I first picked up Middlemarch in a bookstore because the author’s name was unfamiliar and therefore intriguing. “George Eliot?” I wondered aloud. “I’ve never read anything by him before.”
“Her,” my mom corrected, listening into my thoughts. “George Eliot was a woman.”
Of course then I had to read it. Being a girl with a boy’s name (“Ryanne” is pronounced “Ryan”, which may shock some acquaintances who still cannot seem to remember that), I was excited to find an author who shared my unusual name situation. Turns out, upon checking out Middlemarch
and reading the introduction, Miss George’s name was actually MaryAnne, but she used a masculine name in order to escape discrimination as a female author with strong convictions and, in my opinion, wonderfully biting sarcasm.
Anyway, despite the rolling eyes of my friends and the puzzled expression on my teacher’s face, (apparently not many students choose 19th century British literature for light reading…weird) I dove undaunted into the provincial town of Middlemarch, where I met a character who I relate to so strongly that I confused my life with hers at times and was given an eye-opening look into the complexity of relationships, especially within marriages. I anticipate analyzing this topic and the themes associated with it later, but for now I just want to savor the story and the resonance of its beautifully-flawed characters.
So how do mashed bananas fit in with this? They don’t, but I’m going to exercise my rhetorical skills and tie them in anyway.
Whenever I find myself in the midst of a large project- for instance, finishing a 794-page novel that may or may not start with an “M” and be written by a woman with a man’s name – I tend to despair of ever finishing said task and feel the need to complete some smaller project as encouragement. I also feel the need to eat chocolate. As I was pondering how to satisfy both of these needs, I remembered the squishy bananas in the kitchen and figured that 9:00 at night was as good a time as any to make some banana bread, infused with chocolate of course, to fuel me through the final chapters of Middlemarch. It turned out delicious, although I mostly ate the batter.
So, here you are! Ryanne’s Unofficial-Middlemarch-Mashed-Banana-Coconut-Chocolate-Ooey-Gooey Banana Bread recipe, or, another yummy banana bread recipe with some extra yum. (Titles are not my strong suit.)
1/2 cup coconut oil
4 large, very ripe bananas
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 granulated sugar
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Optional: 1 cup combined shredded coconut and chocolate chips/chunks (I used dark chocolate, but all chocolate is good)
Preheat oven to 375 and grease two loaf pans
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugars, vanilla, eggs, bananas and coconut oil and beat until creamy and smooth.
Add flour and baking powder and beat at low speed for about a minute, until you have a creamy batter. Stir in your coconut.
Pour into greased loaf pan. Do not fill all the way to the top because the bread will raise slightly. (plus, then you have an excuse to save batter to eat raw)
Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to one hour. Insert a tooth pick into the center of the bread and if it comes out clean, your bread is done.
Enjoy with a good book! After all, C.S. Lewis said, ‘Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.’