My favorite year of college was spent living in a big white house with five lovely ladies, we called it “The Coop”. Under that roof we baked birthday cakes, drank coffee on the front porch, danced in our pajamas, snuggled in each others beds, stayed up too late, rode our bikes to campus and always found time to spend with each other. Our downtown house was nestled at the top of the hill looking down one of the most historic streets in our city. I never wanted to that year to be over & often go back to it in my mind.
My upstairs bedroom was the smallest room in the house (debatably once a closet or storage room) while the second-floor kitchen was one of the biggest. (There were three different kitchens in our giant home!) My kitchen was flooded with great light, had room for a table & chairs and had a great patio just outside. Sadly, not too much cooking happened in this ideal space.
It was my first year living off campus after being in the dorms for three years, so I wasn’t quiet prepared for or confident enough to take full advantage of having a real kitchen. I had been spoiled for three years and had mostly been surviving on Subway grilled chicken and lots of coffee. The kitchen still felt a bit unfamiliar and intimidating.
Not much changed after moving into The Coop, I still mostly lived on sandwiches and coffee, but I began to feel equipped enough to make breakfast foods & treats. Many batches of cinnamon rolls, pancakes, homemade granola, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and banana bread were made in that kitchen.
My desperate need for learning how to make banana bread came from my classic inability to eat all of the bananas before brown spots started creeping in. (I’m still the queen of letting at least one or two go bad in every bunch.) Now, instead of fretting, I stick the ones that have browned in the freezer and save them to use in their next life.
I don’t have a memory of ever making banana bread before living in The Coop — at least not the way this bread is engrained in my memory now. My prerequisites for finding a recipe at the time were simple, one that didn’t require an electric mixer and used up my hopeless bananas. (Remember I was 21 and my kitchen was lacking in necessities!) I followed a non-difficult recipe from the internet and made it on many occasions — changing little pieces and adding to it as I went along.
I’m happy with where it sits now — using less sugar, adding in good things (i.e. chocolate, pecans, coconut) and not skimping on good vanilla or butter. I’m sure there are plenty of recipes that could compete, it’s not a flashy one in any sense, but every time I make it I’m back on East Main Ave. I’m standing in my huge kitchen, barefoot, with the shortest hair & an apron around my waist — mixing a bowl of mushy bananas with the only wooden spoon I had to my name. Trying to give life to the bananas I had let go to waste and share the loaf with the girls I loved.
*Since writing this recipe card a few years ago, I began adding chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut flakes. (1/4 c. of each) Use all, none, or add in your own favorites! I also always use 1/2 c. of sugar.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Butter a 4X8 loaf pan.
- Mash bananas & stir in melted butter.
- Mix in baking soda & salt.
- Stir in sugar, beaten egg & vanilla extract.
- Mix in flour.
- Add in any additional mix-ins. (1/4 c. of chocolate chips, pecans, coconut flakes)
- Pour batter in & bake for 45 minutes.
- Cool bread completely and remove from pan.
- Slice & serve!
*Click here to download a PDF version of this recipe!
Some old photos may give you a better idea of what my life looked like, more so than my words — enjoy these memories I dug up to give The Coop a face and bring this story full circle!