It’s Jen again…As I mentioned in my last post, working in the restaurant industry came out of necessity, as Sarah and I both worked hard to pay our own ways through college. Hard work is one trait that was pounded into both of us at a young age, so it was only appropriate that we were expected to achieve and do it on our own. Looking back, it was a valuable life lesson; however, it would have been nice to graduate with less debt and more lobster dinners under our belts 😉 She is a great friend! Here is a picture of us at Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar in Healdsburg last month…
The lesson surrounding hard work was instilled in me by my grandparents, Dick and Caroline, at a very young age. My grandfather taught me the value of a dollar and the impact a good salesperson could have on the economy. My grandmother was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother who spent most of the day working in the kitchen to prepare meals for the family. EVERYTHING was made from scratch. Both of my grandparents had an amazing passion for good food and would have been classified as HCFs (“Hard Core Foodies”, introduced in last week’s entry). Caroline spent her time cooking and baking while Dick tended to the garden or visited the best Italian markets he could find in his spare time. He would frequent those markets until he…well, that’s something I will have to save for a future entry. More to follow about Dick in future posts entitled “Dishin’ with Dick.”
My grandmother always made fresh breads, pies, candy and strudels in honor of our bi-weekly (or so) visits. One thing my grandmother taught me is that food should not be wasted. There is a use for EVERYTHING. And…it never hurts to have some good old-fashioned banana bread on hand for that unexpected visitor. My grandparents always had a bowl of walnuts on their coffee table with beautiful silver nutcrackers. They would snack on them and offer them to guests like candy. I tried them early and realized they were not for me. To this day, they are the only mainstream nuts that I do not care for, so you will not see walnuts in my banana bread recipe…but suit yourself. If walnuts is what gets you going in the morning, then knock yourself out! You won’t find a bowl of them on my table.
Here are some important things to understand about banana bread. Rule #1…ripe bananas are a great natural source of sugar, so max out your banana usage and cut back on the granulated kind. Rule #2…no foods (including breads) were meant to be overcooked, so…”when in doubt, pull it out” of the oven. Rule #3…Cover up your baked goods after they have cooled…no one wants to eat food that has been lying out on the counter for any period of time.
Let’s kickoff “Cookin’ with Caroline” by sharing my family recipe for Simple Banana Bread. I use the least amount of sugar I can and also add some whole wheat flour. This allows the bread to be much healthier than most without tasting healthy at all. It is rare that I like things that “taste healthy.” Let’s get real folks, who does?
Recipe for Simple Banana Bread:
4 RIPE bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup wheat flour (suitable for baking)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large mixing bowl, mix butter into the mashed bananas with a wooden spoon. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and stir. Add both of the flours last, mix. Pour into a buttered 4×8” loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes. Cool for five minutes. Run a knife along the edges and remove from pan. Slice to serve. Enjoy!