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Category: Recipes
Posted by: tonysdad
Hey, didja ever see this video?  In it, the beauteous Heidi Blickenstaff makes a reference to “Aunt Susan’s Bananapants Banana Bread.”  And ever since the video dropped, people have been asking where and when they can get the recipe.  Well the answer is here and now.

Let’s take a look at the label on that recipe.  (We’re speaking figuratively here, not literally.)  The corner is peeling up, and underneath the label that says “Aunt Susan’s Bananapants Banana Bread” is another that reads “Mom’s Banana Bread.”  And under that is another label, too faded to read after forty or fifty years.  So this recipe did not originate with Susan, and it probably didn’t even originate with Mom.  For all we know, Grandma was making this as a young girl in the wilds of Ontario, Canada.  Well, that’s the way it is with recipes; if you are lucky, you can inherit one from someone who has worked out the kinks.

We’ll start by launching straight into the recipe, but please stick with us afterward.  We’ll also be discussing how our Mom would have made the recipe back in the ‘70s, variants on the basic recipe and the nutritional aspects.

Aunt  Susan’s  Bananapants Banana  Bread
Beat together
     3 ripe bananas (1-1/2 cups)
     1 large egg
     1/4 cup oil or butter

Mix together
     1-1/2 cup flour
     2-1/2 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2 cup sugar
     1 cup oatmeal

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, just until blended.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees in a greased loaf pan
or 25 minutes in muffin tins.

Now let’s say you were to jump into your TARDIS for a quick jaunt back to the 1970s to watch our Mom make a loaf of banana bread.  The first thing you might notice is that she prefers to avoid dirtying dishes unnecessarily, so she doesn’t get out any mixing bowls.  The dry ingredients for the banana bread go directly into a greased loaf pan.  The wet ingredients go into a blender jar.  The wet ingredients, once blenderized, are combined with the dry ingredients directly in the loaf pan just before baking. Quick and efficient.

Another thing you might notice is that there is no butter to be found.  There might be liquid vegetable oil, but maybe not.  What you would find is margarine, probably Blue Bonnet brand in a reusable cereal bowl.  These days, margarine is looked down upon as an inferior cousin of butter.  But having grown up on the stuff, we can enjoy the flavor of margarine-laced baked goods fondly.  And the flavor doesn’t seem inferior or superior to items made with butter, just different.

If Mom is going to add anything to the banana bread batter, it is likely to be black walnuts.  Black walnuts have a hearty, almost unpleasant flavor when eaten by themselves, but they make an excellent counterpoint to something that is sweet.  Mom would sit on the concrete steps outside our house and shell her own black walnuts with a claw hammer, wearing leather work gloves to keep the walnut rinds from staining her hands.  Sure, you can use English walnuts or pecans instead, but it isn’t quite the same.  Mom would never put chocolate chips in a banana bread, though; not one of her favorite ingredients.  But it is an option.

Speaking of options, you could leave out the bananas altogether.  That one and a half cups of bananas could just as well be shredded carrots, sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed butternut squash, apple butter or even thick apple sauce.  The trick is that you may have to increase the sugar to compensate for the fact that these replacement ingredients will not be bringing as much sweetness to the party as the well-ripened bananas would.  Here’s a trick: Add your sugar to your wet ingredients (but before you have added any raw eggs) and give it a taste to see if think it is sweet enough.

Oh, and just so you know, different substitutes for bananas will probably have different moisture content, and that affects baking time.  As always with quick breads of this type you will want to make sure a toothpick, skewer or butter knife dipped into the middle comes out clean.

We have preloaded the banana bread recipe into the Tony’s Plate Calculator so you can take a look at the nutrition and play around with the recipe.  You will notice that some of the ingredients do not have their rows checked off.  This is so you can see out what would happen if you made some substitutions in the recipe.  For example, you could get the nutrition of a squash-bread recipe by unchecking the row with bananas, checking the row with butternut squash and increasing the the amount of sugar.  Or replace the granulated sugar with brown sugar.  Or make the bread with 3/4 cup white flour and 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour.  Add some spices or raisins to the mix.  Only you will know what you might like.  Be creative.
Category: Recipes
Posted by: tonysdad
This blog entry is in reference to the pancake recipe I posted earlier. Sorry it has taken me so long to get out. Please believe me when I say that recent days have been eventful and action-packed. Some day that narrative will be written, but for now, let’s talk pancakes.

I have loaded the pancake recipe into the Tony’s Plate Calculator and set it to be open to everyone. Click here to view the recipe. To create a recipe like this, we start by going to the Tony’s Plate Calculator. Then, because we are interested in the carbohydrate content of the food, we select the “click to create a new nutrient-data recipe” link. That gives you a blank recipe that will draw its food items from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

The column on the left contains some items that we can fill in now and some we can’t. “Recipe Name?” That’s easy: Pancakes. “Total Quantity Name?” Well, there really isn’t a name for the total batch of pancakes we produce; we can leave it blank. “Piece Name?” That’s another easy one: pancake. The other items in the column, the “Total Recipe Quantities” and “Recipe Serving Size,” are things we likely don’t know yet, so we’ll save them for later.

The “Total Quantity Name” and “Piece Name” are actually labels for special measurements and are included for convenience. They let you express things like a serving size of “1/48 sheet cake” or a total quantity of “37 meatballs.” Putting names to these measurements can be useful if you want to use the product of one recipe as the ingredient of another. For example, you might want to use 3 pancakes from the Pancakes recipe into the recipe for your breakfast.

But let us turn our attention to the ingredients of our pancake recipe. You search for ingredients by entering search terms in the text field in the upper right corner and clicking the [Find Ingredient] button. When you locate the ingredient you want to add, fill in the quantity and use the drop-down box to select the unit of measurement, and click the [Add] button.

A note about one of the ingredients in this particular recipe: The USDA did not include tablespoons as one of the possible units of measurement for granulated sugar. You can measure your sugar in packets, teaspoons, cubes, cups or grams, but not tablespoons. I can think of a couple different ways to handle this. If you know that there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon, then it’s easy enough to figure out that there are six teaspoons in two tablespoons and then specify “6 tsp” as the quantity. Another way to do it would be to measure your two tablespoons of sugar onto a scale set to grams and then enter the quantity as that number of grams.

If you examine the ingredients in the pancake recipe, you will notice that some of the quantities are specified as fractions, like the “1/2” teaspoon of table salt. The Tony’s Plate Calculator tries to be smart about numbers and will recognize “1-1/2”, “1 1/2” and “1.5” as one and a half.

But let us now skip ahead in time. Assume that we have located all of the pancake ingredients and added them to our recipe. What do we have then? Well, we have a recipe that we know will have about 1,735 Calories and about 234 grams of carbohydrate. And unless Tony becomes a lumberjack, he probably doesn’t need to eat that much. We have to be able to figure out the nutrition for a smaller portion of the entire batch.

Turn your attention back to the bottom of the column on the left where the “Total Recipe Quantities” and “Total Serving Size” are specified. By default, the total quantity is “1 entire batch,” but you can specify the total quantity in multiple ways. In the case of our pancakes, we can count the cooked pancakes to find that we have produced 16 roughly-equal pancakes. Or even better, we can put the pancakes on a scale—make sure to zero out the weight of the plate—to find out that we have produced 802 grams of pancakes.

Once we have identified the total quantities made, we can set a serving size that uses the same units. So if we tell the Calculator that we produced 16 pancakes, we can set the serving size to 3 pancakes. Or if we tell the Calculator that we produced 802 grams of pancakes, we can have a serving size of 153 grams of pancakes. The Tony’s Plate Calculator will then have enough information about what fraction of the whole is in a serving, and you will get the nutrition information you need.

Is it a little complicated? Maybe. But having the computer do the math beats sitting at the kitchen table trying to work it all out with a pencil, paper and a pocket calculator. At least the computer can have the answer before the pancakes get cold.

2010-Jul-29: Who wants pancakes?

Category: Recipes
Posted by: tonysdad
I have never hear the response “not me” when asking my boys if they would like pancakes. Pancakes are just one of those easy sells.

What I am going to do with this post is to tell you how to make our family’s favorite pancakes. Then I’ll follow up with a post showing how the Tony’s Plate Calculator can be used to figure out the nutrition content of those pancakes (with respect to carbs, because that is our biggest concern with Tony).

Whole Wheat Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup milk
margarine, oil or butter for greasing the pan

Whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder in one bowl. Melt the butter (not too hot) and whisk it along with the egg, milk and buttermilk in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry-ingredient bowl and stir. Make sure to mix all of the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl into the wet, but do not over mix. Once all of the dry ingredients are moistened, stop mixing. The batter should be slightly lumpy.

Heat a griddle and grease the surface. Drop portions of the batter onto the griddle to form small circles approximately 4” across. When the the pancakes are brown on one side, flip them with a spatula and leave them on the griddle until they are brown on the other side.

Makes 15-16 pancakes.


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