everyday banana bread

Yesterday was group therapy, which means it was time for a feelings check in. In reality, we should all do these check ins on a daily basis, regardless of suffering a traumatic loss. Understanding how you feel forces you to confront why you feel that way. It sounds simple, but how often do you find yourself juggling so many responsibilities that you ignore the symptoms?

A deep ache is settling in. Today is seven months since Mikey died. Seven months. The reality of what this means scares the hell out me. In so many ways day seven was easier than week seven. And week seven was no doubt easier than month seven. He is not coming back, and even worse is the life I was living just seven months ago seems so foreign. I watch that video of him dancing with Virginia, yet I feel numb, as if it was all a dream.

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I feel him, and the memory of our life together, slowly slipping away from me. I know I’ve echoed this sentiment before, but just as the waves of grief subside, another ripple of sadness begins its slow descent into my reality—the reality of moving forward. So, I wake each day, groggy from barely sleeping the night before. I spend every free moment cooking and writing. I’m definitely not complaining about that part. I feel incredibly thankful to continue living the dream we shared. Mikey was my biggest supporter, and as I recipe test and write, I do feel surrounded by his encouragement. When a recipe goes as hoped, the immediate excitement is shadowed a bit, knowing he can’t taste it, and share in this. It is not enough to hear “he’s looking down and proud”—that doesn’t hold me at night. It doesn’t match the sparkle in his eye or sigh he’d let out when he took a bite of something I made.

So, my feelings check in this week is a roller coaster, and I proceed with caution, anticipating the pit I will undoubtedly feel as I plunge downward, knowing that with every valley there is a peak worth looking forward to.

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Month seven coincided with week 30. At least I’ve stopped counting days, that’s progress right? I started working out with a trainer a few weeks ago. I figured the first step to feeling whole again was to get moving more than the usual walking from errands and such. If I want to feel alive, then I have to act alive, and nothing like a good workout to jumpstart things.

As I started out making my favorite banana bread recipe two weeks ago, I felt guilty about the stick of butter I was about to brown. It was counterproductive and self-defeating to my short term goal. And frankly, I knew my trainer would kick my ass if he saw me doing it too. I decided that old recipe, amazing as it is, needed to become a special occassion one. That’s how my recipe for Everyday Banana Bread was born. You can check it out on my column, Simple Scratch Cooking, at the Food Network’s FN Dish blog. And for full disclosure, a splash of the browned butter got tossed with some papardelle and fresh chopped rosemary for dinner that night. I told my trainer about that one. The chocolate tres leches cake I made today for the cookbook, will stay between us, and if my trainer does find out, then I’m blaming it all on Bryan. It was his idea, and a deliciously brilliant one too.

Comments

  • Tracey: Good Morning Jennie,
    I am sorry the depression is always hovering beneath the surface. It is a bitch, isn’t it? Hey, a trainer, huh? Someone to “kick butt”! We all need some distraction. After Tombo died, I took a culinary arts class at the local college. I don’t think I want to see another julliened carrot again. Ha ha. It was a great challenge for me.
    The two depressions aren’t the same. Death and life depression. I know the two need to be recognized, both need therapy. But death is a permanent, the life one just feels that way. I am not underating the life depression, but that is often your attitude to your surroundings. The death one is so…uh, heavy.
    It will be my anniversary to Rich (6 years of my current marriage) on the 16th. Tom and I would have been married—-ahh realization—14 years on the 17th.(long story with the anniversaries so close) The man was Irish, can you tell? And no, I didn’t wear a green dress!
    Ok. Well enough said, gotta go to work…
    Happy St.Patricks day,
    Tracey

  • Tracey: Me again, Jennie.
    Oh and I am happy now. The heavens sent me a rainbow.
    Tracey

  • IlinaP: I’m bananas for you, Jennifer. If there were nuts in this recipe I’d add that I’m nuts for you too. Can’t wait to see you later this month!

  • Sherry Carr-Smith: I’m so glad you are checking in with your feelings, it’s easy to avoid. I know you weren’t trying to inspire, but your phrase, “to feel alive, I have to act alive…” hit me this morning. Thanks for that.

  • Diane: Well how ever you made that banana loaf it looks Amazing for sure !
    Mikey will always be in your Heart as time goes forward.
    I’m sure as you move forward your memories of your life with him will be deeper in there but you will never lose them.
    From now till the end of time there will be something that will jog a memory like a smell a recipe a song a date but you will never be far from him as I’m sure you don’t want to be….
    Now go kick butt with that trainer and feel alive again :)

  • Kenda: Glad you posted your banana bread recipe. I have several bananas that are looking kind of sad so now I can make them into something delicious. I think I may includes nuts and chocolate chips, just to make it really fun!

  • Jill W: I’m eager to try this recipe! I’ve recently lost 25lbs (with 10 more to go), so a lighter banana bread is ideal. One question: Would it ruin it to used reduced fat buttermilk? Seems I’ve seen it at the store – or am I crazy?

  • Jan Veenstra: You have given me words to tell people what I am feeling so many times on this blog – the loss of my husband in June 2011 lays heavy and it takes sharing with others to lighten my heart. I look forward to reading your posts and know that we are connected.

  • liz: I am a psychotherapist. I really like how you said ‘to feel alive..you have to act alive.’ So nicely put, but so terribly difficult at times as well.

  • Damselfly: I am a banana bread aficionado. I do not like bananas when they start getting spots — they are too sweet for me. So, I end up making a lot of banana bread. I have recipes with oatmeal, others with sour cream but I have to say that your recipe is the best!
    I substituted Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking and Pancake mix for the flour (I eat gluten free) and added 2T of chia seeds and 3T flax seeds but otherwise followed the recipe. The bread is flavorful, moist and holds together nicely.
    Thanks for this recipe — it is a keeper!
    JP’s Note: You are so very welcome, and I was excited to see you posted a GF substitute for others to see. I love when everyone can enjoy the recipes I share. Thank you.

  • Danielle: Thanks for sharing this recipe, Jennifer. It looks delicious! I think it would be perfect for breakfast alongside a cup of coffee. :-)
    I’m hoping to bake a vegan-friendly version this weekend. If it turns out, I’ll come back and post the substitutions I used, in case anyone else is interested in baking an egg-free and/or dairy-free version.
    JP’s note: Can’t wait to see the recipe for your vegan-friendly version :)

  • Paula @ Vintage kitchen Notes: I like the way you post your true feelings. You´re acknowledging what you truly feel and living it without coatings; I believe that is what allows someone to move on after a loss. The thought that we might forget the face or the voice or other details is a common one. But then it all comes back when we are ready again. In a good way. All my love and strength to you and your daughters.

  • Tiffany: Banana bread is one of my most favorite things…I’m definitely going to try this one since it’s an “every day” one. I continue to be so inspired by your strength. I’m glad you’re sharing your feelings and moving forward even though it’s the most difficult thing you’ll ever do.

  • Rosie: Thank you for always sharing your true and honest heart.

  • Broken: How do you do it? Where do you find the strength? I can’t find it. I don’t think I can do this. I keep telling myself that no one can help me unless I want to help myself, but I just don’t know where the strength will come from to pick myself up off the floor.

  • Madame Butternut: Your post inspired me to bake banana bread today–to honor and remember a special person who I lost several years ago. Thank you!

  • Jenna | The Paleo Project: Always so beautifully written. Wishing I could send any inkling of strength and peace to you.

  • Norma: I have a wonderful Banana Bread recipe that I’ve been making for 20 years now. I’ve cut the flour with whole wheat flour and use reduced fat sour cream, but it does contain that stick of Butter. So, definitely going to try this one because, at 50, calories tend to stay with me longer.
    On a more personal note, I feel for you and your family. My sister lost her husband at 48. She surrounds herself with family, experiencing the wonders and joy of life through the eyes of my little one, who is now 5. and glorious achievements and missteps of my older ones. ( who are 18 and 21). and their missteps are so comical, you can’t help but become involved and laugh. and I bake for her constantly.
    I love your recipes! Thank you for them.

  • Stephanie R.: jennie,
    lately i’ve been dealing with my own experience of loss, and spending more time in the valleys than up at the peaks. sometimes, when i feel like i can’t possibly continue, i remember the things that you have written on this blog. thank you for that. thank you for putting into words what is so hard to articulate, and than going a step further and sharing it with all of us. thank you for your wisdom, which has already helped more people than you know.
    and, of course, thank you for the deliciousness.
    cheers,
    stephanie

  • Roz@weightingfor50: Thank you for another fantastic recipe Jennie. My best to you this weekend, and always.

  • Maria in NJ: Hi Jennie, I am just checking in on you to say hello. How is the cookbook coming along? Just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you and your, hang in there dear…

  • meg jones wall: thank you for your beautiful honesty. i know there’s nothing but time that can help heal the pain of loss, and it will never completely go away. but writing and sharing with people that know you (and people like me, who don’t know you in person but love your writing and recipes) can hopefully help to ease the burden just a bit.
    beautiful bread, as well.

  • Wendy T: I understand, Jennie.
    It’s been a little over 7 years since I lost my eleven year old daughter, and trust me when I say the first 2 years were brutal. I was pretty much non-functioning….contemplating when to kill myself. *Wow, I just lost what I was gonna say. Guess that speaks to the rawness.
    At any rate, there’s a part of me that would much rather be back in that horrible, horrible torture chamber….where I clearly remembered Olivia’s voice, her laugh, the way she walked and I could still close my eyes and smell her.
    Now I just try to fool myself into thinking that I remember each of those things, but the truth is they are or have slipped away.

  • Amanda Formaro: First I read this post and nearly cried. Then I scrolled the comments and then closed the window. Then I came back. I usually don’t comment because I just don’t know what to say that won’t sound cliche. So I usually don’t say anything. But I do know the feeling of overwhelming sadness that comes from loss. While mine was not my soul mate, it was my mom, almost 22 years ago. I lost her when I was 23, she was only 45. I didn’t even have my first child until I was 25, so she never met any of my kids. I didn’t get to ask her advice about being a mom, taking care of little ones, or now, about the hormonal changes that are plaguing me. And now that I am turning 45 myself in just a few weeks, it’s a particularly hard year of missing her. So i won’t tell you that the pain will go away or that you’ll stop missing him as much, because chances are you won’t. But i can tell you that “time will heal your pain” and make it a bit more bearable. Your loss is still very young and I’m glad you’re attending therapy for it. It can be a true life saver. You will learn to “move on” and Mikey will be forever in your heart. I’m sending you a virtual hug and wish we had at least said hello of FBF in Orlando. But know this, my heart is with you and you will be okay. ((HUGS))

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