Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Crackly Banana Bread: All that matters
I was shocked when I realized it at nearly noon on Saturday – a full 16 hours after the security transgression had taken place. Numbed by my stupidity, I sat immobile in the front seat trying to process how this possibly could have happened.
I never forget to lock my car door. I love locking it – even going so far as to hit the button multiple times while I’m walking away just so I can hear the chirpy beeps. (Even after ten months, I’m still in awe that I actually own a vehicle with keyless entry capabilities.)
As I verbally thanked God (and my upstanding West Hollywood neighbors), I felt a rash of emotion start to inflame my eyes, the same rash of emotion that had hit me the previous night at my office as I'd tried to keep my composure intact. The past 18 hours had been a wake up call – the unlocked car door being the final physical manifestation that something had to give.
The past seven months have been the busiest of my post-collegiate life. A demanding new job that I love, writing projects, more tequila and beer-fueled nights than my Sauvignon Blanc-trained liver is used to (and by “more,” I mean “four.” Total.), and early morning Bar Method classes have all ensured that the dull moments spent shellacked to my couch with Bon Iver on repeat are fewer and further between.
While that's not necessarily a bad thing (no one should listen to any song 231 times), the collateral damage -- the emails from friends that go unanswered, the birthday cards I forget to send, the phone calls from my family that I miss while I'm at the office at nearly 8:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night -- is striking.
Back in the days when I hated my job, when I was out the door at 5 p.m. without a moment's hesitation, I always had room in my life for my friends and family. I responded to emails with long sweeping paragraphs rather than short, barely grammatically correct sentences. I spent hours searching for the perfect birthday card that truly encapsulated our friendship rather than using a blank stationary card hiding in the back of my linen closet that would inevitably arrive a week late. I talked to my mom at least 20 minutes every night rather than just the 6 minutes it takes to walk home from work.
I miss it. Miss those little pockets of meaningful human interaction that make life rich and full and beautiful.
On Friday night, I told one of my dearest friends, someone who loved me even when I wore a furry black Kangol hat in an unironic way during college, that I couldn't go to her fundraiser the following night because... I was tired. I let another friend tell me she missed our friendship without immediately leaping up and telling her that I missed her too. And, so distracted by the errant threads of stress from my professional day, I forgot to lock my car door.
I stumbled into my apartment in a sleep-deprived stupor, the intensity of that last hour at the office and astringent words from well-meaning friends, gnawing away at my conscience.
I knew something was wrong. Knew I was wrong. Knew I was teetering on the edge of regret and missed opportunities. It was a horrible, sickening feeling -- impending loss.
When I woke up the next morning, more rested and emotionally stable, a singular thought entered into my head that instantly put my mind and heart at ease.
As I strode down the street, running toward yet another early morning Bar Method class, it occurred to me that life is so much easier when you remember that all that really matters is being a good person.
Whether it's going to a best friend's fundraiser because it's important to her. Finding the time to gorge on pasta, wine and gossip on a school night rather than pushing it to the back burner until it's convenient.
Or baking banana bread for your dad on his birthday.
From Smitten Kitchen
3 large ripe bananas (think very yellow and freckled)
1 large egg
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, warmed into a liquid
1/3 cup golden brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup table salt
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon (I always heap my cinnamon!)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup uncooked millet
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with softened butter.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. Whisk together to aerate, then set aside.
Chop bananas into manageable pieces and place into a large ball. Using a fork or potato masher, mash bananas until they reach a pudding-like consistency with very few lumps. Whisk in the egg, then oil, brown sugar, syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined, taking caution not to overmix. Gently stir in the millet.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is golden brown and crackly, approximately 40-50 minutes. Test with a toothpick -- it should come out completely clean. Cool loaf in the pan on the rack, then invert onto a piece of foil. Wrap tightly and keep at room temperature - siphoning off a slice at a time for the next few days.