Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wintergreen Hat and Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe

Every Fall I knit myself a new hat.  It's a rite of passage for me, right along with buying a new pair of corduroy pants and a pumpkin.  And this year it's all about the pom-pom.  These large over sized pom-poms have been around for a couple of years but this year is the first time I've considered adding one. Typically I'm more low key with my hats, but I figured why not give it a go?  And now I find myself ridiculously pleased that I did.  Probably due to some repressed cheerleader complex stemming from never having had real pom-poms to play with.

Long ago well before I began blogging I made my first hat and added a pom-pom (that I never actually got to wear due to a traumatic incident involving our dog, but I digress) and so I knew roughly the process but felt I needed a refresher course, particularly if I wanted a large over sized one.  And I found the prefect video tutorial given by Stephen West (who is very amusing and I highly recommend you watch this and his other videos).  I followed his method exactly except I found that with a sock yarn I needed much more friction than a mere brush to achieve a fluffy cottontail effect. So I scrounged around and found a velcro strip that really grabbed and traumatized the yarn and gave me the result I was looking for.  A perfect pom-pom finish.  Now if I could only do a cartwheel.

Particulars:  Caramel Brulee designed by Alicia Plummer (blogs as AliciaPlum); 2 skeins The Fiber Company Terra (colorway Black Walnut); US 6 and 8 Needles.  I knit the longer length as I wanted to wear this hat with the brim folded up.  This is an extremely easy and well written pattern and I made no modifications whatsoever.  My pom-pom is made with Madelinetosh tosh sock yarn left over from my Vintage Bouquet shawl.

Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe

A new love of mine is chocolate banana bread.  I of course knew that chocolate and bananas went well together.  Who hasn't eaten a banana dipped in chocolate at their local fair?  You haven't? Well, the good news is that it's never too late to enjoy that taste sensation.  But until then try this delightful twist on the combination and my new favorite fall treat.

Recipe adapted from Simple Recipe's Chocolate Banana Bread substituting my preferred ingredients, i.e. pastry flour, bittersweet chocolate, dutch cocoa, etc.  But if you don't have these ingredients on hand I'm sure the original recipe is delicious too.


3 ripe bananas (I used 1 small and 2 large) - puree to remove all lumps - approx. 1 1/4 cup+
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (use half this amount if you use salted butter)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pastry flour
1/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (reserve a few to sprinkle on top)


1.  Prepare 1 loaf pan (butter and flour) and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Using a wooden spoon combine the wet (mostly) ingredients in a bowl (banana puree, melted butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract) and mix well.   Whisk if necessary to remove any sugar lumps.

3.  In a separate bowl whisk together most of the dry ingredients (pastry flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and allspice).

4.  Add the dry to wet ingredients and stir until just incorporated.  Add chocolate chips and pour into prepared loaf pan.

5.  Bake for approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees or until cooked through.  I would start checking at around 55 minutes as mine only took 57 minutes.  If you use a generous portion of banana you may need to cook yours longer depending on how hot your oven runs.  Don't overcook though as this is meant to be a moist cake.  The original recipe suggests gently pushing on the top to feel if it is relatively firm and bounces back to help gauge whether it's cooked through.

And Last but Not Least ~ Happy Birthday Mom ~

My mom recently turned 89 years young and my sister and I took her to a traditional English afternoon tea at the El Encanto Hotel in Santa Barbara.  Born in Teignmouth, England she has never gone a day without enjoying afternoon tea, and has a very healthy attitude toward leisure, that she fortunately passed along to me.  I think many Americans get so caught up in constantly "doing things" that they forget the importance of taking a break and the elixir it can be to put your feet up in the afternoon and enjoy a good and proper cup of tea.   A sad loss for Americans.  Happy Birthday mom and may you enjoy many many more afternoon cups of tea and garden parties!

Incidentally, in the picture below I am wearing my Pogona scarf which is one of my favorite summer accessories that is, ironically, designed by Stephen West (of pom-pom tutorial fame).


Until next time be well, love well, and make time this Fall to explore new technique and seasonal treats  ~