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BananasWelcome to the weekend!  In my area, we are looking forward to a little cooler weather rolling in tomorrow.  You know what that means around my kitchen? Baking!  I like to bake, but during the summer it is just too hot for me to bear turning on the oven to bake.  So, to celebrate the arrival of fall, today’s recipe is:

BANANA BREAD

1 1/3 cups self-rising flour

5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 6-cup (standard size) loaf pan.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar 2-3 minutes, until lightened in color and texture.  Beat in flour until blended and the consistency of brown sugar.  Gradually beat in eggs.  Fold the mashed bananas in just until combined.

Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Leah’s tips:  I use my stand mixer for this recipe; it saves a lot of time!  I usually toss the butter into the mixing bowl about an hour before I plan to make the batter so it has plenty of time to soften.

Butter softened, with sugar

Softened butter and sugar, ready to be blended

After blending the sugar and butter, I add the flour and blend for a minute. I stop the mixer, lift the paddle, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Scraping down the sides of the bowl

Then I mix again for another minute or two. I use a potato masher to mash the bananas; I found that to be much easier than using a fork.

Banana masher

I personally don’t put nuts in our bread because my guys don’t like it that way.  Definitely check for doneness toward the end of the cooking time – it can be easy to overbake this bread. (My gas oven bakes a loaf in 45 minutes.)  When I am ready to unmold it, I run a butter knife along the sides of the loaf and very gently pry it off the bottom of the pan just a little.  This seems to help it come out of the pan much more easily.

Fresh from the oven - it smells so good!

(recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking, Simon & Schuster, Inc. 1997. p. 773-4)       * Joy of Cooking is one of my very favorite cookbooks, and I think every person who does more than boil water should own a copy.  Go to  http://promo.simonandschuster.com/JoyofCooking/ to check it out!

RESTAURANT DEALS:

Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the kitchen and dine where someone else does the cooking – and the cleanup!  So here are a couple of good places to score discounted meal certificates.

  • http://www.restaurant.com/  Check this site to buy gift certificates to local restaurants, at a discount of up to 90%!
  • http://www.groupon.com/   This daily deal site often features opportunities to save 50% off of dining in your area.
  • With both sites, please read the terms and conditions carefully before purchasing.  Be sure to save and/or print order confirmations.
I pray that you will have a fun, safe, and blessed weekend!  Remember to thank Jesus for giving us everything we need.  Without him, we have nothing.  We are nothing.  With Him, we have everlasting life!
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” ~ John 4:13-14, NKJV
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