This will be the first in a series of several posts--allowing you to flirt for a brief time with all of the recipes from the past couple of weeks. There have been lots of keepers, and I don't want to lose track of them. So...I'll do what I can to relive the experiences for you!
Maybe we should start with the baking, hmmm???
I haven't baked much in years, mostly just to avoid the calories. However, I seem to have an insatiable sweet tooth lately. So I've tried to bake a little here and there, just so there's something sweet to grab a bite of from time to time. (Of course, the fallback is Trader Joe's Pistachio White Chocolate cookies, or their Southern Pecan cookies. Yum.)
One of my quests for awhile has been to find the banana bread. I've had good banana breads--lots of them. But until now, I hadn't had the quintessential banana bread. I didn't want lime, I didn't want coconut, I didn't want fancy schmancy versions.
I wanted the banana bread that takes me back to my grandmother's kitchen, to standing beside her on the stool, helping her create love that she would share at the dinner table. My grandmother was, by no means, a fancy cook. She was a resourceful cook, one who lived through hard times, and could magically feed a family on absolutely nothing. Her magic wand was a wooden spoon, and her magic carriage a well-seasoned cast iron pan. I'm sure that some of the "magic" in her food came from its just-picked state, as a trip to the garden was always a precursor to dinner preparation.
But I digress. When I want sweet, I usually want comfort, and for me, that sends me looking for the kind of recipe my grandmother would have used. When it comes to banana bread, though, no one wants to leave well enough alone, it seems. They want to tart it up a bit instead. Or the recipes are too dry, too lifeless, and have barely a hint of banana flavor.
Well, I found my holy grail of banana bread, and it was in the Martha Stewart Bakind Handbook. The name is even simple: Banana Nut Bread. Admittedly, Martha's recipe called for coconut, but I disregarded that and doubled up on the pecans. And I ignored the whole "walnut" issue in the recipe, because that's just not the way my family rolls. And the result was everything I wanted. A delicious, moist bread with a barely-crisp crust where the banana flavor intensified, bursting onto the tongue with the first bite. Quick and easy, this kept well and is very much worth the little bit of effort it takes to make.