Old and soon to be rotten bananas, check. Flour, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, butter, fine. Eggs? Really? I called my friend and neighbor Allison, an accomplished baker, "I'm baking...", both she and Jack, in our kitchen, started laughing. I continued, "banana bread, and you need eggs" more laughter, "may I borrow an egg?". Hours and hours in the kitchen, I am at my happiest toddling away, mixing, adding, dashing and creating but baking, I'm terrible. Really bad, occasionally painful, we've spent many Thanksgiving dinners spreading butter on virtual rocks, but I press on, certain that these treats I offer will be received with love, confident in our very good dental insurance.
We have a bread machine, foolproof I was assured, can't go wrong, delicious every time! Taped to the top of the bread machine is a large sign "Don't forget the yeast", left there by my wise husband. Foolproof is a relative term, subjective when considering the fool.
There is a long list somewhere of things I really don't do well but at the top, next to baking, you will find gardening. Similar to my singing delusions, I believe in my botanic abilities. My husband thought that by housing me in a small urban space I would surrender my dreams of garden grandeur, not so my love. Every spring I drag the family to the nursery, filling our cart with hanging baskets, flowers and herb plants, with all the best intentions. Last year, in a show of support, Jack bought me a book on urban gardening. I read all the pertinent sections, made lists, and confidently set out to outfit our small porch with flowering plants, to be enjoyed all season long. By Independence Day we were enjoying kindling, concerned about a misguided firework hitting a hanging plant corpse and sending the whole building up in flames.
Allison the baker is on to me. In our take on suburban lawn envy, she surveys the devastation on our front porch while I gaze at her jungle like back porch, overgrown with flora, green with envy. Occasionally she will casually mention that she waters her plants every morning, as if that might be the secret to botanic genius. Right, if I only remembered to water, well maybe that would actually help. And, to top it off, she's not afraid of yeast, not at all, bakes bread constantly. Yeast terrifies me. Who can live next door to this kind of domestic maven?
Gardening, like baking, requires nurturing, patience, and care. Similar qualities are generally attributed to mothers as well, as any of the Mother's Day cards available now will attest. I do remember to water the children, they are fed, reasonably clean and left in the sun occasionally, albeit slathered with sunblock. They continue to grow and flourish, despite my horticultural inadequacies. And fortunately a good loaf of bread is only a short walk away, with a good friend who is willing to share.
The banana bread? Burned both loaves.