How to make banana bread

It’s a lovely quiet summer morning. The kids are still asleep and your partner is somewhere in the house. You shuffle into the kitchen, put some water in the tea kettle and turn it on. While you wait for the water to boil, realize that you could might as well mash the four overripe bananas on the kitchen counter. Find a bowl (just under the cupboard with the mugs) and mash. 

Mashing bananas only takes a minute, so the water is still not ready. Turn the oven to 350 and add an egg to the bananas. Decide to replace the sugar with honey because you have an awful lot of honey right now. Check quickly to make sure that honey is a one-to-one substitute for sugar. It is! Add ½ cup of honey and – because the water is almost ready – use ⅓ cup canola oil instead of butter today. 

The water has boiled. Spoon out the tea leaves and set the tea to steeping.

Put a dash of vanilla in the mix. Oh, and maybe a dash of salt. Add 1½ cups of flour right on top of the wet mixture. Sub in some whole grain flour for some of that because it’s healthier, right? Um… double-check the recipe on the post-it on the fridge. Where is it? There! Behind a receipt. Receipt… recipe… receipt… recipe…

Our time-tested banana bread recipe – more or less

Yes: 1 tsp baking soda. Dump it on top of the flour. Go ahead and add 1 tsp of baking powder, too. Gently stir those two into the flour so they don’t clump, then give the whole mixture just a few strokes so it’s moist.

The tea has steeped plenty long enough. Take out the tea leaves and set them aside.

Check the cupboards for extras. Today you will throw in some unsweetened coconut, a generous handful of walnuts and another of chocolate chips. Grease a loaf pan, pour the batter in, and pop it in the oven.

Add some milk to your tea. Start to sit down and realize that if you don’t set a timer, the bread will burn. The recipe says 50 min but the honey is sticky… Go for an hour.

Pour a cup of tea, sit down and read.

When the next person comes into the kitchen, agree that the bread does, indeed, smell wonderful.

(I love this banana bread recipe. I’ve made it a million times and it’s both easy and flexible. It makes great muffins, too – though do NOT cook those for an hour! The honey in today’s bread made for a really sticky loaf, so I can’t call it a resounding success, but it still tastes pretty good.)

Morning Tea

IMG_4492.jpgThis slice of life is modeled on Philippe Delerm’s miniatures in La Premiere gorgee de biere et autres plaisirs miniscules. (English title: Small Pleasures; actual translation: The first swallow of beer and other miniscule pleasures)

6:45 Sunday morning. In the pantry, I press the cool black button on the sleek silver water kettle, check that it’s set to 100, press the button again. I walk into the warming kitchen and find the blue teapot, the ceramic one I bought a few years ago at the local pottery sale because the blue was perfect and the body was perfectly round. I carry it to the tea station in the pantry, cradling it with two hands, absorbing its cool weight. I find the tea infuser with the turquoise lip and nestle it into the teapot. (This is a lie. I call it  a”tea strainer.” I had to look up the name “tea infuser.” I prefer “tea strainer” possibly because that’s the word I actually use, but perhaps you won’t know my own personal vocabulary, perhaps it won’t be obvious. I consider which word to use. I decide on “tea infuser.” It makes me sound a little pretentious, but it is the official word. I like knowing what things are called. I privately decide that I will go on calling it a tea strainer. I wonder if I will or if knowing the “right” word will change my little world. Is this what comes of writing?) I ponder until the water is hot.

I grasp the large silver cylinder of chai tea and pull off the lid, feeling the slight resistance in the millisecond before the lid comes off in my hand. Inside, twisty black tea leaves are liberally mixed with brown pieces of cinnamon stick and yellow-beige pieces of dried ginger. Three pale green cardamom pods nestle near the round edge of the container. The aroma of ginger and cinnamon greets my nose as I measure three silver spoonfuls into the infuser. I steady the cool blue pot with my left hand as I lift the warm silver kettle with my right and pour the almost boiling water over the tea. I lift the kettle almost to my shoulder to let the water cascade down from a greater height. I secretly believe this makes it just the right temperature. I watch the tea darken and swell ever so slightly as the water rises in the pot to submerge it.

I carry the teapot, heavy with water, to the kitchen table, and I wait. I find my favourite sand-colored tea mug, a gift from my mother-in-law, with the swell that nestles neatly into my cupped palms. I take the milk from the refrigerator and place it on the table near the teapot. I tidy the area around the sink and put away a few dishes. The tea should steep for 4-7 minutes; from years of habit, my body knows when the tidying time is equivalent to the flavour I desire. It is time. I hover over the teapot and pour the cold white milk into the deep brown water. I do this with the tea infuser in the pot so I can watch the tea leaves dance under the stream of the milk as the water rises, becoming cloudy then creamy. I remove the tea strainer and leave it in the sink.

I sit at the table, check that I have what I need: computer, mug, tea. In an almost exact imitation of my earlier motion with the kettle and the pot, I lift the hot heavy teapot in my right hand and steady the cool earthy mug with my left. The heat radiates towards my left hand as the caramel liquid pours into the bowl of the mug. I set them both down. My elbows rest on the pine table and I hesitate briefly before I enfold the mug in both hands, my palms surrounding the bowl, my thumbs and index fingers rising to rest on the edge of the rim.

Warmth seeps into my hands as I lift the mug. I inhale the earthy, spicy steam of the caramel, creamy liquid. The still-cool rim of the mug grazes my lower lip as I blow lightly across the surface of the tea. More aromatic steam rises. I tilt the mug upwards and the warm smooth spicy liquid slides into my mouth at last.


Slice of Life, Day 25, March 2018

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful month of inspiration.