Friday, August 24, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread & Well-Being (It's not just the taste)

Last night I posted a picture of the Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread that I had made yesterday morning and that my family (along with my sixteen year old's girlfriend) was having for dessert.  A friend (who had previously shared with me her mom's Irish Soda Bread recipe) asked for the recipe, so here it is and it is not that hard.  The cooking takes an hour or just over.  The cooling takes some time.  But the actual prep can be done in less than 15 minutes (and probably as little as ten) after a few tries.

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread

4 ripe bananas, smashed
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped hazelnuts (this is the easiest way to find them where I shop)
1/3 cup melted butter
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).  Mash the bananas.  Add sugar and mix.  Add nuts, butter and the egg.  Mix.  Add vanilla and baking soda.  Mix.  Add remaining ingredients.  Mix till all flour is incorporated.  (As my seven year old likes to say, don't leave any flour "pockets".)  Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan (or a well seasoned stone loaf pan without butter). Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

So, why is a recipe like this relevant to my blog about nourishing the soul.  Well, it was certainly nourishing to those who ate it in a physical sense.  (Yes, it is a bit of a sweet treat but with the bananas and nuts its not all bad.)  But for me it was also nourishing to my soul.  The reason is that it was part of making two recipes before I went to work yesterday--I also made rolls that went along with the entree for dinner as we served store bought ravioli and sauce, added fresh tomato and pepper to the sauce, and had homemade rolls alongside.  I love to bake bread.  And I love to share what I bake.

And when we have my whole family at the table (although the seven year old slept through dinner last night), we have fun conversation.  And when we welcome my sixteen year old's girlfriend she seems at ease with and has fun with the conversation too.  

The feeling of creating--especially when it is borrowing from someone else's recipe but adding my own twist.  The feeling of sharing.  The feeling of family.  The feeling of being at ease with family and anyone who joins my family for dinner.  All are good.

It may help that we live in a house with no TV in the dining room or even on the same level of the house as the dining room.  It gives us a chance (when we do actually sit down) to focus on each other.  We are sometimes distracted by reading the news or the mail.  But last night it was just such a nice time to sit and have conversation.  Also funny that it should come less than a week after our return from Colonial Williamsburg where they may have had more chores after dinner but they certainly had no TV or internet to distract them and I'm sure had to learn to have conversations as well.

There is a sense of wholeness that comes from having a family sit together.  There is a sense of wholeness that comes from good conversation long into the evening.  Can't do that every night with the pressures of my job and other activities that I, my wife, and my kids have.  But to do it at least once in a while really helps to emphasize what drives well-being--good food, good family, good friends, good conversation.  In a home that focuses on the good and blessings of God.  

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