It likely comes as no surprise that many fond memories of childhood sports center around food. From the orange slices at half time, to the post game treats, to the end-of-season celebrations, food visions rival the victories, the losses, the nail biters.
When I think of soccer season, I especially remember one thing: Valentina’s brownies and rice crispy treats. Valentina, a tall, striking Venezuelan, never missed a game and always arrived with big smiles, huge hugs and loads of treats, the perfect antidote for a colossal whopping. I would share the recipes with you all — I tried to get them about a year ago — but Valentina swears she always just “followed the recipe on the box.” Likely story, Valentina. Her brownies and rice crispy treats were legendary.
When I think of lacrosse season, again, I especially remember another surrogate mother, Mrs. Myers, and again, her treats. Mrs. Myers’ banana bread was moist, perfectly sweet, and always first to disappear from the dessert buffet — I looked forward to it before the games even started. Midseason I remember even devising a post-game-buffet plan of attack, hitting up the dessert table first, tucking slices of banana bread under a napkin, sometimes stashing them in my bag for later. What can I say? This stuff was gold.
I was lucky enough to obtain Mrs. Myers’ recipe from her daughter, a dear friend with whom I spent many hours in the kitchen, mostly baking, always some sort of biscotti, often cinnamon flavored with chocolate chips. I’ve been making this banana bread for about 10 years now, and it never fails to please, kids and adults alike.
I can’t wait to assume the role as soccer mom. With this recipe on hand, I’m destined to become a legend, too.
Overripe bananas freeze beautifully — just peel them and place them in a ziplock back in the freezer. When you’re ready to use them, place them in a colander in the sink to drain — they’ll give up a lot of liquid and look totally repulsive, but they work beautifully. To make homemade buttermilk: place 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Fill cup with milk until it reaches the 1-cup line. Let stand for five minutes. Use only 1/2 cup of the prepared mixture for the recipe. You could try making a half recipe, of course, so you don’t have 1/2 cup leftover buttermilk.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3 cups sifted flour (I never sift)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. table salt
- 5 eggs (I use 4)
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup nuts (I never add nuts)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 quart mashed bananas, about 8 (ripe to overripe)
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter two loaf pans. (I butter generously.)
- In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
- With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla, buttermilk and bananas.
- Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Divide batter between the two prepared pans. Bake for approximately 1 hour.
- Remove from oven and turn loaves out onto cooling rack immediately. Let cool.