Highs, Lows, and Crackly Banana Bread

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July 2, 2013 by jenniebean10

Usually when I don’t post for a really long time, it means that I’m too busy having fun to be posting recipes. It doesn’t mean I’ve taken a break from cooking, but it does mean that blogging is low on my priority list because I’ve got REAL PEOPLE to be hanging out with most nights! So, that’s sorta been the case – I was having fun travelling and doing other things all during April, May, and part of June, but then sh*t kinda hit the fan.

This post might be kind of a downer, so prepare yourself! Start this music for some zen-ness to get you through, haha 

I am still busier than ever, but I just need a place to vent, and I’m in no position to be talking out loud to most people about all the crap that’s been going on in my life. (Ya know, because I wouldn’t be so easy to understand through all the sobbing and wailing :P) So I figured I’d post a lot of blathering, and then a little recipe for my definition of “comfort food.” Banana bread is not a comfort food because I necessarily love eating it, but it’s comforting because it’s so easy to make and I almost always have the ingredients for it. And baking is one of the things that I enjoy doing most. I’ve got another recipe up for banana bread, but I like this one a lot better. It’s not vegan, but with substitutions, it could be! Before I introduce the recipe for this banana bread, I’ll yak a bit and remind myself of some of the good things that happened until everything came crashing down.

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Okay so the highs! April, May, and the beginning of June were all great!!! I had my Russia trip, of course, and then I was in Seattle for the first time ever. I attended a huge child development conference, got to see awesome people from my undergrad research labs, reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in a few years, stayed and hung out with a friend from college, met her super-nice friends, ate really good food, and just soaked up the good vibes in Seattle. I went home to good ol’ Michigan for my uncle’s wedding, enjoyed the short visit with family, and returned to Gettysburg for end of the semester festivities. There were a couple weeks in there where I had events almost every single evening after work. Oh, I even won a happy hour party for up to a 100 people at a dueling piano bar in Baltimore, and took about 20 friends from Gettysburg there. Hey, a life full of socializing is still exhausting! And it didn’t end there. I headed to Paris for 3 weeks for work, and I wore myself out. I spent my evenings catching up with friends from prior trips, meeting new and interesting people, and running around the city with more than a vague idea of where I was going 🙂 My flat was next to a beautiful park, I was only a 20 minute commute from work, I could cook decent meals in my apartment, and could even have friends over at my place. It was an excellent and bittersweet trip, since I have no clue when I’ll be back. To top it off, I was fortunate enough to end my trip with a week of vacation – visiting one of my best friends in Montpellier, exploring Barcelona, meeting tons of new people from all over the globe, and relaxing with a friend on leave in Valencia. Wait…how did I get this life? And how did I get so lucky to have such amazing friends all over the place?

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Now for the lows. My last night in Valencia, I got word from my parents saying that my grandmother suddenly became ill, was in the hospital, and was basically on life support. Things were going downhill pretty fast, and she passed away early the next morning. So I made the trek back to Gettysburg, only to find that someone had vandalized my car, leaving me with a mess of glass and what was close to $900 in repairs (plus losing half a day of work, since apparently no one in town could fix my car). Goodbye, summer travel plans… Hustled back to Michigan for the viewing, funeral, and extended family drama (I won’t even start to go into details), and was left feeling really cynical about life, relationships, progeny, etc. When I finally got back to Gettysburg again…I just felt drained. Bummed about lots of things. A day later, a close friend of mine had a medical emergency, and I became the point person for talking to doctors, requesting information, and updating family and friends, among other things. And you know that when it rains, it pours, so of course I found out today that my dog, Heidi, is not doing well health-wise. In my last-ditch attempt at humor in a humorless situation, all I can think of is my friend saying to me, “It’s not lookin’ good, Zippy!” when we’re playing NBA Hangtime, it’s the last few seconds of the game, I’m down by 5, and I’ve got Rodman shooting freethrows…

Anyways, things are bound to get better. Maybe not with the family situation, but my friend is recovering, I’m going to have some me-time soon, and I feel unbelievably fortunate to have a large net of supportive friends who I can turn to, especially when things and people suddenly start disappearing from my life. It’s such a good feeling just knowing that there are people out there who I can trust and can talk to — about actual things or just about nothing. So…friends, family, and random strangers who are out there reading my blog…what I didn’t say before is that it’s always harder than it seems to ask for help, especially if you’ve faced rejection before. In my opinion, it takes a lot of courage to be persistent and speak up when you want/need something, because there’s always that possibility that you’re going to scare people off, make them feel uncomfortable, and be rejected. Maybe that’s why it’s so nice to hear from people simply that they’re there for you. I don’t usually need someone to give me advice or say the right thing. Sometimes just being there is enough.

AND NOW FOR THE BANANA BREAD YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR! Drumroll, please…. (it’s very special, I promise)

millet banana bread

Crackly Millet Banana Bread
Makes one 8×4 loaf

1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 56g) unsalted butter, softened and just barely melted (or melted and cooled)
1/4 cup (60mL) canola oil
1/2 cup (50g) organic evaporated cane sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 t. vanilla extract or vanilla powder
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (90mL) milk – I used unsweetened sunflower milk, but you could substitute almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, regular milk, whatever
2 medium [over]ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups flour (a mixture of whole wheat and AP works fine)
1/2 t. vanilla salt (or regular salt)
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 cup raw millet, rinsed

Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease and flour and set aside.

In a small/medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir in the rinsed millet. Set aside. (Whisk in the vanilla here if you’re using powder instead of extract.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, oil, sugar, and eggs until well-incorporated. Whisk in the milk and bananas. (Add the vanilla here if you’re using extract instead of powder.)

Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two parts. Use a wooden spoon to fold the ingredients together, being careful not to overmix.

Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50-60 min, until a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely.

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