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Going bananas. September 30, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. At Hawk’s Haven, we tend to think of bananas as a cold-weather fruit. During warm weather, we bypass bananas in favor of melons, berries, peaches, plums, cherries, and all the other joys of spring and summer. Then as summer turns to fall, our attention turns to grapes, pears, and early apples. Finally, when cold weather settles in around us, we once again look to bananas, oranges, grapefruit, and apples to carry us forward to another spring.

It’s been quite autumnal around here lately—nights in the 40s, trees and shrubs coloring up, field corn bleaching and screeching, fields of soybeans turning a rich, burnished gold. Our gardens are slowing to a crawl, except for the hot peppers, which are thriving, our volunteer ‘Butternut’ squash, still furiously producing squashes as though it were a zucchini, and, speaking of the devil, a golden zuke that’s somehow gotten a second wind. Not to mention a lush fall crop of arugula, our favorite green.

As you may have read in yesterday’s post, “One too many?”, I’ve been slowly gathering up Harvest Home decorations from our local farmers’ market to add to Hawk’s Haven’s annual harvest display, including pumpkins, mums, and colorful popcorn. Our friend Ben and I have been putting out more birdfeeders and getting more serious about keeping them all filled. Our goldfinches have lost their gold, our hummingbirds have left for parts unknown, and the chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, bluejays, and other winter visitors have begun to take up residence.

All of which is to clue you in as to why I literally went bananas last Friday at our farmers’ market. Our friend Ben and I miss bananas during the many months when we don’t buy them. We constantly discuss buying dwarf banana trees for the greenhouse so we can raise organic bananas ourselves. We love bananas.

So this past Friday, I was buying three festive clusters of colorful popcorn, two with rich garnet-red kernels and one with the most luminous orange-gold kernels, enlivened by the occasional ruby or amethyst kernel. Our friend Ben was standing by, grumbling (“I thought we were just going to buy one new addition to our harvest display each week.” “Corn is one thing.” “… !!!” ). I’d hauled my gleaming treasures over to the table where people were paying for their purchases, when my eye fell on a large rectangular cardboard box of bananas.

I’d never seen bananas displayed like this before. They were lying individually in neat rows, each banana perfectly shaped and perfectly gold. They were beautiful. But what really struck me was the sign on top of the box: “Bananas $3.50.” “Uh, do you mean this whole box is $3.50?!” I asked the woman behind the table. “Yes, it is.” OMG. Visions of banana bread, banana cream pie, and banana pudding flooded my susceptible brain. Bananas on our Shredded Wheat’n’Bran! Bananas on peanut butter sandwiches! Bananas on sundaes! Bananas in Indian food! “I’ll take them,” I said, trying to ignore poor Ben, whose eyes were starting out of his head. (Fortunately, he was so stupefied that he was, for once, speechless.) 

Ten minutes later, a highly indignant OFB heaved the banana box onto our kitchen counter. “Good grief, Silence! How much banana bread do you think you can make?!” We don’t have a freezer, so freezing batches of banana bread—or even pureeing and freezing the bananas themselves for later use—is out of the question. But I wasn’t about to let a little trifle like that stop me. “But, Ben, I was planning to make banana-bread loaves for all our neighbors,” I said airily. “And of course I have to make some for Richard [Saunders, our friend and fellow blog contributor] and his girlfriend, Bridget. Not to mention a couple of loaves to take to the Friday Night Supper Club. And we surely want at least two loaves ourselves! Hmmm, I wonder if I have enough bananas…”

Clutching his forehead and groaning dramatically, our friend Ben began to stagger from the room. Then he stopped. “Uh, when did you say you were planning to make some banana bread?”

Actually, I made the first three loaves last night, along with homemade pizza (the oven was already warm, after all) and some of the Shibaguyz’ OMG Peach Salsa. (You’ll find their recipe at their blog, Here We Go! Life with the Shibaguyz, http://shibaguyz.blogspot.com/. Don’t tell the guyz, but I’m fantasizing about spreading a layer of cream cheese on a warm slice of banana bread and topping it with some of their OMG Peach Salsa. Yum…. )  

I, ahem, noticed that about a third of one of the loaves had been neatly sliced off and had vanished by the time I got up this morning. I hadn’t realized until then that our golden retriever, Molly, was so adept with a knife. By an odd coincidence, all complaints about the banana box and its contents have mysteriously ceased. In fact, I saw that the loaf pans had been washed, dried, and set side by side on the counter, almost as if someone were hoping that another batch of banana bread would shortly appear in them.

Today, I hope to make a banana cream pie (see my earlier post, “White trash desserts: banana cream pie” for the recipe I plan to use) as well as more banana bread. I posted my banana bread recipe way back in early March, when I felt that a warm loaf of banana bread would provide much-needed relief from the cold weather. But rather than making you search back for it, I’ll give it to you again here. It’s so fast and easy to make, and it’s so luscious, warm with butter or apple butter for breakfast, with cheese and an apple for lunch… mmmmmm! Try it. Maybe you’ll go bananas, too!

           Silence’s Scrumptious Banana Bread

Cream until light 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter. (I use an electric mixer, the little hand-held kind, to make this.) Add 1/4 teaspoon salt if you’re using unsalted butter; otherwise, skip the salt. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla. Add one egg, beating until all is well blended. Peel a banana and break it into about 4-5 pieces, tossing them into the mixture. Using your electric mixer, blend until all the banana pieces have broken down and blended smoothly to make a creamy mix. Repeat with two more bananas. Remove the bowl from the mixer and get out a large wooden or bamboo spoon. Add 2 cups unbleached flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, stirring slowly to form a smooth batter. Once the flour is completely incorporated into the batter, add 1/2 cup (or a small package) pecan pieces, again stirring well to blend. Pour the batter into a greased 8 x 4″ loaf pan. You can press whole pecan halves into the top to make a decorative pattern if you like. Bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour, until a straw or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly, then run a knife around the sides and turn onto a plate to finish cooling. Once completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap.

Let me know how you like it!

          ‘Til next time,

                   Silence

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Comments»

1. Barbee' - September 30, 2008

Mmmm, you must have the most delicious smelling house in PA.!

I wish you could have smelled it last night, Barbee’, when those banana bread loaves came out of the oven. Mercy!

2. Cindy - September 30, 2008

I’ll have to try this recipe. My Mother in law is constantly bringing me a bunch of bananas for the baby who can eat maybe one by the time they are too ripe for anything other than bread. So a new recipe is very welcome.

It’s easy and luscious, Cindy! Enjoy it!!!

3. Cinj - October 3, 2008

I love baking banana bread, I usually make tons at a time and freeze it. Last time I had lots of extra bananas I also made some banana cake. Cheesehead was happy with it. Actually he came home the night after I made it asking for something to bring to a pot luck at work. It was a big hit. I guess one of the guys even told him it was the best he’d ever eaten. (Maybe he’s never eaten any before?) Instead of the frosting he wanted me to put on it I sprinkled cinnamon sugar over the top.

Yum, Cinj, banana cake!!! Banana cake and angel food cake are actually my two favorites, though admittedly, I do love the vanilla frosting on the banana cake. Ack—this is making me hungry! A local bakery here used to make banana cupcakes with vanilla filling. I guess it was lucky for my waistline when they stopped making those, but believe me, I still miss them!


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