Things worth preserving

Banana bread like it was when dinosaurs roamed the earth
Banana bread like it was when dinosaurs roamed the earth

On my cookbook shelves are some new favorites and some well worn standards.  One of the things I like to do is observe the paradigm shifts in food knowledge over time based on the recipes and accompanying notes.

We used to think that bread was good, but now we know bread is bad.  Feel free however to spread lots of butter on your vegetables.

We used to think that butter was good but now we know animal fat is hideous and we should use margarine.  By the way, feel free to spread margarine on your bread because complex carbohydrates should comprise a majority of your intake.

We used to think carbohydrates were the answer, but now we realize that a diet higher in protein will leave you healthier and slimmer.  Feel free to use fats.

We used to think margarine was good, but now we know that if you even look at a package, you’ll probably fall down dead in the supermarket from the transfats.

And so on.

As the “knowledge” has changed, so have the recipes.  During a no-fat iteration, you might discover that you had to use plain non-fat yogurt to make that pound cake.  Low carbs?  Forget baking — just gnaw on a piece of meat.

 I thought about that yesterday as I copied a recipe for my son newly launched into his own apartment.  It was only a pancake recipe, but it’s a good one.  It comes from a cookbook given to me as a wedding present; splotched, stained, binding separated from the pages, and in all ways indicative of a book well loved.  This recipe comes from a few pages further into the tome and has none of the “wise” alterations which plagued later versions of the cookbook.

Enjoy it with some butter if you like, although it is delicious by itself.

Banana Bread

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook © 1978, 1969
  • 1 3/4 cups mashed bananas (2-3 medium)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350º.  Grease bottom only of loaf pan 9x5x3 inches. Mix all ingredients, beat 30 seconds.  Pour into pan and bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Loosen sides of loaf from pan, remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.  To store, wrap and refrigerate no longer than 1 week, like it’s going to last that long!


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