36 - Banana Bread

Banana bread is something I made for years and years and years. Sweet and rich, bursting with butter and sugar, with a dark healthy look (thanks to those very ripe bananas), is seemed like a perfect food. It was also incredibly economical. You turn bananas that look ready for the compost heap into a relatively healthy breakfast/snack food.

In the days of a full house, I bought lots of bananas. Sometimes they'd get eaten--sometimes they wouldn’t-- but no matter. There was always banana bread (and even simpler, smoothies with frozen bananas).

This is eminently easy. As a quick yeastless bread, it demands no kneading or rising.

The recipe I use comes from an autographed copy of James Beard’s 1973 classic, Beard on Bread. Pearl Bresev, the wife of my mother’s doctor in Jersey City had some connection with the book, and perhaps my mother went to a signing to get a copy inscribed with a most flamboyant flourish -Good Loaves for Naomie (sic)--James Beard

The publication date was 1973, so I imagine my mother must have gone to some sort of signing with Pearl Bresev, the good doctor's wife, who is one of eight people thanked in an acknowledgment. I remember my mother telling me about this connection--but have no idea of how she actually got the signed book.

Pages 170 and 171 are magnificently yellowed and speckled with mementos of many loaves.

Sift 2 Cups flour, with 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cream 1/2 cup butter and gradually add 1 cup granulated sugar. Mix well. Add 2 eggs and 1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (two or three). Combine 1/3 cup milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar--this will curdle the milk. Slowly and alternately fold in the flour mixture and milk mixture into the eggs and bananas, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Blend well after each addition. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and pour into a lavishly buttered 9x5x3 inch pan (classic loaf pan) and bake in a preheated 350 oven for 1 hour until the bread springs back when lightly touched in the center.

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