Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Range Remembrance and Recipe - Monkey Bars

A playground in Montana. A time long ago. I'm the little redheaded girl that looks as if she's ready to give someone a little help down the slide. We used to polish them well  with waxed paper to get even more speed out of them. (hehehe.)

Big Bro was going to go swing like a monkey from the monkey bars.  He was safe. . . for now.

Have you noticed that some the playground equipment has been seriously lawyered up since you and I were kids?

The slides are now about four feet tall and have bumpers and areas of thick soft mulch to fall in (we had rocks). Monkey bars are getting harder and harder to find, and the ones out there aren't exactly high off the ground (oh no, I might fall 3 inches!)
What happened to that merry go round that was the childhood equivalent of a G Force accelerator. If you got going fast enough with a siblings help, hanging on by one hand, you could get up to about 2 g's. Or come flying off and break a tooth as I did and get banned from the playground for a few days. Then, there was the teeter totter (lever and fulcrum = initiate launch sequence!) Yes, we had discipline, the 9th and 10th amendment were alive in our parents hearts, but Mom and Dad let us get a few bumps and bruises alone the way, so we'd learn, not only our limits, but how to take care of ourselves. Mom also made sure, when we got home, there were homemade cookies or bars to munch on.

So with that memory I did a little creating in the Range kitchen this afternoon.  I just combined elements of a a brownie and snack cake recipe using bananas  I found on line, then added a couple Range touches. When I brought the wooden spoon with a bit of the glaze to Partner, he tasted it, smiled and said "you're evil" ( and he hasn't seen me with a waxed 20 foot slide).

It turned turned out better than I expected.  The sides and bottom were chewy, like a brownie, the interior was light and moist like a snack cake and the glaze made a sweet aromatic crunch to the top.  Add in the chunks of dark chocolate and the browned butter taste, it's going to be hard to keep your hands off of them.
Monkey Bars (c) Home on the Range

3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 very ripe bananas (skin starting to turn dark brown/black) sliced into chunks and then smashed
1/4 cup milk minus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 cup flour
1/2  tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
A generous (overflowing)1/4 tsp Penzeys Cake Spice (a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves, or use an equivalent measure of one or more of those spices)

40 grams of dark chocolate (use a thin bar, roughly the surface area of a CD), chopped
Brown Butter Glaze
1/4 cup butter (not margarine or spread, it WILL burn)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 Tablespoon plus 1/8 teaspoon milk

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease an 8 x  8pan

For the bars
If you've not worked with leftover bananas, over ripe is good.  The texture is soft and the fruit has a lot more oil in it giving it an intensity of flavor in baked goods you will NOT  get from a fresh banana.


In a coffee mug, combine milk and apple cider vinegar.  Stir well and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and cake spice.

In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the sugar and the egg, then add bananas, beating until combined (it won't be totally smooth).  Beat in the milk  mixture and vanilla on low speed, then slowly drizzle in butter while mixing on low.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients all at once and stir with a spoon until blended.  Then fold in the chocolate Spread the batter evenly into greased pan. Bake 22 to 26 minutes or until  edges are dark golden colored and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (center will  be light colored and appear soft)

Remove from heat and cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then make glaze.
For Glaze

In a medium saucepan, heat  the butter over medium/high heat until boiling, reduce heat to low and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter turns a darker golden brown color (like honey) and has a nutty aroma, moving it immediately from the heat. Depending on your stove,  that's just a couple of minutes after it comes to a boil).  Let it cool for a minute, then whisk in sugar, vanilla and milk, blending until creamy.  Spread on bars immediately, or it will start to crystallize up a bit.

Then retire to the shop with your stash to play with stuff  that's almost as fun as playground equipment.


  1. Partner is correct! That recipe looks way too tasty for my own good!

  2. And the swings! You forgot the swings!!! We used to launch ourselves out of them, and the winner got the longest landing without breaking anything... :-)

  3. You lost me at bananas. (I get it, the 'monkey' part in the bars.)
    Everything else looks yummy!
    (I just am not a big fan of cooked bananas - raw, they are fine.)


  4. At the schoolground across the street from our house there was a set of parallel bars similar to those in your first picture (among other pieces of dangerous schoolyard equipment). It sat parallel to a small hill. We used to ride our bikes as fast as possible under them, then reach up and grab the side rail and let the bike continue on riderless, to see how far they'd go without a passenger. Surprisingly far sometimes.

    And then there were the monkey bars, swingset and tall slide. All surrounded by lots and lots of gravel. And not round-rock gravel either. This was sharp stuff, between 3/8" and 1/2". We would swing as high as possible, then bail out at the front of the arc. Got some pretty good air.

    Of course, this was all when school wasn't in session. Weekends and such. The powers that be would have frowned on such shenanigans, methinks.


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