I had a Date with a Date: Apple Date Nut Bread

I have to be honest. Lately I’ve been having some trouble figuring out what day it is. From what I can tell, yesterday was Bakingday, today is Cleaningday, or to be more precise, Kitchencleaningday and tomorrow could be Gardeningday but I can’t say for sure. This is the best I can do at the moment and I’m guessing that many of you are feeling the same way. Especially those of you who, like me, have retired from the “daily grind” as we were wont to call it, even when some of us really liked what we were grinding. Let’s face it, this pandemic of ours, (that would be the royal “our”), has screwed up time for us. Things have become muddled. It’s hard enough to remember what month it is let alone what day of the week. Heck! If the deer hadn’t shown up to eat my tulips I’d still be wondering if Spring had sprung. On the one hand it seems that we have been locked up in our houses, not seeing family or friends for an incomprehensible amount of time and yet, each day is over before we know it. It’s confusing.

Take me for instance. I get up in the morning at what I consider to be a reasonable hour, given that I’m a bit of a night owl, eat breakfast, catch up on the morning news and the next thing I know someone comes bounding down the stairs to throw a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches on the fire and I start to worry about the prospect of getting crumbs on my pjs. Where did the morning go? And the rest of the day for that matter. Seems like when I eventually do get dressed, before I know it I’m putting those pjs back on, crumbs and all. Don’t even get me started on whatever a “week-end” might be. As far as I’m concerned, there are two days of the week that we don’t get mail and five that we do. Except for long week-ends of course. Those are special. No mail for three days. Beyond that, and I really hate to say this, right now one day is pretty much the same as the next.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and finally came to the conclusion that the problem is I no longer have any markers. My days have no real distinguishing features. It’s not that I was ever a social butterfly but I did some stuff. Like on Tuesday mornings. I always knew it was Tuesday because somehow I found myself washed, dressed and out the door at the rather ungodly hour of 8:30 (that’s am) so I could go walking with the walking ladies. And Thursday. Thursdays found me getting gussied up for my morning stint at the local museum where I spent much of my time chit chatting to visitors from almost everywhere in this great big world of ours. Now there’s no walking, no visitors, and a world that has gotten very much smaller for most of us. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I know I’m very lucky to be where I am. Which doesn’t mean I can’t kvetch a little about how life has changed in the pandemic. Out loud.  

Anyway, with nothing else on the calendar, the other day I decided to make a date. With a date. Honestly, I never really liked dates (either kind) but this one turned out pretty well. My date brought along a couple of apples and some nuts. Nothing wrong with a few nuts (I substituted pecans for walnuts. Think Costco!) in the mix. And just in case things got a little boring, a little cinnamon was added just to spice things up. All in all I would say things worked out between me and my date. So much so that I’m thinking about calling back for a second date with my date. Not sure who the date will bring along next time but I’m always open to suggestions. As you can imagine, it’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact day when this might happen. But I’m sure that it will. And this time I might even get myself a little gussied up for the occasion. 

Apple Nut Date Bread

Recipe: Prep time: Quick. Apparently that’s why they call it a “quick bread”. Cook time: 50 – 60 minutes
Me: Not so quick. 42 minutes to get all of the stuff chopped, diced and mixed. Baked for 62 minutes. 
Favourite thing about this recipe: After all that I’ve just written I suppose I better say the date.
Least favourite thing about this recipe: It was still in the oven at coffee time.
What I learned: It’s great to have a date on Bakingday. That was one too many, wasn’t it! 

Times Up! Yogurt based loaves

Banana Chocolate Chip Pecan LoafWondering where I’ve been? No worries. I’m exactly where I was last time we spoke. Which now that I think about it was quite some time ago. Here’s the thing. If you’ve ever lived through a pandemic you know that the concept of time has entered a whole new paradigm. Days feel like months, months like days. Remember last March when we all figured we’d be in the house for a couple of weeks while we waited for this whole thing to blow over? At first it seemed like a long time. Stuck in the house all day with nothing to do but source out lysol wipes and toilet paper. But then we realized it was just a couple of weeks. Who can’t stay home for a couple of weeks? There were fridges to clean and closets to sort. And what a great time to catch up on that reading we couldn’t find time for in our endlessly busy days. Surely those weeks would go by in no time. But as the weeks turned into months the paradigm shifted again. We had to adapt and some of us started to lose our perspective.

One day you get up in the morning and somehow, before you even realize what’s happening, the clock strikes five pm, you look down and realize, much to your chagrin, that you are still in your pjs. The next day, resolved not to let time pass you by, you wake up raring to go, eat a hearty breakfast and start to cross those “to do” items off your list. What seems like eons later, and feeling a little peckish, you check your watch only to discover that a mere hour has passed since those bacon and eggs settled in your gut. How, you ask, can that be? How is it that some days and weeks fly by while others seem to move at a snail’s pace? How did Christmas sneak up on us when we can hardly remember what we ate for dinner last night? Has it really been almost a whole year since we first had an inkling that “something was rotten in Denmark”? (his words, not mine)  And, if you don’t mind me saying so, in most other places across this wide world of ours as well. Did Mother Earth forget to remind Father Time to put a fresh battery in that clock of his and now the whole damn world has gone haywire? 

All of this time shifting is compounded if you happen to be, like me, a retired person. Because the least of my concern is what hour it might be on any given day. What I really need to know is what day it is and, if we happen to be near enough to a cusp, in what month. You see we no longer have any anchors. I mean I know I have to watch the Amazing Race on Wednesday evening but beyond that, what clues do I have? No more Thursday morning volunteer work. No more Tuesdays with the walking ladies. So how am I supposed to keep track? These days I often find myself asking why is this night different from any other night? Which I believe, is why I have run into my current problem and explains my need to bake an rather inordinate number of loaves. With yogurt. 

You see, about 6 weeks ago, give or take a few, there was a sale on yogurt at my local grocers. Now while those who know me know I love a sale, I’m not so enamoured with saving a few shekels that I would risk the perils of loading up on perishable goods. But on this day the deals were great and the expiry dates long. So long that I could not even imagine the contents going bad before we had a chance to use them all up. Between all the smoothie making and baking going on in this house these days we can literally go through buckets of the stuff before you can say “Jack Robinson”. So I went out on a limb and tossed not one, but two cartons of plain greek yogurt into the cart. Now I can’t even begin to explain how it happened but in the shake of a lamb’s tail I was faced with the stark reality that my calendar had caught up with that yogurts’ best before date. Hence the proliferation of yogurt based loaves currently taking up space in my freezer. The ones I’ve tasted are delish so if you have some time on your hands you might want to try one or two of these. The good thing is life should get back to normal soon. That vaccine is right around the corner. They say it could be here in a month or two. And if you ask me, that’s just a couple of buckets of yogurt away.

Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

Recipe: Prep time:  15 minutes; Cook Time: 1 hour; Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Me: Prep time: 29 minutes; Cook Time: 61 minutes; Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Favourite thing about this recipe: Using up some of that yogurt
Least favourite thing about this recipe: Waiting for my bananas to ripen before I could bake it. (See below)
What I learned: You can teach an old dog new tricks. I learned that you can ripen bananas by baking them in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Who knew?

 

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Here’s a couple more to try if, like me, you have some yogurt to burn through:

Zucchini Carrot Bread
The Best Zucchini Bread