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Let’s Make One Bowl Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Welcome to my blog! This is a recipe free zone!

Here’s how I make banana bread. It might not be how you make banana bread. Just take what you want and leave the rest. Here’s the thing–banana bread is virtually impossible to ruin. If you get it wrong, you can always tell your friends, “Gee, I used my mother-in-law’s recipe” and then just sigh and shake your head.

But DON”T THROW IT AWAY! Not unless its truly terrible. Because today’s botched bread is tomorrow’s brilliant bread pudding! (My next post.)

1. Open the fridge. Spot the 1/2 banana, edges curling, wedged behind the 1/2 lemon that didn’t get juiced yet, and the last hard boiled egg.

Who wants to throw food away? Not me!

So–

grab your biggest, cleanest mixing bowl. Set over to 350. Spray a dusting of PAM in a loaf pan.

in the mixing bowl goes the 1/2 banana, and another, from the counter, that’s slightly too ripe. A few mashes with a fork, and add:
2 eggs
a dollop of molasses (if you have to measure, maybe 3 T.)
about a 1/4 cup sugar
about 1/2 cup soy milk (we’re all dairy intolerant here, if you stick with these recipes, you’ll see very little milk.
a few shakes each of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.
a small sprinkle of salt
about 1.5 cups flour
a small shake of baking powder–about 2 t.
A small trickle of vanilla–maybe 1 t.
about 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Melted butter is better (and healthier) but too lazy.

At this point, I mix with a wooden spoon. Not for very long. It smooths out pretty well. I just make sure there’s no embarrassing lumps, or bits of unincorporated egg. Too dry? Add a bit more milk. Too runny. That’s what the flour’s for. Another stir. Does it feel slightly thicker than pancake batter? What–you don’t make pancakes? Does it feel about as thick as a Starbucks frappucino? Thick, halfway between scoopable and pourable? There! Done.

Then–the fun stuff!
about 1/2 regular sized bag choc chips. There is slightly less than 1/2 bag left, but I’m sure I ate some and don’t remember. I mean, who wants to think about how many chocolate chips they ate?
A handful of pecans. Who cares how big your hands are? I mean, can you have too many pecans? Anyone?

I cook in stoneware, so my bread takes a little longer. I also cook at high altitude, but honestly never have noticed any difference. So–nearly an hour at 350. If your oven is preheated, and you only make one loaf, expect it will take about 45-50 minutes.

Enjoy! And–if you can–leave a few sliced for the rest of the family.

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Swap your way to a debt free Holiday Season

Hi. I’m Michele Winkler, and for fifteen years, I ran both community and professional barter clubs, in which people swapped everything from housecleaning to houseboats. While trading doesn’t work for every cash expense, every time you can trade for something you need, you can hang on to some much-needed cash.

If you’re feeling pinched and don’t want to face an unpleasant credit card bill come January, here are some ideas that let you feel festive–without overspending:

Neighbor Swaps

–cookie exchanges are a great way to have fun with the neighbors w/out spending a fortune on entertaining. Invest in a stack of paper plates and some saran wrap, and invite neighbors to participate. Everyone bring 3 dozen cookies and something to sip. When they go, they take a plate of assorted cookies home with them. This  is a fun way to catch up with the neighbors, with the added bonus of a plate of goodies you can take your next holiday potluck, office party, etc.

Toy Swaps

–A toy doesn’t need to be brand new, just new to your child. This is a great swap for a church or other community organization. We used to do it with our homeschool group and it was always a hoot (and a big $ saver.) Everyone shows up with outgrown holiday outfits and toys, all in good condition and complete. Lay them out on table, or on bedsheets on the ground, and take turns picking out things for your own kids. The idea is that you leave with a carful of clothes and toys that are new to your child. This swap helps leave you enough money to buy your children one or two brand new items, since you’ve saved so much on holiday clothes and the ‘bulk’ presents.

You can add a ‘grown up’ twist by also exchanging ‘white elephants’, or decor that ‘s in good condition but that you’d like to swap out for something different.

Family Swaps

–do you have a large, gift-giving family? You can bet you’re not the only one concerned about how to cover the cost of gifts for all the siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews. For this crowd, rather than swapping, picking names out of a hat lets everyone receive a few nice gifts, instead of a lot of cheap ones.

Teen Swaps

–How do you keep up with kids who’ve gone from Hot Wheels to real wheels? This is where the gifts that they want (and sometimes need) get really, really pricey.

COMPUTERS/CELL PHONES–hard to trade for these. You can often find a good deal at a Black Friday sale, or even (surprisingly) at a pawn shop.

Once the kids are post-Santa, one nice gift and a few stocking stuffers can help keep the wallet from screaming. Remember, not every gift has to be monetary–offering to do your teen’s chores for a week, or even clean their room, might be a gift remembered long after that $60 video game is gathering dust under the couch.

Spouse Swaps

Nope. Save enough money doing the other swaps to get your partner something special. If you’re truly broke,  make a coupon book–not the one the kids sell for fund-raisers, but a homemade book with at least ten pages of nice things you will (cheerfully) do. Not as glamorous as a new purse or surround sound, but much, much nicer thank fighting about the bills in January.

Michele Winkler, former homeschool mom and barter club coordinator, lives, writes and trades in Littleton, Colorado.