Google, Desperation, and in the End: Friends

17 Jan

Hey, gals!  I write to you this morning from a mansion on a golf course, where I am dog/house-sitting.  Have you ever tried to cook in someone else’s kitchen—like, without the homeowner there to direct you?  I mean if these people own a measuring spoon, it’d be a newsflash to me!

I am fairly new to the food blog world…I certainly have never written for one—until now!  As a newbie I often lose track of great recipes I find on blogs, because I fail to bookmark or otherwise record them.  This was the case a few months ago, when I stumbled upon the best banana bread recipe I’ve ever tried.  I made the recipe twice, before completely losing track of the blog.  No combination of words in the search bar could reconnect me with this recipe—until yesterday.

Perfect vehicle for butter!

In preparation for this post I decided to make a quick bread, since my plans for the weekend involved cooking all day at my mom’s house for last night’s engagement party (mine, thank you very much!).  I was still pining for this elusive recipe, and so I gave it one more try: “oatmeal banana bread”… “banana bread + oatmeal + yogurt”… “banana bread + yogurt + blog + walnuts + oatmeal”… “banana bread + please for the love of god I have to have this recipe”…nothing.  And then I thought of what I remembered most about the post that contained the recipe: grandchildren.  This turned out to be the magic search world, and blammo—the first search result was just the page I was looking for!

It turned out that the author’s grandchildren were the key to my quest to relive this delicious recipe.  You see, she only makes banana bread after the grandchildren have come to visit—because they always have leftover bananas.  The meaning of this was far from lost on me, as I shared this loaf with family and friends: they are my raison d’être in the kitchen!  As I wrapped dozens of shrimp in prosciutto for the engagement party with my mom and her oldest friend Sharon, we ate the bread straight from the loaf pan, smothered in butter—as is the case with most things in my family’s kitchen.  I took the opportunity to make an unstructured interview out of our conversation, and they took turns sharing memories of their short-lived catering business in the early 80s.  They were the local go-to source in those days for organic and/or vegetarian catering, and served the likes of Chic Corea and Emmylou Harris before giving up the business from lack of desire to sacrifice their sanity to it.

Now they are my local go-to source for advice and support on all things food-related or not.  Having people like this my life with whom food feels like a building block in the foundation of our relationship is like biting into a piece of well-cooked pork belly: decadent and humbling.  Biting into this banana bread is a slightly different experience, but hopefully you can elevate it by sharing it with someone you care about:

Besties Banana Bread*

Adapted from dyln: the blog by Donalyn Ketchum

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8×5 bread pan.

Mix together:

1 cup of old fashioned oats slightly ground in a food processor (you can substitute quick oats or quinoa flakes**)

1 cup all purpose flour (you can replace up to 1/3 cup with whole wheat flour)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped (toasted, if you like)

The usual suspects.

In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, mix together:

1/2 cup yogurt

1 egg

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons honey

Chop – don’t mash – two ripe bananas, and add to the dry ingredients.  Pour the other wet ingredients in next.  Mix gently, until combined. Don’t over-mix!  Spread evenly in the already greased bread pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Gawd, I heart Le Creuset against stainless steel...

* “Besties” is a term I learned from my hairdresser—it is apparently the new “BFF”.  Maybe I am behind the times; maybe you will enjoy this addition to your vocabulary.  Either way, this bread is totes my bestie.

**Quinoa flakes are great, if you can figure out what to do with them (it is simply quinoa that has been slightly ground, just like quick oats).  So, if you find yourself with a giant bag of them because you thought you were buying regular quinoa (er…yeah, I did that), here are a couple of suggestions: use them in place of bread crumbs when breading meat or fish, and in place of oatmeal in baking recipes (like this one).

[NOTE:  To live up to my reputation as local foods guru, a kind mention of locally-sourced ingredients used in this recipe:  I used eggs that came from a family friend in Kalona, Iowa; rolled oats from Paul’s Grains; orange blossom honey from Orlando, Florida (it was local when I bought it on my vacation there last month); and Soya Oil which was grown and processed here in Iowa.  I love this oil more than anything, but am sad to say that since buying my last 5-gallon drum they have gone out of business.  And finally, I should also mention that I could have used a wonderful local yogurt made by Kalona SuperNatural, where Sharon now works as head of sales—but I am just not that with-it this week.  (Next on my agenda: a long over due loaf of this delicious bread to my new-mommy friend, Caroline.  She, too, pined for this bread during her pregnancy, when all she could stomach otherwise was Jack’s frozen pizza and red Gatorade.  Psst–this bread is magic!)]

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5 Responses to “Google, Desperation, and in the End: Friends”

  1. Donalyn January 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    Thanks so much for the lovely mention. This is why we blog about food isn’t it? To share what it means as we share stuff we made with our family and friends. And now, I have to find some quinoa flakes so I can try them myself. 🙂

    • emmaduer January 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

      Wow! I feel like I just got a comment from a celebrity… Your blog is beautiful–keep up the good work!

  2. Liz January 19, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    Hello Dear Ones,

    Thanks, Emma, this was fun to read and lovely.

    Question: what kind of yogurt did you use? Plain? Non-fat? Low-fat? Whole milk? Vanilla? Fruit-at-the-bottom? Parfeit? (jkjkjk) So many options!

    • Emma January 19, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

      Good question, my dear! I used plain 2% yogurt, because that’s what I had on hand. I would avoid fruity yogurt, but vanilla might be good if you’re looking for more sweetness. Fat content would be an interesting experiment–I wonder if it would affect the texture? In general, the rule is more fat is better. Have you ever indulged in cream-top yogurt?? Heaven…

      • Bec January 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

        Liberte Mediterranean yogurt: It’s like eating ice cream, only with live active cultures and less sugar. Mmmmm.

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