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My road to becoming a foodie is not a direct one. Like lots of other kids, I’d bake cookies with my Mom, Jennie MIller, or watch her cook dinner but I don’t remember being all that involved; other than the usual tasks of setting and clearing the table. I didn’t cook much in my youth. But I do recall family dinners…almost every night. It was important to my Mom, I think, in part, because her father passed away when she was young, and her Italian mother worked hard to provide for her three girls. From what I am told, my Grandmother tried hard to have family dinners regularly. I do too. My Mom is a good cook, but she isn’t very creative. She enjoyed trying new recipes and did so often. I am the same way.
But beyond those wonderful memories, I fondly remember my Grandmother, Pompea Morana, making pasta from scratch and not with a pasta machine. By hand mixed and rolled and cut. She never wrote anything down, so I don’t have any of her recipes, and when she died, I was 12 and I had not learned anything from her. But, looking back, I did learn something – write down recipes that are important to you. Don’t wait to do it. I am making cookbooks and scrapbook cookbooks for my children. They love helping me make the recipes and then see them in their very own book.
When I married in my late 20’s, I had more of a desire to cook. I had cooked for myself and friends occasionally but not regularly for another person. So I devoured cookbooks. I read cooking magazines. These were the days before the internet and the Food Network. As the years passed, I became more confident and tried more difficult recipes. I am proud to say I am no longer afraid to make yeast bread. I have flambéed desserts and beef bourguignon. I have completely taught myself how to cook and bake. The most important thing I have learned is not to be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone. This confidence inspired me to use my English degree to write about my passion, food.
If I had to choose one recipe that sums up how I feel about food, it would be my Mom’s recipe for banana bread. This was one of my Dad’s favorite things, and whenever I make it, I am reminded of him and how much I miss him. It reminds me of him, of my childhood and extremely happy times. My oldest son loves this banana bread, so I make it with him often. This banana bread is comforting and moist. I serve it with salads; eat it as a snack or for breakfast. The recipe card I have is in my Mom’s handwriting, which I will always treasure.
My Dad’s Favorite Banana Bread
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 over-ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.
In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture alternately with mashed bananas until combined. Fold in pecans and raisins. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Enjoy warm on the best warming tray or at room temperature.
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