Making Banana Bread and What I Learned From It
Homemade Banana Bread
Back when I had my first apartment after college, I was feeling homesick and hungry for some homemade banana bread. Banana bread was a special treat when I was growing up. The smell of banana bread is mouth wateringly aromatic. Mom didn’t make it often. It usually came when we didn’t eat bananas fast enough and the peels went dark brown and black and the insides soft. They weren’t good for eating raw, but old bananas were perfect for cooking with. When mom did bake banana bread, it disappeared within a day. Feeling the need for that kind of special comfort food, I headed to the kitchen and my mom’s recipe.
Banana Bread Recipe
This recipe is simple.
- 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/3 cup of melted butter
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift the dry ingredients together into one mixing bowl, Mix the wet ingredients in another larger bowl. Then, mix the dry ingredients into the wet a little at a time until you have a fluffy smooth batter. Pour the batter into an oiled and floured loaf pan and then bake for an hour or until lightly browned on top and the toothpick stick test came out clean.
Knowing What You Have or Don't
I had all the ingredients and laid them out on the counter. I turned on the oven and then . . . suddenly realized I didn’t own any mixing bowls.
I had moved into the apartment just a week before. I hadn’t been cooking much yet. My breakfasts usually involved cereal and work lunches consisted of a sandwich and a can of soup. I had bought some dishes and a frying pan when getting my first things for the apartment to go with the sauce pan I bought to cook soup in when I was in college. Most of my left over start-up money after various deposits went toward all the spices and pantry foods that were listed in my cookbook for setting up a kitchen and basic things needed in the refrigerator. Unfortunately for me, things like mixing bowls hadn’t been on my cookbook list. Why had I not thought of this, I wondered as I looked at the kitchen counter? Well, because mom always had them on hand and so did the lady I used to rent from while in college. The girl I shared an apartment with for a while also had everything. Feeling a little sheepish, I put the butter and eggs back in the refrigerator, turned off the oven and left everything else out to walk to the closest strip mall to buy an inexpensive set of mixing bowls.
No, I didn’t own a car at the time. My car had had a terminal accident, which is why I had moved to be near my job. My parent’s home had been two hours away from town. The insurance settlement had been too small to afford another car, so I bought a bike, and laid out the expenses for this first solo home.
Doing a bit of comparative shopping between the drug store and the grocery store, I bought the bowls at the drug store. While there, I picked up a few other things, like measuring spoons and cups and a few other odds and ends I realized while walking the isle that I didn’t own either. The trip to and from took about an hour.
Second Time's the Charm, Right?
When I returned, I turned the oven back on, used the two largest bowls to put the ingredients together, measuring them with my new kitchen additions and then looked for . . . and realized I didn’t own a mixer.
Yeah, no mixer. Oh, who needs a mixer, right? I’m young. I’m a strong girl.
I started mixing the dry ingredients into the large bowl by hand and half way through the job I realized that electric mixers are really good things to have because my arm was wearing out fast trying power through the heavy thick batter I was progressively building up. I put the bowl of half-finished batter into the refrigerator, turned off the stove again and headed back to the store; this time on the bike for speed, which had to be carried down and back up the stairs.
A half hour later, I was back with a nice General Electric hand mixer. I put the beaters on and got out my bowl and finished mixing up the batter. It was so much easier now. I had a fluffy bowl of smooth batter in no time. I then . . . wanted to cry. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t own any loaf pans.
Recipie for Epiphany
I just stood there at the counter looking at my finished batter and contemplated pouring it into my soup pan, but knew it was too small for the job. It also had a plastic handle, which I didn’t trust to survive an hour in a hot oven. This simple baking exercise had passed just being frustrating. It had become truly ludicrous. I was looking at yet another trip to the store after spending almost $30.00 dollars already just to make a batch of banana bread.
What else didn’t I have yet?
I then considered my mom’s kitchen and all the pots, pans and electric appliances for cooking things like breads, cakes and pies. She had several sizes of everything and some duplicates. All of it, I knew had been collected over years of marriage.
Later that night, as I ate my first slice of banana bread, five hours and three trips to the store later; I began to appreciate my parents and all they had done to build a home for me and my sisters. There was so much I had taken for granted, not just the pots and pans. I was just starting out and had so much yet to do. Some things you never understand until it’s your turn.
© 2015 Sherry Thornburg