Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like...banana bread!

I can't believe it's December, can you? I feel like I just now got used to writing 2012 on my checks, and  suddenly, it's Christmas carols in the malls and on the radio, Christmas traffic on the highways and (gasp!) getting my first Christmas gift.

Truth be told, I'm not exactly a "spread good tidings and cheer" kind of gal.  If anything, I'm probably more the "Dammit, Tiny Tim, get out of my personal space before I kick you in the shins AND take all your Christmas presents" sort when it comes to the holiday spirit or lack thereof.

Chalk it up to too many dysfunctional ghosts of Christmas past, a profession whose December demands made the Yuletide a season of dread, or age-induced holiday melancholy (Cue John Lennon singing, "So this is Christmas...and what have you done?"), it's been a long time since I've looked forward to Christmas.

This year, though, is slightly different.  And while I'm not exactly running around carrying mistletoe and strewing tinsel, I'm also not quite as Grinch-y as usual.  I'm singing along to "Winter Wonderland" instead of growling, "Bah, humbug!" and switching stations.

On my mantel, I've put up a little Christmas tree flanked by a couple of elves. I was positive the Destructo-Cats would knock them all down five minutes after but so far, so good.

Christmas gifts!
I'm even making my own Christmas gifts. I bought jars, gift bags and oh, dear God. This weekend, I found myself incessantly humming "Jingle Bell Rock" and all sorts of other crap about chestnuts roasting and Jack Frost nipping while I made Christmas chili.

"Quit singing. You're freaking me out."
Permanently traumatized by Manila's ridiculous holiday traffic, I'm still inclined to crawl under a rock and stay there until January. This year, though,  I'm actually venturing out once or twice (NOT more!) for the love of a few good friends.

I'm not sure why this Christmas is different. Maybe because this year was also different? Some years are good, and some years are bad. This year was...interesting.

Lots of crappy stuff, but also so much learned and so many new friendships and insights gained along the way. I lost or I'm losing faithful friends who have grown near and dear to me, but they're going on to better things, so I guess I'm happy for them, too.  And no, I DON'T mean they walked into the light, so you can relax.  No one died.

This year, I started this blog and consequently, learned to, or rather, remembered to enjoy the creative process, take chances, and (warning: icky Oprah moment up ahead) listen to my soul. It's been a while.

And when I was done making chili, I took a little baby step towards overcoming my fear of baking by making banana bread with chocolate chips and pecans.

I found this foolproof recipe on Beurrista, and the reason I know it's foolproof is because I screwed up quite a bit, and it still turned out okay.  So, I'm sure that if I hadn't spilled a little too much baking soda in there, forgotten the vanilla, and taken the bread out of the oven five minutes later than I should have, it would have been way better.

Still, it couldn't have been too bad, because my friend who doesn't even like sweets polished it off. Of course, this was after he warily eyed my banana bread's crazy puffed up and slightly charred exterior, and then asked me how long I'd had it on the barbecue.

I used a cup each of chocolate chips and pecans.
Next time I'll try adding another banana and slightly reducing the sugar.

Don't you just love when you finally venture out of your comfort zone and the results make you go, "Holy crap, I can actually do this. Check it out, I'm doing this. And guess what? I'll do it even better next time. Because I'm AWESOME."?

It's a friggin' Christmas miracle. Now, go stand somewhere else before I kick you in the shins and take your present, all the while singing 'Sleigh bells ring, are you listening..."


  1. I'm sure it was delicious Jo! Banana bread is one of my favorite things to make...so forgiving, makes use of aging bananas, and yummy to boot :) Try swirling Nutella on top before baking...nomnom!

    1. What a great idea! Will definitely try that next time. Thanks, Joey!

  2. loved your post and your honesty with the different emotions that christmas can wring out of us! hope you have more of the "jingle bell rock" and less of the "bah humbug" and getting a little decorations up certainly helps one get into a festive mood.

    congrats on your baking accomplishment and thank you for mentioning me. you - and your banana bread- ARE awesome!

    1. Thank you! I love your blog and your recipe was great. Can't wait to try it again. You may make a baker out of me yet! ;)