Tuesday is our day for forced relaxation. We go nowhere. We do nothing. We have no plans. We just be. My friend calls it being anti-social, kiddingly, of course. It’s our Homebody Day. True, there are other nights where we end up at home with nowhere to be and nothing to do. But Tuesday is different. It’s one specific day a week where we don’t allow intrusions. Distractions. Interruptions. None of it. It’s about family. Me and the kids. Doing anything. And nothing. And everything in between. At home. Together. Like one deep exhale in the (almost) middle of the week.
Tonight, while Madeline was finishing a wicked long nap, Nick made Old Fashioned Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Well, technically, we attempted the frosting, but clearly I am terrible at reading directions and I couldn’t save the frosting after I added too much butter and didn’t have enough confectioners’ sugar to save it. So we did without. I happened to skim through a copy of the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook, How Easy Is That, today and knowing we had three very sad overripe bananas sitting on our kitchen counter, it was perfect timing to find this recipe.
Healthy? Well, not so much. There’s an awful lot of sugar in it. But I can’t remember the last time we baked together, and it was the perfect activity for us to end our day with … the measuring, the stirring, the baking, the waiting, the eating. As for the taste, Nicholas summed it up best:
“Mom, no offense, but this tastes like banana bread.”
He’s not wrong. It does. The lack of frosting certainly drove that point home, but we can always use another good banana
bread cake recipe, right?
Excuse the crappy picture but there was a minor crisis at home when I couldn’t find my camera card and I had to make due with a BlackBerry picture. I didn’t get there until nearly 7 pm, and we hadn’t had dinner yet, and both kids piled into the voting booth with me … but I voted. And I do every election. Even the small ones. Even the ones where it seems like my one little vote won’t matter. I do it because I can.
When Clinton ran for re-election years ago, we had recently moved and there was a screw-up with my registration in the new town and I couldn’t vote. I didn’t find out until the day of the election when I was actually at the polls, and I was crushed. It took me days to get over that. When Obama was elected, Nick and I sat glued to the tv that night, watching the map fill up with reds and blues, guessing which way it would go, asking and answering questions.
Tonight, the kids came into the booth with me and I held Madeline’s hands carefully as we pressed the buttons together (the only way to make sure the right buttons got pressed!) and Nick got to press the “cast vote” button and they both had big smiles on their faces as they bopped out. She, of course, doesn’t get it (I won’t even get into the shenanigans she pulled at the polling place), but Nick is starting to put some pieces together. When we arrived and I signed in, I asked if they had the “I voted” stickers and yet again, they didn’t. My mom always seems to vote at places that have them. I’m not so lucky. The last few elections, they had just run out. This time, the volunteer said that the stickers had been cut because of lack of money. It’s something so small and, I know, insignificant, but I love the sticker and, when I’m lucky enough to get one, wear it proudly.
Forgive the soapbox, but I hate when people don’t vote. When people think it doesn’t matter because everyone else will get out and vote for them. It does matter. The all-important school budget votes passed earlier this year, but by only a very slim margin in our area, driving home the point that every vote counts. I don’t always follow everything politically as well as I should, but then I research and I ask questions so I can make the best decision possible. For me. For my kids.
Beyond that, I always make sure to take them with me when I can. It would be heaps easier to duck in and out without them with me, but this isn’t about easy. It’s about another teaching moment. An opportunity to lead by example. To explain why it’s so important. That we are all a part of this. That we have a choice, an opinion and the opportunity to express it. The people I vote for don’t always win. That’s life. But my little voice will still be heard … and counted … regardless.
Old Fashioned Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe courtesy of Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is That
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
Walnut halves, for decorating
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan.
MIX bananas, granulated sugar and brown sugar in bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Add oil, eggs, sour cream. vanilla and orange zest. Mix until smooth.
STIR together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in chopped walnuts. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, turn out onto cooling rack and cool completely.
SPREAD frosting thickly on top of cake and decorate with walnut halves. Slice and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (1/2 pound)
MIX cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment on low speed until just combined. Don’t whip. Add sugar and mix until smooth.Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That, Ina Garten, Old Fashioned Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting