in this city of mine: pistachio coconut banana loaf

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You know what the bush is about? It’s about massive trees that have been standing there for thousands of years… and bugs that’ll be dead before the minute’s out. It’s big trees and pissy little bugs. And everything knows its place in the scheme of things. Everything… everything sits in the order somewhere. Things survive because they’re strong, and everything reaches an understanding. But not everything survives because it’s strong. Some creatures are weak, but they survive because they’re being protected by the strong for one reason or another. You may think that, because of the circles you move in or whatever, that you’re one of the strong creatures, but you’re not, you’re one of the weak ones. That’s nothing against you, you’re just – you’re just weak because you’re young. But you’ve survied because you’ve been protected by the strong. But they’re not strong anymore, and they’re certainly not able to protect you. We’re here because we know who you are and we know what you’ve done. You’ve got to decide. You’ve got to work out where you fit. — Leckie, “Animal Kingdom”

Sometimes there is a river, and there’s only you getting lost in the depths of it. The dream remains the same with minor variations. We had all that we wanted but we were determined to ruin. Scatter ourselves like ashes. Our hearts were a metronome although we struggled to keep time to the beat. The waves receded, and we saw the water carry you out into the ocean. Home. They called this your embalming. We painted your lips a shivering blue and lay you down on the shoreline, waiting for the chrysalis. Your body a pleasant ticker tape of white — a bandaid for the living, some said. Soon the soil would blanket you and you demanded a watering. Come spring, you would sprout up from the earth anew because this is what we’d promised you.

Meanwhile, in the city, all the bridges collapsed because they could no longer bear all the pain. This frightened us because the bridge was the strong, it protected us from the river, and now look what happened! All the cars inching forward, the motley lot and their white-knuckled grip and beeping phones and flickering lights, we wondered how life could undo so many. We kept this from you because we practiced anxiety for a living and didn’t want you in the family business. Also, we were secret-keepers.

Don’t say we didn’t try to protect you.

But we being the worrying sort started to tap-tap on the table, maw at our sleeves and cry out in the night. We slept the sleep of disturbed children. Where does everyone put all this pain, we wondered. Is there a house for it? Are we meant to press on, place one foot in front of the other, because we’re told that this is what we ought to do? But what if there was another life we were meant to live? Do we pursue it, chase after it so recklessly, so fastidiously, or do we lay our heart out to pasture? Lay like an old mare ready to be put down. We dug you up and drove you to the bridge because we could only handle a disturbance in one place. Imagine slamming your foot on the breaks, stepping out of the car and saying out loud that this life wasn’t what you’d intended.

We watched you watch them, and we waited with bated breath. You were the one who walked off the bridge before the wreckage, before everyone else tumbled into the water like falling stars. Hand me a hammer and nails, you shouted. I’ll build my own bridge. Hand me my hammer and I’ll build us a doorway out. Throw up all the windows and burn all the shades.

It’s time to stop wondering and get to work.

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INGREDIENTS
3 cups all-purpose flour*
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup ground pistachios, divided
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup grapeseed oil
2 tsp pure coconut extract
1 1/2 cups ripe mashed banana (about 3 medium)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup almond milk
Nonstick cooking spray

DIRECTIONS
I’ve been making banana loaves for years, but last night I found myself sifting through my cabinets, desperate for something new, unchartered territory and the like. And then I realized that smoky, salty pistachios married with creamy bananas and sweet coconuts was a recipe dressed to perfection, and I was right. The flavors are balanced here, and the crumbled pistachio bits give this terrific crunch. Enjoy this loaf as I did last night and THIS MORNING (YIKES!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9×5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray; set aside. In a food processor blitz the pistachios until their a coarse meal. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, 1/2 of the ground pistachios and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and oil until combined. Beat in the flour mixture. Add the coconut extract, banana, coconut, and almond milk, and beat just to combine.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; smooth with an offset spatula. Scatter the remaining pistachio meal equally between the two pans. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove loaves from pans and let cool completely. Bread can be kept at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic, for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.

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