I have been reading books about food and how people interact with it, how it influences their memories and present lives and careers, and what it means to them. There are many books in this genre, believe it or not. I love regular cookbooks, of course, but this other realm of reading is a different experience. Some that I’ve enjoyed are the lovely story of Julia and Paul Child, My Life In France, which is the story as Julia shared it with a nephew of the couple before her death; also, M.F.K. Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me is so beautifully written that even the introduction is inspirational to a food writer like myself.
What I like about these books as opposed to general cookbooks is that they are not just chapters with lists of recipes. Sometimes they don’t even include formal recipes, though many do. Instead, they are more about the author’s life experiences and how they are linked to food. I love this quote from my current read, Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life:
“That’s why this book is called A Homemade Life. Because, in a sense, that’s what we’re building – you, me, all of us who like to stir and whisk- in the kitchen and at the table. In the simple acts of cooking and eating, we are creating and continuing the stories that are our lives.”
Molly went on to share 45 chapters of stories about her childhood, her parents, and her friends, and each of those chapters has a recipe that is integral to the story she shared. I’m not finished with the book yet; however, in one of the early chapters there was a recipe that sounded so comforting, so delicious, that I had to stop and make it. The recipe is for banana bread with chocolate and crystallized ginger, adapted from the recipe of a friend of Molly’s. I’ll share it with you now, and I highly recommend that you not wait until fall weather comes again to make it. It’s just that good. I’d eat it on a hot beach if it were offered to me. 🙂
Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger
6 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large bananas)
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt, stirred well (not lowfat or fat free)
1 tps vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray with PAM a loaf pan (about a 9×5″ pan).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and chopped ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
(Tip: I wouldn’t chop the ginger up too very finely, although the recipe says to. I think it would offer more flavor and texture to leave the pieces about half the size of a chocolate chip so that when you bite into it, you get a bigger burst of flavor. Crystallized ginger is very flavorful and is nicely chewy. That’s fun to bite into, in my opinion.)
In a medium bowl lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the banana, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla, and stir to mix well.
Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until mixture is just combined. Do not overmix; there should not be any visible white flour in the batter, however.
Scrape the batter into the loaf pan, and smooth the top.
Bake about an hour in the center of the oven until the top is browned nicely and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the loaf is browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil.
Place bread on cooling rack after removing from oven; let sit for five mintues. Turn bread out onto the cooling rack and let cool (for as long as you can stand it) before slicing.
We couldn’t wait until it was completely cool at our house; the nice part of that is that the chocolate chips are still melty and smooth while the bread is warm. That’s quite enjoyable, if you ask me!
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! It was a wondeful breakfast for my family yesterday, and all hopes for leftovers were dashed. I kind of like it that way. 🙂