banana bread with 6 bananas

Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Six Bananas

Ok, so I overbought bananas that were on sale, with the rationale that I’d get to make banana bread if they ripened too quickly. So I was not at all disappointed when they ripened too quickly.

banana bread with 6 bananas

Whole grain banana bread, a little too gooey in the middle

I’ve been tinkering with the recipe from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, trying to land on a formula that gives me fully-baked, but still moist results with lots of banana flavor. This loaf didn’t firm up enough in the middle, but the edges were fantastic.

Recipe

Banana Bread from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book

Process notes

  • used 6 medium bananas, mashed mostly smoothly
  • omitted lemon juice
  • used granulated sugar, not honey
  • 188 grams of freshly-milled soft white wheat flour
  • 63 grams of freshly-milled hard white wheat flour
  • omitted nuts and dates
  • placed filled loaf pan inside another loaf pan
  • baked 48 min. at 355°

Results

My pattern with this recipe is more bananas = gooey in middle; fewer bananas and add egg = not enough banana flavor and on the dry side.

Next time I’ll increase the baking time by a few minutes and hopefully it will get me closer to my goal.

peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips-2-2

Peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips

I had made a batch of chocolate chip cookies for our vacation, and every day after lunch I’d bring a pair out for my husband and me to enjoy. It was a pretty delightful habit to get into.

peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips-2

To continue this little ritual, I sought out a new cookie recipe to try. Chocolate chip cookies are tops, but I also enjoy mixing things up. I found the Smitten Kitchen post about her journey to recreate her beloved peanut butter cookie from Billy’s Bakery and they sounded great because not only do they call for peanut butter, but also peanut butter chips and chocolate chips. A combo that I love.

Recipe

Peanut Butter Cookies from smittenkitchen.com

Process notes

  • used 156 gm freshly-milled hard white wheat flour instead of all purpose flour
  • used homemade peanut butter (made of ground peanuts and sea salt) instead of store bought
  • baked one batch immediately after mixing the dough at 350° for 11 min.
  • shaped and froze the rest of the dough, did not roll in sugar but sprinkled a little bit over the top
  • baked two more batches from the dough in the freezer

Results

Since I used homemade peanut butter it was a little oiler (and not sweet) compared to store bought peanut butter. This made it very difficult to roll into little balls because the chips kept sliding out. I had to press some back into the top, which worked fine.

My cookies came out chewy and bendy, not cakey. They’re sweet, but not too sweet, and very tasty.

peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips

The next batches that I baked straight from the freezer were even better because I baked them for basically the same amount of time, but being frozen going into the oven made them stay soft and gooey, a little underbaked. But this really helped their texture stay nice and soft on days 2-3.

If I make these again, I’d reduce the amount of peanut butter a little and perhaps increase the flour a little.

muesli mix with dried fruit and nuts-2

Muesli with nuts and dried fruit

I’ve been dancing around the idea of making muesli for some time now, and one recent Saturday morning I finally made it happen. A quick Wikipedia search turned up a bit of background and basic approach to the dish. I loved the idea of a grated apple making up the bulk of the ingredients.

I tossed some pantry items together and let it soak in some water for about 20 min, then added the shredded apple (not peeled), stirred it all together and topped with a little milk.

I was instantly hooked. It was so easy, simple, healthy, and refreshing. The next day I made it again for breakfast, and on the third day mixed up a couple of jars of it to have on hand.

muesli mix with dried fruit and nuts

Formula

  • 8 dried apricots, diced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1/2 c roasted unsalted pumpkin seed kernels
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1/3 c almonds, raw and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 c walnuts, toasted pieces
  • 4 c old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 c raisins

Each time I make a bowl, I stir together 1/4 c of the muesli and 1/4 c water with a dash of sea salt. I let it sit in a bowl for about 30 min., while I shower and get ready. Then I grate 1/2 of on apple and mix it in, topping it all with some milk.

ink and watercolor flora from the Redwood forest 4

Watercolor and ink flora of the Redwood forest

Our summer vacation amongst the Redwoods gave me much-appreciated space and time to play with watercolors. I could have sat for hours and hours experimenting with color blending. Actually, I guess I did sit for hours and hours doing just that. It was interesting to get familiar with the feeling of different blending techniques, and by the time I was working on the final plant drawing in this set, I felt like it was clicking more.

I like the bold, graphic quality of first drawing with a black ink pen (the Rapidograph in this case) and then filling in with watercolor.

ink and watercolor flora from the Redwood forest 2 ink and watercolor flora from the Redwood forest 3 ink and watercolor flora from the Redwood forestink and watercolor flora from the Redwood forest 4

Tools

  • Tube watercolors
  • Size 4 brush
  • Rapidograph pen filled with india ink
Hand lettered Seinfeld quote - chicken supernova

Hand-lettered Seinfeld Chronicles: chicken supernova

To continue my hand lettering practice, I drew this Seinfeld phrase, “Chicken supernova”, with a combination of bounce letters and faux calligraphy. It’s such a goofy combination of words that makes me crack up every time I hear it.

Hand lettered Seinfeld quote - chicken supernova

Season 8, episode 8 “The Chicken Roaster”

TOOLS

  • Micron pens
daily drawings from summer 2016 vacation at a cabin in northern CA

Daily drawings from summer vacation 2016

For years, I’ve set occasional intentions to draw more but have never stuck with it (see: drawing cute animals from… several years ago). I tend to put too much pressure on it, believing that the drawings needed to be more significant, polished, or special than I could maintain. I also just thought I wasn’t good enough at it.

So when I watched Kate Binaman-Burt’s Skillshare class Drawing Collections: Illustrating Stories through Taxonomies I was filled with relief, enthusiasm, and inspiration. It doesn’t have to be a high-pressure activity! Kate’s easy, relaxed approach to drawing was like a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to look at the collected works of an artist and think “Oh, I’ll never have that many drawings” or “I’m not that good, so why bother” or “I don’t have good ideas like other artists”. But she helped me see that collections of drawings don’t happen all at once — they build up over time. The way you get good at something is to practice, practice, practice. And a drawing can be of anything — ANYTHING! She’s a great example of how stories can be told through the most ordinary objects.

So I finally started doing daily drawings. I hope I don’t fizzle out on it any time soon.

While on our recent summer vacation (a week in a cabin in the California Redwoods), I took the opportunity to document (journal with drawings, really) some of the things around us. This activity helped me see how much I like my drawings to have context. Adding little blurbs per Kate’s suggestion was one of the keys I had been missing before, and it makes me enjoy the process so much more.

daily drawings from summer 2016 vacation at a cabin in northern CA

The class also made me more aware of the types of drawings and illustrations that I like. I looked back through my Pinterest board of inspiring illustrations and noticed some patterns:

  • handmade, imperfect style
  • groupings/collections of objects
  • ink drawings
  • isolated objects
  • labeling of objects
  • distinct lines, shapes, and patterns as if they are screen prints or cut out of paper (vs. soft or painterly style)

These actually track with what I’ve learned about myself (through taking personality tests — I never met a personality test I didn’t like!) over the years:

  • I love to collect and archive all kinds of information
  • my desire to learn and improve
  • intellectual things are important to me
  • I’m analytical, objective, methodical, and detail-oriented
  • I just want things to make sense!

For now, I’m sketching first in pencil, and then I go over the lines with a Rapidograph pen filled with black ink (except for one day where I forgot and grabbed a Micron instead — which wasn’t nearly as dark as the india ink) and erase the ink. Sometimes I don’t wait long enough for the ink to dry before I erase and the ink smudges. Sometimes I add some watercolor or india ink wash. And sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s about having fun and exploring and not perfection.

Tools

  • Rapidograph pen filled with india ink
  • Micron 05 pen
  • tube watercolors
  • size 4 watercolor brush
  • pencil and white plastic eraser

 

watercolor flora

Watercolor flora designs with blended colors

The Skillshare class Design with Watercolors: Your Own Postcard Set from Sketch to Ready for Print File is really inspiring for getting started with small, simple watercolor designs. I had so much fun painting these little plants, and could have just kept doing color blends for hours and hours.

watercolor flora

Tools

  • size 4 watercolor brush
  • tube watercolors
  • watercolor paper (except for the yellow flower, which was on sketch paper)
Redwood Forest ink drawing with lettering

Redwood forest flora drawing practice

This drawing is inspired by a laurel wreath and the flora of the Redwood forest where we vacationed. The top half is a grouping of coniferous things, found higher in the trees, and the bottom half is ferns, flowers, and berries found lower to the ground.

Redwood Forest ink drawing with lettering

Tools

  • Micron pen
  • Paper Mate Flair color felt tip pen