Thursday, August 5, 2010

Channelling my Inner Grannie: Banana Bread

My "Grannie", Freeda Graziano, with her oldest child and only son, my Uncle Rick, on our family's farm in North-central Maryland in the late 1940's.

Tonight, as my children slept soundly and Jeremy was still in the field, I baked banana bread to the crackling sounds of classic country music on a.m. radio, in my cozy home built around the same time as those wonderful old tunes were originally recorded. I reflected on a busy day of being a Mama to two little gals, delivering supper to the field, and riding a few rounds in the combine with my husband. It was the first day of wheat harvest and all our hopes for a bountiful harvest are so close to coming to fruition. Standing there at the kitchen counter, putting to use so many of the skills my Grannie taught me, I could really feel her presence. She's been gone now for almost 6 years, but she was a true country woman, one heck of a cook, and was one of my dearest friends. She left a lasting impression on me, which I hope I carry in my heart the rest of my life.

She was a witty and proud woman, who during her child-rearing years was the wife of a dairyman (my grandfather). She spoke up for what she believed in, but was also a good Samaritan, doing countless good deeds behind the scenes. I hope I can be half the lady she was.

This time spent alone in my sweet-smelling kitchen was a reminder that all the values that our farms were founded on still hold true today- a rock solid work ethic, stewardship of the land, animal husbandry, infallible optimism, and at the heart of it all, faith and family. Although the men are certainly working hard on our farm tonight, long after the sun has set and the evening crickets have begun to chirp, it is the women that have been, and always will be, the glue that holds a farming family together.

Oh, and so you can share some of our farm's goodness with your family- here is a delightful recipe for banana bread- the best I've found, with my own special touches. It will make two loaves of delicious bread- and you can thank my family later for the flour (from our wheat) and the butter (from the lovely four-legged ladies who will graze our land this fall).

6 ripe bananas

2/3 cup (10.5 tbsp) REAL melted butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons baking soda

pinch of salt

3 cups flour

1 cup Craisins (or just throw in the whole durn bag :)

1 cup chopped walnuts (if you're making this for the neighbor farmer, Ben Busch, leave those out)

No need for a mixer, just preheat the oven to 350 and with a wooden spoon, or one of those silicon spatula thingamabobs, mix the butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last and mix in the Craisins and walnuts. Pour the mixture into two generously buttered 4x8 inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack (I had to bend mine back to the correct shape, as my 1 year old likes to play with them). Remove from pan, slice and serve with a smile :)

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