Cambrian: Opinion

Banana cookies or banana bread? Why not both?

Cookies and notes to self on Nancy Allen’s kitchen counter.
Cookies and notes to self on Nancy Allen’s kitchen counter.

I was grateful to get this article in response for my request for guest columnists. Nancy Allen is a faithful follower of the Culinary Corner, and once gifted me with a large bag of Anasazi Beans, after I had expressed a longing for the heirloom seeds which had long ago sustained the Ancients. Enjoy her contribution here:

The humble banana, nature’s original prepackaged fast food, is biologically a berry, and unwraps a plethora of nutritional reasons to keep a bunch in your fruit bowl. High in potassium and low in sodium, this sweetly filling fruit is perfect for breakfast, lunch or a snack. But alas, they ripen quickly.

For years I’ve been culling recipes that call for ripe bananas. One of my favorites is scribbled on a yellow note. It reads “Banana Cookies,” just a list of ingredients and baking time and temperature, but no method. I remember it well.

On a weekend visit to our Cambria cottage early in the new millennium when Consuelo was writing a weekly Culinary Corner column, I clipped the recipe. In our late Sunday stay-to-the last-minute dash back to the Bay Area, I left it behind. Several weeks later, as overly ripe bananas languished on my kitchen counter, the missing recipe vexed me. I could make a loaf of Kona Inn banana bread from “Private Collection” published by the Junior League of Palo Alto in 1980, or a batch of oatmeal banana cupcakes published in the 1970s, but those banana cookies were calling to me.

I dialed the Cambrian late that afternoon, and to my surprise and delight, a gentleman answered. I explained my plight and asked if he could locate the recipe for me. “I’ll try,” he replied, and did. Later it occurred to me that I had been speaking to none other than the Editor at the time, Bert Etling — another item for Kathe Tanner’s list of “Only in Cambria!”

Banana cookies

3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced in chunks

1/3 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups quick oatmeal

1 1/2 cups pitted and chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

With an electric mixer, slowly cream together the bananas and oil into a liquid state; add vanilla and salt. Slowly stir in oats and mix until dough forms; stir in dates and walnuts, separately.

Drop by tablespoonful onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. With a spatula, gently flatten for more even baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Remove immediately with spatula and transfer to a rack to cool. Yields four dozen cookies.

Kona Inn banana bread

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup softened butter

6 ripened bananas, mashed (approximately 3 cups)

4 eggs, well-beaten

2 1/2 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With electric mixer, cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add bananas and eggs, beating until well-mixed. Sift together dry ingredients. Blend with banana mixture, but do not overmix.

Pour into two lightly-greased loaf pans. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until firm in the centers and the edges begin to separate from pans. Cool on a rack, upside down, for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Loaves freeze beautifully.

Stay tuned for Nancy’s Oatmeal Banana Cupcakes next month.

Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. Submit recipes and ideas to her at The Cambrian, 2068 Main St., Cambria, CA 93428, or email her at cambrian@thetribunenews.com.

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