Somehow this house has become a banana graveyard. “Somehow” meaning I definitely think “Oh, I like bananas!” and buy a bunch EVERY time I go to the store. Regardless. There are a lot of aged once-yellow fruits slouching around on all the counters. So I did what any sensible person would do. Made muffins! I’ve been in a muffin mood lately. Actually. always.

Muffins rock. Not the mammoth ones encrusted with strudel at coffee stands though, those are just an affront to the real muffin community. The fat-laden Costco ones aren’t legit either, though they are so horrifically, diabetes-inducingly good. Real muffins are sweet but not very. Just sweet enough to be satisfy the morning sugar need. Don’t act like you don’t want at least a little sugar hit in the AM, you dedicated muesli eaters out there (You know who you are.) So this perfect muffin is just sweet enough, and a dense little baked good. Far denser than say, cake. Closer to banana bread, but not quite there in terms of densitometry (HA, wow, that is a real word. Probably not often used in terms of muffins.) And a little bit of fruit to justify it as a balanced breakfast is always a big plus. And today’s batch was just hitting it out of the park on all these fronts. Kinda followed these dudes recipe, but I’ve become extremely… flexible with my recipes. (Read: sloppy.) Did a little more banana than they said, used 1/2 brown sugar (as always), vanilla soy milk, and a big handful of oats. And… darest I reveal my new favorite thing? My super secret trick of the week? I’ve been putting pumpkin pie spice in everything. (Pancakes, applesauce, etc.) It is dang good. Why not really? Makes everything just a tiny bit nuttier, spicier, better. In sum: gooooood muffins. Plus the first sunshine in weeks, my friend SD and I sat on the deck and ate muffins and it was lovely. (Notice lake in the background? Lake, blueberry banana oatmeal muffins, sunshine, jealous homies?)

Moving on. Stew. So, in my mind there’s this SOUP–STEW spectrum, based on water content. This stew was kind of like how you imagine a F1 speedometer… way off the one end flickering around in some unidentified badland. It was really, really thick. I don’t know why. Yes I do. I didn’t follow a recipe and I don’t know how to make stew. Whatever, it was good. I gawked a bunch of stew recipes, gleaned what I thought was STEW 101 and forged onward. Big ol’ mama pot, cook some bacon, take it out, cook some meats, take it out. Caramelize onions in bacony goodness, add carrots celery garlic rosemary thyme. Pour in a bunch of red wine and beef stock. Cook it for a while. Put in some potatoes. Realize you have a pot of beef-flavored vegetables. Frantically add more liquid. Too liquidy. Google “thicken stew.” Mash up a bunch of flour and butter, drop it in. Stew thickens. Goodness ensues. It was real tasty an’ all… I just don’t know where all that liquid up an’ ran off to.

Yes, I take pictures of everything on the deck.