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Jessica’s Garden: Homemade Banana Bread

Banana Muffins

I believe it’s important for a child to know their way around the kitchen. In recent months, Grayson has been showing a definite interest in what goes on in my favorite room of the house. He started canning and baking with me over the Summer when he was about two and a half years old. It started with a sink full of water, a veggie brush and some fruit. Then he graduated to stirring the pot. And now after I prep an activity by pre-measuring ingredients, he will help me with assembly.

Today we had a bunch of bananas that had browned beyond our eating comfort zones. I like them still a bit green, Chris likes them ripe and Grayson likes them a bit spotty. Usually none go to waste. At this stage however, they are perfect for homemade banana bread.

Grayson Baking Banana Bread

When we cook together at his age, I pre-measure everything into lightweight bowls and dishes with handles and spouts; just right for little hands and tiny muscles. Once situated, I call him into the kitchen. My little sous chef likes to control the power switch on the Kitchen-Aid especially. After combining all the ingredients into the mixer, he licked the beater while I fill the muffin tins. Mini banana muffins are perfect rewards for kids.

My mother has a recipe for banana bread that we have been using my whole life. The only times I ever see my mother use a cookbook, it is a well-loved and handled English recipe book. She swears it’s the only cookbook she will ever need, and it hasn’t let me down yet either.

Banana Bread

2 Cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
½ C Shortening
2 Eggs
1 C Mashed Ripe Bananas (3 Bananas)
1 Tbsp Vinegar plus Milk to make ½ C Liquid
¼ C Chopped walnuts (Optional)
½ C Chocolate Chips (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together dry ingredients. Cream sugar and shortening; add eggs one at a time. Alternate adding dry ingredients, mashed banana and milk mixture. Beat together until smooth. Grease pans. For loaf pan, bake 60-70 minutes until golden and cooked through. For Muffins, bake 25 mins. For mini muffins, bake 18 mins. Use toothpick to test doneness. A handful of walnuts and/or chocolate chips are great additions.

Homemade Tea Blend

I am still also enjoying my garden bounty mid-Winter. Today I whipped up a homemade tea blend for a friend of ours that enjoys loose teas. I was able to use mostly homegrown and homemade ingredients. I combined store-bought organic loose green tea with homegrown dried lemongrass and pineapple sage flowers and homemade dried orange peels.

Once steeped in boiling water for about ten minutes, the tea is bright and mint-like. For sweetener, I like to use local honey. Not only is it a visually beautiful tea blend, it’s also quite tasty; a bit different than our go-to English Breakfast tea.

Lemongrass and Green Tea Blend

¼ C Dried Lemongrass Leaves
¼ C Organic Loose Green Tea Leaves
2 Tbsp Dried Orange Peel
1 Tbsp Dried Pineapple Sage Flowers

Combine ingredients. Steep about 1 heaping Tbsp tea blend in boiling water for about 10 mins. Add honey to desired sweetness. And on an even brighter note, my bulbs started emerging in the garden this week. Spring is definitely in sight; let the garden planning begin!

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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