I didn't do much of anything this past weekend, because I have a stomach bug that's been going around and spent most of the weekend desperately trying to keep soup down. I could have written about that, but the sentence I just finished is probably all you want to hear about that particular adventure, so let's talk about last weekend instead, ok?
I spent the entire weekend, except for an insane trip to Panera, eating banana bread that I baked myself from Mom's recipe. In sharing recipes, Mom has learned to anticipate the kind of questions that I will ask, and now provides things like exact measurements and descriptions of color and consistency. We've come a long way since the days when I sort of suspected her of Martha Stewart-esque culinary sabotage but never actually accused her of it. I've instead come to understand that she's made many of these things so many times that she doesn't actually look at a recipe anymore, so when she tries to write it out for me something's bound to get left out, and when she says "add water until it's the right consistency" she knows what the right consistency is, while I think, "Syrup? Soup? Pudding? Concrete?" and wander horribly astray.
Like I said, we've gotten better at this whole thing, and I am now capable of following a Mom recipe from start to finish with some degree of success.
Mom's Banana Bread
1 cup very ripe bananas (mashed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (NOT baking powder)
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1) Preheat the oven to 350 F. I did not take a picture of this step. If you don't know what an oven looks like or how to preheat it, you should stop trying to make Mom's banana bread right now and just go buy some.
2) Mise en place: This part is implied in the ingredient list, not written in the actual recipe. I turned the oven on, got out all of the ingredients and the things that I would need to measure them, then got to work on mashing the bananas. 1 cup of mashed ripe bananas works out to be about two really, really ripe bananas:
When you mash them, the consistency of the pulp is almost like pudding:
After the bananas I decided that even though the bag said that the walnut pieces were chopped that they were still too big and I wanted them smaller, so I measured them out and then chopped them up even smaller:
Mise en place ready, I moved on.
3) Butter sides and bottom of loaf pan. Lightly dust with flour, shaking out excess. OK, I've never buttered a pan before. I was unsure of how to do this, and thought about just spraying it, but the recipe said butter so I ended up unwrapping a stick of butter and coloring in the inside of the pan like I was using a crayon. After that I floured and shook out the excess over the sink:
4) Mix sugar, oil, and egg until creamy and light yellow in color. I know that Ina Garten always says to break eggs into a seperate bowl in case you get a bad egg, but I never seem to get bad eggs so I always ignore this, and since I use a lot of eggs on a regular basis I always crack them right into my bowl because I'm so good at it and I never make mistakes and what does a professional chef know that I don't know and... and...
God damn it. There are eggshell pieces in my egg. Like any trained, highly professional chef would, I fished out the eggshell pieces one at a time with tweezers and then continued with step four.
5) Blend in bananas, add nuts, and stir.
6) Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Break up lumps and stir until smooth and all flour is mixed in well. See? This is what I meant about Mom getting better at offering descriptions. Up in step four she added a color, and now she's made sure I understand that it should be smooth and free of lumps. Thanks, Mom.
7) Spoon into loaf pan. I cheated on this step by mixing the batter in a bowl with a spout and handle. When it was all mixed up, all I had to do was pour and then scrape down the sides:
This looks exactly like it looked when I was little and Mom made this. What's odd is that I'm pretty sure I didn't like banana bread when I was little, but I love bananas now.
8) Bake one hour or until top springs back and toothpick comes out clean. It should look like this:
9) Cool 15 minutes on rack, then dump loaf out of pan to continue cooling on rack. I don't have a rack, so I cooled it on top of the stove on a burner, which probably will not work if you have a glass-topped stove. Also, before dumping it out of the pan, I ran a knife all the way around the inside, just in case it was sticking a little.
Did I mention that it's delicious?
I ate it for breakfast and lunch all last weekend, and as dessert after dinner.