The biggest influence in my culinary life is my grandmother. When growing up, despite being 800 miles away and growing up on the 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.
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, ingredients that appealed or didn’t appeal to her, and 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”, however when there was 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 was called Private Collections, 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 to our own taste, incorporating a bit of vanilla extract and including the addition of 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.
—White On Rice Couple
Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly grease 2 loaf pans.
Cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add bananas and mash with potato masher until the large chunks of banana are broken up. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and beat until well mixed. Stir in the vanilla extract and the chocolate chips.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into banana mixture until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
Divide the batter between the loaf pans. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (chocolate on the toothpick doesn't count) The house should be filled with the scent of fresh banana bread.
Cool on rack for 10 min. before removing from pans. Loosen the edges, then pop loose the bottom of the bread from the pan. Place on wire rack to finish cooling. Keeps wrapped in plastic for up to one week.