Double Nut Banana Bunt Cake

So I had an extra batch of banana bread ingredients the other day, and decided to try something new. It wound up both looking kinda yummy, tasting great, and only adding a few extra calories to my daily intake (if you only take one bite a day, that is). Here’s the recipe, for all my inspired fans who asked for it. 😉

CAKE

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup crisco
  • 3 eggs, warmed to room temperature (or thereabouts)
  • 1 3/4 cups mashed bananas (they work best if you mash them by hand so there are still some lumps)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (1 1/4 cup milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar), warmed to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or a tiny bit extra for flavor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (crushed or small pieces, however you want them)
  • 1/2 cut pecans (crushed or halved, however you want them)

TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (1/4 cup milk + just a little bit of vinegar, maybe a pinch?)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup crushed walnuts and/or pecans (crushed really small)

CAKE

  1. Cream sugar and shortening.
  2. Sift dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, to shortening mixture.
  4. Add bananas and vanilla to shortening mixture, mixing well but not too well.
  5. Add dry ingredients alternatively with milk and mix. Avoid overmixing.
  6. Add nuts.
  7. Grease (I use PAM) a bunt cake pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees until knife put in center of thickest part comes out clean. Mine took about 70 minutes, but I’d check it at 50 minutes and then every 5-10 minutes after that.
  9. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.
  10. Pour the topping mixture over the top of the cake.
  11. Sprinkle the remaining nuts from the topping on top as a kind of crumbly topping to the topping.
  12. Let it stand for about 5 more minutes to soak in and set up a little bit, and then remove the cake from the pan (if you can) so it can run down the sides and look really cool.

TOPPING

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir in the sugar, buttermilk, baking soda, and about 1/4 cup of the nuts (you’ll have 1/4 cup left over for later).
  3. Bring it to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  4. Boil for one minute.

There you go!

An announcement and request, of sorts

So yeah, we’re on our way to having another kiddo. Three months along, actually. We thought we’d take a sec to both share the good news and also request your prayers over Erin and her health during the next weeks and months. If you know the story of her pregnancy with Colton, you may have heard about our couple trips to the ER with blood pressure spikes. They never occured before her pregnancy, and haven’t been around since, until now. This time things seem a little different. Her blood pressure is up, but not up like crazy yet, but she has had some other weird episodes where her heart just “pounds” really hard for a few minutes, once up to almost an hour. She’s been to the ER once to get it checked out, but since she’s pregnant, there were only so many tests they could run (no X-Ray, CAT scan, etc.). Her obstetrician referred her to a cardiologist, which she should get in to see here in the next week or two.

So while we’re again floored with joy about the news of the baby doing fine and developing well, we covet your prayers during the next few weeks. We have a trip to DisneyWorld scheduled at the end of January, so are in prayers that she won’t get put on a sort of bed-rest that will keep her from going or enjoying the trip, even if it means I get to push her around everywhere we go.

Colton doesn’t know the news yet, and we’re going to try and keep it that way for a while.

So anyways, yeah… that’s the story. 🙂

Lessons from a Microwave

Tonight I’m leading the youth group at our church in an hour I’m calling Lessons Learned from a Microwave. This past Sunday, we had a group of them out for the afternoon to perform a variety of “science” experiments using a Microwave to cook different objects. If I remember correctly, we nuked a banana, 4 hot dogs, marshmellows, an orange, a CD, two frozen eggs, a fruit snack, semi-frozen grapes, a cell phone, and a large ball of aluminum foil. While some of these objects behaved “as expected” or did not show much in terms of exciting results, others surprised us. Overall, it was a great afternoon, and in the process no one got hurt, we didn’t need the fire extinguisher, and I believe a variety of lessons, or at least life truths, can be taken from the experience. I’m going to share our videos, along with some of those things they’ve made me think of, with the teens tonight. I’m also curious what they will come up with as applications of the knowledge we have gained. These are the types of “lessons” I love teaching, because the real life application has already been demonstrated (albeit on an unrelated-to-normal-life situation), now we’re just seeing how to take what we’ve already seen (and been mesmerized by) and apply it to our day-to-day life.

I think we’ll just shoot through the videos in the order we shot them, and see what we get from that. I’ll include the vids that I put on youtube in this post.

 

1. CARLOS THE BANANA

  • Observations… the microwave made a TERRIBLE humming noise sounding much like it might actually blow up.
  • The banana kind of wiggled. My guess is the contents were starting to boil, and since the peel was so soft from being over-ripe, it basically conformed to fit the shape of it’s contents.
  • It smelled GREAT. Just like fresh banana bread… but it did not LOOK at all appetising.
  • It developed a tumor of sorts.
  • “The Microwaves are too large to fit through the little grate.” What a nice quote. 🙂
  • When finally done being nuked, the damage was very evident.
 

2. A QUAD OF HOT DOGS

  • These were rather uneventful, possibly because they were already cooked?
 

3. BOB THE MARSHMELLOW, AND HIS FAMILY

  • We started with a variety of “sizes” of marshmellow groups… a single, a double, and a family.
  • Within 30 seconds, everything was already expanding… slowly at first, and then quite rapidly.
  • Quote: “They all became one big family.”
  • Eventually they stopped expanding, began bubbling, and eventually burned and collapsed.
  • Black spots appeared as they continued to be nuked.
  • The room smelled strangly good, like roasted marshmellows, along with a little tint of banana bread.
  • They came out black, crispy, and rather plastic like.
 

4. A SLIGHTLY OVER-RIPE ORANGE

  • This was another good smelling experiment.
  • The skin appeared to be tougher, and didn’t really move around, even though the contents clearly got above boiling temperature.
  • Something must of eventually “popped” because we heard steam escaping and smelled a nice, fresh, orange smell, like a room deodorizor or cleaner.
  • Quote: “It will become a gas and probably explode.”
 

5. A COMPACT DISC

  • Of all of our tests, this was my personal favorite. Primarily because of the rapid response to radiation, and the way it really made everyone jump.
  • Bright flashes and crackling almost immediately.
  • Burn marks in organized circles and lines.
  • Quote: “That would be the winner.”
 

6. FROZEN EGGS (PRE-CRACKED AND UNBLEMISHED)

  • Another personal favorite.
  • Several progressive steps in the experiment. First, a crack developed. Sortly after that, hard boiled ooze began to come out, and soon after that, bubbles. Eventually, it exploded.
  • The excitement peakes around 1:20 – 1:30.
  • The pre-cracked egg gave us much less excitement, but also survived the experiment much better.
  • No baby chickens appeared.
  • Quote: “Chet, your eggs have rabies.” or “I almost died.”
 

7. A SMALL LITTLE FRUIT SNACK

  • It crackled quickly, kind of melted into a gel, and then kind of squirmed like it was alive.
  • Shrapnel from the egg leftovers occasionally popped.
  • The end result was more like glue than a melted snack.
  • Quote: “This is fruty snack senior, and he’s about to explode.”
 

8. SEMI-FROZEN GRAPES

  • We wanted to nuke these frozen, but didn’t get them completely frozen.
  • Not a very quick reaction… they were probably boiling inside, eventually, but apparently the skin could hold tight.
  • Quote: “They’re not completely frozen, but they’ll do… I think.”
 

9. AN INTACT CELL PHONE, WITH BATTERY

  • This was the first experiment moved outside. We expected nothing specifically, but hoped for fire, smoke, and perhaps even damage to the microwave. We wound up using about 100′ of extension cable, running the microwave on a frozen pond.
  • One person dared to stick their head in front of the cooker.
  • Crackling started rather quickly, and it was hard to see anything inside the microwave, so Ryan sacrificed himself to get the shot.
  • This was our first experiment to actually catch fire. Lots of smoke as well.
  • The LCD screen seemed to burn best. The battery really didn’t do all that much in the time we gave it.
  • Quote: “You’re gonna wanna get back. You’re really gonna wanna get back. “
 

10. A LOOSE BALL OF ALUMINUM FOIL.

  • The foil was rather eclipsed by the still burning cell phone components.
  • We did get fire, but not as pretty as the cell phone, and not as energetic as the CD. This one was a bit of a let down, I think… after everything else.
  • Quote: “Ryan, if you die, it’s not our fault.”
 

We finished up with a beat down of our donated microwave. It now sits in a scrap pile in my back yard, after being used, abused, and then beaten. But it was well worth it, and it served us well. Thank you, Hilliard family. You have made our day.

So what can be learned from all this? Or at least observed, that might have some sort of relevance to real life? Well… that’s for you to observe and experiment with, I guess… at least until after I talk through this with the teens tonight.

Opposite Happiness

We read the beattitudes today on the Daily /Audio Bible. How opposite these are from the world we live in, and the “blessed are those” that seem to be the natural way we find happiness. 

From the readalong site for today:

  3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,[a]
      for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
    4 God blesses those who mourn,
      for they will be comforted.
    5 God blesses those who are humble,
      for they will inherit the whole earth.
    6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]
      for they will be satisfied.
    7 God blesses those who are merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy.
    8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
      for they will see God.
    9 God blesses those who work for peace,
      for they will be called the children of God.
   10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
      for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

 11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you[c] and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

I sometimes get into “funks” where happiness eludes me. And as I review these, which are so much more than just good ideas, I see why. There’s nothing in here about “blessed are the hard workers, for they shall be rewarded.” That’s simply not there. In fact, it’s just the opposite: “blessed are those who are poor and realize their need for him.”So today I’m jotting these down, both as a reminder and as a challenge to me to seek out true happiness. The kingdom looks like something so much different than what we’d make it be on our own, and I am so thankful for that.

Father, I invite you into today. Allow me to experience kingdom happiness today, to enjoy being part of the great story you are developing in me, and around me. I choose right not to smile. And to enjoy it.