So what’s the big fuss about banana bread?


Aunty Sandy's, home of the best banana bread ever.Up until my recent visit to Hawaii, I thought banana bread was something one baked only when one wanted to use up over-ripe bananas. I have a family banana bread recipe that I’ve made in this instance for years. It is okay, but not outstanding. It only takes 2-3 bananas, and actually, it’s a little dry, but adequate. And that is how I’ve always thought about banana bread – something that keeps bananas from going to waste, and is okay, but not great. Until now.

Banana bread is a much sought-after delicacy in Hawaii. Much like I might pursue the perfect chocolate cake or the best chardonnay, Hawaii visitors search for the best banana bread.  Guide books list the places that sell banana bread and debate which one is the best. At first, I found this laughable. After all, it’s banana bread we’re talking about here. But then, a trip down on  side road off the road to Hana  to the Keanae Peninsula lead us to Aunty Sandy’s, home of the best banana bread ever. (Aunty Sandy’s also has shave ice, but that is a story for another day.)

Aunty Sandy’s banana bread was soft, golden and crumbly, with a subtle sweetness and an unobtrusive banana flavor.  The loaf was still warm when we bought it, and my initial instinct was to buy two. I should have followed that instinct, because when we came back  later to get more, Aunty Sandy’s was closed. But on our return trip we did score some photos of a lava rock beach that we had missed before, and the historic stone church which survived the 1946 tsunami.

Since returning home I’ve been searching for a banana bread recipe that could duplicate Aunty Sandy’s. Apparently everyone else is too, because any internet search on banana bread leads you to blogs and reviews praising Aunty Sandy’s. So far I haven’t found a recipe that equals it yet, so I may just need to make another trip to Hawaii.

© Huffygirl 2014

Local blogger a person of interest in Velveeta shortage


Kraft confirms Velveeta shortage

A spokesperson for Kraft Foods has confirmed they are investigating a person of interest in the recent Velveeta shortage, dubbed “cheesepocalypse.” Says Kraft “Huffygirl, of Huffygirl’s Blog, is a known opponent of cheese in the American diet. Ms. Huffy actually states on her blog page that she is “…waging a one-woman war against cheese. It seems odd that we would develop manufacturing issues in our most popular cheese line, Velveeta, just before the Superbowl, the biggest cheese consumption day of the year.”

Although Huffygirl could not be reached for comment, she issued a statement via her blog. “While I’m flattered that Kraft Foods thinks I am powerful enough to influence their manufacturing process, I confess that I had nothing to do with the so-called cheesepocalypse. Although  I am opposed to the over-consumption of cheese and it’s counterparts, such as manufactured cheese-like food, as is the case with Velveeta, I would in no way attempt to thwart those engaged in the cheese-food industry.” Huffygirl goes on to say “I encourage Americans to take this cheese-food shortage as an opportunity to improve their health by reducing or eliminating their consumption of cheese and cheese-like foods.”

© Huffygirl 2014

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Just in time for Thanksgiving – the Turtato


I’m sure you’ve heard about people who have opened a bag of chips or made a grilled cheese sandwich and discovered their food has been graced with the  image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Well, not quite as exciting but almost as good. I bought a basket of potatoes from a local farmer at the farmer’s market. It looked like an ordinary little basket of potatoes, until I got it home. I dumped the bag out on the counter, and discovered  – the turtao, or maybe a poturkey. It’s a potato in the shape of a turkey. Divine intervention in the potato patch, or over-active imagination? You decide.

100_3630 Turtato 2, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2013100_3633 Turtato, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2013© Huffygirl 2013

The life of pi


Pi day pie https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2012Today’s the day that math nerds and pie lovers look forward to each year: 3.14, otherwise known as Pi Day. It’s the day when the nerdy smart kids in geometry class get to show off how they’ve memorized pi to the nth decimal place, and pie lovers have an excuse to bake and eat pies.

Best husband is the pie man in our house. Sure, I can make pies too, but why should I when I have the foremost living pie expert right here to do it for me?

Best Husband’s Pi Day Blueberry Pie

Crust for a 9-inch double crust pie

3 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained (or fresh frozen blueberries)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup packed light brown sugar

5 tablespoons quick tapioca or flour

Margarine or butter, about 1 tablespoon, to dot top of filling

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except the crust and the margarine. Set aside. Make your favorite pie crust. Roll out half of the crust and place in a 9 inch pie pan. Add the filling. Dot filling with margarine. Roll out and place the top crust. Trim edges, fold top and bottom crust edges under and together,  and make slashes in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape, in the shape of pi of course. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 35 minutes. Crust should be lightly browned.

Enjoy your pie and have a great Pi Day!

© Huffygirl 3.14.13

I still don’t bake Christmas cookies


Not my cookies

Not my cookies

Okay, I’m THAT person. The one who does not bake Christmas cookies. It’s not that I don’t bake, because I do. It’s just that I’m not any good at baking cute, decorative cookies. My cookies are all gobs of dough flopped down on a cookie sheet. They taste great (if the rate at which they disappear is any indicator,) but they don’t look like anything special.

I used to at least make an attempt to bake Christmas cookies, by taking the ordinary cookies I usually make and adding red and green to them. You know – sprinkle red and green sugar on top of the Snickerdoodles and they instantly become  Christmas Snickerdoodles. Or put red and green M & Ms in the chocolate chip cookies instead of chocolate

Mine are more like this.

Mine are more like this.

chips, and voilà – Christmas cookies.  I figure red and green sugar and M & Ms were invented just for people like me – the Christmas baking impaired. But they never really looked all that great and nobody was fooled – they technically were not Christmas cookies.

So then I created a better plan to make people think that I baked Christmas cookies, which involves large quantities of  red jam and powdered sugar. You know, red for Christmas, and powdered sugar for snow of course. What’s not Christmasy about that?

Mine are NEVER like this.

Mine are NEVER like this.

Here was my plan. Two days before Christmas when I started to feel inadequate because there were no actual Christmas cookies in my house, my cookie plan escalates to Defcon 2. I’d make almond sandies, which of course are rolled in powdered snow, er sugar. Then a batch of jam thumbprints, with red jam, natch. Then the pièce de résistance – I would arrange this assortment on a CHRISTMAS PLATE, add some fudge, which everyone knows is a Christmas food, and there I’d have it – Christmas cookies. The white, the red, the festive plate, everyone was fooled into thinking I was a Christmas cookie baker after all.

What about your Christmas baking experiences? Are you one of those people who starts at Thanksgiving, baking ten different kinds of Christmas cookies, each one more complex than the previous? Or do you buy the big bag of red and green sprinkled cookies at Costco? Or are you THAT person – the one who makes the elaborate ginger bread village with mansions, shopping malls and Santa’s workshop?

Merry Christmas everyone!

© Huffygirl 2012

(Originally posted 12-23-2010)

Drowning in leftover turkey


After many years of hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve finally found a quick and easy way to use leftover  turkey. At my house there’s usually a large portion of dark meat left, that often gets discarded before I can sneak it into casseroles or give it away to departing guests. This year, faced with an unusually large amount of leftover gobbler, and a smaller than usual number of leftover relatives, I was struck with inspiration. Everyone loves pulled pork, so why not pulled turkey? Here’s the recipe:

Pulled turkey

Left-over cooked turkey, cut into 2-3 inch pieces, any amount

Barbeque sauce, any kind you like (I used Brownwood Farms Cherry Barbeque Sauce)

Liquid for simmering (chicken broth, water, or my favorite, Bell’s Oberon beer)

salt and pepper to taste, plus any spices you want to add (garlic etc)

Simmer turkey pieces in about 1-2 inches of your chosen liquid in a saucepan, until pieces easily pull into shreds with a fork, about 1-2 hours. Drain cooking liquid. Add salt and pepper, (about 1/2 teaspoon of each for 2 cups of turkey), any other spices such as dried chives, or garlic, and enough barbeque sauce to adequately moisten the meat. Simmer on low heat until meat is warmed through. Serve on buns.

© Huffygirl 2012

How to poison your family and make it look like an accident


It’s almost Thanksgiving again, and time for the age-old debate of stuffing versus dressing. I originally posted about this  conundrum on November 25, 2010, and thought it worth repeating just in time for this Thanksgiving. After all, it’s not every day you get an opportunity to poison your relatives with a delightful holiday dish!

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Stuffing Versus Dressing

A stuffed turkey

In the states it’s almost time for Thanksgiving, an annual holiday where everyone eats too much turkey and pie, and watches the Lions lose again. For the Thanksgiving cook, the meal preparation always brings up the age-old debate – stuffing vs dressing. They both start out the same – dried bread cubes, seasonings, sometimes broth, margarine or butter, and water, made into a conglomeration that is either stuffed inside the turkey (stuffing) or baked separately in a dish (dressing). Everyone has their own opinion on which is best, and families line up fiercely divided each year on which way this delectable Thanksgiving carbohydrate should be served. Accompanying this debate of which way is tastier is the issue (some myth, some fact) over which way is healthier or safer. Who knew that dried bread cubes could raise such ire among otherwise friendly people?

In my family growing up, we always had dressing. I’m not sure why, but I think it was in part due to the fact that: it was easier. The dressing could be made while the turkey was cooking instead of earlier in the day when the turkey was ready to go into the oven. It was quicker. Stuffed turkey is supposed to take longer to cook than unstuffed (although in my own cooking experience I have never found this to be true.) It was safer. My family and others believed that the stuffing could become contaminated with bacteria from absorbing the meat juices and turn an otherwise delightful day into a merry trip to the emergency room.

Then I met my future husband whose family was all stuffing, all the way, and why would anyone consider doing it differently? What could be better than bread cubes infused with savory turkey juices and the two pounds of butter that Buttterball and others inject into their turkeys before sending them off to the store?

So what’s a girl to do? I have to admit I found both ways tasty, although sometimes the stuffing did not look quite as appetizing as the dressing, depending upon what colors it turned from the meat juices it absorbed during cooking. Eventually when I took over hosting the Thanksgiving meal, my compromise was to make stuffing and dressing. The amount of stuffing that would fit inside the turkey was not enough to serve everyone at the table anyway, so I would serve a dish of each, or sometimes mix them together, which I guess gives you something which is neither stuffing nor dressing, but there is not really any good combination word you can make from combining stuffing and dressing.

This compromise did not come without a cost, however. Members of the dressing contingent would make sly comments like “Make sure you’ve cooked that stuffing to 160 degrees so we don’t all get food poisoning, ha ha,” while members of the stuffing contingent would say “Who would want to eat that dressing? It always turns out so dry.”

And when it comes right down to it, where did the whole stuffing/dressing custom come from anyway? Imagine the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. They’ve had a horrible year. First, all that travel and they couldn’t even earn any points from it. Then, having to build a settlement, squabble with the Native Americans, endure hardship, disease, cold and hunger. Finally, the ones who survived prepared what was probably a somewhat meager feast in celebration. There was no Kroger stores in Plymouth, so they had to hunt down their turkey, then pluck it, cut off the inedible parts, and remove the disgusting innards. After going through all that, and wrestling the turkey into a heavy cast iron roaster, you’d think that the Pilgrim cooks would have had enough of turkey prep for one day. But some creative person, staring into the empty cavity of the just gutted turkey said “hey, wouldn’t it be a great idea to cut up bread into cubes, add water, lard and spices and stuff this sucker?” And the rest as we say, is history.

Whether you eat stuffing or dressing, may you all have a happy and grateful Thanksgiving!

© Huffygirl 2012

(Dedicated to Aaron and Chris, my stuffing-loving relatives who will be eating someone else’s stuffing this year. Miss you!)