The Banana Bread Battle

It was holiday season, time to make the banana bread, and the bananas were on sale, so I stocked up. I was walking through the store with about 45 bananas in the cart, walked past a lady giving out samples of some pastry, said no thanks. She looks and says, “I have to ask. Do you have a houseful of monkeys?” I replied, “We have a potassium shortage emergency.”

Sunday morning comes. The grandkids had a sleepover at our place the night before. Fixed bacon and the Grandpa Special Eggs for the kids, and the smaller Granddaughter ate like a truck driver. I don’t know where these kids put it. Hollow leg? The adult kids are coming over later. The bananas are nicely speckled and browned, so it’s a good day to do the bread for deliveries to nearest-and-dearest on Monday. Okay, some assembly required, and I’m always short on something. Always forget SOMETHING. What is it this year?

Oven started up.  Five baking pans out. Three mixing bowls. Assorted ingredients and appurtenances. Fill up one pan, pop it in, start the next, pop it in, the third, the fourth. That fills up an oven shelf. By the time I’m done popping in the fourth one, it’s about time to start mixing for the fifth, to replace the first one when it comes out. A nice rotation.

The Daughter arrives first out of the adult kids. Smiles, hugs, as always. The Kids always seem a little rested when we’ve got the grandkids overnight. No idea why.

In the kitchen, it looks like the Cooking Artillery hit the place, and I feel like I’m hip deep in the resulting banana bread batter casualty.

“How did the house smell coming in?” I have to ask.

“Heavenly!” she replies. So I’m on the right track.

Okay, first loaf out, fifth loaf in to replace. I let the first loaf cool a bit, then knife around the edges, lift it out. I grab the aluminum foil to wrap it up. The box of foil feels light. Ah-ha . . . HERE’S what I forgot. Enough aluminum foil to go around?  I’ll cut it close (pun intended) and hope I have enough.

Second loaf out, first pan washed out, reloaded with batter, and placed back in the oven for the sixth loaf. And so on. Eldest Son and Adopted Daughter (his Wife) show up. Smiles and hugs.

They’re there for lunch.  I stop making batter long enough to start up the hamburgers – garlicked, crushed red-peppered, lemon-peppered, cilantro’d, grilled onions and mushrooms if anyone wants them, and cheddar or pepperjack if anyone wants a cheeseburger. The kids brought over food, too, but I had my head stuck so far up my own cooking that I can’t remember what they brought. It’s always good, though. (In fact, I think I could live off of Adopted Daughter’s sarma, a stuffed grape leaves finger-food item.)

The hamburgers/cheeseburgers were huge and a hit. Eldest Grandson had seconds. I don’t know where he puts it. Maybe the Grandkids all have the hollow-leg gene.

Throughout all this grilling and eating, the baking continues. The Kids start whining at me to sacrifice a loaf for the team. I snarl back, but they don’t take it seriously. And they did help where they could, ducking under the flying spatulas and hurtling breadpans (which are much better than hurtling bedpans). And they were a huge help in getting things cleaned up after lunch. You might think that even in a decent-but-not-enormous kitchen in the aftermath of Banana Bread Marathon and Lunch for Nine, it might look like the Cooking Artillery AND Bombs had hit. You might well be right.

But back to baking.  I’m getting seriously concerned now that with everything going on, I’m going to miss something in the ingredients. As I mentioned in the banana bread recipe, baking ain’t like stir-fry. Chemical reactions need to take place. I’ve got my system in place – do all the wet ingredients at one time here, do all the dry ingredients at one time here, mash and add bananas. But still, there were distractions.

The family left, but the baking continued. Finally, a misstep shows itself about the 14th loaf. It comes out looking a little small. Hm. Knife test. It goes in, comes out clean, but it was sorta like pushing it into a wet brick. What’d I miss? Eggs? Baking powder? Baking soda? Salt? No matter. Grade that one a Fail.

Take the last loaf out. Grab one more sheet of aluminum foil, and….. that’s all there is. Just right. Losing one of the loaves was just instant karma, maybe.  Clean up after myself.  Oh, yeah, it sounds so easy when you say it like that.

So, maybe after about 10 pounds of flour, a few dozen eggs, 3 or 4 pounds of sugar, a tub of butter (well, margargine), and varying amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, brown sugar, baking powder, flavored coffee, vanilla, rum, salt, and maybe something else I can’t remember at the moment, the loaves are ready for distribution.

Next year, though, I think I’ll do it when I don’t have to cook massive lunch at the same time. I didn’t hear back that one of my loaves tasted a bit like meat and garlic, but you never know.

— Grandpa


  1. “As I mentioned in the banana bread recipe, baking ain’t like stir-fry. Chemical reactions need to take place.”

    Hilarious, but true. The same sorta’ exercise is happening in my kitchen this very week.

    And btw, I’m always accutely cognizant of ( and hope to contrive) my “kitchen aroma” upon a guest’s arrival. I’m just vain that way. 😉


  1. […] It’s work, but it’s fun, and for the holiday season, it’s a labor of love.  You can read about one such effort here. — Grandpa Filed Under: Sporkful {recipes […]

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