How many of your neighbors do you know by name?
Let’s take it a step further. How many of your neighbors do you actually know a thing or two about, have had a real conversation with, shared a meal with, or would even go so far as to call them friends?
If your answer is “none”, don’t stop reading or be discouraged! You are right there with most people in today’s busy culture. Since moving out of my parents’ house and getting married almost four years ago, I have slowly come to make it a personal goal to be better at knowing my neighbors. I believe we are all placed in our communities – be it work, neighborhood, kids’ school, or even the grocery store where you shop – for a reason; that reason being to breathe love into that very community and to share the love that we’ve been shown by God and others. We’ve all heard the old “love your neighbor as yourself”, but does anyone besides Mother Theresa DO that, or even know how? I don’t have all the answers, but in a simple way I try to take opportunities to love our neighbors. Like baking them banana bread.
Three new families have recently moved into our small, quiet neighborhood of three streets and about 75 homes. It’s hard to miss the “SOLD” sign out in front of a house, and the subsequent moving truck with movers unloading a new neighbor’s dear possessions. Around this time, I start thinking “Hmmm, what to bake them…”.
I LOVE bananas and eat (at least) one a day, but since they ripen so quickly, I usually end up putting the last banana in the bunch that is too ripe for my taste in the freezer. Once I have several bananas in the freezer, I know it’s time to make some insanely delicious banana bread. I recently found and tweaked a recipe that includes Greek yogurt, which is soo good for you, non-fat, packed with protein with no added sugar.
Back to the neighbors, though. It can be uncomfortable walking up to a complete stranger’s home, knocking on their door, and waiting anxiously for them to answer… What will I say? They’re going to think I’m a salesperson and not answer! Well, when it comes to making conversation with new people, my friend Kristi’s mom gave her the best advice: Just ask them questions about themselves, because people generally love to talk about themselves! And I don’t mean that in a vain way, but people by and large will truly appreciate when someone shows interest in who they are, their background, likes, dislikes, etc. Throw in something sweet to eat and they are going to love you forever.
Here we go…
For today’s post, I tripled the ingredients to make three loaves, while the recipe listed at the end of this post is for one loaf. When I made this batch of bread, I had loose bananas still in their skin in my freezer, as well as banana puree I had previously made by removing the skins and mushing with a fork, stored in a ziploc bag.
After removing the bananas from their skin, mash up that sweet goodness with a fork.
Prep your loaf pans by greasing them first and then sprinkling with flour, for easy bread removal later. Don’t get caught with the ole’ my-banana-bread-is-in-three-pieces-because-I-couldn’t-get-it-out routine!
Start by putting all the dry ingredients into a large bowl (if you have one, use your KitchenAid mixer bowl).
Then add your wet ingredients. Vanilla, eggs, honey… Honey?! I added it on a whim a few batches back, and I will never go back. It adds a subtle extra sweetness.
Measure up the banana puree, and marvel at all the real fruit going into this yummy bread. Keep in mind this is for three loaves, my friends!
Aaaand our mixer bowl is starting to get full. We haven’t even added the Greek yogurt yet! Will there even be room? I’m getting nervous. I’m second-guessing everything. I swear I had tripled this for three loaves before, but can my 5-quart KitchenAid handle this madness again?
Take a mental break with me from my guessing game and measure the yogurt, so creamy and white as snow.
Add it to the bowl. Folks, things are getting crazy here! But we are committed. We are going to mix this. Do it for the neighbors!
Side note: I would like to propose a toast to my KitchenAid mixer. Best wedding present ever!! It has saved me many a cramped forearm in mixing cookie dough, breads, and creams. If you don’t have one, fear not, but take a deep breath and prepare to sssstir that dough.
Look at her; she’s mixing that triple batch like a champ and the crisis has been averted. Phew! Mix on “stir” speed until all the ingredients are combined.
Pour into your prepared bread pans, until they’re about 2/3 full. The bread rises quite a bit during cooking.
To my delight, I had some extra batter, so I made a mini-loaf for myself. Mmmm, I can see toasted banana bread with butter and peanut butter on top in my future! I credit my husband for my obsession with putting peanut butter on things, ie. pancakes, ice cream…
Bake at 350 for 55 minutes or so (a bit shorter for a mini-loaf), until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool them in their pans for ten minutes, then gently remove them from their pans – I use a butter knife to loosen the edges – and let them cool completely on a wire rack. Here they all are posing for the camera.
And here’s our own mini loaf. Once they were cooled, I wrapped those babies up in plastic wrap and some yarn and went to go make some deliveries! Two out of the three new neighbors were home, and the introduction and fresh bread was warmly welcomed! One of them has since asked me for the recipe, and we already have tentative dinner plans with the other two couples. I am so looking forward to seeing them around and getting to know all of our neighbors better. It’s a great feeling, and if you have not yet met your neighbors, I don’t care how long you’ve lived where you have, go say hello! And report back; I would love to hear your stories!
Love to you all, and may we all be sustained by love today!
Recipe: Greek Yogurt Banana Bread
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
- 3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Cooking spray/oil
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Grease and lightly flour loaf pan.
- Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups.
- Combine flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, vanilla, honey, butter, eggs, bananas, yogurt, and walnuts (if desired) in a large bowl, mixing well.
- Pour batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
- Enjoy! Or, go meet your neighbor(s) and take them a fresh banana bread loaf!
Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 55 Minutes | Servings: Makes 1 loaf or 12 slices