>Banana bread.

>Had some time, and two overripe bananas, and decided to bake some banana bread.

Banana bread is hugely simple, but even when there are Night of the Living Dead gross bananas lying around in the kitchen I never managed to get myself organized enough to make something with them. (Except for milk shakes, which don’t count.)

My banana breads have always been dense, dark, and slightly damp. And oddly crumbly. People dutifully and kindly eat them, but I’ve never really been excited about banana bread because it just looks so unpleasant. I decided to toss this aside (new year, new attitude) and thumb through Mom’s cookbooks for inspiration.

In Mom’s collection there are cookbooks from my elementary school, our high schools, and my sister’s company. Some of the recipes are really ridiculous. For example, in my high school cookbook someone actually submitted a cookie recipe that was comprised of heating a softserve Chips Ahoy cookie in the microwave for 15 seconds!

The cookbook that my sister gave us has a variety of recipes from professionals from Hawaii to Kalamazoo and everywhere in between. Including a banana bread recipe that doesn’t require sour cream, which was good, because we don’t have any in the fridge and I wasn’t about to run out and buy some. One of the things that keeps me from actually cooking is that “I don’t have that one little thing. Screw this!”… thing. Because for me, the whole point of this exercise is using what you have on hand.

Anyway, I had some chocolate chips and a smattering of walnuts to add and away I went.

The batter was fantastic- the bananas were not so far gone, so the batter (and the finished product) was not overly sweet, and the aroma was far from cloying. It was subtle, which I like.

My Mom’s Sunbeam mixer has absolutely possitively had it. It now has only one speed- “turbo-fast-spit-bits-of-what’s-in-the-bowl all over Liz, the counter, and the floor”. Made the whole experience quite exciting, I tell you.

The interesting thing about this recipe is that it has you putting your loaf pan on top of a cookie sheet. “Hmmmm…” thought I. “Wonder what that will do?”

After baking for one hour I pulled the loaf out of the oven- it had risen a bit on top and was nicely browned. But, when I tested it with a straw, the inside was mush! I removed the cookie sheet, put the loaf back in, and set the timer for 10 more minutes and it came out perfectly- not too dry, baked evenly, quite delicious. It could be that the cookie sheet was meant to preheat in the oven. I don’t rightly know and the directions weren’t clear.

And you don’t have to take my word for it! Denise and Candice liked it as well. I took the bread to a party, and as I was 2 hours late (darn VA roads! darn VA drivers!) I got there after everyone was stuffed, singing karaoke and drinking. Denise and Candice consented to try my concoction. What sweeties!

Taryn Bailey’s Banana Bread recipe:

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
Nonstick spray for loaf pan (s)- 1 large or 2 small (I used olive oil PAM to coat the loaf pan. It didn’t affect the flavor in the slightest.)

Optional:
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semisweet chips (chopped if you like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, salt and soda in a smal bowl and set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter together in a large mixing bowl. Add bananas, eggs, vanilla and milk and beat until slightly lumpy.

Add the flour mixture slowly, then pour into greased (sprayed?) loaf pan.

Place pan on a cookie sheet in the oven and bake for one hour.

Check for doneness with a straw- if it’s clean, you’re good to go.

Immediately turn pan out onto rack to cool. When cool, serve or wrap in plastic or foil.

(Recipe from WLC’s 2005 Cookbook for Busy People to benefit the American Cancer Society.)

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