Last night, I meant to take a break. My shoulders were kinked from the redoing-of-the-kitchen-cabinets project and spending too many hours in the basement sanding, painting, shellacking and sanding some more. So instead, I worked at my sewing machine and altered a couple of skirts.
I know. It wasn't really a break after all, but there's just always so much to be done that I have a hard time relaxing and doing nothing. It's been months since I've even been able to indulge in the time to read a book, and I've had to satisfy my love of words with my word-a-day e-mail subscription.
So tonight, I took a real evening off (other than editing some photos and writing this blog post), curled up on the couch, and watched a movie. P.S. I Love You is always a good idea, especially because, you know, Gerard Butler.
I love that in the movie, he refers to the stone wall as his "fort", and she is able to discover it, too, when she reads one of his letters there.
My fort was an old, dilapidated trailer - the kind that can be hitched to the back of a car to haul things. It was a rickety, broken mess, with half the floor missing, although my dad covered it with a slab of wood so stuff wouldn't fall through. It was usually parked along the side of our house in South Carolina, and was probably a little bit of an eyesore.
But a child's imagination is able to see past all that, and to my brother and sister and I, it was a fort. We set up a bucket of water with a cup attached to a string and drew up water from our "well". We filled it with discarded Tupperware and pretended to cook. We laughed and fought and played and told each other the most secretive of secrets in our fort.
Banana bread evokes comforting memories of childhood also. Everyone I know grew up eating banana bread, and everyone thought they had the best recipe. I've made mine with chocolate chips and a crumbly streusel topping. A pinch of espresso powder enhances the flavor and cuts the sweetness of the moist, cinnamony bread. It really is the best thing ever.
Banana Chocolate Chip Streusel Bread
- 4 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 350 and line 3 standard loaf pans with parchment paper so the paper hangs over the sides.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and espresso powder. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet just until moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Divide the batter between the pans. Bake for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the streusel topping ingredients and use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the bread and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then lift the bread out of the pans by the parchment paper and cool on a wire rack before cutting.
Yields 3 loaves
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen