surviving memphis and marie's banana bread

      For four years, I lived in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. We moved there for a job... my husband's. It was the first time I had lived far from my hometown and family. 
     When I arrived, on a sweltering July day, my thoughts were of impending loneliness, gloom, dispair and misery. Sounds like an old Hee Haw song, doesn't it?
the four musketeers, l to r, michelle, bev, me and maire
     Well, I am happy to report that it was a mere two months until I felt as if my entire life had been spent waiting to live in the southwestern corner of Tennessee. 
     The friends our family made and the things the four of us experienced changed the way we viewed our lives for the better. I could regale you for hours with tales of silliness, sisterhood and spiritual growth, but that's another post...
     Not only did I make great friends, but the ones dearest to me are unique characters even the most talented author could never imagine! Marie, hails from Europe and speaks several languages. She has a zest for life and keeps everyone laughing. She has lived in places most of us have yet to visit and is an inspiration in the kitchen. 
     The two of us, along with two other ladies, could find adventure or trouble without much effort. Her recipe for Banana bread is my all time favorite.
1 c. granulated sugar (or 3/4 c. brown sugar)
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
5 very ripe, mashed bananas
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour (I use whole wheat, oat flour or a blend of the two)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Cream butter and sugar in mixer bowl. Add eggs and vanilla. Blend well. In a seperate bowl, blend dry ingredients with a fork. Add to butter/ sugar mixture. Blend well, scraping down sides of bowl. Add bananas and nuts, if desired. Blend just until incorporated.
Place in greased loaf pan. Bake @ 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool in pan for 10 min., the turn onto cooling rack. Makes 1 loaf.
Some people like raisins, nuts and coconut, so add what you like. At holiday time, I make this in individual loaves, wrapped with a bow and stored in a large basket to pass to visiting neighbors or guests.

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