Friday, May 22, 2015


Here you are.  Louise Spike Wolff.

After all these months and wonderings and anticipation, here you lie.  So still.  So peaceful.  So perfect.  Love unconditional born.  Already you've changed us in so many ways....heart, soul, body, faith.  You have entered our world and rocked it irrevocably and entirely.  You've captivated us completely.

I can't tell you how many times we (meaning every single person who already loved you) sat together imagining your features, your smile, your tiny toes and fingers.  Gawking in awe at itty bitty pink dresses..."a human is going to fill these tiny clothes"...we'd breathe softly to each other.

We painted your room, made you blankets and hats, showered your momma with love, gifts, and good wishes.

We nearly wept when we'd feel your little body move inside your momma's.  So real, this tiny person inside. "Tessa, you're growing a human."

"No baby has ever been so loved," we coo into our children's ears.  And its true to the core.  You are no exception.  You have been born into a family with no shortage of love, affection and pure tenderness.  You have no other choice, your life will be good.

You are obviously the luckiest human ever...did you win a contest in heaven, and your parents were the prize? Jackpot.  You will never in your entire life be without: love, laughter, good food, amazing people, sweet music, beautiful spaces, God and Jesus.  Tessa and Charlie.  They are exceptional to the core.  Congratulations Louise.

You have been on this earth for one week and two days Louise.  Already we are gawking and cooing and head-over-heels in love with you.  Keep up the good work.  We're so excited to get to know you.  Welcome to this world, to our family and to our hearts.  Happy Birthday my sweet niece.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Caramelized Banana Bread

Caramelized banana bread, oh my.  This one has been in the making for awhile now.  Maybe you know, but one of my favorite baking books in the universe is flour by Joanne Chang.  And by "favorite", I mean I am absolutely obsessed with it.  It is always the first book I go to when I am looking for a new recipe.  So far, every last thing I have made out of flour is crazy divine.

So, why did I go and one-up my favorite banana bread recipe?  Because I had the idea of "caramelized bananas" and I just had to try it.  I mean, come on.  Just the thought of it had me salivating, and so it was do or drool time. Right?

So, I took my favorite five-star banana recipe from flour and altered it, and altered it, and altered it. (Did I mention I also added brown butter?  My favorite secret weapon.). And the end result, I feel, is a banana bread that would make Ms. Chang proud.  This banana bread is super moist, slightly dense, but still light on the tongue.  Make yourself happy and give it a try.  You just might cry at your happy results.  Enjoy!

(See, even this little Muppet couldn't keep her hands off it long enough for me to take photos!)

Caramelized Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf or 18 muffins

4 medium bananas, sliced
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup (175 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 rounded teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oven to 325F.  Butter a 9-inch loaf pan, or line 18 muffin tins with paper liners, and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Cook, swirling the pan often, until the butter turns golden brown.  Add the sliced bananas and stir to coat with butter.  Add the brown sugar and stir to combine.  Continue cooking over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the bananas are easily mashable with the back of a spoon. Mash the bananas slightly, then remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and granulated sugar on medium for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Reduce the mixer to low speed and very slowly add the oil to the egg and sugar mixture.  Add the bananas, Greek yogurt and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined, 30-45 seconds.

In a medium bowl add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and whisk gently until thoroughly combined (alternately, you can use a sifter and sift the ingredients together).  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Do not overmix, but be sure that no white flour streaks remain in the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan or fill muffin liners 3/4 full.  Bake loaf for 55-60 minutes and muffins 20-23 minutes or until bread springs back when lightly pressed.  Allow to cool in the pan for at least half an hour and then pop it out of the pan.  Then, you should definitely...