So, by my current estimate, in the last week my family drove about 2,400 miles. Out to Chicago…and back. It was part two of the college trip saga that has taken up these last two school vacations. Last vacation was Wellesley, Brown, Columbia, Princeton, and Yale. This time was Oberlin, University of Chicago, and Williams. Add that to the trips we’ve taken here and there and we’ve seen a lot of colleges. Plus a whole lot more of highways, tollbooths, and, during this last trip, an excess of cows and farmland.
Truth be told this most recent trip was significantly more enjoyable that the one we took in February. Who would have guessed that it would be in the 70′s out in Ohio? Well, my mother did. She was set on us heading out West in April vs. in February. Something about appreciating her alma mater (Oberlin) in its best light.
Not only was the weather fantastic, but because we were only visiting a few places, we had more down time. This meant visiting with my mother’s good friends in Ohio, going to Niagra Falls, and stopping by the Chicago Conservatory.
To me though, the most interesting part of our vacation involved where we got to eat. The night we were in Chicago I found an ITALIAN RESTAURANT that has a gluten-free menu. And no, it’s not a “gluten-free menu” that has on it a slab of steak and some fruit. No no, it has eggplant parmigiana, pasta all a toscana, cannoli, tiramisu. Yes, this is the reason why cities are good. That and the fact that they have cheesecake factories (no, not The Cheesecake Factory, but factories you can get tours of people making cheesecake). If only we’d been there one more day. Anyhow, this restaurant was unbelievable. I mean, we haven’t eaten as a family at an Italian restaurant for probably 10 years. Here’s the menu.
The other notable restaurant was one we ate at while just outside Utica (my history with this city is a story for another day). We were looking for an Outback Steakhouse and had found one with the GPS while about 2 hours out. Upon arriving where it was supposed to be, we couldn’t find it. Fearing it had shut down, we quickly re-routed to another restaurant. The Indian restaurant we settled on had just opened, as stated on their sign outside. We weren’t exactly prepared for what we would meet within. Let’s just say, the waitress was crying, there was a lot of shouting, multiple order-mess ups, and a waiter who kept telling us to “hurry up” as he took our order. I think everyone there felt the same way we did–sorry for the waitress who had to deal with the overwrought management, sorry for the management for being so overwhelmed, and then, actually, almost ready to burst out laughing because the situation was so very bizarre as compared to any other encountered normally in a restaurant.
Anyways, we’re back now. What I really wanted to do upon returning home was to make a roasted rhubarb cake but I just didn’t get the time. Instead I made this cake. We had some bananas, it didn’t call for anything exotic, it worked. What was particularly nice about it was the presentation. It just looks pretty, so put together, and quite 50′s. Rare it is that I make something for the picture (well, if you don’t count the red velvet cheesecake brownies), so it’s nice once in a while.
Gluten-free Banana Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from this blog
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 scant cup sugar
1 ripe mashed banana (as to this, I think it might be better if it were more banana-y, thus either use a really ripe banana here, or adjust the recipe to fit in more bananas)
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup cornstarch or potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2-3 just ripe bananas, sliced to about 1/4 inch thick
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 by 8 inch square pan (mine was glass, so bear that in mind for baking times).
Melt butter with brown sugar, maple syrup and salt over medium heat. Stir over the heat for 3 minutes or until it boils.
Pour into the greased pan, and top mixture with sliced bananas in rows making sure to overlap them all slightly.
Whisk together flours, xantham gum, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. Mash banana with sour cream or yogurt.
Beat butter and sugar until creamy, then add eggs one at a time and beat until fully blended. Add vanilla.
Add banana mixture and flour mixture alternately until fully blended. Pour into the pan and smooth it over carefully so as not to mar the banana arrangement below.
Bake on the middle rack of the over for 35-45 minutes. Once out of the oven, let sit for 3 minutes and then invert onto serving dish. Best if served warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.