Friday, August 13, 2010

An aromatic memory from Mom's childhood

Banana nut bread

As a former general in the Republic of China Armed Forces, my late maternal grandfather Ching-Shang once had a very large home. He had many high-quality fruit trees in his backyard, including banana trees. They had multiple trunks that grew together over the years. The bananas would start growing by the bunch once the beautiful flowers blossomed, turning yellow after the test of time.

Mom couldn't give in to the temptation and went to pick a bunch. However, the trees were full of unusual spiders that she had never seen. They had many white dots and looked dangerous. The spiders seemed to have only seven legs, one of which was long and hairy unlike the others. Carefully avoiding the spiders, my mother was able to get some bananas.

She had never tasted one so good. But when she later went back for more, the spiders and the webs were now everywhere. Seeing that there was no way to get to the bananas without touching the spiders, Mom eventually gave up. She was afraid the spiders would endanger her family - particularly her sisters - and convinced her father to cut down the trees. Although she never tasted any more of those bananas, they were a wonderful memory in her childhood.

Fast forward many years: my mother eventually learned how to make banana bread. She had tried many recipes and ultimately found one that was simple enough. It was easy to follow and perfect for an autistic person like me. Yet this recipe is also the most delicious. The aroma and moisture make it even more so. When I shared it with my graduate class a few days ago, the 24 pieces were gone in minutes. Some classmates loved it so much that they went for thirds!

If you ever taste this bread, then I wouldn't be surprised if you eat the entire loaf. ^_^


  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cups oil
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • ½ cups chopped walnuts


  1. Use fork to combine dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Set mixture aside.
  2. Beat eggs in bowl, and blend in oil, milk and vanilla extract.
  3. Stir in banana and walnuts.
  4. Combine dry and wet mixtures into batter.
  5. Pour batter into non-stick loaf pan. Bake at 350° F for approximately 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


  1. Use fully ripe bananas for best results. The ideal time is when the spots are just starting to appear.
  2. One cup is equal to about two large bananas or 2.5 medium-sized ones.
  3. The milk can be substituted with soy milk for a vegan version of this recipe.
  4. The ingredients can be doubled to make two loaves at once.
  5. The bread can be stored in the freezer for a long time and won't become soggy when thawed.

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