Recipe: Banana Bread

Whenever the Fam is looking for a reasonably healthy and easy snack, our go-to is banana bread. You simply cannot be a nice slice of banana bread. It not only gives you energy to tackle whatever you’ve got planned, it provides a great way not to waste those overly ripe bananas sitting in your fruit bowl.

Why I love this recipe is it provides the right balance between moist and dry. I hate banana bread that is so moist that it seems like it isn’t cooked all the way through. I am also not a fan of banana bread that is so soft (i.e. moist) that it falls apart when you pick up a piece. However, I’m also not a fan of banana bread that is so dry that you need to take a drink of something just to choke it down. Here is a recipe that is quick and easy that is firm enough to stay together, but is also so moist there is no need to add a schmear of butter. And if your banana bread cracks at the top… Don’t worry about it. It just makes it rustic.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 2/3 Cup Shortening
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted multi purpose flour
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed, over-rip bananas
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cups chopped pecans

Instructions

Stir shortening to soften. Sift in dry ingredients. Add bananas and half the buttermilk; mix until all flour is incorporated. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Add remaining buttermilk and the eggs. Beat 2 minutes. Fold in nuts.

Bake in paper-lined loaf pans at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Use the toothpick method to ensure it is cooked thoroughly. Cool for 10 minutes in pans and then remove.

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Freebie: Genealogy Worksheet

I have been doing genealogy research for a very long time now, and I’ve accrued stacks of documents that provide a wealth of information. And while I do utilize a program to catalog and keep all the information, I still rely heavily on worksheets to track the data I’ve collected. There have been too many times where my program froze or my hard drive simply stopped functioning. Sure, I back up everything but it came be time consuming and cumbersome to access those back-ups. It’s just easier to glance at a worksheet.

This worksheet is one that I’ve created to track the most basic information in genealogy research, but it also adds a little more. I thought I would offer it up as a tool for you to put in your toolkit and utilize as you see fit.


Top 5 Irish Genealogy Sites

If you find you have branches of your tree that trace back to Ireland, here are a list of five useful genealogy sites that provides information on Ireland and (hopefully) your ancestors.

Library of Ireland… Besides a selection of village, town, and city directories, there are texts of several books on names that should prove useful in searching through Birth, Marriage, and Death records, and in pinpointing locations in which a particular family is most likely to be found.

Irish Genealogy… The website is now home to the historic records of Births, Marriages and Deaths of the General Register Office. These records join the Indexes to the historic records of Births, Marriages and Deaths that were already available on the website.

Irish Genealogy Tool Kit… You’ll find page after page of relevant advice on this website plus the very latest information on genealogical resources in Ireland.

From Ireland… Here you will find millions of free records, compiled by Dr. Jane Lyons, including: gravestone records, gravestone photographs, 1901 census records, 1911 census records, 1931 trade directory records, birth records, marriage records, death records, Lewis’ topographical records, Griffith’s valuation records, and more.

The National Archives of Ireland… All of these records are free to access, through searchable databases and linked images of relevant pages. Eventually, the site will contain all of the important and easily accessible genealogical material in the custody of the National Archives.

While sites such as Ancestry provides a lot of information for researchers, I tried to stick with free websites. Ancestry is too expensive and provides little more than free sites such as Familysearch.org. Check out this list, and stay tuned for Friday – when I’ll be posting a freebie: A family sheet that helps you track your information.


Top 10 Places I Want to Visit In Ireland

St Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, so I thought I would share my Top 10 list of places to visit in Ireland. Ireland is near and dear to my heart. I have ancestral links back to the country on both sides of my family tree, so I have always felt a special bond with that country.

While I’ve been to the country, I haven’t seen much of the country. So, when I go back, these are the top places I intend to see/visit…Cliffs of Moher… As equally gorgeous as it is dangerous, the Cliffs of Moher is on a lot of “must see” lists.

Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway… Technically, this is located in Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom, but I still count it.

Inis Mor… Part of the Aran Islands, located in the western reaches of Ireland, this little island has become quite a tourist destination especially with the release of the movie, “The Secret of Roan Inish.”

Dun Aonghasa… If you’re into history, you’ll love this place. Also part of the Aran Islands, Dun Aonghasa is one of many prehistoric hill forts on Inishmore.

Dingle Peninsula/Ring of Kerry… Located within Killarney National Park, this road trip takes the visitor to a variety of sites including castles, waterfalls, and stone forts.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle/Blarney Stone… If you want the gift of Blarney, it is said if you kiss the Blarney stone – you’ll have the gift of eloquence. However, my grandfather was certain that if you had Irish flowing through your veins, you already have the gift.

Kinsale… A fishing village in Cork that is incredibly colorful. Little row houses painted in yellows, greens, blues, pinks, purples, and every color in between.

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel… Also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock, is the traditional seat of the King of Munster.

The Burren… Located in County Clare, the Burren is a cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites. And if I’m ready for a break, I can head over to Doolin village to rest my feet and listen to traditional Irish music.

Trinity College… Located in Ireland, this university has many wonderful sites but the one thing that is of particular interest to me is their library. The long room has an impressive book collection and even served as inspiration for Hogwart’s library in the Harry Potter books.

How about you? What places would you see, if given the chance to go to Ireland? There are so many wonderful sites, it was difficult for me to narrow it down to just ten.



International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day… A day to celebrate women and their contributions to the world. When I think about International Women’s Day, I think of the women who influenced my life – regardless of their level of fame (or infamy) or world-wide contribution. Here are a few of the women I believe heavily influenced who I was, who I am, and who I will be.

Anna with Me (the gypsy in the back) and my little sister (a bandit) and cousin
Marjorie and Me

The Grandmothers… They are Anna and Marjorie. Neither are alive today, but they both made a lasting influence on me while they were here. Both encouraged education, independence, and family. Neither tolerated complacency. And with all they had in common as grandmothers, as women they brought their unique self to the table. Marjorie was feminine and loved to sing and garden, while Anna was a tomboy (even as an adult) who loved to bake, play dominoes, and took no guff off anyone. While Marjorie taught me the power of a smile, Anna taught me silence equates to condoning.

Mum and Me

My mum… She is one of those people who other people gravitate around because she radiates this warm, loving, comfort. Complete strangers have literally asked her for a hug, while it takes her a matter of minutes before she knows the life story of everyone she comes in contact with. She doesn’t have to say a word, they simply share. I’ve seen shoulders ease and a sense of contentment settle upon people. For my little sister and I, she is our bedrock.

George Sand… I’m not sure when I first learned about George Sand (aka Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin), but I know that when I did – I knew I wanted to be her when I grew up. She lived life on her own terms – an independent writer in a time where a noble woman was meant to only marry, look pretty, and have plenty of children. She was smart, independent, wore men’s clothes (because they were more comfortable than all those skirts), cussed up a storm, and loved (and was loved) by brilliant men. While I’m not a fan of her writing (think romance novels from the 1800s) nor would I have made some of the decisions she made, I loved that she lived the life she wanted to live instead of living the life everyone else expected her to live.

Kate Chopin… Unlike George Sand, Kate Chopin is not someone I admire because of her life. Rather, I admire her because of her work. Well, one piece of work she wrote that literally changed my life forever… The Awakening. I first read this book when I was 12 or 13, and it created the weird, wonderful epiphany deep within me: it’s my life. The Awakening tells the profoundly sad story of a women who had two choices – to live the life she wanted or to live the life that society expected of her. She chose the later, and the consequences were profound. It is a story that is rich, textured, and sad. It is a story I’ve held up as my Geiger Counter for regrets.

What about you? What women have played a strong role in your life? What women do you appreciate for their role(s) in your life?

Doing my due diligence and being straight up, it is important I state the links to the above items are links via an affiliate program I’m involved in with Amazon.  While the price, through the program, remains the same for everyone – I do receive a small amount of money based on whether you follow the link and purchase the product.  However, I can verify that I’ve purchased these products and recommend them.