What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: The Gift of Banana Nut Bread
More than 20 years ago, I was in graduate school and my life was very unstable. My new landlord didn’t allow pets, so I decided to give up my 4-year-old gray-and-white cat, Gandalf. I found a good home for him 75 miles away. Two days after I dropped him off, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. I had made a huge mistake. I traveled back to Gandalf’s home and brought the gift of freshly baked banana nut bread and begged his “new” owners to let me have my precious cat back. One hundred and fifty miles and another house move later, I knew in my heart I made the right decision. Gandalf the wizard-like cat, love-of-my-life, became my Rock of Gibraltar for 18 years.
Cats, like banana nut bread, have healing powers. They’re constant. Both can help to nourish your body and spirit. These days, I am grateful that I have the company of my feline companion, Kerouac, another kindred spirit who likes routine, hates change and loves peace as an indoor cat amid tall cat trees and fish aquariums.
On Sunday afternoon, I baked in my Old Tahoe-style kitchen-dining room with an earthy Mediterranean flair. I turned on the oven and went to work like a worker bee in my cabin. With a backdrop of wood paneled walls lined with bookshelves piled high with my published books and magazine articles – a sign of rocky times gone stable, thanks to the homebody cats (and pooches) in my life.
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1⁄4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 cups 100 percent natural whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons Mediterranean style butter
1⁄2 cup organic brown sugar
2 tablespoons pure honey, clover
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
2 brown eggs
1 teaspoon allspice
1⁄2 cup pecans, chopped
Cream together sugar and butter in a bowl, add eggs, milk and bananas. Combine dry ingredients: flour, soda, powder. Add honey, vanilla, spice and nuts. Pour into two lightly buttered greased 8-inch-by-2-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes until firm and golden brown. Cool. Serves 8.
Beat 1⁄2 cup whipped cream cheese, 1⁄4 cup organic 2% low-fat milk (give a taste to your kitty), 1⁄8 cup European style butter, 11⁄2 cups confectioners’ sugar. (Use a bit more sugar for a thicker consistency.) Spread on cooled bread. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top.
I added the frosting for a honey bee’s touch. It was comforting to make this bread (again) surrounded by creature comforts and Gandalf, my cat angel. I can sense his spirit in my home as the full moon and first day of fall move into our lives this week. The familiar scents in the kitchen were cues that some gifts in life are priceless – cats and banana nut bread.
– Cal Orey is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.