What decade was it? The 50s? The 60s? When was it that women had perfectly curled hair, the milkman was still a thing, and new neighbors were given baked goods as a welcome to town?
Admittedly, the idea of lukewarm porch milk creeps me out; but, part of me feels like I’d thrive in the good old days.
I see myself in a vibrantly patterned dress, aproned, pulling something warm from the oven as I exclaim, “Oh, hi dear!” when my perfectly dapper husband enters the kitchen, sets his briefcase down and kisses me on the cheek. Some little tyke (I guess he is mine???) is riding his training-wheeled bike around the block in our green grass, white fence, middle of America neighborhood. I can hear Adelaide Hawley’s voice in the other room – I’ve left the rabbit ears on. Aw shucks! It’s 1951.
Then I remember, it’s 2016, I’ve just redownloaded Bumble from the iCloud, only to delete it again because dating apps aren’t for me. I log into Seamless to order Thai food because we all know I’m not changing out of these yoga pants to go out. And the dapper husband? He’s nowhere to be found. He’s a string of bad dates (a few superbly lovely ones too), a makeout sesh in a dimly lit bar, a text conversation that’s going nowhere. Isn’t modern living so great? Hang on – my noodles are here and I need to e-tip or I-tip or remember what cash looks like and find some.
The world is different. Times have changed. When was the last time you saw a baseball score make front page news? A reality show tangerine is a presidential candidate (yikes), love letters have been swapped for emojis but thank god baked goods are still king.
One way I desperately cling to a simpler time I never knew is by making banana bread for my neighbors. My dad has this habit of buying bananas every time he goes to the store – even if we’ve got six browning on the counter already. Instead of condemning the inevitably overripe ones to the garbage, I started to make batches of banana bread on the reg and distribute them versus eat them. Okay – well versus eat ALL of them.
It became more than a habit, really an addiction. Baking with love, wrapping in a kitchen towel and walking to Donna’s or Linda’s or Brenda’s or Sue’s (all lovely neighborly names) with a hot loaf. I love the smiles. I love the appreciation. I love how something so simple can be something so meaningful – for both parties.
It’s sitting down and having a cup of tea, a slice of banana bread and an in person conversation. It’s the summer breeze, the sound of cicadas and definitely an open screen door. It’s knowing you’ll get that kitchen towel back; but, if you don’t you are happy for them to have it. It’s what sharing, and liking, and socializing used to be before they became what they are today. It’s old fashioned and I guess I am too.
For your purposes, it’s rich, chocolatey, warm and comforting. Whether you live your life in this decade or are pining for the past, it’s a simple gesture and a delicious treat.
I hope you’ll make some and share it with someone you love. A neighbor, a friend, that tinder match or that dapper husband. Maybe even that weird imaginary kid I mentioned before – where’d he get to? “Timmy get out of the street!!!!”
Here’s my recipe:
The lineup – flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, four super ripe nanners, and a surprise!
Whisk together the drys!
Mash the bananas! Hey – where’d those chocolate chips come from? Oh right, the surprise!
Whisk together eggs and sugar until smooth.
Add mashed bananas, oil and vanilla to egg and sugar mixture.
Whisk in dry ingredients a little bit at a time.
Smooth batters call for spatulas!
Add all the chocolate.
Pour into a 9×5 loaf pan OR do what I did and pour batter into an 8.5 x 4.5 pan and then make a few muffins for yourself.
You can do all loaf, all muffins, some loaf, some muffins – this recipe translates really well for both!
Place into a 350° F oven and bake for about an hour and ten minutes until the loaf is gorgeously brown and an inserted toothpick comes out mostly clean – maybe a few crumbs. Let cool slightly, run a knife around the edges and turn the bread out of the pan.
Eat it or gift it – up to you! Either way get ready to see smiles!
Like a Good Neighbor Banana Bread
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of sugar
4 super ripe bananas
1 generous teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of canola oil
12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.
Add mashed banana, oil and vanilla to the egg and sugar mixture and whisk until combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture a little at a time. Whisk until just combined.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour into a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes until the bread is nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool slightly and serve warm!
Bread will keep for about a week.