This is a picture of a kitchen. My kitchen. And the little girl with the funny-looking white puffy hat on, the one sitting in the mixing bowl, well…that’s me. Meghan. Not as uncomfortable as I look, I promise, but the hat was a definite no-no. It made my head feel weird. But my grandmother, who for some strange reason, all her own, insists I call her “Lolo” and by the way is the lady standing next to me in the photo holding me up so I don’t drop to the floor, made me wear it. That and the string of beads obviously not from Tiffany’s. But since she does all kinds of good things for me that I can’t yet quite manage by myself such as: feed me, burp me, dress me and scoop the stinky yucky stuff from my pants, I go along with whatever she wants. Which most times is fun stuff. Other times things get a little hairy around our house, even though I don’t get out much.
Mind you, I’ve got no complaints. If I did, well…all I need do is open my mouth and let out a scream and the next thing I know my Mother and Lolo come running. Yeah, it’s pretty funny to watch them in action do whatever I want without saying a single word. I might just be a baby, but I was not born yesterday.
Anyway, here we are in the kitchen. Lolo’s “sacred room” as she calls it. The heart and soul of the house where no matter what kind of day she says she’s having, she knows she can park those troubles at the door and all sorts of wonderful things happen. I can also tell this is where she’s the happiest. She lights up in such a way that I can’t help but imagine is joyful, almost as joyful as sucking on my fingers while I normally just sit there and watch propped in my chair with my favorite kitty socks on that jingle while she zips around the room doing her thing like a ballerina or crazy woman, depending upon who you ask, to the sound of pots clattering, cupboards slamming and utensils clinking.
Yes, normally I don’t participate in this dance of hers. But today it seemed Lolo had different plans for me.
“Alright Meghan Fagan (the old lady’s into rhyming), I think it’s about time to see what kind of stuff you’re really made of?”
Umm, say what? I blinked back wide-eyed with confusion, vaguely aware that this big gooey blob of drool was clinging to my lower lip for dear life.
There her tired, but always happy expression broke into a smile. “Don’t look so nervous my Little Cupcake,” she said wiping my face. “I’m not asking you to run a marathon here. I’m only talking about baking. Something I learned to do at an early age watching my mother and her mother create the most delicious deserts for those holidays, those birthdays that otherwise would have just been another day for us. But what I also learned early on is that the wanting to do something and actually being good at it…are oceans apart. Without the passion and above all else knowing how to infuse that sense of love, that one magical ingredient you either have or don’t, into each and every dish, then you might as well dream another dream as far as I’m concerned.”
Lolo, I do hope there’s a point to all this and if so get there. Because I really want this stupid thing off my head. Please!
“Okay, lovey-dovey, patience, stop fussing.” She readjusted the hair pins holding the hat to my head. “With today being your one-month birthday and the fact we’ve all survived to see it, I thought I’d whip up something extra nice to celebrate and in the process see whether or not my culinary skills perhaps merely skipped a generation onto you—because they sure as heck were lost on your Mother and Uncle Jared. Their only interest in food I’m afraid is to eat it.”
At that her head knocked back in such a way with one of those great big old laughs that made the whole world seem funny and was the very thing about her I loved the most. Her ability to laugh at herself and make life interesting when I get the feeling the majority of the time it’s not.
“So whaddya say Baby Two Chins…want to learn how to bake some chocolate chip banana bread today?”
Hello? Does a bear poop in the woods?
I like when grownups ask me questions even though they don’t really want an answer. But it does give me a chance to think about my world. More than that I was finding this conversation fascinating because Lolo was talking to me like another grownup. None of that baby talk they all feel the need to do. Why? I don’t know. I guess it’s just another one of those things I’m going to have to figure out for myself.
The time seemed to fly by. And even though I didn’t know what I was doing for most of it—I am after all just a little girl with limited skills—I pretended I did. Then after plopping back down into my chair exhausted, baking’s hard work, I continued to sit there quietly, watching, learning, listening, until this lip-smacking smell, oh yes that wonderful, wonderful smell filled the room and out of the oven popped this rather unusual-looking brown hunk of stuff which made me think: yippee, all for me.
Well, needless to say I didn’t get a slice of bread. I didn’t even get a crumb. What I did get though was a lick. And you know what? After living on formula 24/7, I loved it! It was sweet, it was wet and tingly on my tongue and absolutely wonderful, like having a party in your mouth.
But hey, don’t listen to me. I’m just a baby…remember? Why don’t you try out the recipe for yourself and let me know what you think because I’m always looking for more friends who also like to eat. Better still, tell Lolo instead because I don’t know how to work the computer yet.
Anyway, it was a fun day. And while I might not be the next foodinista sensation, I learned a lot about myself and that I already have lots of good qualities and the best part of all was realizing that with each new day comes new opportunities, new challenges and that anything can happen. Especially if it has something to do with bread.
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
An easy recipe that tastes even better the next day. And if you’re looking to cut out a few calories, skip the nuts and chips—or not.
- 1-3/4 cup flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup butter (1 stick)
- 1-1/2 cup mashed bananas (3 medium)
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven 350 °, grease and dust 9” x 5” loaf pan with flour
- In large mixing bowl with fork, mix first five ingredients
- With pastry blender or two knives used in scissor-fashion cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs
- With fork stir in bananas, eggs, chocolate pieces and nuts, just until blended
- Pour into prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
- Wait five minutes then remove from pan and cool on rack
Oh yeah, don’t forget the milk. Everything always tastes better with milk!