33 Cookbooks

I love cookbooks. I never go into a bookstore without visiting the cooking section—and usually have to talk myself out of buying one or two or ten. As such, over the years I have collected quite a few. Thirty-three to be exact. And by 33, I mean that’s the bare-minimum-absolutely-must-have number.

The problem is that—in addition to the amount of precious space they take up—I rarely use the majority of them. And by majority, I mean all but 5 books—and for 4 of those, I only open to one recipe.

But, of course, I can’t bear to part with any of them. Thus I have decided to make it a point to dust these babies off and use them more often! What better way to help me stay on task than to rope you in as well by chronicling my navigation through all of them?

First up, I decided to start with quick breads…because, why not? Okay, so the idea wasn’t completely my own: awhile back Becca texted me that I should write about quick breads—and since I love them, it seemed like a logical place to start!

Quick breads are those which do not use yeast, but rather use other ingredients, like baking soda or baking powder, to leaven them. When I hear “quick breads,” the first thing that comes to mind is banana bread (or zucchini or pumpkin), but quick breads also include muffins, biscuits, scones, beer breads, and pancakes/waffles.

I mean, who doesn’t like at least something on that list? Or in my case, everything on that list! But I’m going to start with the one I make the most: banana bread. Actually, that’s a lie—I make pancakes and waffles the most, but I’m just rolling with it because my brain has already committed to banana bread.

For the record, I’m not being lazy when I say banana bread rather than Banana Nut Bread because I’m weird and I generally don’t like nuts in my baked goods. So if you’re not weird and do like nuts, then go ahead and add a cup of chopped nuts. Perhaps it’s the Texan in me, but I think if you are going to add nuts, pecans are the way to go.

This recipe comes from the Fredericksburg Home Kitchen Cook Book, 13th Edition. Or as it’s commonly called in my family “The Light Blue One”. My mother has the 12th Edition aka “The Yellow One.” Ironically you can find “The Yellow One” on Amazon, however, we (aka The Family) have always gotten our books—usually gifts for special life events, like moving into your own place—from Der Kutchen Laden (unless one of my aunts texts me after reading this to tell me otherwise!), which is a great little kitchen store on Main Street in Fredericksburg.

As you might have guessed from the picture, it is easily my most used cookbook (and yes, that’s coffee at the top and no amount of scrubbing will get it off). The original Banana Loaf Bread recipe was written by Mrs. Robert F. Heiden and debuted in the 9th Edition (I’m not sure what color that was)—so it should be in all subsequent editions.

A couple of things about the original recipe: it calls for shortening but since that isn’t always the easiest thing to find depending on your geography (like when I was living in Australia), I switched it for butter and never looked back. But if shortening is your jam, by all means, use that. Also, I upped the mashed bananas by ½ cup because I like that it keeps the bread it very moist (FYI dried-out banana bread is considered a tragedy in my house).

Banana Bread

  • ½ cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2.5 cups of mashed bananas (about 3-4 bananas)
  • 2.5 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan (or set of mini loaf pans). Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add bananas and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add flour and baking soda and mix they are fully incorporated. Pour into pan(s) and bake for 40-45 minutes (less for mini loaf pans) or until golden brown and inserted toothpick is clean. Flip onto a cooling rack and remove pan to allow to cool completely.

Or don’t because warm banana bread with a little butter slathered on top is divine. 😋

Success.

This month’s wine writing challenge, Success, was selected by my BFF (that would be blogger friend forever), Loie of CheapWineCurious, as a result of winning last month’s challenge. I would like to interject that the BFF title was self-appointed by me.  I’m sure Loie is currently reaching for her phone to send my information to all law enforcement west of the Mississippi…

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Success is a drinkable bottle of wine.

I am a wine drinker.  And by that, I mean, I am not a wine collector.  Sure, I have a few very special bottles that I have saved over the years–but most of them are deemed special because the winemaker has signed the bottle for me.

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But I do not buy wine to lay it down for years and years, delicately babying it until the moment it is perfect to open and decant and blah, blah, blah.  Not that I think collecting wine is a bad thing, I just have no self control.  It’s like an open bag of M&Ms: it’s just not going to last, despite my best efforts.

Lack of self-control aside, the other reason I don’t save wine is because I don’t have a great place to store it.  I currently live in an old drafty house that’s a bit too chilly in the winter and way too warm in the summer.  I don’t mind, but it certainly isn’t conducive to keeping bottles for years.  And I think we can all agree there’s nothing more tragic than pouring a bottle of wine down the drain because it was bad.

When I choose to open the aforementioned bottles, I mentally prepare myself that it will probably be bad–that way IF it is, I’m not too devastated.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still very sad but I’m not openly sobbing and throwing myself to the floor bemoaning my tragic loss.  If it’s still good, it’s like a celebration and I feel like I should open another bottle!

There are three notable exceptions.  Granted, I did not buy any of these wines with the intentions of holding them for so long, rather I just knew I wanted to save them for a fabulous occasion.

Remember these posts about my very special Burgundy that I have been holding on to for years?

Wine Pairing     Savoring Life

What better occasion than drinking it with the one person on the planet would I knew would enjoy it as much as I would and in honor of a BIG birthday ( I hope you appreciate how I tied in this month’s writing challenge with my current topic of my Fabulous Not Forty birthday trips!).

I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous–first in getting the bottle safely to Florida and then in hoping that it would not be corked.  I couldn’t even bring myself to try the whole “think of it being bad, so I wouldn’t be devastated” ploy.  In fact, I was in full panic mode while opening it.  I knew that if it was corked Christi & TK were going to have to pick up a blubbering idiot off the kitchen floor.  Actually, they’d probably just leave me there for the night (hopefully throwing a blanket over me before they went to bed).  I nearly cried tears of joy when I realized the bottle was in fact, not corked. SUCCESS!  I may have teared up a little bit.  I certainly needed a moment while drinking it.

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The other two were both wines I loved drinking but as the vintage came to an end, I became a bit of a hoarder.  I moved up to New York with three bottles of each left.

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So far on the Becker Vineyards 2004 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, I am 1 for 2.  The first bottle I opened last year–and honestly 8 years ago, I would have laughed in your face if you would have told me I’d be keeping this wine around for so long.  It was amazing.  Delicious and spicy: a big, bold-in-your-face cabernet sauvignon.  It was everything I remembered, but the spicy notes were more pronounced and the wine was overall very smooth.  I was so excited that it was drinking so well that I opened another bottle a few nights later, and alas–down the drain it went along with big, fat teardrops.  I have one more left and remain hopeful…

Happily, I am 2 for 2 on the Chisholm Train Winery 2001 Barrel Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  Also a big and bold cabernet sauvignon, however, with a lot less spice and much drier than the Becker.  Both bottles were really smooth and opened up very nicely (thanks Paula!).  I will say that this wine has mellowed considerably.  Rather than being biiiiig with a very dry, clean finish, it is big and dry, but now with a lingering currant and blackberry finish.  I’m probably jinxing myself, but I’m actually excited about my last bottle.

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I am envious of those who collect wine, but personally it’s too stressful for me.  I want every time I open a bottle of wine to be a success.  And while I know that any bottle can be bad–for a plethora of reasons–in my brain, the longer it stays in my wine rack, the greater the chance that will happen.  Thus far my track record has been pretty good, so some might think my reasoning flawed.  However, I prefer not to take that chance.  You know, just like letting M&Ms go stale…

Home Sweet Home

Slight error in judgement.  I know, I know…it rarely happens 😉  so when it does, it is the job of the BFF to, of course, call me on it.

Remember yesterday’s post about the ABCs of Shez?  Well, if you read it and then all the comments you would have seen my egregious error, which is that T is always for Texas (that is a direct quote from the niece).  Now, I know that you know that I know that you know that I know that T is always for Texas, so I thought it okay to list something else for T–silly, silly Shez.  Obviously too much beer (or perhaps not enough beer?).  Regardless, my other family (aka BFF’s family) decided to help “remind” me of my roots and the error of my ways and came up with their own ABCs–all about TEXAS!  It is just too fabulous to leave in the comment section where you may or may not ever see it.

So grab your beer and enjoy 🙂

Girl, let me be the first to tell you Texas IS what makes you interesting! So because we love you and see that you have lost your way Dad, Becca, Chelle, Lizzie, & I came up with a little something to help you back on the path home to TEXAS.

THE ABC’s of TEXAS:
A = ALAMO because that is where it all began. AUSTIN the capital of the greatest state in our nation. AMARILLO well because that’s where your other family lives. ARMADILLO.

B = BBQ; BLUEBONNETS; BUFFS(aloes) BOOTS and lets not forget BLUE BELL ICE CREAM

C = COWBOYS the ranching kind, the western bar kind, & the ones in Dallas with a big blue star! CADILLAC RANCH; COWS; & COUNTRY MUSIC.

D = DALLAS, it’s called the big D for a reason; DEER; DANCING; DONT MESS WITH TEXAS; DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS; DESERT; (& Becca & Chelle remind you of the DEAD cow hit with their truck)

E = out in the west Texas town of EL PASO…; The EYES OF TEXAS ARE UPON YOU

F = FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Yes folks it’s real; FOOTBALL; FREDERICKSBURG; FORT WORTH (because George asked if it crossed your mind); FRIENDLY

G = GIANT because everything’s bigger in Texas; & GUITARS as in the only two things in life that make it worth living…; GILLEY’S; GALVESTON; & GIG ‘EM

H = HOME SWEET TEXAS; HILL COUNTRY; HOUSTON; HORNEY TOADS; & HOOK ‘EM

I = INDEPENDENCE

J = JOHNSON as in Lady Bird; & our LBJ; & JACKRABBIT

K = KINGS RANCH

L = LONE STAR STATE; LONGHORNS; LADY BIRD; & LUCKENBACH (because Everybody’s Somebody)

M = MARGARITA; MUSIC; MOCKING BIRD; MEXICAN FOOD

N = NIGHT SKIES (as in The Stars at Night are Big & Bright…); & NASA

O = OIL (as in black gold Texas T) OUTLAWS (the originals)

P = PECAN TREES; PECAN PIE; mmmm; PICK UP TRUCK; PLAINS; & PALO DURO CANYON

Q = QUANAH PARKER; QUARRIES;

R = RIO GRANDE; RODEO; RAILROAD; RANCHES; RANGERS (baseball & lawmen) & RATTLESNAKES

S = SAN ANTONIO; SPURS; SHINER; SIX FLAGS; SCHLITTERBAHN!!!

T = TEXAS (T is always for TEXAS) (Lizzie said “it’s what you should have put in the first place!!!)

U = UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS

V = VILLA (as in Taco Villa); VENISON

W = WILLIE (you got this one but mistakenly put it under N, to those of us in the know it’s just WILLIE). WIND, WILDFLOWERS

X = XIT RANCH

Y = YELLOW ROSE; Y’ALL;

Z = ZZ TOP; & a ZILLION REASONS TO LOVE TEXAS!!!!

 

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