Thursday, March 11

Hope springs eternal

I'm an optimist.

I manage to hope that even after a decade of dermatologic distress, my acne will clear up. I'm always optimistic that tonight will be the night I get eight (or heck, even six or seven) uninterrupted hours of sleep. I like to believe that I will have time for the many projects I want to work on, or that today I won't waste a single second mindlessly surfing the internet.

None of which ever happens.* (That last one may have an effect on the second-to-last...)

So that should explain why after several banana bread fiascoes (all different recipes), I thought tonight's endeavor would surely succeed. I fully anticipated two plump, mouthwateringly moist loaves of bread emerging from my oven.

How disappointed I was.

"Moist" is an understatement; the interior was entirely gooey and the whole thing was utterly inedible. (We tried to choke it down; I hate to waste.)

I think the culprit of our baked goods woes is the questionable age of our leavening agent. Anything in my kitchen marked with an H was donated by a generous roommate many months prior to my marriage. In a moment of unusual culinary insight, I considered that perhaps baking powder loses potency over time.

Indeed. With a recommended shelf life of just 6 months, I don't think my "Best by May 2005" Clabber Girl can bubble up quite the way she used to. (This is my totally inexperienced hypothesis.)

Tonight's treats were donated to the birds who frequent a neighboring field:

Baking powder is on the grocery list, so hopefully next time my bread is worthy of being delivered to the human neighbors.

*After years of various face washes and prescriptions (including two rounds of Acutane) and a cruel cycle of being acne free for periods barely not long enough to let old scars heal, I finally seem to be making some headway -- and just by changing my pillowcase every night. That's right. It's been that simple and that cheap. I'm hoping it's a permanent improvement -- hope springs eternal, after all.
(Of course, just about the time my skin started clearing up I developed this strange eczema around my eyelids. So now instead of looking like a pimply teenager I look like I've contracted the bubonic plague. So much for my aspirations at cosmetics modeling.)

After many commenters have pointed out the age of their baking powder, I'm worried that I can't blame these cooking catastrophes on an old ingredient, but that the fault lies elsewhere (like with my incompetence.) Any help from my expert bakers? Charly?? Jan???


Janssen said...

Makes me wonder how old MY baking powder is.

Lindsay said...

As a fellow acutane survivor, I wish you continued success in a battle that those with flawless skin will never truly understand.

Oh, and I highly recommend banana chocolate chip muffins. They are ugly, but they taste oh-so-good. I bet even 5 year old Clabbergirl couldn't mess them up.

Anonymous said...

Hah! First thing I did was scroll through the images before reading and I was like, "HEY! That's MY Baking Powder!"

Glad it make that fantastic bird food. And that you still have expired pieces of me still around.

Nicole said...

You're funny. I have been using my baking powder for many many years, but maybe I should get a new one (I don't bake with it very often).

That's crazy that acutane didn't work. That's potent stuff. I would have been so angry to go through all that torture to have it come back anyway. Good for you for being an optimist!

Anonymous said...

Dude! Eczema around the eyelids! Totally Me Jan-May 2008! I'd really recommend going to a doctor on that one. I suffered and suffered and lotioned and lotioned but it didn't help at all until I got "the goods"--steroid cream stuff.

Stiff have to use it sometimes, but it works.

Anonymous said...

Ahem...I must still be thinking about my "expired pieces of me" comment.

I meant still not stiff.

Katie said...

I hate it when you think you've done everything right and the baking gem you were hoping for turns out so sad. It is especially horrible when you are making a birthday cake (texas sheet cake) for a party you have to attend in less than one hour and you pull it out of the oven only to discover that NO ONE should eat the horrible mess you made... one hour later, and $30 poorer, you show up to the birthday party realizing that you didn't check to make sure the store-purchased cake was peanut-free so your friend's daughter doesn't die.

Luckily, it was peanut-free, my friend's little girl didn't die and I have NEVER attempted Texas Sheet Cake again.

Sometimes baking is just too much fun.

Melanie said...

How funny, I just got done reading about how baking powder does age and will stop doing what it should. Check more details here (my old roommate's blog):

I wonder also if you over-mixed the bread batter. Quick breads should only be mixed until just barely moistened, but no more. And, also, maybe try one bread pan for that recipe instead of 2. There are a variety of bread pan sizes, so even if it says "2 pans" they may mean one of the smaller 3 x 8 sizes rather than the 3 1/2 x 9 (or whatever they are).

AND, in the months following the birth of Winston, I also got some super dry skin around my eyes. I had to put moisturizer on a few times a day. And then I switched my makeup to mineral and haven't had a problem since (it took a few days at least to moisten up before the mineral makeup really made a difference). My doc says with all the fluids changing in your body after pregnancy and nursing, things like that are not uncommon (should we be surprised? EVERYTHING seems to change due to pregnancy).

Good luck with the banana bread. Let me know if you want me to send a recipe I use that works well each time I've done it.