A Revisit – Grandma’s Banana Bread

Banana Bread

This week we bury our wonderful Grandmother. While we are stricken with grief, we are thankful for her long and meaningful life and grateful she did not suffer long. We thank the team at Hospice for helping the family through her last days and allowing her to pass peacefully in her home. I wrote this post when she started taking a turn for the worse and re posting it today in her memory.

 

She was a young lady growing up on a small farm in southwest Ohio and the boy courting her was making his way around the fields at midnight. Her siblings where trying to gather the loose horses just as they returned home from their first date. Two hours into the hunt they finally had them on the way back to the barn by rattling buckets of feed and leading the way.

 

They married at the small brick Baptist Church and started building a home on her parent’s land. A three bedroom cottage with a kitchen facing east, to catch the morning sun. He traveled to town with his lunch pail in hand to manage the produce at the local grocer. After the house was finished they planted fruit trees with care around the property and started working the land for the start of a garden.

 

Still newlyweds, he took the call to travel to Wright Field. He packed his uniforms, and she went with him to say goodbye.
He would write letters every week, sometimes more, sometimes less. She had a good idea of where he was at the beginning with the post marks coming from the East Coast during his training, then across the pond. They slowed then, taking longer to travel the ocean to her. She wrote back – and one letter told the news of her belly growing with his baby. My father.

 

He returned to a toddler son, a happy wife, and silently put the months of the German Black Forest behind him. They had two more babies. A girl, then another boy.

 

We would stop over often. In the summer I would run to the back yard to find them weeding their impressive garden, or find Grandma up a tree picking apples while Grandpa mowed the grass. Tough as nails, she never slowed – even in her sixties, and we continually reminded her that climbing on the counters to reach serving dishes was not ideal. At her five-foot height, she ignored us regularly and smirked every time she was caught in the act.

 

Her sunny kitchen always had a hidden gem. She tore paper towels into quarters and placed them in front of my cousins and me – waiting impatiently. She would pull a foil package from the bread drawer, carefully unwrap and slice the treat into equal pieces. The Banana Bread was portioned onto the towels and we would eat it greedily, always asking for seconds.

 

After I moved away, she would sneak a foil covered package out of her freezer for me to take back to my college apartment.
She turned Ninety Five last week.

Happy Birthday, Grandma.
Esther’s Banana Bread

Ingredients:
¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups sugar, plus more for topping
1/2 cup shortening (not butter)
2 eggs
2 cups flour
3 over-ripe bananas
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:
• Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
• Pour buttermilk into measuring cup. Add baking soda and stir. Set aside.
• In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and shortening on medium speed for three minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula half way through. • Turn the speed to low and add eggs one at a time.
• Turn speed up to medium/high and mix for 30 seconds.
• In a medium bowl mash bananas with a fork or meat tenderizer into little to no chunks remain. Add vanilla and salt to bananas.
• With the mixer on low, alternate adding flour and buttermilk to creamed mixture, ending with flour.
• Add banana mixture. Do not over mix. Streaks of flour should remain.
• Grease* the bottom and sides of a large loaf pan.
• Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle with sugar.
• Bake large loaves for 1 hour; until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.

*I grease the entire interior of the pan, then place a piece of parchment paper (cut to fit) in the bottom of the pan.

Note: Freezes very well.

 

Jessica’s Gluten Free Banana Bread

Ingredients:
¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups gluten free flour blend*
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
1-1/2 cups sugar, plus more for topping
1/2 cup shortening (not butter)
2 eggs
3 large or 4 small over-ripe bananas
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

*Gluten Free Flour Blend
24 ounces white rice flour (4 ½ cups, pus 1/3 cup) (one bag of Bob’s Red Mill brand)
7 ½ ounces brown rice flour (1 2/3 cups)
7 ounces potato starch (not potato flour) (1 1/3 cup)
3 ounces tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour) (3/4 cup)
¾ ounce nonfat milk powder (3 tablespoons)

Measure out all ingredients and place in a zip sealed bag. Mix well. Store in refrigerator for up to three months)

Preparation:
• Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
• Pour buttermilk into measuring cup. Add baking soda and stir. Set aside.
• In a medium bowl, combine gluten free flour blend, salt, zanthan gum and baking powder. Set aside.
• In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and shortening on medium speed for three minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula half way through. • Turn the speed to low and add eggs one at a time.
• Turn speed up to medium/high and mix for 30 seconds.
• In a medium bowl mash bananas with a fork or meat tenderizer into little to no chunks remain. Add vanilla to bananas.
• With the mixer on low, alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to creamed mixture, ending with flour.
• Add banana mixture. Do not over mix. Streaks of flour should remain.
• Grease* the interior of a large loaf pan.
• Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle with sugar.
• Let the batter rest for twenty minutes.
• Bake for 1 hour; until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.

*I grease the entire interior of the pan, then place a piece of parchment paper (cut to fit) in the bottom of the pan.

Note: Freezes very well.

Restaurant Style Garlic Bread

Garlic Bread

I can’t help it. I am a sucker for garlic bread. When I was a kid it was a big deal to go a ‘fancy’ restaurant. Not only was Red Lobster or The Olive Garden a good forty five minute drive, but the money just wasn’t there for us to enjoy such things regularly. There is a side of my family that gatherings were not the norm and although Grandma Louise had a healthy appreciation for good food, a cook she was not. So, her birthday usually meant a trip to The City for her celebration – and these eateries always had a bread basket.

I would try to recreate the garlic breads at home, but the ingredients we had on hand at the farmhouse (Nickel’s White Sandwich Bread and garlic powder) where less than sufficient, so I stuck to the good stuff under the linen napkins whenever I had the chance.

In 1999 Mystery Man and I were on the last leg of a road trip from Atlanta when the topic of discussion turned to food, as it did often.  I admitted my life long obsession with garlic bread and he eagerly suggested we hurry to Cincinnati so I could try LaRosa’s Pizzaria garlic bread.  Both of our eyes turned to the clock on my dash board. Calculating the miles per hour, I quickly determined we could make it before they closed. If we hurried.

I pushed that little gold Saturn sedan to it’s limits, and we slid into the bright red booth with big grins and minutes to spare.

____________________________

Being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, my passion for garlic bread was kicked to the curb for a short while. But, where there is a will, there is a way. You can use this same method on a ‘normal’ loaf of Italian bread from your local grocer, or go gluten free like me.

CHEESY GARLIC BREAD
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

5 cloves garlic , grated
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon Table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 gluten free baguette  (18- to 20-inch), sliced in half horizontally
1 1/2 cups cheese (shredded Italian blend)

Preparation:

  • Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a small nonstick skillet, saute garlic, 1 tablespoon butter, and water over low heat, stirring occasionally, until straw colored, 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Mix hot garlic, remaining butter, salt, and pepper in bowl and spread on cut sides of  bread.
  • Sandwich bread back together and wrap loaf in foil. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Carefully unwrap bread and place halves, buttered sides up, on baking sheet.
  • Bake until just beginning to color, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set oven to broil.
  • Sprinkle bread with cheese. Broil until cheese has melted and bread is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Let cool for five minutes.
  • Transfer bread to cutting board with cheese side facing down. Cut into pieces.

Notes:

Serrated bread knives can pull off the cheesy crust. To prevent this, place
the slightly cooled garlic bread cheese side down on a cutting board. Slice through the crust
(rather than the cheese) first – this will keep the cheese in place.

Banana Bread (AND Bonus Gluten Free Recipe)

Banana Bread

She was a young lady growing up on a small farm in southwest Ohio and the boy courting her was making his way around the fields at midnight. Her siblings where trying to gather the loose horses just as they returned home from their first date. Two hours into the hunt they finally had them on the way back to the barn by rattling buckets of feed and leading the way.

 

They married at the small brick Baptist Church and started building a home on her parent’s land. A three bedroom cottage with a kitchen facing east, to catch the morning sun. He traveled to town with his lunch pail in hand to manage the produce at the local grocer. After the house was finished they planted fruit trees with care around the property and started working the land for the start of a garden.

 

Still newlyweds, he took the call to travel to Wright Field. He packed his uniforms, and she went with him to say goodbye.
He would write letters every week, sometimes more, sometimes less. She had a good idea of where he was at the beginning with the post marks coming from the East Coast during his training, then across the pond. They slowed then, taking longer to travel the ocean to her. She wrote back – and one letter told the news of her belly growing with his baby. My father.

 

He returned to a toddler son, a happy wife, and silently put the months of the German Black Forest behind him. They had two more babies. A girl, then another boy.

 

We would stop over often. In the summer I would run to the back yard to find them weeding their impressive garden, or find Grandma up a tree picking apples while Grandpa mowed the grass. Tough as nails, she never slowed – even in her sixties, and we continually reminded her that climbing on the counters to reach serving dishes was not ideal. At her five-foot height, she ignored us regularly and smirked every time she was caught in the act.

 

Her sunny kitchen always had a hidden gem. She tore paper towels into quarters and placed them in front of my cousins and me – waiting impatiently. She would pull a foil package from the bread drawer, carefully unwrap and slice the treat into equal pieces. The Banana Bread was portioned onto the towels and we would eat it greedily, always asking for seconds.

 

After I moved away, she would sneak a foil covered package out of her freezer for me to take back to my college apartment.
She turned Ninety Five last week.

Happy Birthday, Grandma.

 
Esther’s Banana Bread

Ingredients:
¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups sugar, plus more for topping
1/2 cup shortening (not butter)
2 eggs
2 cups flour
3 over-ripe bananas
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:
• Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
• Pour buttermilk into measuring cup. Add baking soda and stir. Set aside.
• In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and shortening on medium speed for three minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula half way through. • Turn the speed to low and add eggs one at a time.
• Turn speed up to medium/high and mix for 30 seconds.
• In a medium bowl mash bananas with a fork or meat tenderizer into little to no chunks remain. Add vanilla and salt to bananas.
• With the mixer on low, alternate adding flour and buttermilk to creamed mixture, ending with flour.
• Add banana mixture. Do not over mix. Streaks of flour should remain.
• Grease* the bottom and sides of a large loaf pan.
• Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle with sugar.
• Bake large loaves for 1 hour; until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.

*I grease the entire interior of the pan, then place a piece of parchment paper (cut to fit) in the bottom of the pan.

Note: Freezes very well.

 

Jessica’s Gluten Free Banana Bread

Ingredients:
¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups gluten free flour blend*
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
1-1/2 cups sugar, plus more for topping
1/2 cup shortening (not butter)
2 eggs
3 large or 4 small over-ripe bananas
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

*Gluten Free Flour Blend
24 ounces white rice flour (4 ½ cups, pus 1/3 cup) (one bag of Bob’s Red Mill brand)
7 ½ ounces brown rice flour (1 2/3 cups)
7 ounces potato starch (not potato flour) (1 1/3 cup)
3 ounces tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour) (3/4 cup)
¾ ounce nonfat milk powder (3 tablespoons)

Measure out all ingredients and place in a zip sealed bag. Mix well. Store in refrigerator for up to three months)

Preparation:
• Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
• Pour buttermilk into measuring cup. Add baking soda and stir. Set aside.
• In a medium bowl, combine gluten free flour blend, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
• In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and shortening on medium speed for three minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula half way through. • Turn the speed to low and add eggs one at a time.
• Turn speed up to medium/high and mix for 30 seconds.
• In a medium bowl mash bananas with a fork or meat tenderizer into little to no chunks remain. Add vanilla to bananas.
• With the mixer on low, alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to creamed mixture, ending with flour.
• Add banana mixture. Do not over mix. Streaks of flour should remain.
• Grease* the interior of a large loaf pan.
• Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle with sugar.
• Let the batter rest for twenty minutes.
• Bake for 1 hour; until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.

*I grease the entire interior of the pan, then place a piece of parchment paper (cut to fit) in the bottom of the pan.

Note: Freezes very well.