rhubarb banana bread
Sometimes when I am standing over my kitchen sink .... extremely vivid memories of my mom pop into my head. I am not sure what it is about that spot in my kitchen that does that to me. I only moved into this apartment a year or so before she passed away, so we didn’t have the chance to spend hours and hours sitting at the kitchen island here, chatting about so much but really nothing at all (as we usually did). The only thing I can think of that started the triggering of her memory is a knife that she gave me several years ago that was and forever will be my favorite, and now, most cherished piece of kitchen equipment. Every time I use that knife, I think of her. In the first year or so after she passed, anytime I picked up that knife, tears would well up…. but now when I pick it up, instead, it brings on a little smile.
When you’ve lost a loved one, especially a parent, the pain can feel unbearable at first. And then, at some point it subsides (substantially, for me at least) and then your longing for them manifests itself in a different, more whimsical way. For me, thoughts of my mom, which are frequent, pop into my head when I least expect it, in the most unusual places. And recently (and most frequently), it’s been happening at my kitchen sink. I love those moments, and I love them even more so that they are happening in my kitchen. My mom loved to cook, so I like to think that if she’d be hanging out anywhere in her afterlife, it would be in a kitchen ….. paying me a visit, in my kitchen.
As you can imagine for anyone who has lost their mother or father, these holidays can be some of the most dreaded of all the weeks/weekends of the year. When you’ve lost your mom, mother’s day is just a stinging reminder that she’s not here to celebrate ……. and, for me personally, to add a little extra salt in that wound and double down on that dread, it is also a reminder that becoming a mother has been extremely difficult and has not happened yet ….. it’s a day that, even dealing with one of those things, would make you want run away and hide from the world (preferably on a secluded beach on a deserted island, somewhere warm, with a bottle of rosé). I know deep down that I am in some sort of in-between phase, and that when I have a child of my own this day will have a whole new meaning. But, because of these past few years, I will forever be reminded of, and will always feel for, all the others on mother’s day for whom this day is hard, no matter what their battle or circumstance happens to be.
Over the past five-ish years, I have tried to find different ways of coping with this approaching holiday to lessen my dread. They’ve included travel/running away, spending the day completely solo, deleting instagram from my phone (which I highly recommend), but this year I am trying to approach the holiday with a little more compassion for myself and for the others celebrating it. Instead of running away, I am here, stress-baking banana bread all week long, until I perfect my grain-free banana bread recipe. Because cooking and baking is the thing that makes me feel most grounded and de-stressed, and sharing allllll the banana bread attempts connects me with the people I love who are sharing this holiday (like my sister and mother-in-law, who I am so lucky to have in my life). While honoring my mom a bit too …. she loved banana bread and anything with rhubarb, this recipe is so her.
If you know of anyone for whom mother’s day is hard, reach out to them, send them a message. Just say you’re thinking of them. I promise, you will make their day, and will make them feel heard and loved, which is what these days are about in the first place. I believe all women are born mothers, no matter whether you are mothering a child, or an animal, or just friends and family and those around you. All women deserve to feel special on this day.
rhubarb banana bread
Since this is a grain-free recipe, the texture will be a bit more crumbly that a more traditional recipe, but it is still super moist and delicious. You can totally make this without the layer of rhubarb on top, it will not effect the outcome.
2/3 cup of coconut palm (or regular) sugar (sometimes I do a half and half mixture)
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) softened
3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup, when mashed)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of almond flour
1/3 cup of coconut flour
1 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of salt
1-2 pieces of rhubarb, sliced down the center and then sliced either lengthwise or horizontally (make sure to measure out the pieces against the loaf pan to ensure they are the right length)
Pre heat the oven to 350ºF. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, and grease with butter or oil.
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Lower to a medium speed, add the eggs, and whip for another minute. Lower to the speed to low and add in the banana and vanilla and whisk until combined. Then, while the mixer remains on low, add the almond flour (a little at a time), coconut flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt and mix until fully combined. Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan, and using a spatula, spread it out and smooth the top. Press the rhubarb pieces into the top, either legnthwise or horizontally (or whichever creative way you choose!). Bake for about 60 minutes (checking in at about 45, and if it the top is getting too brown you can add foil to keep it from browning further, but so that the inside can continue cooking). Test and make sure the bread is cooked through by sticking a tester in the center and make sure it comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool for 20-40 minutes before removing from the pan and slicing. This will keep, wrapped, on the countertop for around 5 days to a week.