“Where is the photo of the banana bread?”, you might ask. And who is this person in the photo? (Photo was taken by my cousin).
I told you in my recent “a happy place” post that my father gave me an envelope with letters from my childhood years. I read them but will need to re-read them and do a more thorough research. One important thing that I did learn and never knew about before (or maybe it is stored somewhere in the back drawers of my memory) was that my grandma Sarah raised me when I was a little girl. I asked around a bit, trying to learn more. Some say I was living with her for a few months, some say it was for a few years, since the day my father left.
Sadly, the way things turned out, I could not see her much the following years. When I think about it now, it makes me want to cry. I really need to find out more about what happened then. When I grew up, I went back to her and visited her from time to time. I guess my childhood brain had a special place for her that drew me back to her.
She has been living in the same old house for the past 60 years, if not longer. I have some memories of being fascinated by the garden surrounding her house, which seemed so big when I was a little girl, but is really small when I think about it now. Just a narrow strip of land surrounding it. It had herbs, flowers and fruit trees, lemon, clementines, mango. I remember being addicted to mango. I loved it so much. I still do. My kids have inherited my enthusiasm for mangos too. It makes me very happy. And I know, they are definitely mine!
No matter what day I go to her house, the door is always open. I find her sitting in her little kitchen smoking a cigarette. She’s more than 80 years old and still smoking! But her home has the smells of food that has been absorbed in its walls. All those years of living there, cooking for family, friends, neighbors, guests. There is always the smell of food in the kitchen even if she hasn’t cooked at all that day. It smells like home. And food. I’d like to give that to my children. A home they can always go back to, where the door is always open, where they are always loved and accepted, where there is a smell of warmth and food and something delicious to eat.
I’m pretty sure that she had never baked a banana bread her whole life. Her style of cooking is totally different. I don’t have any recipes from her, but I will create and share with you one that reflects her cooking style and food soon.
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For now, I would like to share this recipe for banana bread that I made with my son over the weekend.
He brought home a cooking booklet the PTSA of his school has put together and wanted to make banana bread. I admit I was skeptic about the recipe and did not expect much. I have plenty of fancy cookbooks and was still looking for the best banana bread recipe. This one was a big surprise. It’s THAT good.
I don’t know the origins for it, but the booklet says the recipe was contributed by Jesse and Aaron. I made a few changes. Of course. Mainly, I like the nuts to be on top and not mixed into the batter. This way they are crunchy and taste a lot better. I also substituted butter for shortening (I never use shortening. Always butter).
Now I noticed that I placed the bread on a plate my grandma gave me. I guess it was meant to be…
Banana nut bread
Using 8-1/2 * 4-1/2 inch (21*11 cm) loaf pan.
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 stick (115 grams) butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
3 small (about 1 cup) bananas*, mashed
1/2 cup chocolate chips – optional
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease loaf pan with butter (place parchment paper on the bottom of the pan – optional).
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides. Add the eggs and milk, and beat until smooth. Scrape the sides again. On low speed, add the flour mixture and bananas alternately, beating until smooth.
Fold in the chocolate chips, if using. Pour the batter into the greased pan. Scatter the nuts on top.
Bake for 1 hour or until done. (Start checking after 45 minutes. I think I baked it for 45 minutes.) Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and remove to a platter to cool completely, that is if you can resist not eating it right away…
* Note: I like to use bananas that are still pretty fresh and not too brown. I don’t like the flavor of old bananas. This is why this bread tasted the best the same day it was baked. It’s good the following days too, but then it gets the taste of older bananas. Some people like that. I don’t. Also, my favorite recipes don’t use any brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg or any other spices, but it you like those, go ahead and add them.