The one true rule in our kitchen between me and KS is that we will do whatever we can to manage our perishables in such a way that we don’t have to throw them out if they start to spoil. Leftover herbs become pesto, tomatoes with a couple of small spots get either a slow roast in the oven or processed into homemade tomato sauce, stale bread becomes croûtons. Sometimes this means deviating from trying something new as a recipe in order to salvage an ingredient or two. In every kitchen, there are most likely a few stories like this from time to time.
Ever since we got back from South Carolina, the cooking hasn’t stopped. I’m already behind in writing all the food we’ve prepared – and I’m warning you, one picture in particular (pork chops, why won’t you photograph well?) doesn’t make you run-run-run to the kitchen and start cooking. But I’ve been wresting with meat photography – and no matter what I do, it just looks gross to me. No matter what angle, day light or otherwise, meat comes out looking gross and well, dead. Could it be my former vegetarian reacting? But never mind about that for now.
We brought home with us a few bananas that served us as our snack food on the road. And you know how bananas are. Lush and yellow in the grocery store, luring you with their sweetness and potassium. And then you bring them with you into the car and the sit in this scorching heat for a few hours and bam! – a few brown, soft spots appear and you’re left with mushy, brown bananas. Personally, I prefer to eat my bananas while they’re perfectly yellow, but when it comes to baking – well, bring on the soft, the over-ripe, the bruised!
And so yesterday, while cleaning up in the kitchen, I glanced over to see the sad-looking bananas hang out on the counter, probably convinced that their fate was to wind up in the garbage. Not so, I thought and dug up my trusty Martha Stewart cookbook. In ten minutes, the batter was made, poured and what was to become banana bread was happily sitting in the oven. Instead of nuts (because I’m weird and don’t like nuts in my banana bread, go figure), I added cranberries. Every year, around Thanksgiving time, I buy two extra bags of cranberries and freeze them. And then through the year, dip into my stash for things like banana bread or whatever else. It’s served me well through the years and in my opinion, it beats those Craisins every time. The cranberries are magical in banana bread, truly making the flavor pop and develop a whole new dimension. And magical is more than I could have asked for, considering that the initial goal was manage a spoiling food and what I got in return was a sweet, dreamy treat!
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup fresh cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; mix to combine. Stir in cranberries, and pour into prepared pan.
Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.
Adapted from “The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day”
Makes 1 large loaf.