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.
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
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.