Baking Makes Everything Better

2016 has been a hell of a year, friends.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here – there were some problems with one of my medications at the beginning of the summer, and that sent me into the biggest autoimmune flare-up spiral I’ve traveled down in a long time. I’ve been spending a lot of time sleeping. Just going to work exhausts me, and I come home and stare at the TV in stupor, often too tired to even knit or read. My celiac flares up at the slightest provocation, meaning I’m constantly in the bathroom and struggling to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of good days sprinkled in. But for the majority of the time since about mid-June, I just haven’t had the energy for much. And because of that, I’ve also been a little too depressed to know what to say. Living with autoimmune diseases is no joke. Sometimes I go so long being mostly healthy that I forget how sick I really am.

The good news is that things are now very slowly getting better. I’m still napping a lot, especially on days when I have to work, but it is now just a feeling of tiredness rather than bone-crushing, soul-sucking exhaustion. I went for a walk outside today, scuffling my feet through the leaves and reveling in the feel of the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair.

And I made banana bread!

There’s something so comforting to me about baking. I love the physical act of mixing the ingredients, the smell as something delicious comes to maturation in the oven, and the feeling of the knife slicing through a thick bread crust or a smooth pie filling.

And then, of course, I love munching on the finished product.

I had two bananas that were just on the verge of breaking bad, and since it’s officially fall weather now (as opposed to so hot that the mere thought of turning the oven on makes me break into a sweat), I decided to celebrate by indulging in my favorite hobby (second favorite? Knitting is probably my favorite).

All my usual recipes called for three medium sized bananas, and alas, I had only two. So I tried a new one from Pillsbury.com that fit the ingredients I had, and it came out very well!

Of course, I added Ghiardelli chocolate chips, which makes everything delicious, so that helped.

The recipe is below…I thought I’d share it in case any of you need a bit of crumbly on the inside, crunchy on the outside, filled with chocolate bit of joy today.

I hope all of you are feeling well and enjoying this Indian summer!

Perfect Banana Bread,  from Pillsbury, with bonus tips from me in italics

3/4 C sugar
1 stick butter, softened, plus 1 pat
2 eggs
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 C milk
1 t vanilla
2 C all-purpose flour (I used Pillsbury’s gluten free all-purpose blend, which is my favorite GF flour)
1/2 C chopped nuts (or Ghiardelli chocolate chips)
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease bottom only of standard sized loaf pan with pat of butter.

In large bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Stir in bananas, milk, and vanilla until well-blended.

In a small bowl, mix flour, nuts/chocolate, baking soda, and salt. Add to banana mixture all at once; stir until dry ingredients are just moistened. Spread evenly in loaf pan. With tip of knife, cut a line down the center about halfway through the thickness of the loaf. I’ve found that doing this helps the center bake more evenly.

Bake 50-60 minutes, turning 180 degrees halfway through. I had to turn the heat down to 300 degrees for Fahrenheit for the last 10 minutes because the edges were getting too brown whilst the center needed more time.

Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool at least one hour. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in fridge. Alternatively, slice into individual portions, wrap, and store in freezer.

How has 2016 been treating you?

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