now let me welcome everybody to the wild wild west

So, the novelty of a Monday at home is less novelty-ish when I’m coughing like a beast. Typing is a nice distraction from my chapped throat, but I’d sooner just get better. I’ve been downing tea made from lemon and ginger slices, crunching on vitamin C and echinacea, and sippin’ on gees linctus and juice. I’d had plenty of gees linctus when I was younger, but it turns out these days you have to state your intentions and hand over photo ID to get it, and it no longer comes in a pretty flask with a fancy label, but instead a tiny prescription bottle with one of those child-proof lids that are really difficult to remove.

I also have a whole mess of lozenges which are pretty good for noise control when I start coughing heaps. They were definitely useful at Tim’s graduation on Thursday. There were about forty thousand people (well, it felt like at least that many) getting graduated that night and I’m pretty sure not one of them wanted some lady spluttering during their moment of glory. In case you’re wondering, Tim was graduating with Honours in Media Studies which makes him super-qualified to do all sort of interesting things that no-one out there seems to need people to do right now, but fingers crossed that market opens up soon…Either way I’m pretty proud.
Tim’s family came down to be there for the graduation as well and his mum gifted us some bananas. There’s nothing I like more than a little unpremeditated push towards baking. Muffins felt a too obvious, but I couldn’t be bothered with anything too high-concept either. What a quandary. Then I remembered this eye-catchingly named recipe that I found while hopping from blog to blog like a frog on a lily-pad. It’s called Ponderosa Cake. According to the friendly person whose blog I found it on, the cake is named after some regional pine trees. Secretly I hope it was so named because someone wanted to immortalise their passion for Bonanza in baked form.
Ponderosa Cake
Recipe inspired by a recipe found on Chocolate & Chakra. I say inspired because I completely mucked things up as I went along – didn’t have enough butter, added 2 eggs by mistake instead of one, forgot the yoghurt till it was about to go in the oven – so the end result was almost a completely different cake…
100g soft butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2-3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda
1/2 cup plain yoghurt or sour cream

125g good chocolate, chopped roughly
1 -2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
Set your oven to 180 C/350 F and line a square or rectangular cake tin with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar together till fluffy, then beat in the eggs. Add the bananas, then fold in the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Finally mix in the yoghurt, plus half the chopped chocolate and cinnamon. Spread it into the cake tin, then sprinkle over the rest of the chocolate and cinnamon, plus the brown sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
I’d rather have a thousand coughs than a blocked nose and lose my sense of taste, because Ponderosa Cake is incredibly good. It’s very light and tender and keeps well. The blast of heat in the oven caramelises the spiced, sugary chocolate topping slightly, providing depth of flavour and a pleasing gritty crunch to the moist, banana-y base. Happily, it used some of the treats I picked up at the recent food show – like The Collective yoghurt and Whittakers chocolate. Despite the fact that I somehow managed to get things wrong every step of the way, this is really a very straightforward cake. It’s ideal for those times where you want something a little out of the ordinary but not so far out of the ordinary that you’re up at 6am measuring the temperature and viscosity of sugar syrups.
I’m not sure if Hoss and Little Joe ever bonded over banana cake, but it’s a nice thought, right? I understand when my mum and her brothers and sisters were growing up, Bonanza was appointment viewing on TV… You know you want to hear that theme song again!

Title via: 2Pac featuring Dr Dre, California Love. I know, it’s one state over from the Ponderosa. There couldn’t be a more obvious song that springs to mind for the sadly late Tupac Shakur, but no matter how often it’s thrashed it’s still a goodie, and one of those songs I knew all the words to (except for an embarrassingly long time I thought it was “city of corn chips” instead of “Compton”, what can I say, there was no Google back then.)

Music lately:

The Music and the Mirror from A Chorus Line. This song is actually mostly dancing but the singing that’s there is so gorgeous – the line “I’ll do you proud” slays me a bit. It’s a song about a woman who needs a job, so she’s auditioning for the chorus even though she is good enough to be a star. Well, it seems a bit more dramatic when set to music anyway, and the original Donna McKechnie is pretty incomparable but there’s plenty of fun to be found on youtube of that amazing dance in the red skirt. If you’ve only seen the film version of A Chorus Line, they cut this song – criminal!
The Ali and Toumani album, a recently-released collaboration between the late Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate. It’s…an absolute beauty.

Next time: well, hopefully I my immune system and I become friends again. I’m down in Christchurch on Friday for Chartfest then Dunedin on Saturday for Smokefreerockquest so I can’t afford to be this germtastic.

10 thoughts on “now let me welcome everybody to the wild wild west

  1. Hannah says:

    Teehee! I had never heard of gees linctus, so googled it to discover that it's pretty much opium. You naughty lady you!

    And tell Tim I know how he feels. Sociology Honours graduates don't seem in high deman either, even with university medals around their necks… I foresee his time coming before mine.

    And now, for the most important person in this equation: I hope you feel better soon! Coughs are mighty unpleasant but you're right, it's far better than losing your sense of taste. Ponderosa cake for the win!


  2. Ino says:

    Hmm, I happen to have all the ingredients. How awesome. This has made me want to run home and make it, and I think I probably will.
    I hope you feel better soon, put some honey in your lemon and ginger hot drink (and some rum won't hurt either :))


  3. Nigel Olsen says:

    Add Social Anthropology graduate to the list! I ended up in social work, horticulture (for almost a decade) & now chefing! Your young man will do just fine – given the media-conscious age we find ourselves in, it's just a question of time before he's snapped up.

    As for the Ponderosa cake, I might just give it a whirl this weekend. By the way, if lemon & honey/mega-dosing on vitamin C/echinacea/a poultice/leeches don't work controlling your cold, I suggest relocating to somewhere in the Pacific until spring. Tim could do media work for the Fijian government! Thank me later 🙂


  4. Kay says:

    Had some of your Ponderosa cake for morning tea today – cleverly made by godmother-Viv when she should have, perhaps, been studying for her impending Spanish exam.

    “Cooking-as-Procrastination 101” Now there's a course that would never be short of students.

    Aaaah, Bonanza …. I still have the LP “Christmas on the Ponderosa” which was bewilderingly short of Little Joe. Loved that programme.

    The Ponderosa cake was very nice by the way – and a lovely surprise of cinnamon on top too.


  5. HayleyB says:

    Congrats to Tim!

    Sorry to hear you're sick. I find bouts of coughing to be very exhausting. I hope you get better soon!!

    I had never heard of gees linctus either, thanks to Hannah, now I know 🙂 No wonder it makes you feel better!

    The cake sounds very interesting. I want to make it just because of the name! We had a family friend whose house was called “Ponderosa” so it has special meaning to me!

    I want to take that class your mum talked about!! It certainly wouldn't be short of students, ever!


  6. Stel says:

    this cake looks good!! and oooh your in town tomorrow. Def head to the farmers market in the morning. Hope you get better soon! I have that stupid cold that is going around too.


  7. Foodycat says:

    Who is that girlfriend of little Joe's? I bet she bakes cake. Although probably not with bananas, probably just molasses and ginger or something worthy.

    Congratulations to Tim!


  8. Madz says:

    Ponderosa Cakes sound soo yum! Might have to try your recipe out sometime soon… would be a good gimmick for my aunty and uncle as that's the name of their fish and chip shop 🙂


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