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We came back from vacation to a LOT of old, blackening bananas. For New Year’s Eve, I decided to make two loaves of banana bread adapted from a recipe my friend Lynne Shore Abbot had given me. I substituted gluten-free flour for the regular stuff and coconut sugar for regular sugar, per Lynne’s instructions. I then substituted coconut oil for vegetable oil and added Ghirardelli chocolate chips to one loaf, and left the other “plain” because my friend and editor Jessica Wolf was going to be at the party and I knew she wouldn’t eat the chocolate chips. These two banana breads were AWESOME. I could not believe how well they turned out! I gave Jessica her own loaf to tuck away, and everyone gobbled up the loaf with the chocolate chips.
Here is the recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit. You got this.
Nonstick vegetable oil spray (I didn’t have any spray so used butter to grease the pans)
1¾ cups gluten-free flour
1½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1½ cups coconut sugar
4 large old, mashed ripe bananas (about two cups)
¾ cup coconut oil (melt for about a minute in microwave)
Optional: Add 1/3 chocolate chips to batter at the end
Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9x5x3” loaf pan with nonstick spray or butter. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Melt coconut oil in microwave for about a minute. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. (If using chocolate chips, add them now.) Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Bake until a tester inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 60–70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.
Do Ahead: Banana bread can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature..
I didn’t want to like this book, as I find some of Gretchen Rubin’s emails relentlessly self-promotional. But I grabbed it at an airport during an unexpectedly long layover and found myself constantly underlining passages and copying out quotes. Her writing is intelligent and self-aware and I am in her debt because just reading her book and thinking about her suggestions on how I might become happier actually made me happier. There are some wonderful insights and quotes tucked into this book. Here are a few:
“Look for happiness under your own roof.” p.5
“What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.” p.11
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” p.11
“Nietzsche wrote, ‘All truly great thoughts are achieved by walking.’” p.25
“Light deprivation is one reason people feel tired, and even five minutes of daylight stimulates production of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that improve mood.” p.25
“Act the way I want to feel.” p.35
“It is by studying little things,” wrote Samuel Johnson, “that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.” p.37
“A line by G.K Chesterton echoed in my head: ‘It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.’ ” p. 41
“We hugged—for at least six seconds, which, I happened to know from my research, is the minimum time necessary to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin, mood-boosting chemicals that promote bonding.” p. 45
“As Mark Twain observed, an uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth.” p. 38
“As Samuel Johnson said, ‘To hear complaints is wearisome alike to the wretched and the happy.’ ” p.158
“Forget about results.” p. 221
“An atmosphere of growth brin
gs great happiness, but at the same time, happiness sometimes also comes when you’re free from the pressure to see much growth. That’s not surprising; often the opposite of a great truth is also true.” p.231
And my favorite: “I wanted to change my life without changing my life, by finding more happiness in my own kitchen.”
I have a new story up on HuffPo50 about having drinks with my friend Suzanne Turner and Betty Halbreich, author of I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist. Betty and Suzanne are both personal shoppers at Bergdorf Goodman and wise, beautiful women. We discussed food, books, writing, cooking, the news and staying sane. I tried to get Betty to discuss fashion but she had other things on her mind. If you haven’t read her book, download a sample or just go ahead and buy it. She wrote it with Rebecca Paley and it is wonderful. I’m reading it for the second time.
This fall, I read two great novels that are shocking and exquisite in radically different ways: The almost-too-long, extremely intense and ultimately wonderful, A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, involves cutting, pedophilia, drug abuse, child prostitution and the lifelong friendship between four handsome, charismatic and accomplished men. It’s not for the faint-hearted but you won’t be able to stop reading it.There is also the much-too-short, beautifully written and PG-rated Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf, which describes the late-in-life- love story between two neighbors. Haruf passed away from lung cancer shortly before the book was published. Both novels are heart-breaking stories that look at the wonders and limits of friendship, romance and the love between parents and children.
Huge thanks to Sajal Hamilton and Bloomingdale’s Short Hills for inviting me to read from my book, Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping, today at a luncheon to support the Connie Dwyer Breast Center. Bloomingdales gave 10% of sales made during the event to Connie Dwyer, which provides breast cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment. One of my good friends, who was an early reader of Sweet Survival and without whom I would have never written the book, has beaten breast cancer three times. It was a privilege to be at Bloomies today.
Huge thanks to Paula Mooney, Amanda Olsen and Jonathan Aronoff at Hometowne TV for the “Meet the Author” segment they did on my book, Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping, published by Greenpoint Press. That’s our dog Roxy barking in the background, waiting for food to fall. Hometowne TV is on Comcast channel 36 and Verizon channel 33. The recipes are all in the book. We had a lot of fun filming and then eating the props.
I have a new story up on HuffPo50 about my grandmother, in honor of Grandparents Day. She swam, sewed, taught elementary school and played bridge. She did everything with love and patience, except cooking, which she could have done without.