a virtuous grain-free banana bread + some thoughts on the art of balance

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The innocent mistake that keeps us caught in our own particular style of ignorance, unkindness, and shut-downness is that we are never encouraged to see clearly what is, with gentleness. Instead, there’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, then we would be happy. –From Pema Chödrön’s The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness

I never understood this inclination or desire to flee from darkness, to live anesthetized through your waking life. I once knew a woman who proudly told me that she never consumes anything that makes her upset or cry. Instead she paints herself a world of pink and tulle, and lives in her kingdom where nobody dies and everyone sings pop songs. This is a world where the whole of one’s life is reconciled in a neat 30-minute television episode. Another woman tells me, in passing, that she can’t bear to know what’s going on in the world. How do you do it, she asks, read those articles every day? The rapes, mutilations, pillaging and murders–all of it is too much for her to manage. So instead she reads enough for casual conversation, enough to appear informed, and I tell her, without hesitation that this is actually worse. Hitchcock once talked about fear being afraid of the jump instead of the actual jump. You walk into a room, slide up against a wall and the moment before the lights flick on is the worst of it. It’s the anticipation of the fright that makes the fear scarier than it actually is. Because the lights go on, it never is as scary as you imagined it would be. So imagine living your whole life right before the jump, skirting the edges of doom instead of breathing through it. The fear of reading past the headline, of seeing that horrific image–this is the constant state of anxiety because you’re not equipped to process and understand darkness. And how, I wonder, can you ever make it out onto the other side? To true and breathtaking light?

If people exist simply to shuttle themselves from one happy moment to another careful television show to another sweet song, what is it that they’re escaping? For me, this seems like a sort of prison, a like life. Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are. Perhaps because I’ve spent most of my life holed up darkness, building a home it, harvesting a garden in it–I don’t fear it as much. You could say I’m comfortable in it–I write mostly from inside of it or from the memory of it. However, I see the danger in this extreme, too. A home you so assiduously built burns to the ground as you flick a lighter (on, off, on, off) and get lost in the flame. Your thumb burns from the friction of hot metal. Limbs buried deep, painful memories locked six floors down, have no other place to sprout and grow but up, up, and around you. Until you’re tangled in it. Until you become smothered by it. Until you think the fall is bottomless, and your breath is what gives it away.

When I was younger I used to write stories where everybody dies because I thought that was the natural order of things. A man kisses her wife goodnight and he dies. A woman drives in the night and dies. A child lays her head down on the earth because she thinks it has a heart that can beat, and when she hears no sound, no thump thump, she becomes absorbed from the place from which she came. I wrote stories about people dying because everyone does, and this was the mark of my own imprisonment. Where my body was a house was an abattoir, and there was no room for life or light. I used to think that a life lived was one where one mastered the art of breathing underwater. Instead, imagine this:

“Then the children went to bed, or at least went upstairs, and the men joined the women for a cigarette on the porch, absently picking ticks engorged like grapes off the sleeping dogs. And when the men kissed the women goodnight, and their weekend whiskers scratched the women’s cheeks, the women did not think shave, they thought stay.” ― Amy Hempel, “Weekend”

Imagine seeing the world, the moment, as it happens. Imagine a life without the need to perfect every waking moment of it, without having to build ourselves into fortresses of our own discontent, denial and ignorance. We are human, infallible and flawed. We will oscillate wildly–from dark to light and back again–and the wisdom comes from balance, from understanding that equilibrium exists in the space between light and dark, that nothing good comes from being tethered to one extreme or another. Joy doesn’t come from something wrapped in a box or a denim size or letters after an altered name–it comes from a scratch on a cheek, it comes from the person, friend, beloved who stays.

That is the moment. Everything else is just background noise.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Hemsley & Hemsley’s The Art of Eating Well, with modifications.
3 ripe bananas
1/4 cup coconut oil, at room temperature
3-4 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
½ tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups (7oz) ground almonds
1/4 cup tigernut flour (If you don’t have this, use another 1/4 cup of almond meal)
1/4 ground flaxseed
1 tbsp whole flax, for sprinkling
sea salt

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DIRECTIONS
Over the years, I’m realizing that I’ve fallen out of love with the saccharine sweet taste of the old banana breads packed with buckets of sugar and butter. But I’m also fleeing the rough brick-like texture of the whole wheat varieties. So here’s my balance. A loaf that’s got some sugar in the form of maple syrup, virtuosity in terms of the flax and nut bread, but flavor and fat because…nuts.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a loaf tin measuring about 9in x 5¼ in with enough baking parchment to double as a wrap for storing the banana bread (if it lasts).

Mash the bananas and coconut oil in a mixing bowl to a pulp with a fork. Add the maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, baking soda, and a small pinch of salt. Mix well with a fork.

Add the ground almonds and ground flaxseed and mix well. Or, even speedier, you can throw all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blitz together.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, sprinkle with the whole flax and bake for 1–1¼ hours. It’s ready when a skewer inserted at the centre comes out dry. If your bread starts to look quite brown after the first 30 minutes, then cover the top with baking parchment until it has finished baking.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Serve warm or at room temperature with some lightly salted butter, jam (I absolutely recommend jam for those who have a sweeter tooth as this isn’t the banana bread loaded with sugar and butter of which you’re probably accustomed) and a cup of tea. Store the bread, covered, in the fridge (remember there is no sugar or preservatives) for up to a week or slice and freeze (that way you can enjoy a slice at a time reheated under the grill).

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gluten-free coconut blueberry pistachio banana loaf

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You have to know that nothing makes me feel better than a hot loaf being unearthed from an oven. While I’ve learned to be patient over the years, it’s so hard not to dive in, fork-first, once a banana bread hits the rack. This weekend, I decided to turn up the volume and futz with a classic recipe, namely, swap out all-purpose flour and sugar for natural sweeteners. The result? A delicious, moist loaf that delivers on flavor and texture. While I’m not blind to the fact that removing all the sugar alters the flavor of the bread (it is indeed less saccharine sweet), I’m learning to appreciate the nuanced flavors of that the fruit and nuts imbue on the loaf.

INGREDIENTS: (makes two loaves)
3 cups gluten-free flour (I use Cup4Cup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup agave
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/2 cup pistachios, ground
3/4 tablespoons pure almond extract
1 cup ripe mashed banana (about 2 large)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup rice milk
Nonstick coconut oil cooking spray

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9×5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt until combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, syrup, agave and coconut oil on medium-low speed until combined. On low speed, slowly beat in the flour mixture. Add the almond extract, banana, coconut, rice milk, ground pistachios and beat just to combine. Fold in the blueberries.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 65-75 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. But honestly, are you going to do this? Shove a delicious loaf in the freezer and abandon it so cruelly? Hardly. You’re going to end up cutting small slices in the middle of the night, and eat this, standing up, in the kitchen, in the DARK.

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virtuous banana coconut bread (no butter or oil!)

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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.

DIRECTIONS
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.

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feather light chocolate chip banana loaf

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After a weekend spent connecting with a few hundred people who wrote me after having read my Medium review, people in Paris, Italy, Denmark, and Australia, who shared my distaste over the Kinfolk culture that breeds infection (they are a contagion, I said to my business partner today. They make Gwyneth Paltrow look like trailer park whilst waxing poetic with their decorated beards and expensive boots!), settling in with Joanne Chang’s Flour felt like a homecoming. I let down my guard, was less skeptical, because I knew I was dealing with a methodical trained baker, as opposed to a slew of moneyed artists projecting an unrealistic lifestyle under the guise of authenticity. I first encountered Chang and her infectious passion for baking when I reviewed her second cookbook, Flour, Too. I feel in love with her writing and the way in which she completely changed the course of her life, a story that falls in rhythm with the course of events in which I’ve found myself over the past year.

51uIJ1u3EWLFlour is a true delight for anyone who gets gleeful when flipping through pages of sugar. Crisp pies, tiered cakes, cookies and whipped pastry — you’ll find everything you love about baking and sweets in this accessible cookbook.

Over the years, I’ve made banana loaves, ad nauseum. However, Joanne’s recipe is amazing in the sense that the loaf is light, not as dense and meaty as banana loaves tend to be. Incorporating air into the eggs does this, and the only adjustment I needed to make was swapping nuts for chocolate.

Suffice it to say, the loaf was a success. My business partner and I gobbled down our hot slices with black coffee, while working on projects. Now that is what I call a gathering.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe
1 2/3 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp (230 grams) sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (100 grams) canola or other flavourless oil
3 1/2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 1/2 cups or 340 grams mashed bananas)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
Position the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 325°F (165°C). Butter and flour your pan of choice. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, or a handheld mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes for the stand mixer, and about 8 minutes for a handheld mixer; or until light and fluffy.

With the machine on low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Do not pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding the oil should take about 1 minute.

Add the bananas, creme fraiche/sour cream, and vanilla, then continue to mix on low speed just until combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and nuts just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible and the chocolate chips should be evenly distributed.

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espresso banana bread

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Sometimes, when your ferocious feline wakes you at four in the morning, and keeps you up for hours, one needs a slice of banana bread slathered with almond butter to make it through the day alive. After having been up half the night with my kitty, I’m a zombie who took some caffeinated shortcuts and loaded my banana bread with espresso. Like all of Nigella’s recipes, this banana bread is a cinch to make, and you don’t need to get fussy with stand mixers and all the accoutrements.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigellissima
2/3 cup grapeseed, canola or safflower oil, plus some for greasing
3 medium bananas, very ripe
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup superfine sugar {I used cane and it was fine}
1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp instant espresso powder
1 x 450g/1lb deep loaf tin

DIRECTIONS
Slip a baking sheet into the oven, and preheat the to 325F. Get out a loaf tin, and line it with baking parchment or a loaf liner, or lightly oil it.

Mash the bananas with the vanilla extract and salt and then beat in the oil. Now, beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the sugar. Mix the flour with the bicarb and espresso powder, and beat these dry ingredients into the runny batter.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf tin, and pop it into the oven, on the baking sheet, and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until slightly coming away at the sides and bulgingly risen.

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re-engineering a classic: coconut blueberry banana loaf

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Believe me when I say that this loaf has seen more transformations than Madonna in the 90s. One morning in 2009, I searched for a simple banana bread recipe, and after baking said loaf, finding it just okay, I decided to tinker with it. Over the years, I’ve had tremendous triumphs: the nutella banana loaf, the banana chocolate chip nutella loaf, the pistachio coconut banana loaf, and on it goes. However, nothing awakens my cold, dead heart than a smattering of blueberries, a pile of bananas and sweet coconut.

In this go-around, I decided to begin the slow transformation from a loaf that is heavy with white flour and sugar to something richer, something more complex. I’ve made many flour substitutions, which have ended violently (read: me tossing the wreckage in the bin, me wailing in front of a hot oven, me wondering what was I thinking when I decided to incorporate quinoa flour? WHAT WAS I THINKING?!), so I’m going slow with this. So far, I’ve swapped out the oils, reduced the sugar (rationalizing that the coconuts and blueberries will help), and added in agave. I’m moving toward brown rice syrups, honey (in my heart I KNOW honey will make this loaf SING), and coconut, tapioca and almond flours. I’ll keep you posted on all my attempts (and inevitable failures), along the way.

For now, know that this is the sort of loaf that will wake you up at night. The sort of loaf that I’m carrying, right now, so I can pawn off to someone else. Simply put: this kid is DANGEROUS.

INGREDIENTS (makes two loaves)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup agave
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup ripe mashed banana (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cups almond milk
Nonstick coconut oil cooking spray

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9×5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, agave and coconut oil on medium-low speed until combined. Beat in the flour mixture. Add the vanilla, banana, coconut, almond milk, and beat just to combine. Fold in the blueberries.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 50 to 55 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. But honestly, are you going to do this? Shove a delicious loaf in the freezer and abandon it so cruelly? Hardly. You’re going to end up cutting small slices in the middle of the night, and eat this, standing up, in the kitchen, in the DARK.

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creature comforts: coconut bread

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To say that this winter has been Odyssean, cold and cruel would be an understatement. Five months of misery is enough, but yesterday, I felt a chill to bone and wet snow that swept into my eyes. In between appointments, I held an old friend close and said, this is the best day of your life. I’m finding that if you lead a situation with your heart, the outcome will be nothing less than extraordinary. After, I went home and whipped up a bread that I knew would deliver me comfort.

While this loaf isn’t your normal softened banana bread fare (it doesn’t yield, the crumb is a tad tougher than what I’m accustomed to), I had a slice of this toasted with almond butter and it was perfection. Simple to make, simple to relax and enjoy, and simple to know that every day should be regarded as the best day of your life.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, with slight modifications
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (295 ml) full-fat milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I used 1 tsp of nutmeg as I was out of cinnamon)
1 cup (200 grams) cane sugar
5 ounces (140 grams) sweetened flaked coconut (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted or melted and browned, if desired
Vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray for baking pan

DIRECTIONS
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add sugar and coconut, and stir to mix. Make a well in the center, and pour in egg mixture, then stir wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. Add butter, and stir until just smooth — be careful not to overmix.

Butter and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Spread batter in pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, anywhere from 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool in pan five minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Serve in thick slices, toasted, with butter or almond butter spread.

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peanut butter banana bread

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Just when you thought banana bread was the height of loaf perfection, imagine peanut butter stepping into the game. Typically, I’ve been baking banana loaves with grape seed/coconut oil and using everything from dark chocolate to coconut in adding layers of texture and flavor, and never did I conceive of the most brilliant addition: PEANUT BUTTER.

I love how, with each bite, you get the crunch from the chips, the smoothness of the creamy peanut butter and the sweetness of the bananas. A cinch to bake, you will thank me (or want to punch me) after you’ve hoovered the whole loaf.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Oh Sweet Basil, with minor modifications
1 3/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup (5 tbsp) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I use Peanut Butter & Co)
2/3 cup cane sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed, ripened bananas (2-3 medium bananas)
1 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugar and eggs, and mix on medium/high speed to combine.

Turn the mixer to medium speed and add a small amount of the flour mixture and a tablespoon of banana until fully incorporated. Alternate between the flour mixture and the banana, starting and ending with the banana. Fold in the chocolate chips to combine.

Spray a 9×5 loaf pan, with cooking spray and add the banana bread mixture and even out with an offset spatula. Bake for 50-60 minutes, tenting with foil the last few minutes to avoid too dark a crust.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack. Enjoy!

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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