Moosewood Banana Bread

When life hands you those 2 or 3 overripe bananas, either make a smoothie or banana bread. If you can't do this immediately, freeze the bananas, but harken to me: PEEL THEM FIRST. Trying to unpeel a thawed frozen banana is not fun and rarely successful.

This banana bread recipe comes from The Moosewood Cookbook. It's actually their carrot cake recipe but they are thoughtful enough to give the banana variation on the facing page. One quirky part of it is that you soak the 2 cups of pureed banana in 1 cup of strong coffee. And being that today was our annual Easter Egg Hunt, guess what we happened to have lying around but the quarter-full Box O' Joe.

So not only did I have the ripe bananas, I had a cup of coffee. I am so good.  I rock. Mush up those bananas, pour the coffee over. Set the bowl aside and get busy measuring dry ingredients, humming happily to myself. I love it when these things just work out. I'm so smug. Coffee and bananas. You gotta pity those poor unfortunates who just don't have their shit tog—.... I have no flour.


No flour? Impossible. There's always flour. Flour is just one of those things that's always around, how could there be no flour? Commence the hilarious ballet of denial, looking in every conceivable and inconceivable cabinet in the kitchen, muttering to myself (in various four-letter words) that this is just impossible. After my triumph of glory of coffee and bananas, I'm going to blow it on flour?!?

I have no flour.

Thank God for my next-door neighbor who keeps me in eggs, and now keeps me in flour as well. The kids were up playing with hers, and she sent them home with 4 cups of flour in a ziplock, thus saving the bread.

Moosewood Banana Bread

This makes 2 loaf pans, or 1 9X13 baking dish, or some variation thereof if, like me, you think you have 2 loaf pans but you only have one (I'm an idiot). You could also cut the recipe in half.

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups pureed banana soaked in 1 cup black coffee.
  • Optional:  1 cup fresh or dried blueberries
  • Optional:  2 tbsp poppyseeds

Preheat oven to 350. Spray baking pans with Pam.

Sift together salt, flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon. Set aside.

Beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and orange zest.

With mixer on lowest setting, add half the dry ingredients. Then add banana-coffee mixture. Then add rest of dry ingredients and poppyseeds (if using).

If using blueberries, stir in by hand.

Spread batter evenly in pans. Bake anywhere from 45 to 55 minutes (a cake pan will take less time, a loaf pan more). A tester inserted in the center should come out clean.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and let cool completely.

Let's talk tofu...(and Joe)

"A brick of tofu. Gently warmed in brown butter."

So sayeth my friend Mieke, recounting tales of her mother's horrible, yet memorable cooking. This meal sounded particularly dire.

I've tried to make tofu memorable a bunch of different ways over the years, and when Panda was 2 or 3, I hit upon this sentence in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest (one of the Moosewood cookbooks): "Cut into cubes, dust with cornstarch and fry in sesame oil."

I cut, dusted and fried, and that's the way I've made it ever since. The kids eat it, we eat it. You can debate the healthiness either way but if you're trying to go meatless a few nights a week, it's a sure thing.

And we have Joe on our side.

I drive my friend Stacie crazy when I go on about Trader Joe's—apparently he does not reside south of the Mason-Dixon line—but I can't help it. I don't know what I'd do without him. He is a harried mother's true friend. Especially when it comes to the frozen food section, which is filled with staples of last-minute-whip-up-ability. Vegetable birds nests (little latke-type fritters of potato, carrot, onion and scallion); spanikopita triangles; different kinds of gyoza (so essential to Thai coconut soup).

Best of all, vegetable fried rice. Can't be without three or four bags of this stuff in the freezer at all times. Redman will eat fried rice down to the last grain and it's one of my best fallbacks after scrambled eggs. In fact, I put a scrambled egg in it.

Tofu with Fried Rice à la Trader Joe-San

  • 1 brick of extra-firm tofu, drained on paper towels
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Canola and sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 or 2 bags prepared vegetable fried rice
  • 1 or 2 eggs

Cut tofu into 1" cubes, as such (and yes, I DO have to show all the steps because I'm very proud of how I cut the cubes with one hand while holding a camera in the other, do you mind?):

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil and one tablespoon sesame oil.

Yes, that is a reused ziplock bag which at one time did hold Panda's collection of Silly Bandz.  Good eye!

Yes, that is a reused ziplock bag which at one time did hold Panda's collection of Silly Bandz.  Good eye!

Put cornstarch in a ziplock bag, add tofu. Zip the bag. Make sure it's zipped. Check again (can you tell I've made this mistake too many times?). If the bag is confirmed as zipped, shake to coat the cubes thoroughly.

Fry in the oil, shaking the pan often so that all sides are browned. Transfer to a paper-towel lined serving dish and sprinkle with salt. Add another tablespoon oil to same skillet and cook rice until thawed, stirring often. If desired, scramble eggs, making small pieces, and stir into rice.

Shown above is just one bag of rice, and all this here will feed the 4 of us with nothing left. If you have more people, or hungrier people, it's easily augmented by using another bag, or steaming some broccoli or asparagus and serving with soy sauce or any asian dipping sauce.

To the ruler, the people are heaven; to the people, food is heaven.
— Ancient Chinese Proverb