There are several things I am notorious for in my household:
For starters, I have an insatiable need to expand my mason jar inventory. I make no apologies for it. One quart, two quart, pint, half pint, quarter pint, wide-mouth, regular mouth, Ball, Kerr… And not just mason jars either, oh no, glass jars with hinged lids and rubber gaskets like Kilner and Weck make their way into my pantry, too, and they hold tea bags and coffee and red lentil penne and Leksands Rye Crispbread or Wasa crackers, and Vermont Meat Sticks, and dark chocolate… They’re just, so useful. And cute. And make me feel organized. Things get tricky for me, though, when it comes to the repurposing of spent glass jars from things like jam, yogurt, honey, mustard, and sundry others. Now, I can get a deposit back from Argyle Cheese Farmer and Ballston Lake Apiaries if I return the jars, which I usually do, but there exists a problem within myself, the problem being that I am compelled to keep them. All of them. To soak them, so that the sticky labels will come off, before washing the jars and lids and squirreling them away until all of my cabinets are full and resembling an alchemist’s laboratory, with all the bits and bobs of things I feel the need to hold onto and put into said jars.
This compulsion is especially felt when it comes to my precious, my Alstertor Dusseldorf mustard jars. Ryan used to stop at a German deli near his old workplace and grab a jar to bring me as a gift from time to time (what girl doesn’t want the gift of good mustard?), but a decade later and I’ve been buying jars of it, two at a time—so that one goes in the refrigerator for immediate use and the other in the pantry to ensure I never run out—for so long now that I just can’t bring myself to stop and, in all candor, it may be becoming a problem. When I open cabinets and just see rows of mustard jars, I admit to myself, deep down, that maybe it’s time to let go. Or at least start gifting them to people. They make great little beer steins or juice glasses or homemade vinaigrette containers!
Whew, I feel a little lighter having gotten that off my chest. Now, this next one is a little embarrassing, but today I’m letting my freak flag fly: I admit that I frequently speak for my dog. That is, I say out loud what I believe he is thinking at any given moment, in my interpretation of how I think his voice would sound. [Looks around nervously to see if anyone else does this for their fur children] He’s just so expressive and sweet and curious and loving and smart, I just take a little leeway and become the vessel of his inner monologue. And I know he understands everything I’m saying, I mean, when I say “Bruty, where’s your purple rainbow unicorn baby?” he goes and finds it! And when I say “Bruty, can you squeak your baby?” He squeaks it fervently! And when I have him sit/stay in one room and hide his ball in another room and then tell him he’s free and ask him “Where’s bally?!” he runs and leaps over the couch and sniffs and snorts and hunts until he finds it, and then, again with the fervent squeaking. Sigh. He’s just the best and cutest and sweetest and who am I kidding to think I am even worthy of expressing let alone knowing his pure, angelic thoughts? Ugh, I just love him so much. Fly, freak flag, fly!
Another thing I will cop to being guilty of is putting a substantial amount of our food budget towards buying four or five (or six) different cheeses in a single trip—this, despite having a partner who is, how shall I say, selectively lactose intolerant. You see, he likes cheese! Cheddar, Manchego, Parmesan...just no goat cheese, or Gruyère, or Mimolette or Burrata. I have to sneak those ones into the shopping cart. And I do. Because if I don’t, I get the look. It’s a look that says “Yegh! Not goat cheese! You know I hate goat cheese...What’s next? Yogurt? Shrimp? Bananas?!” You see, I must admit to having a penchant for buying bananas with every intention of grabbing one for a quick breakfast or snack only to overlook them for something crunchy or savory and instead end up leaving them on the counter until they turn black, at which point I transfer them to the refrigerator or peel them and freeze them for banana bread making at a later date. No big deal, right?
Wrong! Ryan hates bananas. And Shrimp. And yogurt. But no one’s perfect, right? Right. I’m not. In winter of 2016 I was getting ready to leave for Seattle for five months to do my externship at Modernist Cuisine. What’s an externship, you ask? Well, it’s part of the curriculum at the CIA where you spend a minimum of fifteen weeks at a restaurant or other industry institution of your choosing, should they accept your application, and you work (which is sometimes compensated and sometimes not, depending on where you choose to go) in order to gain experience in the field. While you’re on extern, as they say, you also have to work on a manual which must be turned in post-extern, to be graded. Extern Manual assignments include writing essays, taking pictures of the food you’re making and writing out recipes, but also, and most excitingly, costing! Glorious, tedious costing! Oh, the spread sheets! The culinary math! Excruciating, at times, but also very important, it’s true.
Anyways, before I left for externship, Ryan was worried about something. He made me promise that before I took off to go across the country for several months and left him and Brutus all alone in New York that I would not, under any circumstances, leave any black bananas lurking around for him to find. I swore I wouldn’t. Of that, I could be certain. I would not leave any black bananas behind. That was a promise I could keep, for sure. Two weeks into my externship I got a text from Ryan. It was a picture of the inside of our refrigerator, now barren from him scrounging away any trace of me that had been left behind for him in food form. What remained was the subject of the photo, which had now been unearthed like some forgotten relic of a bygone day, now freed from its tomb of dejection to bask in the bright glare of the refrigerator light bulb. There, all the way in the back, on the shelf I use solely to hide foods from Ryan that I know he doesn’t like, there, slumped in all their sad splendor sat a wrinkled bunch of black bananas. Oops.
Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate and Walnuts
Yield: 1 9"x 5" loaf
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Well hello! I'm Kat, and
I'm always either cooking or thinking about what I want to cook next. For me, food is always about so much more than just my next meal. This is a place for sharing stories and recipes from a life lived through the lens of food...