Bake it off

There’s always that one person.  You know–the one who insists  on doing it the long way.  You know them, because they’re the one who would rather spend twenty minutes trolling around the grocery store looking for something rather than ask someone who works there where to find pizza sauce.  Or the one who spends twenty-five minutes doing math longhand because it’s “just too much trouble” to get out a calculator.  The person who still has a Rand McNally Road Atlas.  Like I said.  You know the one.  And I’m here to tell you…

…I’m that one person.

I’m sure there’s some really smart, psychological reason probably linked to when I learned to walk or the fact that I refused to eat peas until I was 20, but I prefer to think it’s because I’m a rebel.  I have to go my own way–march to the beat of my own drummer.  Put the wind in my sails and sail off toward the horizon.  It’s all very romantic and much more dramatic than, say, potty-training.

So, tonight my old, Watch-Me-Be-Difficult self did it again.  I decided to bake this peanut butter, chocolate chip bread I found on Pinterest to take into work tomorrow.  I got the stuff, pulled up the recipe tonight and it told me to use…an electric mixer.  Now, I do (somewhat begrudgingly) own this pretty hip, 1949 handheld mixer that weighs about a ton, but I will be honest with you.  The prospect of cleaning the darn beaters means I avoid using it for anything short of meringue.

So when this recipe suggested I use a mixer for a quick bread, I instantly decided that a spoon would be fine.  I have this one wooden spoon I got at a garage sale when I was fresh out college.  It’s a great spoon–it looks like it’s about a million years old, it has a nice long handle–and it is my official “baking spoon.”  So I got out the Baking Spoon, laughed in the face of this recipe, and stubbornly insisted on blending peanut butter, brown sugar, and two eggs by hand.

Well, I can tell you it worked just fine.  It took maybe three extra minutes, but I don’t care.  My friend, Kelly, has this spoof on the Taylor Swift song “Shake If Off” hanging in her kitchen, that popped into my head as I was mixing this batter.  I’ll be diplomatic and say that T. Swift is not exactly in my top ten favorite artists of all time…or any time…but tonight, after successfully defeating a “mixer only” recipe, I found myself literally dancing around my kitchen singing,

“Players gonna play, play, play, play, play…And haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate…but I just bake it off, bake it off!

 

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Behold! The Spoon of Victory!

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Banana Bread

Yesterday, I made banana bread.

I didn’t wake up planning on it, but little projects like unplanned quick bread tend to crop up when I take an in-house Saturday.  In-house Saturdays are not the norm for me.  They generally involve me not leaving the house before one or two and I’m usually still in my jammies right up until I have to put on real clothes to go somewhere.  It should here be noted that “real clothes” on Saturday are usually leggings and a sweatshirt, only slightly domesticated pajamas in their own right, so I’m not sure why I resist.  I think I do it because, as a teacher who’s generally out the door by five ’til seven, I feel like I’m “stickin’ it to the man” when I lounge around in official P.J.’s until noon.

In-house Saturdays, I usually forget to eat breakfast and sometimes lunch, because I’ll brew a giant pot of coffee and dedicate most of the morning to drinking all of it.  It proves that coffee as an appetite suppressant is a real thing.  Also that I can still function when I am literally bouncing off the walls with caffeine.

You will notice I haven’t labelled in-house Saturdays with the culturally traditional descriptor of “lazy,” and this has been intentional.  They aren’t.  The days I stay home usually involves a whole sea of projects that need to get done–not all of them needed to get done right then, but they needed to happen.

Which brings me back to the banana bread, and how I hadn’t been planning on it when I woke up.  I was sitting at my kitchen table, coffee mug and To-Do List in hand (I am a fiend for lists.  I don’t know how teachers survived in the pre-Post-It age), when my gaze fell on my fruit bowl.

I went on a big banana kick for a few weeks, but in the last couple days it’s kind of fizzled out.  A girl can only eat so many bananas.  And they were starting to get super brown and spotty, and I know there are those purists among you who will tell me that that’s when they’re finally “good,” but I’m persnickety about bananas.  I have a very limited banana-consumption window.  Bananas more brown than yellow do not fit through that window.

So I decided that making banana bread probably should be a “thing.”

This would not always have been the case; I am not a quick bread junkie, and even six months ago, I probably would have just left the bananas in the fruit bowl until they were all brown and I began to wonder if it were possible for bananas to actually mold, then tossed them away just to be on the safe side.

This was before the new year, when I read an article entitled “57 Small Things to Do for Yourself This Year” on the (really fabulous, fancy) food blog website Food52.  (You can read the full article here.)  The article gives lots of great, little ways you can enrich your life, but the one that really stuck out to me–and the only one I remember in mid-March–was #48: “Never throw away edible food.”

I took that to heart.  I was really convicted of how wasteful Americans are (and I am, particularly) when it comes to food.  How many times have I thrown away perfectly good leftovers because I wanted the pan for something else?  How many times have things gone bad in my fridge because I didn’t end up with enough time to make the recipe I bought them for?  How many times have bananas gone bad in my fruit bowl because I just didn’t feel like eating any more bananas?

Lots of people all over the world cannot even fathom the abundance that is at our fingertips whenever we walk into a grocery store.  It just struck me as disrespectful to them not to treat this privilege with the respect it deserves.

So I decided to make banana bread.

It has been my personal resolution in 2016 to try use up what I buy.  It means I’ve had to get creative sometimes, and that I go scouring through my cookbooks and the internet trying to find recipes that call for one green pepper or half a bunch of cilantro.  It also means I’ve actively had to chop up veggies I’m not going to use before they go bad and stick them in my freezer in Ziplock bags so I can use them later.  It means being what my yoga teacher would call “mindful.”  It means being what, to my students, I call “responsible.”

So I made banana bread.

I got out a bunch of cookbooks and hunted up the one that called for the most bananas and I still had all the ingredients for.  I mashed up the bananas.  I mixed everything up.  I put it in the oven, then took the finished product when I went to visit my parents yesterday to see my baby brother who is home from college.  The banana bread was a big hit.  I can’t take a picture of it today because it all got eaten.  You can just thing tasty, banana-bread-y thoughts, though.

I know that not wasting things isn’t a big solution.  I know that sometimes, I do just really muck up a new recipe and have to toss it because when I take it for lunch, I opt instead to eat the candy in my desk because I just can’t stomach the thought.  I know that me using my resources well isn’t suddenly going to keep people from starving in Sudan.  But out of respect for them, I get creative.  I try not to abuse the incredible gifts I’ve been given, to respect the abundance that is at my disposal, to try to be responsible.

And so I make banana bread.