Hello! Happy New Year dear readers! Would it be wrong to tell you that I'm in the mood to bake a cake? Maybe I didn't get enough holiday baking into my system, or maybe I'm feeling a bit unsettled after our recent move, but in the midst of all those January salads I want nothing more than to bake a big towering cake. The only problem: we don't have an oven!
When you embark on a career abroad (and I don't mean just traveling, but actually picking up your whole life and moving it to a new country), a few images may come to your mind. Diplomatic cocktail parties maybe, or dusty windswept tents with ancient medical equipment, or a bit of James Bond. For some reason, my vision always involved steamer trunks. Yes, steamer trunks my friends. Clearly I spent a little too much time with Isak Denison and E.M. Forster as a child.
For the record, I don't own any steamer trunks, but there is a moment when all your things arrive at your new post, when the boxes are piled around and you are telling the staff to "put the couch there and hang this picture here," when I get a glimpse of that fantasy. What you don't picture is that those cocktail parties are often just painful work functions with the added stress of making small talk in a foreign language. You might not picture that you'd end up living in a six bedroom Ottoman house where you can watch the sunrise each morning:
Or gaze at your painted ceiling:
You also might not picture that a six bedroom house would have no oven (baffling!), or that your bathrooms would be infested with swarms of ants that seem to have developed a taste for your toothpaste. Your toothpaste, by the way, that says "Pro-EMail!" because email is French for enamel.
So that's where we are right now. Wishing for an oven, feeling a little unsettled, battling ants, and trying to wrap our heads around all the things we have coming up in 2014. Sounds like it's time for some banana bread, don't you think? I made this banana bread before we moved, when I found some blackened bananas lurking in our freezer. It has dates, this blog's namesake, and pecans, and dark rye flour. I've used coconut oil, which is probably a total fad "good for you fat," but someone brought me a jar and it isn't going to consume itself. Feel free to use butter. Here's to hoping we can get back to our ovens soon, and happy 2014!
Banana Bread with Dates and Pecans
Coconut oil and coconut palm sugar are available at Whole Foods and other specialty stores. You can also use butter and regular brown sugar to good effect.
3 over-ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
3/4 cup dark rye flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg
6-7 large dates, torn apart
1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 35F. Grease a loaf pan.
2. Mash bananas in a large bowl. Beat in vanilla, eggs, oil, and palm sugar. Mix remaining ingredients (flour through pecans) in a small bowl. Fold dry ingredients into wet until no white streaks remain. Bake for 40-45 minutes. or until a tooth pick comes out clean.