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My friends call me the "grammar goddess." Really. ;-) I own a freelance writing, editing and tutoring business. Previously, I served three years as food editor for The Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, which kindled my interest in food writing. My other areas of expertise in writing include features, community news, architecture/construction and engraving/personalization. I have a frightening number of cookbooks and watch too many DIY, HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Antiques Roadshow (BBC and PBS versions) shows. And I tweak nearly every recipe I make.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gram's Banana Bread

Some people come from a long line of good cooks. Although there was more than one in my mother's family, most of them got their start by working with a great cook: my maternal grandmother, Ruth Magdalen (Bolen) LaBerge. Although she's been gone more than 18 years, I still can't figure out why neither my mother nor I (both of whom are considered intelligent women) can make her banana bread in quite the way she did.

When we made it at home as I was growing up, it was good but I just knew there was something missing. Gram's bread seemed even more moist and the nutty flavor was stronger. Maybe it's just a grandma thing.

Perhaps one of my readers can solve the mystery of the ingredient or ingredients that Gram, who rarely worked from a recipe, may have omitted when my mother asked her for a written recipe almost three decades ago. (Mom subsequently rewrote the recipe so we could read it in the years to come. It's amazing it was recorded with a pen, since my grandmother wrote most recipes in pencil.)

Gram's Banana Bread

1 3/4 C. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
1/3 C. vegetable shortening (to make it healthier, use the non-hydrogenated kind; Gram used Crisco)
2/3 C. sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 C. fairly ripe bananas, mashed
chopped walnuts (optional)

(The amount of walnuts put in this recipe depends on how well you like them. Gram just put in the amount she had handy — that is, when she felt like it.)

Sift flour; measure and add baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift again. Cream shortening, adding sugar gradually. Add eggs, mixing until smooth. Add dry ingredients alternately with mashed bananas, stirring just enough to combine thoroughly. Do not beat.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees F.*

(*Use a standard loaf pan.)

Note: I had a heck of a time finding a good photo of Gram, as she hated having her picture taken; in the above photo, shot when she turned 80 (in April 1982), it's hard to say whether she was crying because she was happy or because we insisted on recording the occasion for future generations.

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