this little beauty! Apples and sausages were made to go together, but the pop tarts? It’s peaked my interest… assuming I can find some equivalent for apple pop tarts. It’s certainly not one for a diet day though, I will say that.

It is in American/old money, but as long as you’ve got a good converter, the recipes are easy to follow and pretty simple. The UK website doesn’t have any recipes at all on there which is pretty disappointing, especially since you can’t get some products over here.

So, anyway… I’m now off to make tea, which may also become a blog post depending on its success. I’m going to try and recreate a sausage pasta bake ready meal we tried recently that was absolutely to die for!

Lazy Sunday

Today, I’m brought to you by the magic of smartphones.

Why?

Because my laptop needs a couple of days notice to even switch on nowadays, and I’m lazy.

So anyway, Happy Easter, dear readers. I hope you had chocolate for breakfast and any children you may have are bouncing off the walls on a sugar high. Not really.

So, it seems that the WordPress app is far less buggy now than it has been in the past, which is good. Fun fact: there’s an unfinished post that I recently deleted from my drafts because it was so infuriating to try and do it on my phone at my mum’s house. The only alternative was clearly to drive my car over my phone and, well, I’m pretty sure my insurance wouldn’t cover that.

Another fun fact of the day is that I have acquired a sewing machine from my mum, along with one of dad’s old shirts that I will hopefully make into something cool.

image

Ah. Spoke too soon on the wordpress app… How do i rotate a picture? Anyway, you can at least get the idea of the sewing machine and the marvellous green gingham shirt.

I know my readership is at a grand total of around 3, but if anyone has any suggestions of something cool that’s a good beginner project with a sewing machine, I would appreciate some inspiration. Of course, the material supply is not just limited to the shirt. Now I’ve found myself with everything I need to get started, I can’t for the life of me figure out what to do…

Happy Sunday, Everyone

So, we’ve joined the gym.

I’ve been a sceptic about such places for a very long time. I’ve always figured why should I pay good money to run on a treadmill when I can run up the road and back for free? Well, newsflash, I never ran up the road and back.

I’m truly a convert though. Who knew it was so much fun? Well, that might be a step too far, but I’ve barely been stressed whilst we’ve been going, and those endorphines are addictive. Even after three weeks, I’m feeling fitter and healthier, and my clothes are starting to fit better. Win-win all round really.

Contrary to what you’d think as well, it’s saving us a fortune. We’re not going out for tea nearly as often, which in two visits completely pays for our gym membership anyway, and it’s also helping with the weight loss. We’re showering at the gym, so the heating bill is lower, and we’re also out of the house more – so also less on heating the house.

I took a “before” picture when we first joined and I haven’t taken a new one to compare yet. I’ve also intentionally not weighed myself at all. I’ve no idea what my starting weight was or even if I’ve lost anything. I refuse to become obsessed by lbs, spend all my days calorie counting and worrying about fat content. I’ve adjusted my diet and am just being sensible. If I have pie and chips one day, I’ll have salad for the next couple. I don’t intend on this weight going back on once it’s off!

So on that note, I’m off to make mac and cheese – with full fat milk, and full fat cheese! πŸ™‚ I’m going to completely rebel against fad diets – one yummy meal at a time!