stanley's banana brownies.



for valentine's day, my thoughtful boyfriend was unable to present me with the elephant I so desired. I had a name picked out and everything. my large and lumbering companion would be known by his friends as Stanley. unrealistic I know.  so instead, I made blondies in honor of our imaginary yet ever present companion.  I promise we're not crazy*

These blondies can be adapted and tailored to suit your desired tastes.  Recipe adapted via Smitten Kitchen's Blondies (themselves adapted from How to Cook Everything)

Stanley's Banana Chocolate Chip Blondies. 

Preheat oven to 350°

1 stick of butter (unsalted).
1 cup of packed brown sugar.
1 egg. (or 1/4 cup of applesauce if eggs are absent from your refrigerator).
1 tsp. vanilla. 
1 very ripe, frozen and thawed banana.
1 cup chocolate chips.
.5 cup chopped walnuts. 

Mix softened butter and brown sugar. Add in egg and vanilla, mix.  Mixture will be grainy from the brown sugar.  Stir in desired extras (banana, chocolate chips, and walnuts).  Pour blondie batter into a 8x8 pan (or a round baking dish like I used). check periodically while in oven. bake for 20-25 minutes. bananas will cause the end result to be a little gooier than normal brownies, take into consideration when determining time spent in the oven.  

*Stanley began as a euphemism and answer for any prying questions regarding christmas/birthday/anniversary/valentines presents.  i.e. "so what  did you get me for Christmas?" ... "well the elephant is supposed to arrive on monday"... "you got me an elephant?" ... "of course, they're your favorite".  end of story. 

love and cornstarch.



a day unadorned. but full of love. 

1.  valentines day.
2.  phad thai and tofu.
3.  homemade chocolate pudding. [double boilers have an odd sense of humor] 
4.  love notes and elephants.

this recognized day of adoring began at the dark and early hour of 6 am.  crawling out of bed this morning I chose my bright red polka-dot blouse. festive indeed.  i worked my normal morning shift at kakao, making my best attempt to pay tribute to this bittersweet holiday by adding latte [he]arts to every drink.

the day continued without much frill. class. grocery shopping. oh and presents. beautiful bowls and juice glasses from anthropologie. what could be better. 

brad and i had well intentioned plans of making phad thai from scratch, these swiftly developed a gracefully and hungrily accepted alternative in take out from our favorite vegetarian thai kitchen in wallingford. it's delicious, spicy, and best of all meant our attentions could be focused on more important things... like pudding.  

note to baker: if are not in possession of a double boiler, using a normal saucepan is perfectly acceptable, in fact it may be necessary. make-shift double boilers have a knack for not heating evenly or effectively. just make sure to stir with diligence as a sauce pan will heat faster and stay hotter. 

pudding for valentines [adapted from Best Chocolate Pudding via]

3 cups whole milk.
6ish oz. semisweet chocolate (we used ghirardelli mini chips - the boyfriend added a little extra).
1/4 cup corn starch.
pinch of salt.
.5 cup sugar. 
1 tsp. vanilla extract

before we commence with directions, a little anecdote for your amusement: 

cornstarch is messy. especially when it is pulled off the counter mistakenly by your boyfriend as he's trying to tidy up the grocery bags. the open container of cornstarch went flailing through the air. then landed with a vengeance.  the scene resembled something similar to a mushroom cloud following an atomic blast. the ghostly thickening agent was everywhere.  somehow from the ground it had cleverly managed to find a home on the top shelves of the cupboards.  the force with which the container hit the ground sent the crisp white powder sailing, it then clung with determination to the cabinet doors, rug, and counter. we continued to experience delightful little puffs of white dust every time we opened a drawer or cabinet door. a comedy of errors. i don't know about you, but i always hope a vacuum won't be required when making pudding.

back to baking.

In a double boiler (or sauce pan) add cornstarch, sugar, a pinch of salt, and milk.  Using a whisk, mix ingredients well before applying heat.  Once over the burner, continue stirring (especially if using a sauce pan) for about 20 minute, or until thick. The pudding should begin to coat the spoon. Add the chocolate and continue stirring over the heat for 2-4 minutes, or until the chocolate is completely mixed and smooth.  Remove from heat and mix in vanilla. Let pudding cool in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. 



"raisins" in the sun.



In a city where the sun rarely shines, and in a house where there’s almost always an indispensable ingredient missing when dinner time rolls around, it can get a bit gloomy.  Today, we broke the mold in one fashion: the sun came out.  Though frigidly cold, the most resilient of college students bundled up in colorful fleece blankets and convened on the back patio waiting, hoping, yearning, desperately basking in the limited yet treasured rays of vitamin D.  The back patch of most Seattle homes goes unused for the majority of the calendar year, viewed longingly from the kitchen window.  Today, bolstered by Mr. Punxsutawney’s recent prediction of an early spring, these robust “groundhogs” of the Pacific Northwest unveiled their porcelain sun-robbed skin, though only for a brief five minutes.  Harsh reality: it’s only 41°.  Heartless forecast: “wintry mix” this coming week. 

[Wintry mix: variable precipitation consisting of rain, freezing rain, sleet, or snow]

To combat frustrated desires for Spring, I have chosen to find my vitamin D (figuratively) in the warmth of:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from thick, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies)

Preheat oven: 350° (bask in the warmth that fills the kitchen)

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed.
1 egg
1 stick of butter
.5 tsp. pure vanilla

.5 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
.5 tsp. cinnamon (vital)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 cups rolled oats
.5 cup chocolate chips (“raisins”)

In large bowl, cream butter, egg, vanilla, and brown sugar (don’t anguish in the disobedience of a hand mixer, clumps of butter can be calmed with a spoon).  In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix with a fork.  Add dry ingredients into the brown sugar mixer until a deliciously gooey batter forms.  Introduce rolled oats and chocolate chips (original recipe called for raisins, which I’m sure would be excellent).  Optional ingredients: chopped walnuts or pecans.

Roll spoonfuls of dough into Ping-Pong ball sized cookies.  Place on lightly greased cookie sheet with room to grow.   

Bake for 8-11 minutes, check oven periodically.  Cookies on lower shelf may prove over eager.  

brighten my winter.


"To everything there is a season..." Who knew this gray and blustery winter would in fact assume an alternative role as "baby season"? This may not be a universally experienced phenomenon, but it is certainly sweeping through the premises of my immediate and lovely family.  Thankfully, I am not an active participant in this joyous spectacle.  Baby Eliott is due to take center stage on March 11 (or 12th depending on who’s speaking).  Baby Lovey (sex and name unknown at this present time) is due to brighten our world sometime near mid-September.  At the ripe old age of 22 I will be an Auntie to four bright, beautiful, and wondrous tiny humans.

Topics at family birthday dinner last night included but were not limited to: cloth-diapers, homemade baby food, morning sickness, fatigue, maternity clothing, and greasy foods that evidently satisfy unsettled pregnant bellies.  Regardless of the seemingly unappetizing conversation, dinner was expectedly delicious.  Gnocchi. A pasta that is not only graceful and cultured, but also vastly comforting. Potatoes are the close relative of the security blanket. Fact of life. My babies will eat potatoes, lots of them.  

All this to say, tonight's dinner consists of: yellow potatoes. mashed. with garlic. and butter. and rosemary. softened with a little ranch dressing upon reheating.

Homemade gnocchi to come. When i have access to more adequate freezer space. For now, this will suffice. 

The bitter wind may lament outside my window, but inside, my un-pregnant belly is warmed by the luxury of this heartening starch.  



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