Monday, December 13, 2010

Walnut-Strawberry Quick Bread

Before I moved out to the east coast I was living in Broomfield, Colorado. If you have ever been to this area of the country then you are familiar with its beautiful year-round weather, fantastic views and plethora of health-conscious people. Colorado is consistently ranked as the fittest state in the country, with one of the lowest obesity rates. The first two qualities of Colorado help influence the third. When the weather is nice and there is a mountainous playground at your front door, you tend to enjoy your exercise so much more.

While I spent the majority of my time in Colorado working in the lab, I did take some time to enjoy the sights. I would pack myself a nice slice of banana bread and head out into the wilderness. Just me and my water bottle, against all of the elements of nature, I would set out into the Rocky Mountains. By reading the signs at the entry to the park you expect to be attacked by at least three woodland creatures before you leave.

According to the signs you must… 1. Not go into the areas marked with specific signs because they are raptor nesting areas. Now, I don’t know about you, but personally I don’t think we should be promoting raptor procreation. Didn’t the people of Colorado ever see Jurassic park? 2. If you see a cougar, you should yell at it. I think that having a nice conversation with the cougar would suffice, but apparently this will not keep it from mauling me. 3. Beware of bears. There wasn’t much more helpful information beyond that.

Luckily for me I made it out of the wilderness without getting mauled by raptors, cougars, bears or any other mysterious animals. The Rocky Mountains are full of crazy animals, many of which I was not warned about on the signs. What if I came upon a tap-dancing squirrel or a monkey with a tambourine? Other than thinking that the local circus lost a train car, I would have no idea what to do. I guess I would just have to offer them some of my bread.

Walnut-Strawberry Quick Bread

½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp lemon zest
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ¼ cup mashed strawberries
½ cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together walnuts, flours, sugar, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In a large bowl, combine lemon zest, eggs, strawberries and vegetable oil. Pour dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined. Batter will be lumpy. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for 55-60 minutes. (A toothpick inserted into the center of the bread should come out clean) Remove bread from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from the pan and allow to cool completely, about an hour. While still slightly warm, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight. This will develop the flavors more and make for easier slicing.

Remember, if all else fails, fight back!
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