In the early aughts I lived in a warehouse with a dozen other ne’er do wells in downtown Dallas. As the stories go the building had been a speakeasy back in the day and we did our best to keep the old bricks entertained with a roaming cast of characters and our efforts to get by, high and generally unemployed. My roommate and landlord kept herself flush with cash by renting space to all of us and working as a dominatrix. The room I shared with her was the dungeon, tall and dark, the dry wall painted to mimic cracked cinder blocks. I paid her $100 a month to live in an uncompromising cage slung in the top SE corner of the room. These were the only days in my life I have ever woken up behind bars. My corner of the world wasn’t tall enough to stand up in but my mattress fit on the floor just fine. I’d lay on the bed to get dressed so as to not hit my head on the old rafters. Her patrons made brief cameos in our room and had “middle management” or “let me file your taxes” written all over them. Some days I would come home to find her and some woolly man sitting indian style on our bedroom floor, making sandcastles in bikinis. They’d smile up at me, sandy and pale then invite me to grab my suit and join them.. Other days I would find myself locked out of the dungeon in the hallway while she made some mystery man weep and moan on the other side of the door, her methods for which I never braved to ask. She had one client who was a house favorite. She called him “worm”. He paid her to clean up the place, in an apron and nothing more or that was the rumor anyway. He picked up the kitchen, did the floors, and scrubbed our toilets. I never saw him, only the shiny surfaces that suggested he had been around. I would imagine him licking our plates clean while she stood in the corner, scolding him in head to toe patent leather. Bless you, worm.. The thought still makes me shiver.
The rest of us threw parties downstairs once a month or so to scare up some cash. Charging five bucks at the door for a band and copious amounts of vomit inducing trashcan punch usually paid the bills. We didn’t need much. We lived off bong-rips, cheap booze and leftovers from the farmers market. Whatever they didn’t sell would be stacked up in crates by the dumpsters. Strawberries, green beans, squash, waning avocados.. As a group we bought a bag of rice that weighed about as much as I did at the time and paired well with whatever superfluous fortune the farmers had left behind. We may have been young and poor but never hungry. Beyond steady meals of remnants and rice there was always a fresh loaf of banana bread. We slept late, shirking responsibility while the madam of the house would rise early, have a “smoga” (a pre-yoga cigarette), then she would kundalini for an hour. Once all her chakras had been aligned, her snake uncoiled, she’d whip up a batch of banana bread, like mom used to make. The smell would ride through the loft and up into my cage turning what was essentially a flop house for verdant riffraff into a cozy home. A simple recipe for dragging the needle back to zero. To this day when I make banana bread I think of her. Her fuzzy shaved head, her relentless quest for zen, her sandcastles and catherine wheel, the strange Johns.. She was forceful and soft, wild and wise. I miss that about her.
So today I’ll put on my bikini and preheat the oven to 325 degrees in the name of zen. In about 10 minutes my house will be dominated by the scent of sweet bananas and cinnamon. Once it cools I’ll have a bite and travel back in time to those days of being a free bird in a cage.
This recipe is simple. My old stand by recipe called for buttermilk which I did not have in the fridge and did not want to buy. I always end up wasting it. Knowing that Americans throw away 40% of their food, wasting anything is a god damn crime. You can make a mock buttermilk by adding lemon or apple cider vinegar to whatever kind of milk you may have on hand. I had macadamia nut milk so that’s the route I took. However, if fried chicken, chess pie or your grandmother’s ranch dressing recipe is in near the future then knock yourself out, get some buttermilk. I am a fan of texture so I added what I think of as “hippie furikake” on top. The mix changes based on whatever is in the pantry. Today I happened to have hemp hearts, poppy seeds, powdered peanut butter, cinnamon, maldon & sunflower seeds. You could add anything. It’s a lawless bread, really. Anything goes and everyone will eat it.
WHAT YOU NEED:
3 R.I.P. bananas
8 Tablespoons butter or vegan alternative
¾ cup buttermilk OR yogurt OR Alternative milk + 1 Tablespoon apple cider vin
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs (or egg replacer if you’d like to go vegan)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Hippie Furikake / Topping suggestions
Two teaspoons each :
hemp hearts, poppy seeds, powdered peanut butter, chia seeds, maldon, sunflower seeds, almond slivers, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, pecans, flax seeds, wheat germ, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds.. and on and on. **Save what’s left and throw it in your next batch of pancake or waffle batter.**
WHAT YOU DO: *preheat your oven to 325 F
Cream your butter and sugars
Beat and add your eggs.
Mash your bananas and throw them in too along with the vanilla.
Whisk your flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.
Once your wet mixture is fairly smooth start adding the dry stuff and alternate with your buttermilk.
Grease a pan, pour the batter, top it off with your hearts desires..
Throw it in the oven for about an hour.
Pro Tip: Slice some up and make grilled banana bread and honey whipped cream cheese sandwiches for dessert or cheat day or when you’re just very stoned (if you’re into that sort of thing).