The Cupboard is Bare

My oldest son, who is 12, has been very supportive of this whole venture. In fact, he is frequently the one who will say in the supermarket, “Mom, you can’t get that, it breaks the rules.” However, the other day he said to me, searching the pantry after school, “The one thing I don’t like about this, is that I can’t just open up a cabinet and pull out a quick snack.”

Of course, that is just the point. As Michael Pollan pointed out in a recent article in The New York Times magazine, “the mass production of cream-filled cakes, fried chicken wings and taquitos, exotically flavored chips or cheesy puffs of refined flour, has transformed all these hard-to-make-at-home foods into the sort of everyday fare you can pick up at the gas station on a whim and for less than a dollar. The fact that we no longer have to plan or even wait to enjoy these items, as we would if we were making them ourselves, makes us that much more likely to indulge impulsively.”

So now I find myself planning those after school snacks everyday. The school gives the kids only about 20 minutes to eat lunch, and of course they spend more time chatting with friends than eating, so by the time they get home they are starving!

In the past, they would simply graze on cookies and chips all afternoon until they were too full to eat much dinner. Now, that after school snack has really become a fourth meal. The kids sit down at the table and I put out a big bunch of grapes or maybe some apple slices along with cheese, and if I’ve had time to bake, some banana bread or applesauce muffins. It forces us all to pause for a few minutes, so we can talk about the school day and figure out what sports practices, or homework are on the agenda for the afternoon.

My kids particularly like my whole wheat banana bread. The recipe comes from Molly O’Neill’s New York Cookbook. I have reduced the amount of sugar slightly and increased the proportion of whole wheat to white flour. I don’t think you can tell the difference:

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 t. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

1/4 c. sour cream

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 t. salt

1 c. mashed banana (2-3)

Preheat over to 350 and grease a regular size loaf pan.

Cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until the mixture is light. Stir the baking soda into the sour cream and stir into the batter.

Mix the flours and salt. Add them slowly to the batter, alternating with the mashed bananas and mix until combined.

Add the mixture to the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour.

This also makes excellent muffins. Just follow the same recipe but bake for 20-25 minutes.

One final tip: If you have some very ripe bananas but no time to bake, just peel them, wrap them in plastic and stick them in the freezer. When you defrost them, they will turn to mush. Not good for eating, but perfect for baking.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Hi Kathy,

    This looks like it’s going to be a really interesting process. I have been writing a food and kid blog for about 6 months and I love doing it – I hope you have the same good experience. We look forward to following along and catching up with you soon!


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