Jack Hazard awoke from his nap cheerful, refreshed and eager to stir. So I snapped him into his smock (which was once baby Mary Catherine's smock) and we assembled our ingredients.
I tend to double this recipe as my friends and their appetites always seem to multiply once word gets out. It takes kindly to doubling, as well as to variations. I like walnuts, and some people like chocolate. You can sneak ground flax, wheat bran, wheat germ or chia into the batter and no one will be the wiser. But for simplicity's sake, the basic recipe is as follows.
Lucy's Banana Bread
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
1 cup crushed banana
1 t nutmeg
1 1/2 cup flour
1 t baking soda dissolved in 1/4 c hot water
additional sugar/nutmeg for topping
Preheat your oven to 350° and butter your pans.
I tend to use mini loaf pans because they are easily given and easily frozen.
(note: I don't usually use a mixer unless I'm making meringues for the masses. But you absolutely can. And I absolutely won't judge you for it. Beating/kneading/whipping by hand is a poor mama's alternative to therapy. And it works wonders for my disposition.)
Cream the butter and sugar well, until the mixture is light, fluffy and the palest yellow. This is the step that will matter in the end. And when you think it's creamed, beat it for at least another minute. (I'm not kidding.) Add the egg and vanilla, mixing thoroughly. Stir in the mashed banana next, followed by the nutmeg. Mix in the flour, all of it, and stir until it's well-combined. Last, but by no means least, stir your piping hot soda water quickly into the batter. I do not know why this matters so much, but I promise it's the secret. Oh, and add chopped walnuts, or chocolate, if you wish. Not more than a cup or so. Turn into prepared pans, about three fourths full. Finally, stir together enough sugar and nutmeg to be sprinkled generously over the top of the batter.
Bake in preheated oven for forty minutes, give or take a few minutes.
Jack Hazard had called dibs on the bowl before I even realized he was old enough to do so.
Fair is fair. I'll just be washing the dishes. Sighing loudly.
When time is up, give them a peek. If they're a rich golden brown with a crackly sugar crust, they're ready. Let cool on a rack, until really, really cool.
Unless you're as impatient as we are. Besides, they taste best still warm, and dripping with melting local butter.
So. I still hate bananas. But exceptions can be made. Thank you, Lucy.
Did you know that I hate bananas? I really, really hate bananas. (Except when I was pregnant, but I also wanted to drink tomato/sauerkraut juice all the time, and stirred peanut butter into my decaf coffee. Which negates any legitimacy to the banana craving.) Alas, one of the woes of motherhood is that children loooooooove bananas. Even the children of mamas who hate them. Bananas.
So I buy an awful lot of bananas (fair trade/organic, of course.) So many that occasionally, Jack Hazard cannot keep up with the burgeoning fruit bowl. Thank heavens for banana bread. Lucy's banana bread. Her recipe is perfection. It's enough to convince this banana hater to fill her tiny kitchen with the stinking things until they're just overripe.
(Is there anything as cozy as a much loved/much used recipe book? That's mine. It's fourteen years old. My thirteen year old handwriting makes me want to hug a thirteen year old.)
Jack is still napping. Because he's almost three and naps constantly. (Not complaining.) But his kitchen stool, wooden spoon, smock and mama anxiously await. We'll post an update when we're done.
Last week I added a twenty-seventh year to my esteemed repertoire. To celebrate, I had a number of parties, dinners, brunches and a multitude of delicious things baked for me.
My friend Sarah's spectacular vegan apple cake, which appeared gloriously at dinner, round and browned and lovely.
As if that weren't enough, Beans and Barley must have known we were celebrating and offered an incredible tomato and herbed goat cheese galette as the evening's special. Happy birthday, indeed. Accompanied by crisp/creamy zucchini fritters with locally sourced produce from LotFotL Community Farm, it was the perfect meal to celebrate the end of a lovely summer, and the start of a new year.
The next night, Buster Kitten and I treated ourselves to a meal at Corazon, a tiny little sliver of Mexican heaven on our block in Riverwest. Perfection, as usual. Tostadas, tacos, beans and rice. We shared well with each other (the darling even offered me his last avocado) and cleaned our plates. The little dear makes for an excellent dinner companion. (Says his mama.)
Then, my own sweet mother hosted a dinner party that ended with two of my favorite things: a bottle of excellent champagne and these Lemon Meringue tarts. So pretty. Mamas are the best.
Perhaps a bit cramped, but we think it's cozy. Buster Kitten and I look forward to sharing our trials and triumphs at the dinner table as we try new things and adapt old favorites. Look for recipes, revisions, recommendations and reviews. Break bread with us. Or spill the milk. Dinner's at six.