Monday, September 22, 2008
Banana Bread

When I first began my fascinating endeavour into all things cooking and baking-really only a few months or so ago-my mind was filled with big and ambitious desires and projects. It honestly still is. However, as of late, many factors are forcing me to humble my culinary aspirations. The first of which is finances, lately the two culprits of our rather high electrical bill have been our dryer and oven. There is also the matter of the rising price in our groceries, as my projects become more elaborate and the ingredients, consequently, more specialized. Therefore, per my mother's entreaties, I will be taking a turn into the more practical and less frivolous.

The second factor is my boyfriend, who will from now on be addressed in this blog as "Mr. Simple," a very appropriate pseudonym as you will gradually learn from my mentions of him. The concept of good food, in my mind, consists of dishes made from high quality ingredients, unique and intriguing combinations of flavor, presentation, an opportunity for artistic expression. These are the characteristics in my head when I first set out to hone my kitchen skills. Mr. Simple is quite the opposite. To him, practicality is everything, all that really matters is taste and portion. If it's a minuscule serving that won't fill him up, no matter how lovely the presentation or how decadent the ingredients or how laborious the cooking process, he will not hesitate to criticize it. I am very often teased for my "foodie behvior," my love for food that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but of the best quality, and the wide-eyed stares and giggles, the typical "kid-in-a-candy-shop" syndrome, that come over me when I enter a real life candy shop. I learned the hard way that any recipe with less ingredients and less steps will win his heart over more easily than a labour-intensive recipe. The faster the food gets to him the better.

These past few weeks have forced me to learn how to compromise. Any particularly extravagant or money-hungry recipes will only be tried if it is possible to scale them down or if there is a particular occassion that calls for such extravagance. And I can't say that I'm too particularly upset about this either. I do admit that the one thing that I lack most in life is practicality and having someone there to keep me in check-while still allowing me to dream-is just what I need.

In the past few months, food has definitely changed its role in my life. Thoughts of food, whether it be planning a recipe, images, inspirations, projects, have recently replaced my once very fashion-centered thinking. Notebooks that were once filled with doodles of the latest runway inspirations and lists of things to buy are now occupied by lists of recipes to try, supplies to purchase. Not that fashion is no longer prevalent in my life, I still find it a primary outlet of my expression. However, food just seems to be a more practical way to express myself aesthetically and creatively, and it definitely has more advantages. Cooking can not only be admired by others, but it can also be shared, a thing that one can't really say about fashion-a very self-gratifying interest.

This is the kind of mindset I have begun to instill myself with over the past few weeks. Not only as a means of comforting myself as I put many of my culinary "projects" on hold, but also as a transition into a different chapter of my life, a departure from the very egocentric teenager stage, when one improves themselves in order to satisfy their own desires. Now I'm beginning to improve myself in order to better serve others, my family, a serious boyfriend, and eventually a home of my own.

So, by my boyfriend's request...

Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.