In years past my granddaughter and I have spent time making salads, baking bread, and making cookies. But we had never made banana bread together. She and I had a free afternoon and I had bananas in the freezer just waiting to be transformed into bread that is great for breakfast (and other times as well!)
I reached for my mother’s “Joy of Cooking” recipe book, published probably in the 1940’s, and given to her, I suspect, as a wedding gift. Many recipe books have directions for how to make banana bread, but I really like how this one’s ingredients turn out. It must be the buttermilk.
As I opened to the page for banana bread, Nicole stared at the page and commented, “It looks like a lot of the ingredients fell onto the page!” We laughed, and I agreed that Florida Granny (her name for my parents were Florida Granny and Grampy) used this book many times. In fact, most of my memories were of baking banana bread with my dad. I suspect he had something to do with the “decorations” on the page too!
We got started and were soon assembling the ingredients, helping Nicole measure flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and butter. We paid extra attention to the teaspoon measures and practiced using fractions as we worked. Soon most of the needed items were collected. She cracked an egg into a separate bowl, I extracted a few stray egg shells, and on we went.
With each step, Nicole had questions. What joy to share simple kitchen knowledge with my growing grandgirl, now nine and soon approaching my own height. She wanted a turn with the nut chopper and took great delight in whacking away at the nuts to pulverize them before dumping them into bowl with everything else.
But the bananas were another issue entirely. She was willing, but not quite sure what to expect since the frozen, now thawed bananas were squishy, almost slimy in texture. But she soldiered on and got all the bananas into the bowl too.
Once everything was mixed and into the oven, she continued with questions. One question stopped me. “What will you do with this book when you don’t need it any more, Grandma?”
Ah, she is getting old enough to grasp that none of us lives forever, even if that’s not what she said. I admitted I hadn’t really thought about it. “Would you like it someday?” She nodded, and hugged me.
Passing on family stories happens in so many forms. Sometimes baking together and letting the conversation flow as our hands are busy is the most natural place to start. Making room for the next generation in our kitchens is a real gift–for the younger generation as well as those of us who have been around for awhile.
For those interested, here’s the recipe!
Banana Bread—older Joy of Cooking recipe
2 cups white or wheat flour
½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
Cream together ¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter, then add
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, then
add 2/3 cup mashed bananas
add 3 T. buttermilk (I use powered buttermilk and add the powder with three T of water)
Add ½ cup chopped walnuts, place in breadpan, bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then