Grandma Mabel’s Banana Bread

Oct 2 2011

Greg’s grandma Mabel made a mean banana bread.  Which is nothing compared to her accomplishment of raising 5 children to adulthood and only once forgetting a child at a gas station.  But, since I don’t have her recipe for raising children, you’re stuck with banana bread.  Sorry.  I assure you, my disappointment in the trade-off is greater than yours.

Passed from mother-in-law to daughter-in-law for three generations, this, the best banana bread I’ve ever had, is a tried and true recipe.  In fact, my mother-in-law, Judy, and I have only made two improvements in our cumulative 40 years in possession of it.  Improvement #1: omit nuts.  Improvement #2: add chocolate chips.  Now, I enjoy a good banana nut bread as much as the next girl.  But, really, you just can’t beat Mabel’s Old Fashioned (Chocolate Chip / No Nut) Banana Bread for perfection in a pan.

It takes strong women working together to create nutless excellence like this.  You’re welcome.  You’re very welcome.

Yesterday morning, I discovered that my banana bowl was sporting a little more brown than green.

Yesterday morning, I also found my children eating a package of Oreos for breakfast.

In classic 1 + 1 = 2 fashion, I figured I can solve that breakfast problem Mabel-style.

And so I did.

And then I said, “NO ONE IS EATING THAT ‘TIL MAMA HAS SOME COFFEE.”  (Logic and caffeine-withdrawal do not inhabit the same brain, so that made strange and beautiful sense to me at the time.)

And then came a series of “and thens.”

Like this:

And then I made coffee.

And then I opened the fridge.

And then I realized I was out of half and half.

And then I contemplated using nonfat milk in my coffee.

And then I scoffed at that notion as completely unrealistic and, in fact, demeaning to me as a woman and a mother.

And then I knew I had to do something important for women and mothers everywhere.

And then, using the same decaffeinated brain I used to tell the children that they couldn’t eat the warm, fresh-from-the-oven banana bread, I decided that the “something important” I’d do to make the world a better place was to get myself more half and half.  Immediately.

And then, I told the littles to shoe up; we had a trail to blaze and half and half to buy.

And then they shod themselves.

And then we were in the middle of the “Tea, A Drink With” aisle (sidenote: some of you probably call this the Jam and Bread aisle, but only if Julie Andrews and the Sound of Music wasn’t an intricate part of your upbringing… in which case, you have my condolences) when I realized why the other store patrons were looking at us funny.

Geez, peeps.  It’s like you’ve never been in the Tea, A Drink With aisle with a butterfly, a purple-tutu-encased Superdude, and a little man in a fuschia zebra-print dress.

And then I realized that living in Weird Oregon is almost worth the rain.  ‘Cause more of those funny looks resulted in thumbs-up than in tsk-tsk’s.  Which is a balm to a decaffeinated, frazzled mama’s heart.

And then we went home.

And then mama had coffee.

And then we ate, with great delight…

Grandma Mabel’s Old Fashioned
(Chocolate Chip / No Nut)


  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 T. soft shortening or oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup milk with 2 T. vinegar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 ½  tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 scant tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts
  • as many chocolate chips as you can cram in

Directions: Cream shortening, sugar, and egg.  Add bananas and vanilla.  Measure almost 1 cup milk and slowly stir in vinegar.  Alternate dry ingredients and milk, reserving about 2 T. flour.  Toss nuts chocolate chips with reserved flour and add last.  Pour in pans and bake at 350o for one hour.  Makes one 5 X 9 loaf or 2 – 3 small loaves.

It all was, in two words, worth it.