My last semester of college, after I’d finished student teaching and before I walked off with a bachelor’s in education, I decided I didn’t want to teach at all. I wanted to write. Someone I knew knew Kelley, who worked as a reporter for a Wisconsin newspaper, and that very kind person gave Kelley my phone number, which led to our meeting on a Saturday afternoon. I didn’t know what networking was back then, but I guess that’s what we did—I, very badly, I should say. Kelley took me around the newsroom, let me sit in on a phone interview, gave me advice on breaking into the field and (here’s the worst part) took ME out for lunch.

(Let me offer this advice when you’re looking to network: Do not follow my bad example. If a very kind person in the industry you’re looking to enter does you a favor, don’t let her buy you lunch. You may, of course, be breaking bread with a wonderfully kind and gracious person like Kelley, and she may tell you it’s fine, but, really, someday you’ll realize how utterly classless that was, and you’ll regret it.)

That was the one and only time I ever saw Kelley in person, although, honestly, now that I’ve typed that, I realize how strange it sounds. We’ve been in touch all along. The first time I ever saw my name in print—I think it was an article about a book club, published in a tiny weekly paper that probably 15 people would read, I sent Kelley a copy, and she understood why it mattered.

Banana Bread from Kelley

When I had questions about dealing with editors, Kelley gave me feedback. When I felt the sting of rejection, she told me not to give up. And, you know, almost five years since our weekend lunch, she’s still giving to me, expecting nothing in return.

Around Thanksgiving, when she read here that I would be making the big meal by myself, she wanted to print out all her favorite holiday recipes and send them out to me. I mean, really. Doesn’t that make you want to name a parade after her or something? She sent me links and documents with recipes to try, one of which was her favorite banana bread. I printed it off immediately, stacking it with a group of other print-outs I wanted to create. But one week flowed into another, and here it is late January, and I’ve just now tried it.

The loaf’s all gone now, so let me just say this: if you don’t already love Kelley, this recipe might do the trick.

It’s a sturdy cake-like bread, easy to slice off and hold in your hand. The sweetness is subtle, not overpowering. And the chocolate chips? Well, I was a slow convert to chocolate with banana, but it really grew on me, and now I’m all in. I could go for a piece right now, in fact.

That Kelley, she’s really something.

*Oh, and I can’t let this post go by—not today—without a shout-out to fellow LOST fans. Tonight! Can you believe it?! (BTW, this banana bread would go especially well with television. Just saying.)

Brusses’ Favorite Banana Bread
From my friend Kelley

For the sake of honesty, I’ll tell you I only used one cup of mashed banana because that’s what I had. It probably made the flavor a little less strong, but still good. Also, I was out of yogurt, so I remembered my friend Jennifer said Miracle Whip works well, and I used light mayonnaise. Here is the original recipe, however, as Kelley gave it to me.

2 cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 ½ cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
¼ cup plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt
3 Tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup mini chocolate chips
Cooking spray


Combine flour, soda and salt; whisk together.

Beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed, until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time.

Add bananas, yogurt, milk and vanilla and beat until blended. Then add flour mixture to wet mixture and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then remove loaf to rack to cool completely.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Lan

    what a lovely tribute to your friend Kelley! she sounds like a wonderful mentor. lucky you to have her.
    i did not know about the mayo trick if yoghurt was not on hand. i’ve used sour cream before (or vice versa).

    please let me know if there ever comes a time when a parade is named after kelley. :)

  2. montague

    i’ve never tried to put chocolate chips in my banana loaf… might have to give it a try!

  3. Carrie

    I think I would have went to lunch back then, too. You and I get SOOO excited about things! And ya know… I hate bananas. But there’s such a huge difference between mashed banana in a mixture and a whole banana in my mouth that makes all the difference in the world to my taste buds. This recipe should be very yummy.

  4. The Duo Dishes

    Miracle Whip’s a funny thing. It’s so awesome for cooking! Especially baked goods…like cornbread. But we digress. Chocolate chips in banana bread is awesome! Great combo. Also love banana chips and coconut…

  5. Kelley

    Hey!!!!! Thanks for making my day/making me cry. Wish I could share a slice with you (that is, if you’d saved me one!). :)

  6. Chessa!

    I know exactly what you mean by studying something and then realizing that that’s not at all what you wanted to do…I am a licensed and former practicing attorney after all.

    As for banana bread with chocolate chips – I LOVE it. I don’t like bananas but I make myself eat them for the potassium…but I LOVE banana bread. Anything with chocolate actually. A friend in law school actually used to make it and we’d eat an entire loaf in one sitting. aaah…to be in my 20s again and have a fast metabolism!

  7. Shannalee

    First, Kelley: Why did I cry when I read YOUR comment? Meant all of this. Really. And thank you.

    OK, now:

    Lan: Sure thing about the parade, LOL!

    montague and Carrie: It’s really a lovely combo. Try it.

    Duo Dishes: Lovin’ your comments, guys. And banana chips and coconut sounds delicious. Have you ever made banana chips? I wonder if I could do that…

    Ciao Chessa: I still don’t know the story behind your screen name. Didn’t you promise me a post on that? Also: almost went to law school. And by almost, I mean, I took the LSAT. LOL. Glad you share the banana + chocolate fandom. SO good.

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  9. Gemma

    I love banana bread with chocolate through it (actually made a fairly disappointing banana bread last week though) and loved your story about your friend. Funny how sometimes the people you see so rarely end up being the people you care about the most.

  10. Shannalee

    So true, Gemma.

    And on the subject of disappointments, I had a rough time with a kale recipe this evening. Oh, well. Just makes the successes more sweet, when they come. :)

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