Of Carrots, Corn and Cookbooks

My newly-married friend Ashley emailed me yesterday in search of a good carrot raisin recipe. She of the I don't use cookbooks school of cooking was finally convinced that you really can't find everything you need for good cooking for free on the internet. "What's a good all-purpose cookbook?" she wanted to know. Better Homes and Gardens, I said. I've had my copy—a paperback—so long that I honestly can't remember when I got it. Not surprisingly, it's really dog-eared. And since many of the pages have actually fallen out of the book, they're usually out of order. No matter. I know where my favorite recipes are, well enough to find them without page numbers or a complete index. The lemon zest, tomato sauce, and au jus stains don't hurt either.

I wasn't able to help Ashley with a recipe. Carrot raisin has never been among my favorite muffin combos (carrot cake muffins with cream cheese frosting, well now, that's a different story!). But she did get me thinking about baking. So I pulled out a bunch of frozen bananas and whipped up some bread.


I doubled the recipe so I'd have enough batter for three loaves (two for us and another for a friend whose husband had knee surgery). I use smallish bread pans, so plan on only one loaf if you use a regular sized pan; or 12 muffins if you go that route.

Banana bread with pecans and lemon zest

(an adaptation of a BHG classic)

1&1/2 cups flour (I use white wheat for a heartier, healthier loaf)

1&1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch of salt (optional)

1 egg

1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup oil (I used canola)

1/2 cup chopped pecans (I roast my pecans in a 350 degree oven for 10 min before chopping)

zest of one lemon

(The cookbook labels those last two ingredients "optional," but in my book, they make the bread.) Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or till center is set (test with a toothpick or knife). For muffins, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

And as a footnote to the corn and chili chowder post below, I made it for lunch today and it was even better than I remembered (probably because I used whipping cream this time).