Cow Head. My summer home on and off for the past twelve years. Sad to leave the little red chicken kitchen for one that’s even smaller and kind of a weird eggshell colour, but happy and interested to see what I come up with in the next few months. Cow Head is stunning and what it lacks in fresh produce, it makes up for in personality and neighbours who don’t think twice about dropping off a feed of moose or fresh cod. You can’t really truly complain about no tomatoes at the store when you’re too busy cooking moose sausages over a fire or having a crab boil on the beach. It sounds a little like a cheesy tourism ad, but that’s it. And I love it. After a few years of working, living and cooking in rural Newfoundland, I’ve learned that if I bring enough spices to last the summer, everything else sort of falls into place. And if falling into place is a pot of moose chilli, then I guess I’m not doing too bad for myself.
First week in Cow Head, first day off, a gorgeous sunny day. Not enough time for a full on hike and boil up (company coming for supper) but enough time for a walk out to the head and a small fire. Everything in the house for banana bread. Not a massive banana fan. Eat them out of necessity, really. Like when there’s no other fruit to be found in Cow Head and I’m afraid of getting scurvy. But blend it up with some sugar and eggs and I’m there. If I can toast it and put butter on it, even better.
I only packed a few cookbooks to take with me for the summer. The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook is one of them, and of course Nigel. If things become repetitive over the next few weeks you can blame lack of car space. A bit of a twist on regular banana bread, with some sour cream, pecans and coconut thrown in. A perfect recipe for someone who doesn’t like their banana bread too banana-y.
Banana Bread with Coconut and Pecans
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature, well beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (around 3)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 coarsely chopped toasted pecans
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
To toast the pecans, place on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant (I like to dry roast mine in a frying pan on the stove, otherwise I forget about them and I burn them and swear a lot. Nuts are expensive).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch tube pan. In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium setting of an electric mixer, beat together the oil and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat well. Add the bananas and sour cream, and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the pecans and coconut. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the bread comes out with moist crumbs attached. Let cool for at least 1 hour before removing from the pan and serving. Makes one 10-inch cake.
Cow Head modifications: no pecans at store. A shame, my favourite nut. Did I just say that? Used walnuts instead. And I added chocolate chips because that’s the kind of day it was. I don’t know what the hell kind of 10-inch tube pan they’re using at the ol’ Magnolia Bakery, but I filled three (regulation-size?) loaf pans with the batter from this recipe. I know everything’s a little bigger in Manhattan, but this is getting a little ridiculous, Magnolia. In the best way possible. There was heaps of this stuff. A loaf for the house, a loaf for my boss for his birthday, a loaf for the freezer.
A new oven to get used to, along with the eggshell painted kitchen. My roommate lived in the house last year and she warned me to bake everything 50 degrees lower. I did, stuff still browned too quickly while being completely raw in the middle. Panic. Kept lowering the temperature and it all worked out in the end, just barely.
Not a bad start to the little eggshell kitchen. A hit the next day at rehearsal, unless everybody was just being nice. Quite possible, lovely bunch of people working up here the summer. Sliced up a loaf and put it in the freezer. A little messy for the toaster, but nice for breakfast, warmed over in the oven for a few minutes and with a little butter and cheddar cheese (sounds weird, try it, really good) or nutella.
Packed up a few slices and went for a hike out to the head. Built a little fire and toasted the bread on a hot rock with some butter. Bliss. Everything tastes better outdoors, especially with the view I had. We’ll see what the next few weeks bring. Hopefully the little red chicken will be having lots more moments like this one.