virtuous banana coconut bread (no butter or oil!)


This week I stood on a platform where a woman writhed on the ground. Her body was volcanic; she spoke in halting stops and starts, and all I could hear was her pleading to the police to let her go. That all she wanted to do was jump. A train pulled into the station and the doors opened and people glanced down and kept moving. They glanced down and kept moving. Some registered her with mild concern, their eyes shifted from her to their phones and back again. Some took photographs and others stared out into the tracks, beyond them, to a nothingness on the other side.

I went cold. My train arrived, and it occurred to me that public misery has become commonplace. We are no longer shocked; we are bored. Nothing phases us. There goes our collective yawn. There goes us documenting pain instead of experiencing empathy. On the subway once, a homeless man shouted, I know you can hear me. I know you’re pretending to listen to your iPODS and your music. But I know you can hear me.

Maybe we can hear but we’ve trained ourselves not to listen, or feel.

For as long as I can remember, I was told to mind my own business, that a family’s affairs were private, that pain was something you exhibited privately. And if you dared trespass beyond these maxims, if you become public with your tears, you knew that everyone else was trained to turn away. We are an efficient breed of people in the way that we are cold and cocooned. Perhaps I’m more sensitive to all of this because it’s cold, colder than I’ve known it to be, and all I want to do is leave New York. While I’m not naive in thinking that what I’ve experienced is unique to where I live, I’m just becoming sensitive to everything. As if I were a child experiencing the world for the first time. A once-crowded subway never phased me, now it’s smothering. A woman writhing on the platform was once common, now heartbreaking and gruesome.

This morning I woke early and baked this bread and succumbed to the quiet. Resolving to soon live somewhere that is less crowded, less frenetic, less demanding — a place where quiet is cultivated. A life less consumed and conspicuous.

I know this is all babbling, but this is what’s been on my mind lately, and I’m still trying to make sense of it, sort it all out.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Janelle Bloom’s Fast Fresh & Fabulous
2 cups self raising flour*
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup chopped walnuts {I used sweetened coconut flakes instead}
1 cup milk {I used 2% milk, but you can use almond or rice milk}
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup mashed banana (2 large, overripe bananas)

*If you don’t have self-raising flour on hand, add 1 1/4 tsp of baking powder + 1/4 tsp salt to one cup of all-purpose flour. In this case, you’d add 2 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt to 2 cups of all-purpose flour.

Preheat oven 350F/180C. Grease and line 7cm deep, 13.5cm x 24cm (9×5 inches) loaf pan.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and nutmeg into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and walnuts (coconut flakes, if you’re using). Combine the milk, eggs and banana in a bowl and stir gently into the banana mixture.

Spoon into loaf pan and smooth the surface. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand 10 minutes in the pan before lifting onto a wire rack to cool.

A small note: if you’re expecting this to taste exactly like a banana bread that contains butter or oil, you’re bonkers. I say that with love. The bread is indeed very good, but is not the same as its full-fat counterpart. When you’re eating a bit more virtuously, don’t expect precise replicas of the goodies you adore. As you know I tend to bake full on, but once in a while it doesn’t hurt to tinker with, and enjoy, some virtuous fare.


8 thoughts on “virtuous banana coconut bread (no butter or oil!)

  1. Hi Felicia, I currently commute to work and yes it’s common to see these things now. Last year (I was too shaken up to actually write this in my blog) on the station where I got off someone threw himself on the tracks and died. I arrive on the next train and saw the body. It was a shocking day. On a happier note, your bread looks fabulous!


  2. New York, as much as we all love it, does this to a person. We have to shut off to survive here but then one day we realize how shut off everybody else is too and that is also the gruesome part. Go somewhere warm, inviting, lush, and inspiring. I see you in Australia. What do you see?


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