April 29, 2011

Barbadian Banana Bread

Aside from the obvious alliteration, I loved the Barbadian banana bread I was served for its gooey, sweetness and the full sensation I get from a half slice of fresh baked bread.  We were given a morning snack of banana bread during our day cruise and it certainly helped take the edge off the morning rum punches we were enjoying.
In the weeks since our trip, I have had a hankering for the sweet treat and decided to experiment with a recipe I found in the May 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine.  I used the following variation of FNM Mix and Match Quick Bread recipe:

1 c        mashed banana
¾ c       pecans
1 ¼ c    flour
¾ c       sugar
1 tsp     baking powder
1 tsp     salt
½ tsp    baking soda
½ tsp    cinnamon
½ tsp    nutmeg
2           eggs
½ c        cooled melted butter
½ c        greek yogurt
1 tsp      vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Lightly butter one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or three 6-by-3-inch mini pans.
Mix dry ingredients into large bowl.  In medium bowl, whisk eggs, butter, yogurt and vanilla.  Stir bananas into egg mixture, then fold into the dry mixture until just combined.
Dry Ingredients

Folding egg mixture into the dry ingredients
Spread the batter in the prepared pan(s).  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes for a standard loaf, 35 to 40 minutes for mini loaves.  Cool 30 minutes in the pan(s) on a rack, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.

Finished product!  I'm planning on freezing the other two mini loaves.

This recipe is pretty fool proof.  The only suggestion I would make is adding a little bit extra banana if you're including nuts.  My bread wound up a little salty for my taste.

Does anyone have any good bread recipes?  I am interesting in trying some other breads.

April 26, 2011

On Board: Last Night at Chateau Marmont

I am on board with Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger.  I simply adore Weisberger’s ability to pen a relatable story set against fabulous circumstances.  I am by no means a professional book reviewer, but if you’re looking for a good beach read, Last Night at Chateau Marmont will certainly fit the bill!

Via Amazon.com

From the opening chapter, I knew that I would love the main character, Brooke.  Brooke is devoted to her career, husband, friends, family and even her hound dog, Walter.  Brooke struggles to keep a semblance of normalcy in her professional life as a nutritionist while her husband, Julian, a beatnik starving musician type, finally gets his big break.  Their life is turned upside down by paparazzi and gossip blogs after Julian performs live on a late night TV show.
Of course the author uses plenty of “artistic license” when Julian is suddenly launched into the spotlight.  I mean, what is the likelihood that such an unknown new artist would really play at the Grammys?  None of the more outlandish parts of the book turned me off of poor Brooke, my main focus, and her efforts to support Julian’s career while salvaging what opportunities she has been given in her own career.
What did you think of this book?  What books are you reading?  Any good “beach reads” you can recommend to me?

April 25, 2011

Destination Barbados: Birthplace of Rum & Rhianna

Our most recent excursion was a five night stay in Barbados.  The weather was consistently in the mid 80's, but the island does not actually get an ocean breeze, so it was quite balmy!  We quickly found out that the best remedy for the temperature was lots of rum punch.

My favorite activity was the Friday night fish fry at Oistin’s.  The event is basically a bunch of food stands who specialize in frying and/or grilling certain freshly caught fish.  We had the best cab driver who not only got us to the event, she even parked her car and walked us around. (you will find this type of hospitality during your stay) We chose to eat at Pat’s Place based up on the recommendations we read on TripAdvisor.  Even if we hadn’t read the recommendation for Pat’s, it was the busiest food stand by far, so it would have been an easy decision to eat there.  
Cooking our food.

Grilled dolphin (mahi mahi), grilled taters, macaroni pie, and salad.

Double fried flying fish sandwhich, macaroni pie and salad.

On Saturday, we did a day cruise with Silver Moon Charters.  Captain Elvis and the crew were very personable and made sure everyone on the boat was having a great time.  We went with another couple, but there were a couple of families on board with us and another group of young couples.  The thing I enjoyed most about this cruise is that there were plenty of seats in the shade for me to read my Kindle while the others had plenty of room for sunning.  We swam with sea turtles, snorkeled a sunken ship and coral reef and had a well prepared buffet lunch.  As soon as we turned around to head back, the captain began playing some Rhianna songs which resulted in a massive dance party.  Even the moms jumped into the dance circle!

The street food in Barbados is incredible.  Below are a few pics we took of the food we bought from a guy cooking under a tarp.  The fish is unquestionably fresh and well seasoned.  If you're not satisfied with the seasoning of the food and like to live on the edge a little, I certainly recommend the hot sauce.  The mustard based sauce has the fire of red peppers that will certainly have you reaching for your Banks beer to cool the burn.  I brought back 12 bottles in my suitcase!

Grilled dolphin, macaroni pie, salad, slaw

Grilled dolphin, macaroni pie, with a side of pork chop!
Monday was our last day and we took a cab into Bridgetown to do the Mount Gay Rum Refinery
tour.  Our tour guide did a good job leading us from room to room on the tour.  If you’re looking for an in depth history on rum and explanation on how sugar cane is distilled into rum, then this may be a bit of a disappointment.  The tour is basically a brief rundown of the history of the Mount Gay plantation, then a twelve minute video on Mount Gay.  Then, the tour guide leads a tasting of three different varieties of Mount Gay rum.  After the tasting, you are lead into the packaging room to see a few people shuffle bottles of rum into boxes and you end up in the bar area where you can purchase rum cocktails.  I really enjoyed the tour, though some of the reviewers on TripAdvisor may disagree.  Outside of the rum tour, I would definitely stay away from Bridgetown.  It’s a bit of a dump and you wind up having a cabbie shouting in your face offering a ride about every ten steps.

I’m glad to have spent the time in Barbados and would certainly recommend the trip to others.  Have you been to Barbados?  What are some of the things you enjoy most about “tropical travel”??