THE BEST Banana Bread

So, I have had bananas decaying on my counter for about a week (in a super cute bowl-thing we got at one of the wedding showers) and once they started down that path, I figured I'd save them for a rockin' banana bread recipe.

Of which I don't have.

I also, randomly, have a bucket full of walnuts on my counter because I decided I needed more Omega-3s in my life. And then I found out walnuts don't have ALL the Omega-3s you need for healthiness so I kinda slacked off on eating them. I then found Omega-3 supplements but for kids in a gummy version!! That was awesome until I discovered I had to eat like 6-8 a day for the adult amount and went through the bottle in like a week. LAME. ADULTS LIKE GUMMY VITAMINS TOO.

So, after much research, I settled on a recipe discovered from the Neelys of the Food Network. I have to say, I was a lil disappointed with Pioneer Woman and Tasty Kitchen. Nothing really jumped out. Perused a few cooking/baking blogs, less than impressed. Went back to the ol FN site and this one was 3rd or 4th on the list for top ratings. And I gotta say, those crazies weren't lying.

Momma Callie's Banana Nut Bread (as originally created by Pat & Gina Neely from the Food Network, http://bit.ly/ahvKUj)

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature, plus more for loaf pan*
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs**
  • 1/2 cup sour cream***
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans****

  • *I used a bundt pan, which worked WAY better, and only cooked for about 45 minutes. Some of the commenters complained that the batter spilled over while cooking in a regular loaf pan.
  • **I used 3 Eggbeaters Whites. Which was 9 Tablespoons. I have no idea what that is in cups.
  • ***I had just under 1/2 cup, and I used the reduced fat. I filled the rest of the 1/2 cup up with milk.
  • ****I used the delicious fresh chopped walnuts. I personally think walnuts go better in the banana bread, but whatevs.

  • Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and put a rack on the middle shelf. Butter and flour a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan.
    In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
    In a separate small bowl, mash the bananas with a wooden spoon, leaving a bit of texture.
    In another large bowl, use a hand electric mixer or stand mixer to cream the 1/2 cup of butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in the mashed bananas, sour cream and vanilla and beat until just combined. Add the dry ingredients and gently stir in pecans. Pour the batter into the pan and put on a sheet tray.
    Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes (this is if you are using the traditional loaf pan; with the bundt pan it was 45). Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Slice and serve with Honey Butter.
    *Cook's Note: To ripen bananas quickly, put them into a paper bag and fold down the top. The bananas should ripen in 2 days. (I thought this was a pretty good tip, bc sometimes you just want banana bread right away and it just ain't happnin')
    Honey Butter issue: I didn't originally mention anything about it, but the recipe does call to spread some homemade honey butter (1/2 cup butter, 2 TB honey) on the finished product. I think it tasted pretty good, BC thought the bread was just fine without it. So to each his own on that one. And seriously, if you put this batter in a bundt pan, with butter on the pan covered with flour, for 45 minutes on 350, it will come out so beautiful and squishy and delicious. Oh dear.


I need it to stay June for one more month...pleez?

I feel really beat down. This bar mess has really been a lesson in delayed gratification. Probably the hardest thing in the world has been to watch everyone around me scurry off into their professional lives while I'm stuck in my little pothole. I described that to someone the other day, that I feel like I've been stuck in a pothole for a year now, just grinding my wheels, going deeper. I am terrified of failing again. The thought of having to go to Tampa for a third time and sit in that giant room with 4,000 people makes me start shallow breathing and get all sweaty and teary.

I have to go back to work for a week starting Monday. I'm trying to prepare myself of the barrage of "how's studying going?" and "you're studying hard, aren't you?" questions and practicing my sweet "yes I sure am!" smile. Which is always inevitable followed up with "Oh, you'll get it this time, I know it." Which stabs me straight to the core because that's what I've heard for a year now. A WHOLE YEAR. Part of me wants to make a sign for net week to hang around my neck that reads "DON'T ask me about the bar."

Whatever, this wasn't that important to warrant a post, I guess. I just needed to throw it out there. Nobody really wants to hear that stuff. Too negative. Stay positive!, they say. Easy to say when you aren't in it. Either way, it needs to get out of my head.

Say a little prayer, I feel like I'm losing my mind and its not even July yet.


Not a fun one today.

Things are not summery here at the moment. But I am still being judgy.

Just as a quick update, I am studying, trying to catch up from being behind when my family was here. it is really hard to go not only hardcore studying, but extra hardcore, something of which I never had to begin with EVER. I cried last night and this morning. Everyone here is stressed out. I'm sure the dog can sense it. I can't hardly stand it anymore.

The funeral was yesterday. Me, BC, and my Dad went. We were running late, of course, thanks to me. I swear I can get up a thousand hours early, stay up all night, and will still be running behind. Anyway, we straight up got pulled over by a state trooper. And a big scary one in an unmarked car. Ya'll we were in the middle of NOWHERE. Even worse, we got backwards pulled over. Like, he was in front of us, turned on his lights, and waived us ahead. I wasn't driving, my Dad was, but we were in my car. Of course, I feel terrible, bc we wouldn't be running late if it wasn't for me. I offered to pay as much of the ticket that I could, since it was my fault. Luckily, we were all dressed up and my Dad told the guy we were trying to get to his stepfathers funeral in the town literally 5-ish minutes away. He seemed unimpressed, walked to his car, and came back with a stack of papers. Thankfully, he gave us a warning! There were lots of prayers of thanksgiving after that. In good state trooper fashion, we were going, according to him, 60 in a 45. But in the real world, we were actually going 45ish, considering we were coming around a curve on the tiniest back-road ever. We all know how that goes.

On to the funeral--we got there like 1 minute late, right as they were walking out the family (whoops). Apparently I have like 4 step-cousins I know nothing about. Well, maybe more than that because my step-grandfathers kids have all been divorced and remarried, so I guess it runs in the family? I honestly have no idea if my Dad spoke to his step-siblings yesterday. It was a very odd thing to experience. Clearly, we were there for my grandmother. And she wasn't even there. It would have been too emotional (and it was way hot outside) for her to suffer through. Plus, she probably wouldn't understand with the Alzheimer's and Xanax. So maybe we were there more for my Dad's sisters. I don't know. Either way, it was nice to see everyone again. Even if under crappy circumstances.

I didn't cry. Well, I teared up during the playing of Taps, but who doesn't. I don't think my Dad was upset. The whole time at the service they kept talking about what a "family man" he was, how caring and compassionate he was, how much he loved his family, etc. I just sat there thinking we might have showed up to the wrong funeral. Or maybe the preacher brought the wrong notes. Or maybe the old guy the preacher said he talked to wasn't my step-grandfather, but someone else. Maybe he was talking to my step-grandfathers actual kids and grandkids 'cause he sure wasn't talking to us. Either way, it was odd.

We left there and went to the burial. Apparently my step-grandfather was in the Navy, which I never knew, so they played Taps and did the folding of the flag, which was really neat to see. I've always wondered how they did that so nicely.  Also, Taps was played from a little boombox inside the bugle. They hardly ever actually play it anymore because no one knows how to the play the bugle! Anybody know that? It was definitely a first for me. After that the little church had a luncheon for us, put on by the ladies' bereavement group volunteers. The food was crazy delicious (chicken fingers, tons of peas and butter beans, squash casserole, yeast rolls, ham, YUM). My grandmother was there and we spent some time with her. She is so old and feeble. My anger towards her is long gone. Now I just have warm squishies in my heart. My Dad said when we left, she asked him to stay with her. Apparently she talks a lot about my Dad. I kinda wonder if she has any regrets? I don't know...

One of my grandmothers sisters was there with her husband. We got caught up on her grandson Brian, my second-ish cousin?? I have no idea how to calculate that stuff. Anyway, he apparently somehow came down with Lupus at age 29. Brian had some joint pain, and that was it, before the disease completely attacked him out of nowhere. After spending almost a year in the hospital in various forms, he is now blind and has little to no short term memory. He has lesions on his brain that make him have constant noise in his head. HIs second child was born right before everything happened and he has no memory of this child at all. He doesn't remember what anyone looks like. For a long time he had a hard time remembering he was married and had one child, much less a second. His wife took on a job as a LPN to carry them with insurance and to better care for him. He was so incredibly sick, and still is, and I can't imagine what their lives are like now.

So as I sit here, trying to drag myself through this bar junk, I am reminded of not only how precious life it, but how it can change in an instant. I am thankful for a functioning (although flabby) body, that does have short-term memory (although it feels like sometimes I don't). I am thankful for a husband who works hard and loves me and doesn't cheat on me or do things to hurt our family. I am thankful for a Dad who showed me how to forgive, even when something deeply effects you at difficult points in your life. I am thankful for a sweet puppy who is giving me an incredible primer in patience. And, although I know I probably don't portray it very well, I am eternally thankful for a God who has blessed me beyond measure with this life and forgiven me every step of the way.


On Death and Dying

There are other things I wanted to talk about this morning. Actually I hadn't really planned on blogging at all, now that studying is back in full force, I've been finding I don't always have the time I need to sit down and spill my guts.

But this one warranted such a spillage. I need to get something off my chest.

My step-grandfather died on Sunday. Fathers Day. Ech. He isn't my "grandfather." We aren't blood related. And honestly, I wasn't even that close to him. He was married to my grandmother, my Dad's mom, my Meme. That's about as deep as the connection goes.

Family history always tends to be sordid, but here's the short of the deal. GrandDaddy and Meme got divorced when my Dad was about 13 years old. TERRIFIC age for your parents to get divorced. Luckily my Dad managed to come out unscathed and is amazing to my Mom and me. Anyway, his sisters were quite a bit younger, so they went off with Meme to grow up, while my Dad stayed with GrandDaddy.

It wasn't amicable. Not in the least. Meme had been running around on GrandDaddy, specifically with the man who ended up being my step-grandfather. It started when GrandDaddy went off to war, and then continued upon his return. She would tell him she was going to work, or to spend time with friends. NOPE. Here's how whacked it got--once he found out she was cheating on him, he would go find her, and bring her home and tell her he forgave her! Over and over! And she kept doing it. My Dad saw it all and heard it all.

Can I just tell you that when I found out the truth about all this I was crushed? I mean, CRUSHED. My GrandDaddy is seriously, one of the sweetest, kindest, easy-going people on the whole entire planet. He was so generous with all his kids and grandkids and I never once heard him say a harsh word. I was mad. I was really angry at Meme. Now, of course, by the time I found out, she was old. I mean, real old. Not Alzheimers old at that point, but old enough that my anger did nothing but hurt me. But it changed my opinion of my step-grandfather. I always treated him with respect, and I supposed I loved him when I was little. But I stopped liking him from there on out. My Dad of course, never really liked him. I mean, how could he? But I have to say, I NEVER EVER knew that. My Dad always treated him with the utmost respect, and I never knew anything was out of the ordinary until he told me the truth about the divorce probably 5-6 years ago.

And that's where we are now. He died. I was asked to be a pallbearer at his funeral (all the grandkids were). I said no. Mostly because when I was asked he wasn't dead and I didn't know when he was going to die and I'm pretty busy with bar stuff. I mean, what if he held out until July 27th?? That sounds harsh, yes, but it was the truth.

I've always been weird with death. When I hear someone died, I'm saddened, but I never get upset until I actually see them dead. Is that weird? I don't know. For some reason just saying it has never really done much for me before I see them. When my Dad told me he died, I said oh, ok. And I know that a lot of it has to do with how I feel towards the whole situation.

What got this going is a cousin's (she is the daughter of my Dad's youngest sister) recent status on fb about her "grandfather" passing. That really upset me. I wanted to call her up and say: this man is NOT our grandfather! Do you have any idea what he did to our family? Do you have any idea what our Meme did to our family with him? Do you have any clue that this man cheated on his own wife with OUR Meme? Do you not recall how his kids were always superior to us? How our parents and all of us were never good enough to warrant a "congratulations" over his own biological kids/grandkids? Have you never heard your own mother tell stories of how growing up in his home was a nightmare? He is NOT our grandfather.

And now I'm conflicted. This makes me really sad. I have so much ill will for this man, inside my own self, that he probably never had a clue about. I'm so mad about something that happened in the past, that its clouded how I feel right now. The funeral is tomorrow and I told my Dad I'd go to the funeral with him, I think BC is coming too. Honestly, I think I'm more sad about my lack of forgiveness than his actual passing. GrandDaddy was able to forgive Meme and my step-grandfather for what they did. My Dad was able to forgive. I should too.

Tomorrow is going to be weird. I know it. I have a lot of praying and soul searching to do about this. I guess all I can say is, when it comes to family, you get over it and move on. Either keep people in your life or cut them out, but don't harbor anything against them. It only affects you and makes you sad in the end. I think all this has taught me a lot, one of the most long and drawn-out lessons I've ever had to learn.  Love, don't hate.


More food savings!

I did some more scavenging last week, and grabbed all my coupons and headed to the Publix for the best deals. I ended up snagging more stuff than I intended, mostly because I found out more stuff was on sale than I had coupons for, and I couldn't pass it up! I ended up spending $54.43 and saved $38.30! I have to say, I feel like I'm getting better!

Here's a quick glimpse at my loot:

I learned some things about Extreme Couponing in the past couple of days (which, in hindsight, I suppose I just should have assumed) that makes me think the show isn't the most honest thing out there. Which, I mean, what reality show really is? I saw an expose on one of the ladies they featured, that she had incorrectly used coupons in the store for things she didn't actually buy (i.e. a lotion coupon for body wash). Plus, I heard that most stores will not allow you to actually walk out with very many items for free. Most stores only allow you to get up to 15 items for free when you are buying them with coupons (not in-store BOGO deals). So....a little misleading. PLUS, I mean you have to have milk and fruits and veggies! The people on those shows never buy that stuff. You can't live off of taco sauce and mushrooms for the rest of your life.

I know in the picture, it doesn't seem like a lot, but I am definitely proud of myself!! BC says this is the equivalent of me in camo, squatting down and holding up my dead deer by the horns.


Pup Pup

The puppy barfed in my car last night. She was just hanging out in the backseat while we drove around to get our free doughnuts for Doughnut Day. When she had enough, she barfed. A LOT. I will spare you the description of what it looked like and smelled like.

I don't not know how to make her not be carsick. Except maybe just more experience in the car, for short trips. I also do not know how to clean it up. I soaked up as much as I could with paper towels, wiped it down with a wet washcloth, and sprinkled a ton of baking soda all over it and let it sit. That's what the interwebz told me to do. If anybody has a better suggestion, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

Either way, here she is in all her cuteness: