Saturday, February 25, 2017

Monkey Bar Memories

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 along 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 Abby Lab snoopervized kitchen this afternoon.  I just combined elements of  a brownie and snack cake recipe using bananas  I found on-line, then added a couple Johnson kitchen touches. When I brought the wooden spoon with a bit of the glaze to my husband, he tasted it, smiled and said, "you're evil" ( and he hasn't seen me with a waxed 20-foot slide).

It 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

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 the 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. Those Monkey Bars look SO good!!! I'd love one right now with a hot cup of coffee!
    I swear, my parents would be arrested for half (or more) of the stuff they let my brother, sister, and I do as kids!

  2. Survival of the fittest back in the day for sure:) Now we practically bubble wrap kids!
    Drooling over another awesome looking snack.

  3. Ahhhhh, holding down the seesaw, leaving the other kid off the ground....then getting off and watch them crash. Those were the days. SHE spent her childhood damming a polluted creek--probably why SHE's so healthy now.

  4. Great post, great title. I just put bananas on the grocery list and can't wait to try the recipe. Thanks!!

  5. And isn't it odd that today we keep hearing over and over about all the broken arms from falling off the monkey bars? You brought back a lot of really good memories for the Momster today:)

    Now she is dreaming about one of those yummy bars with a cup of hot tea.

    Woos - Lightning and Misty

  6. Oh my goodness - those bars sound heavenly. And mom remembers the blisters on her palms from the monkey bars
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  7. Abby, your mom is making us want to eat the
    computer screen right now.


  8. OMD, it is SO gross to watch Ma drool!!!!! yuck! And, yes, Ma wonders all the time how we ever made it through childhood alive! ☺
    Ruby ♥

  9. Oh my lord. Those are making me so hungry. As for the playground equipment, I remember all that stuff, especially the slide and wax paper. The merry-go-round was actually the safest thing out there - the swings were at least ten feet tall too and you could really get going on them. Every kid's dream was to get enough centrifugal force to go all the way around the top bar :D


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