Susie’s Pumpkin Banana Bread

As a missionary for World Impact, our niece Susie spent many years working with Spanish-speaking immigrants, first in California and later in Wichita, Kansas.  She lived in the neighborhood where she ministered, teaching Bible clubs to the kids and various adult classes as well, all designed to guide people to a faith in God and eventually to establish churches.  No longer a missionary, Susie now teaches English as a Second Language in the Wichita school system to students from Asia and Africa as well as many from South and Central America.

She brought two loaves of a golden bread to a family dinner the last time we visited Jerri’s relatives in Kansas.  After two slices I asked her for the recipe and an explanation of how she came to make such a great-tasting treat as Pumpkin Banana Bread.

As she tells the story, when she moved back to Kansas from California, she wanted to plant a new church for underserved Latinos in Wichita.  She recruited a team which spent weeks walking and praying through three lower-income neighborhoods which had a large percentage of Spanish-speaking residents. They wanted to move, and were seeking God’s guidance about which neighborhood was ready for a Spanish-speaking church plant.

On one prayer-walk, they discovered the “perfect house” with a large back yard for BBQ’s and rooms large enough for ESL classes, Bible studies and worship services.  However, the house was already under contract—even if World Impact had been able to afford it. They settled on an empty house with a complicated financial situation that the owners let them use for the summer to teach Bible clubs.  When the bank could not release the building for sale by summer’s end, Susie called to find out if the “perfect house” had in fact been sold.

Surprised to hear that the contract had fallen through, Susie convinced the World Impact leaders to come tour the house. They could see the home’s potential for ministry, and decided to move ahead. With lots of prayer and a very generous gift from a WI board member, Susie and her team had a home for the new church. As Susie concludes the story, “We closed on the house in September, moved in in October, sent out a fund-raising letter in November, and paid off the house completely by the end of the year. ONLY GOD could have done that!”

Susie continues, “So. . . where does the bread fit in? We started an ESL class to get to know our neighbors. We had a big table and a big dining room, and we had fun, lively classes! But in the Latino community, there are always refreshments at every get-together. What could I serve? I bought some delicious Mexican pastries one day, but that proved to be too expensive to do regularly.  So, I decided to serve different kinds of homemade bread and coffee or tea. I made the bread and froze it so I wouldn’t have to bake before each class. The ladies loved the bread, and I accumulated quite a collection of recipes. The Pumpkin-Banana Bread was one of the breads that I served to my ESL class. They enjoyed it, and it also became a favorite of our young director!

“By the way, we planted our church–La Iglesia de Cristo Victorioso! They first met in our living room, but now they have their own building and their own pastor. They are currently completely independent from World Impact and are doing well.”

Here is Susie’s recipe for a really delicious banana bread complemented by pumpkin!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

3 1/3 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

2/3 cup water

1 15 oz. can mashed pumpkin

1/2 cup mashed, ripe banana

3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

PROCEDURE:

Grease the bottoms and a half-inch up the sides of two 9 x 5″ loaf pans and set them aside.  Preheat the oven to 350º and lightly toast the pecans by stirring them in a small skillet over moderate heat until they begin to change color.  Mash the banana.

In a very large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and oil with an electric mixer on medium speed until they are well blended.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat them into the sugar and oil.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger into a separate mixing bowl.  Add the flour alternately with the water to the sugar mixture, beating after each addition just until the flour is combined with the liquids. 

Beat in the pumpkin and banana until you have a smooth batter. Blend in the pecans, and spoon the batter into the pans.

Bake for fifty to sixty minutes.  Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf.  If it comes out clean, the bread is done. If not, bake for another five to six minutes and check again.

Remove the pans from the oven and allow them to cool for about fifteen minutes on a rack.   Loosen the loaves from the pans and turn them out to finish cooling on the rack. 

NOTES:  Susie says that she often substitutes apple sauce for part of the oil and that you can use more mashed banana.  I mashed a large banana which produced three-fourths of a cup, and the bread turned out fine.  Incidentally, I like to butter my banana bread.

Speaking from experience, I urge you to be very careful when you toast the pecans.  I heat a small cast iron skillet first, pour in the pecans and use a wooden spoon to stir the pecans continuously.  As soon as the nuts begin to change color, remove the pan from the heat and pour the pecans into a small bowl.

As Susie suggests, you can freeze this bread and serve it a couple of weeks later.

A Lost Recipe—Apple Cranberry Crisp

I’m not sure, but my guess is that professional chefs never lose recipes, which is one reason I know that I will never be or even aspire to be a professional cook. I confess to losing, or at least misplacing, at least one recipe a year. For instance, there was the great Hot Fudge Sauce Hot Fudge Sauce recipe that I made a couple of times, then lost for years until finding it by chance. And then there is Pat’s Caponata recipe that I never found but had to recreate by tweaking some recipes I found on line.

Jerri suffers from the same weakness. Forty or forty-five years ago when we were still living in Kentucky, Jerri made a dessert that we loved. It was a crisp made with apples, cranberries and oatmeal. She made it three or four times in Kentucky, and we think that she made it at least once or twice after we moved to New Richmond. We are not sure of that, so it is possible that she lost the recipe during the move.

Every year when we buy cranberries at the marsh near Stone Lake, Wisconsin, she laments that she has lost that recipe. This fall I suggested that we try to recreate it. I went on line and saved six recipes that resembled the one she remembered. She chose the one that seemed closest to what she remembered and dictated some changes to me.

She then followed her newly revised recipe which produced a wonderful dessert. You really need to try it. It will wow your family and guests. Offer it as a second dessert on Thanksgiving day or just serve it warm with a scoop of ice cream after any meal. It’s even good plain and cold for a healthful breakfast! Think of it as oatmeal and fruit.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
3 1/2 cups diced peeled apples
1 cup sugar
3 T all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans

PROCEDURE:

Grease an eight by twelve-inch baking dish and set a stick of butter aside to soften to room temperature.

Peel and core the apples and chop them into a half-inch dice. Blend the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir the apples and cranberries into the sugar mixture. Make sure that the fruit is mixed evenly through the batter.

Preheat the oven to 350º and make the topping. Blend the oatmeal, flour, cinnamon and brown sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add the butter in small pieces, and cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Stir in the chopped pecans. You should have a crumbly topping mixture.

Pour the fruit batter into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake at 350° for fifty to fifty-five minutes or until the apples are tender and most of the cranberries have popped open.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You will have eight to ten servings.