By Cal Orey
As we edge into September we're in between late summer and pre-fall--a time for savoring both hot and cold good for you carbs. If you noticed the town is quiet during the weekdays and the squirrels are busy while pine cones are dropping--it's that time. Tell-tale signs of changing seasons are in the air around the Lake and it's a time of reuniting with the kitchen and enjoying wholesome comfort food. Enter Banana Bread.
In July when I was en route to Canada coffee shops greeted me at airports and the hotel of my choice. One afternoon while waiting to board the CRJ900 plane departing from Victoria to Seattle I realized I hadn't eaten. Looking at the open cafe of pre-packaged sandwiches, cookies, bagels, and breads I almost purchased the bread. I asked the girl behind the counter what it was and she shrugged her shoulders. "I think it's banana nut bread. I'm not sure." I passed as a wave of homesickness hit me. I missed my kitchen, my fur kids, and Tahoe.
Sitting down alone in the small and quiet airport, waiting to board the plane I once feared to fly on, I held onto a souvenir: a box of Canadian maple leaf cookies and sipped bottled water. I thought, "Back home when the weather is cooler I'm going to bake my own banana nut bread complete with California walnuts and honey from Reno's beekeepers." And this week I did just that.
home-style BaNANA NUT BREAD
2 large eggs, organic
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup European style butter (save a small amount to butter loaf dish)
2 ripe, large bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Confectioners' sugar or raw sugar (optional)
In a bowl , beat eggs, sugar, and butter. Blend in the mashed bananas and vanilla. Add flour to the banana mixture. Mix and stir in yogurt cinnamon and walnuts. Pour batter into a buttered 9 x 6-inch loaf dish. Bake the bread at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or till firm to touch. If the top browns too fast, cover with foil after 30 minutes in the oven. Cool for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar. You can serve warm or chilled. Garnish with grapes, slices of banana or peaches. A pat of butter or raw honey can be a nice touch. Makes 8-10 servings. It freezes well.
This bread is so easy and budget-friendly that it's a keeper for all seasons. It's a recipe that doesn't fail and the sweet and savory aroma in your kitchen is unforgettable. Once you take the bread out of the oven, wait a bit, and cut a slice you'll be happy to be home. You'll taste the fresh bananas, soft crunch of walnuts, and cinnamon.. Paired with a glass of orange juice for breakfast or hot tea for an afternoon snack or dessert is heavenly in the mountains.