I came home with a ginormous bag of bananas from Costco last week and this is what I ended up with: banana bread. Sometimes buying in bulk is necessary. I usually scoff at the purchase of a trunk load of bananas--a buck forty or not, and think, When will we ever eat all of those? Instead, I'll usually bring home a maximum of four bananas a week from the "regular" store because I like to have a half banana before bed (sometimes DH does, too)--and that about does it for us for a week's supply. Well, I had six bananas left in my bag still--and the "spotting" had started. I really wasn't in the mood to bake at all. (Yes, I have non-baking moments.) And yet. The bananas. They mocked me. I hate waste. I could have frozen them for smoothies, I realize. But I've not been in the smoothie mood. So this. So. Glad. I. Baked. Jump to the recipe here.
If you have bananas that are just shy of going to mush, that's my favorite stage for baking banana bread--speckled, but not too much. I like to have chunks of banana in my bread, so I don't go for the mashing to the extreme. Instead, just a light mash. And because making banana bread only requires two bowls and basically your own imagination and a spoon--there's no reason to not make some tonight! You can take it a million different ways, I've made this bread to accompany my morning cereal. I have to have a bread with breakfast. I needed a change from my English Muffins and got busy mashing my nearly overly ripe bananas. This version is a no-nut version. It has plenty of chocolate chips and flax and I added some espresso powder to really give it an added punch in flavor and in mood lifting properties!
The best baking pan of all for banana bread: Pyrex glass loaf pan.
My latest issue of Vogue Knitting magazine came in a few weeks back. And as usual, I peruse it, then place it in the pile of other Vogue Knitting magazines I've accumulated through the years. I will admit, I subscribe to Vogue Knitting only because I feel the periodical keeps my thumb on the pulse point of fashion. "Fashionista" I am not--okay, maybe a little. As someone who once spent a significant amount of her time in The Biz, I feel adequately "kept in the fashion know" by reading VK. So this cute little spread they had in this issue on "cardis" caught my eye. In fact, I was fairly impressed with the actual "real person can wear this" wardrobe items. I kept thinking about knitting this, finally broke down and went into the yarn stash. (*Not that I needed another project on the needles right now!)
I showed DH the Eyelet Raglan Cardigan and said, "Isn't this darling, I'm going to knit myself one of these!" To which he replied, "Where's the rest of the sweater?!"
I had some leftover Martha Stewart yarn from Joann's I bought on sale last year (even better because I didn't have to make a run to the LYS!), and thought the blue/teal would make a very nice fall wardrobe piece, plus complement my new gray hair. It's got just enough detail to keep me interested: two cables down the front and one in the back that knits up with a border that widens as you knit toward the bottom which, cleverly, gives the piece a little bit of a swing feel. So cute. It's knitting up quickly, too. Even better-er.
About the hair. Well, after a year of hemming an hawing and on-again, off-again with the-gray-the-blonde-the-gray, I finally did it. It went like this. I have a friend who is a stylist. I called her and said, I'm ready to see what my real hair color is! 'kay? She was thrilled to help. We had a sort of "good-bye blonde" dinner over the matter. I've talked about doing this for three years now. I was skittish. But I definitely could see my graying temples creeping further and further into the picture with every touch-up.
There are women who'd be fine never seeing their actual hair color again--count blondes among the majority here. But quite honestly, I hadn't seen my real hair color in over twenty-five years! That's a long time to not know what exactly you might have going on up top there. I was a tow head blonde. I've managed to retain my blonde all this time quite well with a little help from L'oreal. (Dang it, now the secret's out.)
I didn't even look in the mirror while she cut. I just sat and watched the blonde falling on the cape and thought, well, I'm two minutes away from a store--I can just run in and change it all back, no prob-lem-o. But that wasn't the point. Can I accept myself for who I am? That's the point.
Here's how I feel today. It's been a week. A week in which I've worn a hat out every time I've left the house. It's been. . . an adjustment. But I figure I can handle the transition as easily as I've handled everything else I've had to deal with regarding my face. (The dog bite scar, for one.) Now I need to give my hair time to grow--at least a month or so. Because we had to go short. I can't say I am all "Whoo-hoo, let's hear it for gray hair!" I'm coming around. For sure, this isn't for everyone. But it was time for me to take a step back and give a look-see. The easy part about this is I'm one color box away from stepping back into the way it was. Meantime I keep peeking into blogs and articles about "Going Gray" and getting stronger every day. Many women before me have done this--with happiness and confidence galore. My mother had lovely gray hair framing her face in exactly the same spots where I now see my hair graying. Maybe in a way this is my tribute to her. God knows I've suffered enough with the blonde mistakes (orange hair, anyone?). This is nice. It's just taking some getting used to is all.
Here's the recipe for the amazing bread. This ingredient list looks long, but really, it comes together in a jif once you get going. Only need to mix the dry ingredients, then the wet, then combine the two with a spoon (no blender needed), bake and eat!
Vegan Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Espresso
*Makes one 9 x 5" loaf
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon espresson powder or instant coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups banana, mashed--but leave some chunks (I used three large bananas)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons Earth Balance Butter, melted
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 5" loaf pan and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, add all dry ingredients (from flour through salt) and sift together, then add the chocolate chips, tossing well to incorporate. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add the bananas and remaining wet ingredients, mixing well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet--stirring with a spoon just until most of the dry ingredients have been mixed in (it's okay to have a bit of the dry ingredients remain dry--you don't want to over mix the batter!). Pour into your loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes--until the crust has a nice golden color and the middle is baked through. Use a knife inserted in the middle of the loaf toward the end of baking to ensure the middle has baked through. This bread takes a while to bake through! Remove from oven and allow loaf to cool in pan for ten minutes. Then carefully remove from pan and place on a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Wrap in foil and store in the fridge for up to four or five days. Yum!