Two recipes, lots of cooking, good food, and matters of taste.
Before the picnic a week ago last Tuesday I went to Woodman’s and bought groceries; included in the batch I brought home were a bunch of bananas. At the time they were too green for making banana bread.
This morning I realized that the bananas were ready; furthermore some carrots that had been sitting at the bottom of my refrigerator had reached the stage where they were getting hairy. Thus, I concluded, I should use Thursday for baking—in particular for banana bread and carrot cake.
As a warm-up I made some cornbread. I realized that recently I had been making it like a loaf in a 9x5 pan, whereas I should use just my 8x8/9x9 pan that I juse for brownies. I have practically no all purpose flour sitting around the apartment and instead of buying some I decided I should juse use the whole wheat flour I have. It adds a richer, deeper flavor, but you have to be careful because the result is often not quite as moist as one would get with white flour.
The carrot cake came next, and it was the first cake I had baked in a few years, since living on East Johnson and making a Black Forest Cherry cake every now and again. I have always been more of a pie and brownie specialist, so to speak.
The first order of business was the grating of about five hairy carrots. Using the cheese grater it took a while and in the end a number of my finger tips and nails were stained orange and smelled sweetly of carrots. I had just over 3 cups, which was enough for the recipe. I did not have any cream cheese, else I would have made a cream cheese frosting to go with the cake.
Next came the banana bread. The interesting thing about banana bread batter is that you first mix all the ingredients except for the bananas. The result is rather dry and hardly smooth, but as soon as you add the bananas it becomes quite fluid, mixes well, and pours easily into the pan. Most recipes suggest baking it for about an hour, but my oven, a crappy old electric thing, runs hot and is small, so I generally lower the prescribed temperature by 25 degrees, and often I take things out a bit early—sometimes they still get a little burned.
This was all I had planned on baking, but I had some cocoa that Corina had brought over earlier in the month and I decided to finish it off by making a batch of brownies. The recipe that I used (posted here back in March, I believe) produces a rather dense, rich brownie, but because it is so thin I tend to add a little baking powder, at most a teaspoon. The results are little lighter. I had just a little whiskey left over from a few days ago, as well as a little coffee, so I added that, along with cayenne pepper, which I had not added to brownies for quite a while. If you add about 1/2 teaspoon it is not too sharp and adds a flavor similar to cinnamon.
All in all things turned out well. Kristin arrived just after 7:30, and Kim and Corina came a bit later, after I was done giving a bit of a monologue on the state of my plants, mostly aloe vera. We discussed interior design, so to speak, as well as Romanian pop, and Halloween parties of the past. Before watching the movie we viewed some scenes from Der Vogelkopp; Kristin had not yet seen it, so missed the brilliance that was Jürgen as Fred der Schwinger.
Kim brought a bottle of wine: “Mano a Mano” (2003):
It also goes well with brownies and carrot cake.
We got around to waching our film: Occident, a Romanian film from 2002. Main theme: getting out of Romania and going to the west, generally by way of finding a western husband. Narrative strategy: three interconnected stories in three different sections, such that they inform each other and elaborate upon what you think you have already seen. We have seen this type of story telling before, but this film seemed to have its own touch and I found it very worth watching. Comedy, tragedy ... it is a human drama.
Then everyone departed and I was left to compose this little entry.
—May 26 2005