I've always been a huge fan of banana bread... not the overly-moist, overly-sweet, overly-chemical tasting varieties from the supermarket - but the wholesome, home-made loaves with crunchy walnut pieces and wonderful flavours of difference spices.
This is my Banana Bread Recipe... tried and tested, the basics taken from a true Southern cooking book and adjusted and tweaked until it was juuuuust right :-) Enjoy!
This is a moist, buttery banana bread loaded with loads of banana flavour.
Regular oven: 1 hour 45 min.
Fan assisted oven: 1 hour 15min.
Makes 2 loafs or 1 loaf & 12 muffins.
> 1 cup soft / half-melted butter
> 1 3/4 cups caster sugar (or 1 1/2 cups brown sugar)
> 4 eggs
> 1/4 teaspoon salt
> 2 teaspoons baking soda
> 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
> 400g all purpose flour
> Centre of 2 fresh vanilla pods
> 6 large bananas, very ripe, mashed
> 1 cup chopped walnuts (1/2 cup finely chopped, 1/2 cup roughly chopped).
1 cup = 230g.
325F = 170C.
> Preheat the oven to 170C.
> Mix butter and sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
> Peel the bananas and mash them (a potato masher works best)
> Add centres of vanilla pods, cinammon and salt to the mix.
> Sift flour and baking soda; add to creamed mixture 2 spoons at a time.
--> TIP: If the dough becomes to thick to mix before you've added all the flour, add some moisture by stirring-in a few spoons full of the mashed bananas at this point.
> Stir in remaining bananas and the chopped nuts.
Pour banana nut bread batter into 2 well-greased loaf pans; bake at 170C for about 1 hour 15 min (fan assisted) or 1 hour 45min (non fan-assisted), or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Some people like to add sugar icing on the cake once it's done, but I prefer to taste the banana flavour and not just sugar, so best to leave it rustic and plain as it is :-)
--> Click on Photo to see Step-by-Step Guide in Pictures!
In some areas of Georgia, the soil is a strikingly red colored clay. This red hued dirt is caused mainly by the presence of iron oxides in the soil. They say red clay is found in soils that are in very wet environments and are well drained, so many of the other minerals leach out of the rocks, leaving mainly iron oxides.
Georgia's red clay has inspired the lyrics to many songs including Donald Lee Burns' "Ain't No Red Clay in Georgia," John Anderson's "Red Georgia Clay," and Sweet Honey in the Rock's "Georgia Red Clay."
Pecans, or pee cans, if you are from Georgia, are a Georgia tradition. Georgia produces more pee cans than any other state in the US, and it has led the states in pee can production since the 1800s. But for some reason, pecans are the state nut of Alabama, pecan pie is part of the state meal of Oklahoma, and pecans are the official "state health nut" of Texas. Unfortunately for the pee can, in Georgia it is overshadowed by cotton, peaches, and peanuts (or p'nuts in the local dialect). It is understandable that pee cans are not the state food or state crop, but shouldn't they at least be the state tree? Nope, that is the live oak, which is found all over the south, mainly in coastal areas from Texas to Virginia.
Did you know that pee cans are the only tree nut native to the United States?
Honestly, I haven't figured all of these out yet, but I'm going to try and outline some of the ones I know.
- There is no reasonable restriction on the amount of alcohol that beer can have. It exists, but it's something like 14%.
- No alcohol is sold on Sundays except at bars, which can open as early as noon.
- Breweries are prohibited from selling alcohol, although you can drink on the premises. If you go to Terrapin (in Athens) or Sweetwater (in Atlanta), you are actually paying for a "tour" and they are, in theory, giving away the beer. However, you will find no beer in their gift shops.
- Brewpubs that brew their own beer and also sell it are prohibited from filling "growlers" (half gallon jugs) to be taken home. Like breweries, they also cannot sell kegs. Strangely though, most brewpubs in Georgia sell growler bottles.
- There are a number of beer-oriented liquor stores that have popped up though that do fill growlers. However, just like at any liquor store, you cannot consume beer there.
- Many cities in Georgia prohibit "happy hour" or "2-for-1" specials where alcohol is sold at a discounted price. In other cities (like Athens), it's prohibited only after a certain time, usually 9pm or 11pm.
- There is no statewide open container law, although so many counties and cities have one that, realistically, Savannah is the only city where you can get a "to go cup" at a bar.
Atlanta employs a group of 'Ambassadors' who circulate around downtown and Midtown to offer directions, suggestions on restaurants, hotels, tourist sights, etc. They can be recognized by their blue and red uniforms with white pith helmets. There is also a stationary kiosk at the corner of Peachtree St and Andrew Young International Blvd, at the Peachtree Center.
Not to be outdone by the famous festivities in New York's Times Square, since 1989 Atlanta has hosted the annual New Year's Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta. The peach is 8' tall and 8' wide and weighs over 800 pounds.The event has grown to be the largest New Year's Eve celebration in the Southeast and is televised nationally. Each year different nationally known singing artists perform leading up to the Drop at midnight.
One advantage it has over New York is that the weather tends to be quite a bit milder here.
Broad Street is near Five Points and is just 3 blocks long. Two of them are full of restaurants supplying food to local office workers and Georgia University students. In the warm weather, particularly on Fridays the street is closed to cars and gets filled with tables when a local radio station hosts live music.
Since there is a lot of competition prices remain reasonable.
Among the different cuisines offered are: Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Turkish, Pizza, Burritos, American sandwich shop, and several chains like Taco Bell, etc.
This could easily be placed in the 'Off the Beaten Path' section since it takes place in the tiny, rural town of Gay, Georgia, about 50 miles S. of Atlanta
It is held two weekends a year, the first weekend of May and October. Admission is $5 adults, $3 children 4-12.
This arts and crafts fair highlights rural Southern living at the turn of the last century.
There are stands selling antiques, all kinds of handicrafts, a variety of food. Local groups ranging from grade-schoolers up to the 'Sassy Seniors' provide entertainment dancing and singing. It's a very enjoyable way to spend a whole day.
Once a year, usually in late January, the Georgia Dome in downtown hosts the Honda Battle of the Bands. Close to a dozen marching bands from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) from all over the South put on a show of their intricate and lively marching routines.
Seats are $10.
Each year in Atlanta the SE Flower Show is held and always at a good time. When the winter blues and blahs are at their peak you can go and see lovely blooming things and the work of numerous landscapers. It is a lovely event ant the amount of landscape and hardscape materials brought into the hall is staggering. There are all kinds of blooming plants, full grown trees and shrubs, stone walkways, fences, garden sheds and of course fountains or ponds in almost every display. There are also lectures by experts, displays of plants and arrangements by individuals and lots of shops for all kinds of garden stuff and plants. It is held at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta. Admission is a bit steep at $18 per person.
We were particularly interested in the show in 2006 and 2007 as one of the up and coming landscapers in the area, Matt Klyn, is a friend of the family and has done the landscape at the front of our house. In 2006 his garden won Best in Show and this year he won 3 nice awards as well. He was a little disappointed not to win Best in Show again but was very gracious concerning the creativity and work that the winner had put into his entry. Matt's garden this year was inspired by a vacation in the Virgin Islands and featured a French Polynesian garden which you can see in some of the photos.
Walking around downtown Atlanta you will see many of these local street vendor trying to many a buck. Check them ut good and do compare prices because they do vary, but you can find good bargins from these local vendors. You can fine any thing you are looking for, CD's, purses, sunglasses and so much more.
People all across America make fun of the Southern accent. It's funny, but in movies famous actors and actresses are all trying to get it right. Perhaps no one better does the Southern drall than Reese Witherspoon or Renee Zellweger. But, hey, they're from the South. How about Nicole Kidman in "Cold Mountain"? I heard she spent many nights listening to tracks of a Charleston accent - while she slept - so she could get it right. Don't know much about Charleston, but she hit the accent alright.
When you come to the South, don't make fun of the way we talk. It's hot most of the year and slow speech is a natural byproduct of that. I hear that "y'all" might even be in the new Websters soon. Here's a sample of southern speech, because you'll get a "down home reception" if you try it out on the locals.
y'all - perhaps the most famous word from the South. It means "you all". Everybody uses it.
fixin' - well, this means "about to ...". For example, "I'm fixin' to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken to get me a bucket o' chicken legs."
ain't - means "(to be) not". For example, "I ain't doing nothing that you ain't already done yourself." Huh? I don't understand either, but I know I've heard this spoken a time or two.
For more info on the "Georgia dialect" and samples of speech, see the website.
I'm not sure if it's a local favorite but I needs to be. Zoo Atlanta hosted a Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. The Winner went on to Coney Island for the Finals on July 4th. It's a tradition that's been going on since 1916 at Coney Island and now Atlanta has gotten into the contest!
Hosted at Zoo Atlanta (which has a Nathan's Famous on site) the contest consisted of 15 contestants putting down as many hot dogs as they can in 12 minutes. Disqualification for uhh.. Leaving the Table.
It's pure American fun. It's Ridicuous, amazing, and all around exciting. I found myself laughing at some of the faces and cheering on the leaders. It is the essence of the old ABC Sports Slogan "The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat" although I think even the winner suffers more than a little agony!
They host a number of these around the country. It's now on my list to see the finals at Coney Island.
Oyster Fest is a weekend festival held in February in the Buckhead District. It is basically a large block party where beer and alcohol are more popular than oysters. Live music plays and the street, restaurants and bars are jam packed. The festival draws a large crowd and runs from early afternoon until the evening on both Saturday and Sunday. The party continues in the neighborhood bars until closing time.
There are many local festivals and parades during the year such as King Week, where martin luther King Jr's life and work is commemorated culminating on his birthday, 15 january. The other big occasion in the Atlanta calendar is the Antebellum Jubilee where the cities Dixie past is celebrated.
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