or, two reviews – one post.
Banana Butterscotch Muffines – from Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast
Nothing stresses S. out like when I buy bananas. For some reason he sees four or five or six green-tinged bananas fresh home from the grocery store and he feels the need to remind me that we never, ever manage to finish all the bananas I buy EVER and even though I always claim I will make banana something or other I never actually do, and so why do I insist on buying bananas? My answer? Because I like them. But I will go on record as admitting that I have never actually finished an entire banana, being the sort who likes about, say, half a banana. In our normal world, when S. and I live together, I almost always offer him the other half of my banana and, because he is already stressed about the very fact of the bananas in the house, he usually accepts. In this way I also get him to eat grapefruit and avocado. He is not always so good with the fresh fruits and veggies, but he can’t abide waste.
The first time I grocery shopped here in Pittsburgh, I bought a bunch of bananas and I have to say while I miss my husband terribly, I did not miss his woeful glance at the bunch on the counter and stern talking-to about how I need to finish them all myself. Several days later, I found myself with three extraordinarily ripe bananas (oh, did I mention, if a banana has even a hint of brown on the peel, I won’t eat it? Yuck, no. I like them practically green), and decided for the first time in my banana-buying adult life to actually make a banana baked good. I decided to try Nigella Lawson’s Banana Butterscotch Muffins, but replacing the butterscotch (per one of her suggestions) with chocolate chips.
So, without much ado, I will say they turned out beautifully! Lawson says the mufins’ “resilient squidginess makes them very good travelers” and this is true – these are dense muffins that, like Hillary Clinton, can take a punch. I will definitely be making these again, although next time I may reduce the sugar just a tiny bit. Note, I used three bananas and they took 22 minutes to cook, instead of the noted 20 below. If you like banana chip bread, I think you will like this recipe.
Banana Butterscotch Muffins
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 ripe bananas
1 cup butterscotch (or chocolate) chips
Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
Measure the oil into a large glass measuring cup and beat in the eggs.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda into a large bowl and mix in the liquid ingredients, followed by the mashed bananas.
Fold in the chips, then divide equal quantities into the waiting muffin pan and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Makes 12.
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon
This book, this book. What can I say? I closed the cover with very mixed emotions. First of all, let me just say, this is not an ideal read when you are moving. I should have chosen something lighter and easier to follow. Anyway, I have admired Chabon for a long time. The stripped down sensibility of Mysteries of Pittsburgh moved me, and The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay astounded me. And there is much, much to love about this book, as well. It is both romance and mystery, and the premise…that “For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendents have prospered in the Federal District of Sitka, a ‘temporary’ safe haven created in the wake of revelations of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel” intrigued me from the beginning. The plot is incredibly crafted and invites the kind of page-turning urgency of a mystery novel, while the characters possess literary-fiction sensibility. But the writing itself, while absolutely amazing, for me detracted from the story. When the book first came out, much was made of Chabon’s use of simile and metaphor, and I found this device to overpower everything else about the book. Often his comparisons didn’t work for me at all, and at other times they came too quickly, too close together. Everything is like or as something else…nothing is ever itself. As I write this, I realize this probably lends itself well to the imaginary situation, itself, but I found it eventually diminished my delight in an otherwise amazing book. Now, as my graduate school teachers were so fond of encouraging, let’s turn to the text for some freakin’ proof:
Her right arm is raised, index finger extended toward the trash bins, like a painting of the angel Michael casting Adam and Even from the Garden (p. 53)
Landsman uncaps the bottle of vodka ad takes a long stiff pull. It burns like a compound of solvent and lye (p. 74)
“My ass is like a topographical map.”
And on and and on and on like that, on nearly every page, every paragraph. In the end, I left Chabon’s book dazzled by the plot, carrying his characters within me, and cognizant of the fact that there is such a thing as too much description. I read recently this book will soon become a movie, and I actually look forward to that…both the story and the characters lend themselves beautifully to a screenplay, and then there won’t be all of these comparisons, all of the time.
So, there you go. The Yiddish Banana Policemen’s Butterscotch Union Muffins. Hazaah.