I made a firm commitment to myself.
Let's call it a "35th birthday resolution".
I will try to post something new at least once a week.
Between The Ultimate Gluten Free Cookie Book Bake and Photograph Challenge and my weekly (strike that - bi-weekly) participation to the French Fridays with Dorie online cooking community I will have plenty to keep me occupied.
Since I will be spending a lot more time in this small corner of the blogosphere I decided to take a long, hard look at my blog. My shabby looking Box of Stolen Socks is in desperate need of a "beautifying" intervention.
But I live in a foreign country were people speak a beautiful language which I have yet to master. Five and a half years in Croatia and I can only manage to greet people good morning, say thank you and basically trick everyone into thinking that I can speak their tongue. I am able to understand about 1/5 of what they say to me provided that they speak slowly and don't use very extravagant words.
To my defence it is a hard language to learn. At least that's what all my Croatian friends are telling me to make me feel better, I guess.
My rudimentary knowledge of the language is enough to see me through my daily shopping trips to the market, but for more adventurous endeavours like let's say finding a web designer and working together to create a new look for my Box or even help me move to a self hosting WordPress platform (oh the dream!!!) feels like deciding to climb mount Olympus in my flip flops.
That's why I decided to spare myself the anxiety and the cost of lingual and cultural misunderstandings and wait until we move back to Athens, in the summer, where I would be able to have equally frustrating misunderstandings with my web designer there. Hey! at least they will be in Greek and I will be able to understand what they are calling me behind my back and cordially reciprocate :)
I had given up on the whole beautifying intervention idea and then last week I came across a blog called Something Swanky and a very helpful tutorial about how to create your own blog header using PicMonkey.
I did not need a lot of persuasion and after a few minutes .... voilà.... I uploaded my very own, custom made header. It is nothing fancy. Very minimalist and clean but I now know how to adjust and redesign it if I need to. Next stop background!!!!
Now you are right to ask me what do bananas and blog headers have in common? Nothing really. I just though of sharing with you my experience with making something for the first time. And I am sure many of you will find this tutorial quite useful.
So designing my blog header was not the only thing I did for the first time these past few days. 2014 started with a string of firsts for me. On day 1 I decided to make a desert that I have never ever thought I will ever make at home.
Deep Fried Bananas.
Deep fried like the ones you have at a Chinese restaurant and say to yourself that this is an indulgence you are only allowed to have once a year!
Not only did I made them at home, I also made caramel for the first time in my life. It was scary. I was whisking the sugar and the water for more than 10 minutes and then suddenly it started to take colour and I had to act quickly and get it out of the fire before it turned black. I regret to say that I was not so quick enough and I might have burned it a bit --actually a lot-- But ultimately it was a very rewarding experience!
I don't care how cheesie it sound but yes the first time is always difficult. Chances are that you are not going to get everything right and you are going to mess up a bit more but what I learned from my brief encounter with hot sugary water is that if you decide to move past your fear of disappointment and self pity and try again you are going to make it better and better every time you try. My Caramel Bananas are the most delicious proof of that.
Have you done anything new and for the first time in these first 20 days of 2014?
I really don't have to say much about this recipe. Sweet, soft bananas, deep fried in light - did I mention gluten free?? batter and then coated with hot, crispy caramel! Sinful but I could eat this everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The original recipe calls for a flour mix made with potato starch, brown rice flour and xanthan gum. I could not find potato starch in my local healthy food store so I used a commercial universal gluten free flour. I have used it before and I was quite happy with its performance.
Deep Fried Caramel Bananas
Adapted from "Seriously Good Gluten Free Baking" by Phil Vickery
100 gr gluten free flour - I used this brand
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder - make sure it is gluten free!!! It should say on the packaging!!
300 ml vegetable oil, for frying
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
200 gr sugar
In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and gradually stir in 150 ml of cold water until you have a thick, smooth paste. It should be thick enough to be able to coat the bananas so it is better to add the water little by little, stir, see the consistency and add as much as you need.
In a medium but deep saucepan, heat the oil until it is very hot - Phil Vickery in his book suggests that "the oil is hot enough when a cube of bread sizzles and turns golden in a few seconds" -
Slice the bananas into 4 pieces each and dip them into the batter. Carefully put one or two into the hot oil and deep fry them for about 1 1/2 minutes until they turn golden. Turn them with a clean spoon so that they fry uniformly.
Pull them out using a slotted spoon and let them drain of any excess oil on kitchen paper. Deep fry all the bananas is batches of 2 or 3 and then prepare for the caramel.
In a small heavy based saucepan, put the sugar an 4 tablespoons of cold water. Stir gently over low heat until all the sugar crystals are dissolved. This might take some time! It is very important not to stop stirring until all the sugar is dissolved!!! Then stop stirring and let it bubble until it turns into a dark golden colour. Then remove from the heat.
Pick up the bananas with two wooden toothpicks or longer skewers and gently roll them into the hot caramel sauce. Transfer them onto a sheet of baking paper set over a wire rack, sprinkle them with sesame seeds and leave them for a few minutes until the caramel hardens. Serve them with ice cream !
I am sharing this recipe at