07 March 2009

Calm from the Chaos

The boys are off to Beijing, so it's nice to have some quiet time to relax and accomplish minor tasks like sweep the floor and buy groceries. I've taken our guest, Anya, around for some fun things too, mind you.

Just now I put banana bread in the oven and am contemplating a cocktail. Sounds like a lovely pairing to me. Banana bread always reminds me of my mom, but I think it's a quintessentially American food that many people remember from their childhoods--a quiet w
eekend afternoon and a loaf, hot from the oven, cooling on the counter. The smell penetrates the house and you can't wait for a slice.

It's warm, soft, but the best part for me is the crust that forms from the cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on the top. Quite a few foods remind me of the past, and the crust of banana bread is one of them. I never wanted the end though--that was always claimed by my mom--but I would eat around the top crust, saving it for last. The caramelized sugar with a few soft crumbs attached, heaven.

If you don't put cinnamon and sugar on the top of your banana bread before you bake it, you don't know what you're missing.

But back to the present.

I have been having difficulties baking for about a month now. Everything is sunken in the middle--cake, brownies, banana bread. I tested my baking p
owder, which is about a year and a half old, and it still fizzes. I know it's not my recipes because I have been using the same ones for years. I think the culprit may be my toaster oven and it's uneven heating element. I can still bake regular French bread but only because it bakes inside a ceramic pot in the oven, thus regulating the heat. I am going to buy fresh baking soda and powder to make sure it's not just old ingredients. I would rather not buy a new toaster oven since we will only be in China for four more months. If anyone has other thoughts on my failure-to-rise problem, please let me know.


  1. baking powder, baking powder, baking powder

  2. a few nice & encouraging words to each batch of batter of dough should do the trick.