Monday, November 23, 2009

The Stash

I was making banana bread the other day because the black bananas kept falling off the shelf in the freezer and landing at my feet on the floor. I have a great banana bread recipe. It's written on note paper from college. Don't know who gave it to me. The paper is stained with butter and a little the worse for wear, but still readable. Better yet, no one has ever turned down a thick hunk of this particular banana bread, especially when it is warm.

However, this was one of those days when I decided to stray from tradition and try out a new recipe I had found one that called for sour milk. Who wouldn't want to try something like this, especially if there was sour milk waiting to be used in the fridge? It was a day to experiment.

Sometimes I pull all the ingredients out at once to bake; other times I reach into the cupboard as I go. This day I started with all the wet products mixed together. I had thawed, gooey bananas, reject eggs from the chicken yard, butter melted in the microwave, vanilla from Mexico, sour half-and-half from the fridge. I mixed in the sugar until I had a creamy, brown soup.

Next, I needed to sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together. The first two ingredients were easy enough, but when I reached for the baking soda, it looked as if the last person to use the box had decided to store walnuts in it. Now, why would anyone do that? Seemed like an interesting idea, but it didn't really make sense since I usually store my walnuts in the fridge or the freezer. Walnuts in the soda box. Walnuts in the soda box. I was stumped. I started to idly pull the nuts out of the box, because what I needed at the moment was baking soda.

As I dug through the walnuts, I couldn't help but think storing nuts in the soda box was a bad idea with all the wildlife in our house. I re-framed the thought. Who would think storing nuts in a box in the cupboard was a good idea? Oh! I turned on the light to the cupboard and peered into its nether regions.

My mouse traps lay discarded on the floor, pushed into a corner. After a winter of playing death-eater, I had taken the summer off, figuring most critters would willingly look outside for fresh things to eat rather than raid the pantry for dry goods. Of course, here we were, coming into late fall. I had been canning for months, storing my goods, preparing for a time when fresh food froze and wilted in the ground. My traps had lain idle all this time.

A large, unopened bag of walnuts caught my eye on the shelf kitty-corner to where I stored the baking soda. As I pulled it out for a better view, walnuts cascaded to the ground. There was a large hole at the back of the bag. This bag was no longer new, and no longer as full as when purchased at the store! Well, at least that explained it. I was providing winter storage, a.k.a. "the stash", for our house mice, whose wily ways had apparently kept them safe from the sharp claws and quick pounce of Bubba. Or, maybe not. This stash looked a bit shabby and incomplete.

Most amusing? The soda box reads, "Help Fight Hunger". I don't think of baking soda, per se, fighting hunger, unless as the final ingredient necessary to make banana bread. But, I do think of walnuts as a product that could fight hunger all on its own. I just never thought of my role in helping to fight hunger in our resident mouse population...unless as the final ingredient in a mouse sandwich for the cat!

My College Banana Bread Recipe


3-4 mashed bananas
3 tbl warm water
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c sugar
1/2 c butter

3 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Mix dry and wet ingredients
Pour into greased/floured loaf pan
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour

Photo: Walnuts in a box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2009 Scottie Jones

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