Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Proselytizing Banana Bread

by Erin

This past weekend was my best friend Rachel’s 26th birthday, which we celebrated in style in downtown DC. As some of you may know, I take birthdays (my own especially, but others’ too!) very seriously, and Rachel’s was certainly no exception. She had asked for a cookbook, so I got her Martha Stewart’s relatively new cookbook, Great Food Fast. It has beautiful pictures and the recipes are based around seasonal ingredients, which I love because it subtly encourages supporting local farmers.

I also got Rachel the book I’m currently reading and LOVING, Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. It’s a wonderful (and hilarious) tale of one man’s journey hiking the Appalachian Trail that I recommend for anyone who loves a great, witty story and learning about kooky but true facts about our country. Also it’s great for that person in your life who loves hiking (I’m looking at you, Uncle Michael).

But, this blog is about cooking, and that brings me to my third and final gift for the lovely Rachel: Banana Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins! The story behind the recipe (originally for Banana Chocolate Chip Bread) is a great one. When Rachel went off to college, her mother, Barbara (check out her amazing website here), made her a cookbook with all of her most favorite recipes (and some new ones, I think) for her to recreate while she was away at school so she could have a taste of home whenever she wanted. This is an idea I have loved from the second I saw that book. Each recipe begins with a brief comment from Barbara about when Rachel first had the dish, or where Barbara got the recipe, or other tips and recommendations Barbara had learned throughout her years of making each recipe. (I’d also like to note that when Rachel went off to college, Barbara wrote down the kinds of cheese she liked and didn’t like and put them on a laminated card for her to put in her wallet and take with her always. Adorable!)

One of the recipes in the book was the Banana Chocolate Chip Bread, originally from the San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook. In the note at the top, Barbara wrote: “Serves 16 (supposedly. In your case, serves 1).” I had the bread the first time when Barbara sent Rachel a care package. As roommate of the care-package-receiver, I was granted a taste of the awesome banana bread and I fell in love! This brings me to the title of the post: I was a banana bread hater before I had this bread, but it converted me! It also converted BCD Mom. In other words, if you make it, they will come.

Ahem, anyway...I wanted to make this special bread for Rachel for her birthday, but I thought it’d be easier to snack on if it were in mini-muffin form. So, I gave it a shot (carefully not mentioning this portion of the gift to Rachel prior to the birthday party in case it was a complete disaster). But, they turned out great!

The recipe begins with dry ingredients sifted together: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Then add a cup of toasted, finely chopped walnuts. The wet ingredients consist of a cup of mashed bananas (about two medium bananas), vegetable oil, two eggs, some buttermilk, and some vanilla. Then the wet and dry ingredients are added together until just combined, and a half cup of chocolate chips is folded in. If you are making the bread in a loaf pan, it takes about an hour and 15-20 minutes. The mini-muffins, however, only took about 20 minutes total!

Mmm batter...

Designer cupcake liners! I'm so fancy

The muffins came out great - moist, chewy, slight banana taste and a hint of chocolate in each bite. I was so excited to give the muffins to Rachel, and she seemed very happy to get them! We each had one immediately after she opened her presents. Then she called her mom :)

That night, we went to dinner with friends and then met up with more friends at a bar nearby. By some miracle, it worked out that my friend Bryce, an Australian I had met while studying abroad, who is currently traveling throughout the States, was coming to DC that night! He and his travel buddy Paul met us out and we had a glorious reunion!! It’s been almost 5 years exactly since I’ve seen him and it was so wonderful to see him and reminisce about old times. It was definitely a fantastic treat to add to an already wonderful evening!

Me and the birthday girl!

Me and Craig and Mark

Me and Bryce!

Happy Birthday Rachel, and safe travels to Bryce and Paul (who are headed to New Orleans next - I of course told them about Café du Monde and the muffaletta at the Central Grocery Co.)! And thanks to Barbara for being a great cook, a wonderful mom to Rachel, and a wonderful pseudo-mom to me!

Happy muffin making,



  1. I'm thinking I need to buy a muffin pan. Muffins and cupcakes were never my favorites, but you hardly ever see them in Estonia, so making my own would be kind of a novelty :-).
    Also, I linked to you girls on my blog-- I hope you don't mind!

  2. FYI - I LOVE Bill Bryson...his "In a Sunburned Country" is awesome, also "I'm a Stranger Here Myself"...etc.

    Seriously - he is the BEST

  3. Dad IS a Bill Bryson fan I believe- not sure if he has read that one. I have and can't believe I didn't think to mention it to him though. i ADORE the story of Barbara's cookbook. i really want to use that for a gift idea soon.

  4. It seems only The X Factor is strong enough to resist the spell of the banana bread!

  5. 'Tis true I love Bryson but have not read that one yet. Will get it tout de suite. Though from what I hear the BCD Dad is actually taking up hiking too! (if he doesn't do himself in from heat exhaustion and dehydration first :) )

  6. a) Am anxiously awaiting the Go Stephanie! post!

    b) Has anyone ever gone abroad and not met at least one absolutely incredible Australian? What is it about that country that breeds the most fun people in the world?

    c) Funny - I am currently reading not one but TWO Bill Bryson books - The Mother Tongue (history of the English language) and Neither Here Nor There (about his travels in Europe - I'm rereading this one). I'm a huge fan.

    d) Again, can't wait for the TC4 post. And PR starts so soon!

  7. Bill Bryson - Notes from a Small Island. Read this on the flight home from spending six weeks in the Costwolds. Laughed so hard, I had tears streaming down my face and my seatmates were about to KILL me. It's so hilarious!

  8. When I came back to post a comment, I scrolled through the post so fast that my brain put the little smiley face above the muffin picture right on the fingertip. I'd be smiling, too, if I were the index finger holding that tiny bit of deliciousness.


Blog Archive