Yes Sir, We Have Bananas
All right, NY weather gods: mea culpa. I mocked you, I admit it. I looked out the window, saw the sheets of rain, and shrugged. "I lived in San Francisco," I sniffed. "We had rain there. I can handle this."
I was arrogant, okay, but I think you're taking this "wrath of the heavens" thing a bit far. Wasn't it enough when I arrived at work wearing what had started out as a gray suit and ended up as a combination black (soaked) and brown (mud) one? Or when my umbrella shrieked in agony, turned inside out, then wrenched itself out of my grip and blew away down the street in disgust?
No? Nothing? Fine. I'll do what I usually do when it rains -- bake banana bread.
This is our great-grandmother's recipe. Correction. This is our great-grandmother's list of ingredients. She was famous for her quick breads (I only remember banana and zucchini, but apparently there was also...green tomato. I never had it), but she would get impatient if anyone asked for recipes. "It's like falling off a log" was her usual response. Eventually she was coaxed into providing a list of ingredients for banana bread, but she refused to provide more explanation than an oven temperature. So, after many trials and some truly bizarre results, we figured it out.
This is a dense banana bread, not overly sweet, and the loaf is enormous. I make mine without nuts because, really, they just get in the way, and the batter barely fits in a 9x5 pan; if you want to add nuts, please don't tell me and you'll need to split the batter between two smaller pans. Perfect with butter, cream cheese, or, yes, peanut butter. Let the winds howl.
Great-Grandma's Banana Bread
1/2 c. shortening (hmmm. need to find non-trans-fat option)
1 c. white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. mashed ripe bananas
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the shortening and the sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add the mix a bit at a time into the wet ingredients until incorporated. (The batter will be quite stiff.) Add the mashed bananas and the chopped nuts, if you're using them. Pour into a greased and floured pan (9x5 if no nuts, two 8x4s if nuts included). Bake for about an hour; when it's done, the top will be firm and brown, and a knife will come out only a little tacky. I always rotate the pan at 30 minutes, probably more out of habit than any real need. Let it cool at least twenty minutes, preferably an hour, before slicing.