A month has passed since I last wrote here. And while I could blame it on the move, my job, the sixteen hours it took me and Paul to register at Babies "R" Us, it's much, much more than that.
My sweet silver lap top has been closed for over a month, because I was trying to feel it all, everything, all of this change and gratitude and love and fear and wonder and hope and excitement. And sometimes when you're really, really feelin' it, you don't want to interrupt it by opening the lap top. I don't want to miss this time; I don't want to look back and realize it passed by without me joining in. So for the last month, I have been busy burrowing into this precious time we have before the big After starts.
I left my camera in its case and just reveled in the act of pounding dough, dicing shallots, leaning over a steaming pot and breathing in my favorite smells. I ordered a lot of takeout, so that I could spend hours at night just staring at my belly, wondering who this person is, and will be.
Cocooning, you might call it. I've been cocooning.
(And also growing very, very large. I spent seven minutes last night trying to untie the knot that was keeping my sweatpants up. It took me seven minutes because I could not see the knot from under my enormous belly.)
But there's only so much time a gal can stay in her cocoon. And I'm terrified (TERRIFIED) that when the baby comes I won't know how to manage it all and will lose every friend I've ever had and will stop writing and will lose myself and turn into one of those women who never showers or gets out of her yoga pants and has nothing to say except things about her baby. (I'm hoping I'm inherently selfish enough that I won't be capable of losing so much of myself, but you never know.)
Catching up with you guys seems like a good way to keep that from happening.
So, here I am. Here we are.
And I made some really, really good banana bread to welcome us back.
This recipe is not a secret. In fact, it almost has a cult following in the food blogging/reading/writing world. It comes from Molly Wizenberg of Orangette, more specifically from her wonderful book, A Homemade Life. I will admit that I did not follow the recipe perfectly, because I was too busy watching my belly grow to go to the market for crystallized ginger, and I also used WAY more banana than any sane recipe would call for, but it was still a heavenly loaf. And I ate it all in about three sittings.
Now, just so you know who you are dealing with these days, I will tell you a secret: I cried over the color of the batter. This is not a joke. The yellow of the batter with the dark chocolate specs was so beautiful in the slanted sunlight of my kitchen, that I ACTUALLY CRIED, and then thought the sappiest thoughts about sharing the color of banana bread batter with a child someday and all of it was so nauseating and cheesy, I snapped myself out of it pretty quickly. This is all very embarrassing, and very true. (I also cried over an episode of The Biggest Loser. I cried, and then I watched it again when it repeated three hours later. THIS is what I've been doing the last month.)
There are hundreds of banana bread recipes out there, but this one is special. It calls for yogurt, which makes it moist and adds a touch of tang to the banana, and also calls for chocolate, which is never a bad thing. If you can, include the crystallized ginger in your own version of the banana bread, I'm sure it makes it even more delicious. But if you are too busy with your own version of cocooning, make do with what you have, but definitely make this bread.
This banana bread is so good, it brought me to tears, and brought me back here to you. That's some good banana bread.
And, yes, I took this picture at work. I can't even get my sweatpants off, people. Cut a pregnant lady some slack.
And thank you for being so patient, and leaving so many wonderful comments and email, gently nudging me back here. And thank you to Tea for making me sit down and write today. She reminded me how much I missed being here.
Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 very ripe bananas -- I used 4)
1/4 cup well-stirred whole-milk plain yogurt (not low fat or nonfat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350. Grease a standard-sized (about 9 by 5 inches) loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.
In a small bowl, microwave butter until just melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy, but there should be no unincorporated flour. Scape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top.
(Try not to cry at how beautiful the batter is.)
Bake until the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.
Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip it out onto the rack and let it cool completely before slicing -- unless you are pregnant and can't help yourself.