When we were newly married and living in an apartment complex in Toronto, we had two couples that we were friends with, also newly married, also living in these apartments. We enjoyed hanging out with each other after our jobs and our volunteer work, and not having to go far to do it. Especially on those cold Toronto winter nights, when all we had to do to get home was walk up two flights of stairs.
Since we were all starting out, none of us had a lot of money, but still liked to get out of the city and rest, so we started camping together. The first time we went with one couple, two people I had been friends with for many years who were now married. The four of us went to Algonquin, a beautiful park in northern Ontario. It was real camping; we took a canoe to our spot, set up our tent, and hung our food in the trees to keep the bears away. Such a beautiful and peaceful place it was/is. Then we asked another couple to join us, and we camped in Algonquin a few more times over the years before moving to the easier and closer ‘car camping’ of Killbear Provincial Park. Ah the stories I could tell from there. A place very near and dear to my heart.
We had our annual camping trip organized down to a tee. Each couple had their cook night and breakfast and brought the ingredients for that, and the rest was free for all. We all knew what items each other had and we camped together so often, it was rare we forgot something behind.
One of the wives was so prepared, she even made banana bread that she saved for the men as they set up camp. As they were pitching the tents and trying to figure out where to hang the tarp, she pulled out her two loaves: one was with nuts, and the other with chocolate. Secretly, I always hoped she pulled the nut one out first because the men could inhale it and I could eat the chocolate chip one all by myself.
This recipe is my favorite banana bread recipe ever. Is it because it is tied to such fond memories and such great friendships? Maybe. But I’ve been making it for many years and people seem to love it through and through.
We can’t buy buttermilk here in Mexico, but that’s an easy fix. For each cup of buttermilk that you need, use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice, plus enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes. Also, the flour here is not great, (sorry Mexico, you know I love you but you can’t be great at everything). Once I realized how I had left great quality flour behind in Canada, I regretted not appreciating it more then. Fun fact, when people ask my mother what they can bring her down from home, she often asks for Robin Hood flour. I am not sure a 25 lb bag of flour is exactly what they had mind though. I don’t get imported flour, and sometimes I’m not in the mood to make extra dishes to wash, so instead of sifting it to get out the lumps, I just whisk all my dry ingredients together to get air through it.
Double the recipe, make four loaves, because the first will be inhaled, and you’ll need more for later. They also freeze beautifully.
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups mashed, ripe bananas (3 to 4 bananas)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips or chopped nuts (optional)
Head oven to 350. Grease bottoms of two loaf pans.
Mix sugar and butter in a large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips or nuts if using. Pour into pans.
Bake loaves about 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool ten minutes on wire rack Loosen sides of loaves from pans, remove from pans, and let cool on wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.