Computers and the ensuing internet have been life-changing for humanity.
People have found long-lost relatives, collaborated on medical breakthroughs, raised money for worthy charities, and had 1,500 ladybugs and uranium ore delivered to their front door in 24 hours.
But there is a dark side, too.
Cyber-bullying, a whole new way for the nefarious to cheat people, and the rise of the Kardashians.
Closer to home, the world wide web has completely and totally demolished the idea that I am, in any way, an original thinker.
Every once in awhile I think I’ve had a world-shattering idea that’ll change the very fabric of civilization. I have learned to check online before I call a press conference.
Because, inevitably, not only am I not the first person to think up this great idea, folks have known about it since Moses was in kindergarten.
I gotta say, it’s pretty darn humbling.
Right now, computers are making life more bearable.
I still don’t Facebook or tweet or insta, but I do read lots of food and cooking websites. And during this pandemic-imposed sequestration, there seem to be two kitchen projects that are happening in many, many homes all over the country.
The first is people are cultivating sourdough starter and baking bread. Which makes sense, because folks have time on their hands and getting those hands on fresh bread has become more problematic every day.
And not many things make one feel more like a culinary goddess than baking bread with the wild yeast that you have grown out of literally, thin air.
I began growing sourdough when The Kid was in high school. Each week I would make a loaf of pumpernickel so our little scholar could take a chicken sandwich on pump every day for lunch.
But bread baking can be an uncertain thing. Yeast is alive and can be cranky and temperamental. As much as it can make you feel god-like, it can turn around and make you feel an abject failure. But once it gets inside you, you’re lost.
Once you go bread, you’ll bake ‘til you’re dead.
The other thing folks are making right now is banana bread. It’s still bread, but much easier, takes almost no time, and the stakes are lower. Plus it uses up wonky bananas.
I adapted this recipe years ago from a Betty Crocker cookbook. It was one of the first baking projects that I really nailed. For a super indulgent treat, schmear slices with butter and toast them in a 300° for about 20 minutes. It’s like quick bread candy.
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Country Banana Bread
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups mashed overripe bananas (3-4 medium)
1/3 cup water
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
12-15 gratings of fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup chopped, toasted pecans
Heat oven to 350°. Grease bottom only of loaf pan (8 ½ X 4 ½ X 2 ½ or 9 X 5 X 3).
Sift together dry ingredients. Set aside.
Mix butter and sugar until it’s lighter in color and fluffy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time and beat until they’re completely mixed in. Add bananas and water, beat 30 seconds more.
Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed in. If you still have streaks, that’s okay. Do not overmix, or you’ll get a tough, rubbery product.
Stir in nuts until barely distributed.
Pour into pan. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, but moist (55-75 minutes). Set on cooling rack for five minutes in pan, then de-pan and let cool completely on rack.