Saturday, October 31, 2009

Falling For It

(The park via my iPhone.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rerun: Banana Bread

So, I'm repeating here, but it's worth it.
Last year I posted this banana bread recipe by Molly (of Orangette) and I've been making it ever since. If I'm in the mood to bake, this has been my go-to: it's easy, fast, and such a crowd pleaser.
Some people think baking is really precious and scientific, and while I wouldn't recommend swapping baking soda for powder, a bit of latitude is okay where flavour is concerned. I've added Mayan chocolate (spicy!) and have experimented with different ratios of oil and honey. I've tossed in nutmeg and allspice. Try applesauce instead of honey or perhaps some chopped nuts on top instead of the cinnamon crumble. Have at it!

As a matter of fact, I'm burning some home fragrance oil (lemon basil!) and the smell of the bread baking and the oil burning is really working for me. Perhaps some candied lemon or ginger would be good in this bread. Next time!

Don't be shy about making a recipe your own. What's the worst that could happen? Nothing with this much sugar could taste bad, right?

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping
(as adapted by Molly of Orangette from Bon App├ętit, September 2008)

For the bread:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3 medium bananas)
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water

For topping:
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2½ Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar

Preheat to 350°F.
Spray your 9x5 inch pan lightly and line with parchment.

In a medium bowl whisk together your dry ingredients. In another bowl whisk together the wet. Mix the dry into the wet. In a small bowl mix together your topping components. Pour and scrape the batter into the loaf pan lined with parchment. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter. Bake until a tester comes out clean. (It took one hour in my oven.) Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before slicing.

Today I made two and simply doubled the recipe and divided the batter into two pans. Again, some die-hard bakers might object to this, but not me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

These Roving Bedroom Eyes

You haven't seen every nook and cranny of our 613 square foot apartment. And it's not because they aren't finished. You see, it's difficult to photograph rooms that are as tiny as our bathroom and bedroom. No way to position a camera or a tripod to do it any justice.

Below is a glimpse of our bedroom, an image I had to splice together out of several shots. The room is 10x9 (does that actually qualify as a room?) and is nearly completely filled by our king size bed. We weren't willing to downsize that and the last thing our small space needs is another queen! Ba-dum-bum chhh!

The wall at the head of our bed is painted a deep greyed-down purple, mirroring the drapes in the living room. Simple roller blinds in an oatmeal linen (with blackout lining) cover the wall of windows.

Because the room is so small, we kept it completely simple: bed, side tables, lamps. No muss, no fuss. Nothing on display, no artwork, no extraneous furniture. When the blinds are open, the city is filled with interesting things to gaze down upon. And while our living space is chock-full of all our worldly possessions, layered and cozy, the bedroom is clean and tidy, downright minimalist.

My favourite part of the room has got to be the lighting. Our beautiful marble lamps flank our bedsides and we found the ceiling fixture a small town second-hand store ($2!) is just the right hit of feminine in our masculine digs. It was probably meant to be hung in a foyer or a stairwell, but we loved the iridescent finish on the globe, the oily purple playing well with the wall. On yet another dimmer, it adds a lovely softness. Full Disclosure: Jeff found the beauty in a pile, so I can't take all the credit.

Hibernation Nation

Though it's bright and sunny today in Toronto, I can't help but feel the seasonal shift in my bones. On this day off, I want to curl up on the couch and channel surf, or partake in a bit of nesting by way of running a vacuum through the apartment, or perhaps baking a banana bread, the feel of the ingredients coming together so comforting and satisfying.

We've lived in our new apartment for five months. The upcoming cold season will be our first in such small quarters. No escape. Even the refuge of the balcony seems as welcoming as a walk across Siberia, the wind up here severe and unrelenting. All this means is that, now more than ever, we need to be comfortable and organized. Every inch must make us smile, and we must employ all tactics to keep our home from becoming overrun with the clutter and chattels of lazy-winter.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back to My Roots

It's fall. Leaves are changing, nights are cold, and I'm hankering for carbs. But we're still in that seasonal honeymoon phase: where the excitement of pulling out cozy sweaters and reacquainting with nutmeg and red wine outweighs the terror of what's to come: ice and snow and misery.

Autumn makes me think of knitwear and baked goods and potatoes. Makes me want to curl up with a slew of neglected TV-on-DVD's and my handsome love. It makes me want pasta and corduroy and songs dripping with sadness. I want to pull out my Sarah Harmer albums and put on an apron. I want peanut butter cookies.

Here's a recipe for some amazing root chips I made recently. Not so much a recipe, I guess, as some steps to producing your very own crunchy little chips.

Root Chips

1) I used Yukon gold potatoes, small purple potatoes, and purple and golden beets. Using a mandolin, slice your root vegetables very thinly and evenly. Less than an eighth of an inch, if you can.

2) Heat a liter or two of vegetable oil in a pot on the stove.

3) Drop several sliced vegetables into the oil and cook until they are crispy. Transfer them to a bowl or cookie sheet lined with paper towels and salt generously. Eat them. So good. And a high-impact addition to any movie night or casual event.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Small Space Living in 76 Words or Less

I have a theory:
When you have less space, you become smaller. Quieter. There is less space to fill, so you don't get big to do so. Having lived in a big, three-level rowhouse for many years, I think we often got big, to fill the space, to bring the walls closer.

Now we live in less.
We've become smaller, quieter, and softer versions of ourselves.

I've never been happier. And I'll start blogging again. Soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009