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May 15, 2012
12:28 PM
Local Flavor

A Recipe With Mothers in Mind

A Recipe With Mothers in Mind

All of the joys and frustrations of being a mom were packed right into this Mother’s Day. My family honored my annual request for Mother’s Day brunch at Sophia’s (a great little cafe on East Johnson) and a hike at Devil’s Lake. Pile that on top of a three-game soccer tournament and dance rehearsals, and you do not get a delicious sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top. My husband and I were, for some strange reason, caught totally off guard by the meltdown that gained strength with the setting sun. Luckily, I had breathed an abundance of fresh, sunny air at Devil’s Lake. That, and making treats for homeless mothers, got me through the worst of it.

I received an email last week asking for food donations for a dinner for homeless mothers hosted by the Wisconsin Coalition for the Homeless at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center on Madison’s east side. As a mom, I can’t think of anything worse than not having a place to call home. So I spent Saturday afternoon baking banana bread for the dinner. I lovingly mixed and stirred the batter, adding crunchy pecans and chocolate chips to one loaf, and rhubarb chunks and a citrus glaze to the other. As I learned from Frank Ratcliff, organizer for the event, there are more than 1,800 homeless mothers (and their children) in Wisconsin, and about 340 in Madison alone. The organization helps raise money to purchase transitional housing for those moms and pay costs associated with their living expenses. Baking bread is the least I can do.

As we drove home from Devil’s Lake, I (plugged my ears, took deep breaths and) thought about the homeless mothers. I might be in a funk, and my kids may be testing their—and my—limits, but my suffering is, as author Pema Chodron says, “bourgeois suffering.”

This banana bread recipe is a keeper. It is a no-fail, always amazing recipe. I love adding different combos of goodies to the batter. Try making it with dried strawberries and white chocolate, or chocolate chips and dried cherries. Or just plain with a rum glaze and toasted coconut. You can even add sweet potato or squash in place of the banana. Why not double the recipe and give one to a friend? Fresh baked goods brighten everyone’s day.

RECIPE: Pecan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ginger
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 ripe bananas)
3 tbsp plain yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a standard bread pan. Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl, sifting with a fork. Set aside. In a large bowl with hand mixer, or a stand mixer mix butter and sugar until creamy. Add in eggs, bananas, yogurt or sour cream and vanilla. Mix well. Slowly add dry to wet ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Add the nuts and chocolate chips, or mix-ins of your choice, and incorporate. Pour batter into the bread pan and bake about 50–60 minutes, until knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool on rack before topping with ganache (or glaze).

Ganache Topping

1/2 cup whipping cream
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

Bring whipping cream to a boil. Remove from heat immediately and stir in chocolate until the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature, or slightly warmer before spreading on bread.

Makes one loaf.

Photo by Otehlia Cassidy.

About This Blog

Writing has always provided an anchor for my passions, which focus deeply on food, dance, environmental conservation and culture. I grew up “helping” my dad cultivate a prolific garden that produced too many radishes and watching my mom make almost all of our food from scratch, including horehound candy. Meanwhile I took my first African dance class in high school, which ignited my continuing quest to travel to West Africa, via Europe and South America, to study dance.

Through my travels, I learned that we are all connected by food, and our basic need to eat. Since moving to Madison in 1998 to pursue degrees in conservation biology and dance, I have developed an appreciation for the richness of our local food community, and a great desire to share it with others. What started as a personal food blog, A World of Flavors, has since grown into a business teaching cooking classes and leading local and international food tours.

I look forward to sharing culinary adventures with you through my Madison Magazine blog Local Flavor and monthly Dining In recipe column.

  – Otehlia Cassidy
Follow Otehlia on Twitter @madisoneats

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