It’s a weird time.
Terrifying, really. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we know that it’s bad. And we know that if we’re going to make it less bad, we have to spend a lot of time away from other people, for an amount of time that may be a matter of weeks, but also may be many months. We don’t know, we’re going to have to see.
So Evan, Anna, and I are hunkered down here at home. I can’t get over how fortunate I feel. I’ve never been so conscious of the amount of privilege we have to be able to stay home, in a warm, comfortable space, with everything we need. We miss our friends and family and we’re sad that we can’t go out and socialize, but we know that being able to work from home is not an option everyone is afforded. I’m incredibly anxious about all the things we can’t control. I’m worried about the spread of COVID-19, of course. I’m worried about my parents and in-laws, all of whom are over 60. I’m worried about the impact this veritable shutdown of much of society for who knows how long is going to have on the world.
For as long as I can remember, the way I have tempered anxiety about the scary outside world is by making my inside world as warm and nice and pleasant to be in as possible—primarily through cooking. Since the literal inside world is fast becoming our primary world, I am doubling down cleaning (disinfecting. so much disinfecting), reorganizing, trying to make everything as pretty and cozy as possible. We’re well-stocked food-wise (though not overly stocked—I have faith in the food supply chain and am so grateful to those who continue to run it even during this crisis), and I’m cooking a lot, even more than usual. We eat all three meals together every day, and lately we’ve been making popcorn around 4 PM to munch on while we show Anna an important movie from Evan’s and my respective chlldhoods (so far we’ve seen about 1/6 of The Wizard of Oz, and the entirety of Mary Poppins 47 times #letsgoflyakite #spoonfulofsugar). Current popcorn preparation is melted butter and Trader Joe’s Elote spice mix which I think tastes a little like Cool Ranch Dorito dust.
Dinners have been very comfort-forward: a lot of pastas and savory bakes, like green chili enchiladas and pumpkin lasagna.
Some roasted roasted chicken legs with garlic, potatoes, and rosemary.
And I have been baking. The usual weekly challah, yes, but also cookies, a couple of loaves of this excellent bread from the NYT, and over the weeknd, a riff on the banana bread from my last book, Hot Mess Kitchen. As is usually the impetus for banana bread, we had a few bananas languishing in my fruit bowl on the counter, which is whatever most of the time, but in times of limited groceries and extra attention paid to ever morsel of food we consume, not okay. There was no throwing them in the freezer and popping them in a smoothie whenever I felt the whim—there is no space in the freezer. Plus, we really needed a loaf of banana bread.
Anna “helped”, by which I mean she stood in her tower and kept trying to dip her finger into the baking soda.
I debated whether or not to add chocolate, but the answer was obvious.
Parchment handles make loaf-retrieval simple and clean.
Case in point:
The resulting loaf had a crisp, browned exterior and a soft, pleasantly squishy interior, almost reminiscent of bread pudding. We ate it in our backyard with salted butter while FaceTiming Evan’s parents.
Don’t second-guess the butter. Yes, it’s overkill. Yes, it’s ridiculously indulgent. Totally. I mean, banana bread is essentially cake, right? Well, if ever a time in history called for butter on cake, I’d say this is it.
- 3 very ripe bananas, peeled $1.50
- 1/3 cup melted butter or coconut, canola, or vegetable oil Pantry
- ⅔ cup brown sugar Pantry
- 1 egg, beaten $3.50 for 12
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Pantry
- 1 teaspoon baking soda Pantry
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon Pantry
- Pinch of salt Pantry
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour Pantry
- 3.5 ounces dark (64-74% cacao) chocolate, chopped roughly $3
Recipe Serves 6-8
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 4x8-inch loaf pan. Line with parchment paper as pictured.
- In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir the melted butter or oil into the mashed bananas.
- Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.
- Gently stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
- Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- Gently remove the banana bread from the pan.
- Slice and serve, preferably warm with butter.