A Comfort Feeling
Listened to the show Saturday, and it was not bad. Had to laugh out loud when Mr. Keillor sang the song about warm scones. Not much in the world, at the right hour, like a warm scone, and being asked whether you’d LIKE your scone warmed, a scone someone else made for you, and yes, please, warm it on up. And a blueberry muffin, too, and a slice of that pie, and one of those puffy pumpkin cookies on which you might spread a bit of cream cheese frosting. Sure thing. Warm ‘em up.
Of course, the best thing is when whatever it is — scone, pie, bread — is served up fresh from the oven. Made by someone you love. Who loves you right back. One of my favorite feelings of all rises up this time of year. A Comfort feeling. When it’s cold outside, and warm inside, and everyone is a little hungry, not a lot, and there’s a loaf of banana bread into the oven, and the smell slowly fills the house, the heat from the oven warms up the kitchen, then the living room. The windows steam up a bit and soon the aroma of baked bananas and cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg is on your skin, and hunger sets in, and people show up in the kitchen and stand around and talk and check the oven to “see if it’s done yet.”
And it is, and after it cools a bit, I slice it up, and place each thick piece of banana bread — dark on the outside, pale and soft in the middle — onto a small plate. “Would you like me to butter your bread?” I ask, and there’s a nod, and I spread soft, fresh, salted butter over the bread, and the butter disappears into the soft bread, and I hand it over, and there’s a smile, and not astonishment but satisfaction, and some “Mmm” sounds, and then it’s gone. “Another? Please?”
Banana bread never lasts long. Why would it? It’s autumn, and winter is near, and fresh bread is better fresh, and I can always bake another. A small thing, really, to bake a loaf of bread. It’s chilly outside, and if someone you love is around for the weekend, or the day, or the afternoon, why not? And if you’re home alone, well, you really ought to consider doing something kind for yourself. Winter is coming, after all. There’s a lot of work ahead, lot of cold days, and a warm loaf of banana bread might very well get you where you need to be. Smiling, and full up, and thinking you might, after all, take care of those last few leaves out there, and maybe even a walk after, by the lake, where the waves are lovely and gray and crashing in the wind, and flocks of tundra swans rest on their way to somewhere else.
Here’s a recipe you’ll find in my cookbook, and a dear friend wrote recently and told me she made a change and it worked, and I wanted to share it. Simply subtract a cup of the flour, add a cup of pulverized oatmeal, and keep the rest the same, and you’ll have what my friend calls “excessive deliciousness.” I don’t doubt her for a minute, and I’m going to give it a whirl today. Just for me, and for whomever else might stop by to chat awhile. Never know.
Three Banana Bread
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup milk
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Dash or two of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, lemon juice, and bananas.
Blend. Add dry ingredients and milk. Mix well. Grease and flour
Bottom of 9x5x3 pan. Pour batter into pan. Sprinkle sugar over.
Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool.