Sunday, November 23, 2008

Great Thanksgiving Recipe

If you are like me, the three days prior to Thanksgiving will be spent planning the menu, looking for recipes, the old favorites as well as interesting new ones, shopping for ingredients, and cooking and baking. All for one day, but so worth it, especially if we get to spend it with the important people in our life. I hope however you choose to spend Thanksgiving, it is filled with peace and joy.

This recipe for Banana Nut Bread is from my book, Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket. It has also been a Thanksgiving Day staple in our family for more than 75 years. If you like your bread sweet and moist, you will probably agree this really is the best.

Best Ever Banana Nut Bread

3/4 cup butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and sour cream, mixing well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add this mix to creamed mixture alternately with the bananas. Stir in vanilla and nuts.
3. Pour into greased and floured 9x5-inch loaf pan.
4. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and bread breaks away slightly from the edge of pan. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes; remove from pan and finish cooling on rack.
5. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Special Activities at Well-known Destinations

From time to time, I like to check the websites of some of the destinations in my book, Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket to see what may be new and exciting.

At Hammonasset Beach State Park (Madison) two cabins are being built for the "State's first foray into Cabin Camping." This is good news for folks who have never camped and want to get a feel for the camping environment before buying equipment, or for those who may have retired their tents or campers but still remember the joys of camping at the beach.

There was a recent newspaper article about the number of people who have been visiting Hammonasset during some of the warm days in October and early November. I agree that the beach is a great off-season destination, to walk along the water's edge, sit on the sand wrapped in blankets with your face up to the sun, or hike one of the nature trails.

If you visit, be sure to stop in at Meigs Point Nature Center where you will find the usual reptiles and amphibians, but also the most amazing history of Hammonasset, beginning with the Ice Age, about 10,500 B.C. For the rest of November, the nature center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10-5. From December through March, hours vary depending on school programs.

White Memorial Conservation Center (Litchfield) is the State's largest nature center and wildlife sanctuary. Because this park is a four-season destination, it appeals to hikers, bikers, birders, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers. Inside the Museum, nature's bounty is clearly evident through the use of photographic murals, animal mounts and interactive exhibits.

Check the website for hours and the many Special Activities listed for November and December, such as an Autumn Bird Walk, and Wreath Making Using Natural Materials, both free.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket, by Jan Mann