The biggest influence in my culinary life is my grandmother. When growing up, despite being 800 miles away and growing up on a ranch that rarely afforded us the opportunity to visit her, it was my grandmother’s cooking which inspired me as a young teenager to begin cooking on my own.
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Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend much side-by-side time with Grandma in the kitchen. However, through the cookbooks I inherited from her, I’ve been able to explore and learn through her sources of inspiration.
Grandma loved to make notes in her cookbook: scribbles with variations she liked, or ingredients that appealed or didn’t appeal to her. And of course, her ever-present “x” ratings: she would give recipes she tried a rating from one to four “x”s.
She had enough savvy to rarely choose a recipe which she rated a meager single “x," so when I came across a top rated “xxxx,” I knew it was a recipe I needed to try. I’ve yet to make one of Grandma’s “xxxx” rated recipes and not love it. And this banana bread recipe is based off of one of those four "x" ratings.
The cookbook this came from is called Private Collection: Recipes from the Junior League Palo Alto. Based on the amount of scribbles and notes, Grandma loved this book. The original recipe was named “Kona Inn Banana Bread”.
We’ve adapted it slightly to our own taste -- incorporating a bit of vanilla extract and including dark chocolate chips. One could always add nuts, or even use regular chocolate chips, but since Grandma loved to cook to the tastes of the family, I follow suit and always include dark chocolate chips for my mom -- even when she isn’t going to get a slice.
Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips Yield: 2 Loaves
2 cups sugar 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 6 ripe bananas (3 cups when mashed) 4 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups dark chocolate chips 2 1/2 cups cake flour 2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt