I had a few bananas on the verge of death and so I decided to make banana bread. I’ve been recovering from a medical procedure and I needed some comfort food! I love banana bread and so I pulled out an old stand-by recipe. It made me nostalgic and so I decided I’d share it with you.
For some reason when I think of Banana Bread I remember my babies, Joel and Katie. I think it’s because the recipe for Banana Bread that I always use is found in my old, ragged, well-loved cookbook, “Whole Foods For The Whole Family.” I got the cookbook when I was was pregnant with my first child, Joel, and working at a health food store. It was first published in 1981 by La Leche League International. It’s an organization that promotes breastfeeding.
It’s funny, but breastfeeding back in the 1980s was considered a little radical. It was a groovy, tree-hugger, earth mother sort of activity. It’s funny to me because the 80s doesn’t seem that long but I’ve lived through huge changes in childbirth trends since those days. Even the 3 years between my son and my daughter’s birth saw huge changes. Those two births were totally different. With my son, I was in a hospital “surgery-type” room, all sterile and cold, bright lights and scrubs. With my daughter, I was in a birthing center, in a bed with lamps and anyone was free to come and go. So different! This is me and my 1st, my son, leaving the hospital.
I remember getting ready for my first child and I thought making and freezing food would be helpful, and it was! I did it again with #2. This banana bread recipe freezes great and was such a comfort. It would be great to make some, freeze them and give them to a new mom.
Let me warn you, it’s a “healthy” recipe which translates to “not very sweet” haha! You can bump up the sugar if you want something that’s sweeter. This photo is of me pregnant with #2, my daughter.
I don’t think the awesome cookbook is being printed anymore, but there are a few used
I am going crazy making printables for my grandboys! Today I have a St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt for you!
Print out all 3 pages. Cut out the larger pictures and place them around the house so your toddler can search for them. Make it a challenge, but not too hard so they don’t get frustrated.
Then give them the hunt sheet, the one with all the pictures, and a crayon. Tell them to look for the pictures on the sheet. When they find a picture, they match it to the one on the hunt sheet and cross it off. When they find all the pictures, give them a prize!
I have no memories of my mother. I never knew my grandparents. My older father was as silent as a rock. All the history of my family was in the grave or locked in people who were silent or was locked inside kin I didn’t know. So it’s no wonder that in my adult years I yearned, clamored and even demanded to know my heritage. With the help of ancestry.com, a hired genealogist and scraps of clues the first ship from Ireland emerged from the mist.
Photos of the Emerald Isle and recipes in various cookbooks were my first contact with my origins, my homeland. In 1990 Jeff Smith’s cookbook, “The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors” was the first to introduce me to Irish Soda Bread.
Like a first kiss and a first child, Irish Soda Bread introduced me to the world of food as history and heritage.
Jeff Smith’s recipe has been followed and cherished in my family for 29 years now. My daughter now makes it for her family on St. Patrick’s Day which has become one of our family’s favorite holidays.
This is Jeff Smith’s Irish Soda Bread recipe that we’ve used every year. I’m putting it here because I think his cookbook is out of print, although, you can get it used pretty cheap on Amazon.
Jeff Smith’s Irish Soda Bread
Makes 2 Loaves
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix very well. Pour all of the buttermilk into the bowl at once and stir, using a wooden spoon, just until a soft dough is formed. Do not try to make it smooth at this point. Pour the contents of the bowl out onto a plastic counter and knead for a minute or so until everything comes together.
Divide the loaf into two portions and shape each into a round loaf, pressing the top down a bit to just barely flatten it. Place the loaves on a large ungreased baking sheet. (I like to use the nonstick kind.) Sprinkle some additional flour on the top of each loaf and, using a sharp paring knife, make the sign of the Cross in slashes on the top of each.
Allow the loaves to rest for 10 minutes and then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and done to taste.
Cool on racks.
New Year, New Recipe!
Even though I am grateful for Jeff’s recipe that has kept me for years, I decided to take a chance and try the SPISB’s recipe that they have online. The recipe intrigued me in its simplicity. I liked that it had no sugar, too.
So, I made it! I mixed up the 4 ingredients and in the time it took the oven to preheat, I had it mixed and shaped.
(That little gadget is a dough scoring tool I bought. You can use a sharp knife, but I love gadgets, haha! You can buy one here. )
I deviated from the recipe in that it calls for you to cook the bread in a covered cake pan. I decided to use my cast iron dutch oven instead.
It worked amazingly well! It looks, smells and tastes delicious! The crust is delightfully crunchy and the center is moist and hearty! I slathered the hot bread with real butter and it was “slap-your-mama” good! I hate to say it but it’s better than Jeff’s! I can’t believe I said that!
(That beautiful end-grain cutting board was made by my woodworker friend, Pete, at PMG Woodworks in Georgia. Look him up on Facebook!)
I’ve included the link to the recipe but here’s the recipe straight from the SPISB’s site:
White Soda Bread (reminder: 4oz by weight is a dry “cup”)
4 cups (16 oz) of all-purpose flour.
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
14 oz of buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees. Lightly grease and flour a cake pan.
In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.
Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)
Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.
Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible (I think they mean like a dutch oven) pot). Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped so show it is done.
Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.
I wonder if my Irish grandmother, Mano Kennedy, every made Soda Bread?
I know it’s a little early but as distance grandparents, we’ve got to think ahead! We have to have time to get gifts and cards in the mail.
St. Patrick’s Day is one of my family’s favorite holidays! We are part Irish and we love to celebrate our heritage as well as that famous Saint, Patrick.
We have some things that we did every year when the kids were younger and they have continued some of them with their own families. One thing was I always cooked some classic Irish dishes like Shepherd’s Pie and Soda Bread and we’d watch one of our favorite Irish movies!
Here are a few fun things you can order for your kids and grandkids on Amazon.com to remind them to be proud of their Irish heritage or just to have fun! Order them now and have them shipped before the Day Of Green arrives. And don’t forget to add a box of Lucky Charms cereal or treat bars for more fun!
I found “The Five Love Languages of Children” to be very helpful when I was teaching 5th and 6th grade. Whenever I had a student who was a behavior problem or just proved to be difficult, I would go back to Dr. Chapman’s book for suggestions on how I could show love to my challenging students. Because, once I showed them love, a door of communication would open which allowed me to address a world of other things.
“Once I showed them love, a door of communication would open which allowed me to address a world of other things.”
So, now that I’m a grandmother, I thought I’d revisit this super helpful book for ideas on how to identify and show love to my grandboys. We all want to be seen, understood and loved. As grandparents, we don’t always have a lot of time to spend with our grandkids. Sometimes we are so far apart that our time with grandkids is minuscule. If you’re like me you want every minute, every word and every dime to communicate how much I love them and how awesome I think they are! Identifying our grandchild’s love language could help us get to our grandkid’s hearts quickly and efficiently
“If you’re like me, you want every minute, every word and every dime to communicate how much I love them and how awesome I think they are!”
So, while I’m rereading this book, I thought I’d summarize Dr. Chapman and Dr. Campbell’s suggestions on how to identify your child or grandchild’s love language and then I’ll give you suggestions for how to express love to them. Even though I’m giving you this information, I encourage you to get the books yourself and find your love language as well as the love language of your spouse, kids, and grandkids. It really does work and is SO helpful!
What are the five love languages?
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
If you have never heard about the Five Love Languages, that list may make you chuckle. All kids like ALL of those things, want ALL of those things and need ALL of those things. However, when you discover what your grandchild’s primary love language is, you will be able to express your love to them in a way that is deeply satisfying and meaningful to them. If your grandchild’s primary love language is physical touch and all you do is buy them gifts, their hearts won’t be as filled as it would be if you would sit them on your lap and read a book to them. If you want to reach the heart of your grandchild, then try to identify their love language and love them in a way their heart understands. They will remember you forever!
“Identify your grandchild’s love language so you can communicate directly to their heart.”
How to identify your grandchild’s love language
Authors Chapman and Campbell suggest that you don’t tell your grandchildren what you are doing since kids are masters at manipulating situations to get what they want, haha! As grandparents, we know how that is and we are willing participants! Here are the ways you can secretly observe them to identify their love language.
Observe how they express love to you. Do they always tell you that they love you or thank you for doing things for them? Their love language may be words of affirmation. However, kids learn quickly that if they say the right, sweet words, they can often get what they want. So, you’ll want to make more careful observations.
Observe how they express love to others. A child whose love language is giving gifts may always be interested in giving gifts to his teacher. When they are with you, notice how they express love to their parents.
Listen to what your grandchild requests most often. All children want to be noticed and praised, but notice if your grandchild focuses on requests for your time. If they want you to play games with them or read with them or do activities with them they are requesting quality time. If your grandchild is constantly soliciting your praise about their artwork or music performance or the clothes they are wearing they may be requesting words of affirmation. Of course, all children will ask for your compliments every now and then, but a constant request could be an indication of their greatest need.
Listen to what your grandchild complains about. All kids complain, so frequency and a repeated pattern are what you’re looking for here. It might be especially effective as you observe your grandchild and their parents. Do they complain that their parents spend too much time working and never have time to take them to the park? Maybe your grandchild is crying out for quality time. You can give that to them. Not to replace the parent but to show love your grandchild.
Give your grandchild a choice between two options. You could ask your grandchild if they’d like for you to bake cookies for them (acts of service) or take them to the park (quality time). Would they like to lay on the couch and watch a movie (physical touch and quality time) or go to the store and buy something (gifts)?
Ask the parents what they think their child’s love language is. Not only will this help you but it will also help the parents think about ways the can more directly and better show their child love. Not only that, but how they can better love their spouse and others. And that’s what it’s all about, showing love to the whole family!
Some suggestions for showing love to each love language
The expression of each love language will change as your grandchild grows older. You will need to find age-appropriate ways to express your love. You will also have to find ways to fit your grandchild’s unique tastes and preferences. However, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Physical Touch – If you find that your grandchild’s love language is physical touch and you’re not a touchy-feely person, then get over it. I hate to be direct but a hug or pat on the back for a physical touch person will mean more than any gift or word of affirmation. If your grandkids are young it’s easy. Hug them, kiss them, hold their hand, rub their backs. Sit them in your laps, wrestle with them in the floor, swing them around, dance and play contact sports. Scratch their backs, stroke their hair and let them lay on your while you’re watching TV.
If you’re a distance grandparent and you can’t touch your grandchild, then buy them a blanket or pillow. Buy or make a sweater that they can wear that will remind them of you.
Words of Affirmation – While this love language is easy to express, we don’t always take the time to be deliberate so it is often overlooked. Make a point to tell your grandchild you love them without it being connected to a need or request. Make sure your words of praise are true. If they are exaggerated or flat-out untrue, the child will not take it to heart and relegate it to mere flattery. Pay attention to your grandchild’s real strengths and praise them for it. Try to find that hidden treasure in your grandchild and praise them for it. Praise them for their kindness, not just that they look pretty or handsome. Praise them for being patient with a younger sibling or persistence in finishing a difficult task.
If you’re a distance grandparent you can write letters, send notes and cards with words of affirmation and love. Engage your grandchild in phone calls and FaceTime calls and ask them about what they’re doing and express your pride and excitement about the things in their lives.
Quality Time – Quality time is often what people think of when they think of time spent with grandparents. However, in this busy world and distracted life, quality time can practically disappear. Quality time is doing things together while focusing on each other. It’s not so much about the activity as it is the talking, laughing and sharing. Create little traditions with your grandchild where it’s just time for the two of you. And be present! Look them in the eye. Listen to what they say and respond to them. When they visit, take them to get an ice-cream cone. Work in the garden together, not to get a task done, but just to hang out together. Share family stories, look at family photos, do anything as long as it’s together.
When you’re a distance grandparent, FaceTime, Skype and any video communication is your best friend. Be prepared to spend a lot of time just sitting together, maybe in silence, just to be together. Read books together, let them watch you bake cookies all the while laughing and talking, then mail them to your grandchild.
Gifts – For a child whose love language is gifts, gifts are more than just material objects. “They are tangible expressions of love that speak deeply.” For this child, the loss or misplacement of such an item is devastating. This child will make a special place in his or her room for those gifts. How a gift is wrapped is important and the ceremony around unwrapping the gift will also be important. Make sure the gifts speak to the interest of the child. Be thoughtful and deliberate.
For the distance grandparent, this love language is the easiest. However, since our presence and voices will not be as frequent as our gifts, we need to be sure to send our love in words and also make visits. The meaning behind the gift is that you know and love your grandchild. And if they don’t really know you, they won’t get the meaning.
Acts of Service – You can express your love to your grandchildren by “doing things they may not yet be able to do for themselves.” By doing things for them that they can do for themselves is just spoiling them. And while that’s what grandparents are known for, we really want to balance it with teaching them how to do things for themselves. Teaching your grandchildren how master basic skills is a great opportunity to spend quality time, give them words of affirmation and physical touch, too. You can show your grandchild love by fixing a broken toy, helping them with homework, and fixing their favorite food when they come to visit. When you perform an act of service for your grandchild, you are also modeling for them how to serve others.
When you’re a distance grandparent, use FaceTime or Skype to help your grandchild with their homework. Order a pizza online and have it delivered on a weeknight just because it would be fun. If your grandchild is not feeling well, order some soup to be delivered and rent a movie for them to watch.
It will be worth it!
I can tell you from experience that identifying and expressing love languages is worth it! It’s an easy and sure way that your child, spouse and grandchild KNOWS that you love them. When they feel loved, they are more settled, satisfied and peaceful. When their “love tanks” are filled, they can then go into the world and love others.
What a great gift to give your grandchild!
Here are links to the books on Amazon. They will give you so much more help than I did!
That Momo Challenge thing is getting a lot of attention. I’ve read and heard that it’s probably a hoax. And whether it is or not, it has been the catalyst for needed conversations about whether parents are aware of what kids are into on the internet.
It’s not just the parent’s problem, it’s the grandparent’s problem, too. I only have 2-year-old grandchildren at this point and they are already interacting with the internet. They LOVE to get in my bed, eat pretzels and watch YouTube videos of Blippi. Although that may seem innocent enough, YouTube will cut in with commercials for movies that are for adults. They will flash scary or sexual scenes that I don’t want my grandkids seeing. When we are out shopping, I have found that a video or toddler game on my phone will quickly and efficiently fend off a meltdown and those commercials are still there.
“Being a grandma in this Momo world means that I have to pay attention and take precautions to protect my grandkids while they are with me.”
To be quite honest, I had to stay on top of things so much as a parent, that it makes me tired to think about having to learn new technology and stay up on current trends and dangers. I like being able to just relax and not worry about all that parenting stuff these days. I like the grandma gig where I can have fun and send them home and all the serious stuff is not my job.
However, when it comes to the internet and technology at my house, it really is my responsibility to keep them safe when they are with me.
“Just like putting up a baby gate on the stairs or railing around a deck, I need to set online boundaries and set up cyber barriers to keep my grandkids safe.”
I don’t think we can get around it. I mean, even if I don’t want to put in the time and effort to make sure that my grandkids are safe when they are at my house on the internet then I have to put in the time and effort to make sure they have activities to keep them off the internet. Unfortunately, there will still be those down times when they will want to get online because I don’t have the energy to go as much as they do. And there will be times where your nerves just can’t handle hearing “Baby Shark” one more time! You will want to cut them loose to watch things on their own.
So, what can a Grandma do in this Momo world?
Talk to your own kids about what they do to protect your grandkids. Your own children are the best resource because they are on the front lines. Your kids really do know their children better than you do, so it’s best to let them guide you in how to protect your grandchildren.
Put up some cyber barriers. Get familiar with the parental controls on your cable box and within the apps on your tv, computer and phone. If your grandkids get on your computer, then look into installing some filtering software and set parental controls within your computer. If you have gaming systems, do the same there.
Set up some online time boundaries while your grandkids are at your house. Create screen-free times such as meal times and bedtime.
When it comes to online activity, because it can be so unsafe, make sure you enforce the parent’s rules at your house. We all know how grandkids like to try to get away with stuff at Grandma’s house and we like to let them! Eating candy and staying up late is one thing, but unmonitored internet use is like playing with fire.
Become familiar with popular apps and social media sites.
Talk to your grandkids (and you may be able to get more info out of them than even their parents) about what they do online. What apps do they use? How do they keep up with their friends, etc?
Do an online search and read articles about how to protect your kids while they are online. There’s a lot of great info out there like this article here.
Teach your kids that there is more to do with a phone than get on social media. Download a tree identification app like Leafsnap and go for a hike. Teach them how to take and edit photos with a photo editing app like My Little Guy Photobooth.
The most effective protection, in my opinion, is to be present. Watch tv with them. Get involved with their online activity. Play video games with them. They have limited time with you, so spend your time together. They will less likely get into online trouble if you are right there beside them.
“The most effective protection is to be present.”
I followed my own advice and asked my daughter-in-law what she was doing to protect my 2-year-old grandson while he uses the internet to watch his favorite shows. She told me this:
There have been so many disturbing things pop up while watching YouTube kid’s shows that she has almost abandoned it and has now subscribed to Amazon FreeTime app. It’s $2.99 a month for Prime members and there are books and videos available. It includes some of my 2-year-old grandboys favorite shows such as Daniel Tiger, Sesame Street, and Curious George.
Even though my grandson can’t use the tv remote yet, she has taken advantage of parental controls on her tv.
She limits his screen time.
She said the best thing she can do to prevent him from seeing scary things that might pop up is to watch tv and shows on the phone WITH him.
I hope that helps a little. Feel free to leave a comment and let me and my readers know what you have done at your house to protect your grandkids while they are online.
Charles and Diana were just starting their relationship. Christopher Cross, Michael Jackson and K.C. and The Sunshine Band were in the top 10. We were watching “The Shining,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Blues Brothers” at the movies. We didn’t have a cell phone or internet or a home computer. It was the ice age.
Our first date was my senior prom. He graduated from college and I graduated from high school the same year.
That seems like a million years ago and not so long ago at the same time.
So, 39 Valentine’s Days later and we’re still here.
What I like about these days is that the pressure is off.
We don’t need to impress. We don’t need to guess.
You can say the romance is gone, the mystery is gone, the hype is gone, the intensity is gone, you can say whatever you want to is gone… but I say it’s better.
We live in the afterglow. After the party. After the kids have gone to bed. It’s like Friday after work. After an enjoyable meal. After all the hard work is completed. After all the stress and after all the expectations are met and you just settle into that comfortable, satisfied, relaxed state of afterglow.
That’s what life is like now.
I used to fight it. I used to feel guilty like I should be doing more, getting more, being more. I’d push and press and shove to make our life and our love fit a mold that honestly didn’t fit us.
39 years later and we’re just tired of reaching for something that we actually had all along. We have each other. We love each other. No need to prove it with something from the store. No need to worry, it’s been tested and proved. We ain’t going nowhere.
I really like the chilled out, laid back easy going vibe we have going on. We don’t want much these days. We don’t need much these days. Whatever we want we usually buy for ourselves. Wherever we want to go, we go.
So, for Valentine’s Day we’ll probably do one of our favorite things: get in the car and go someplace new. We’ll hold hands and laugh and eat and see someplace we’ve never seen.
So, this Valentine’s Day I encourage you to chill, do what makes you happy and savor the moments you have with the people you love. When it all boils down, that’s the most valuable and precious gift we can give and receive, spending time with the people we love.
I’m so sorry that I seemed to drop off the planet. I went up to spend time with my kids and grandkids for two weeks. The first week I stayed with my son, daughter-in-law, and Manny. My daughter-in-law had all four wisdom teeth pulled and had a bone graft. So, I hung out with Manny so she could recover. While I was there, Manny developed an ear infection and had to go to the doctor.
But he’s all better now. And so is his mom!
The second week I went to my daughter’s house. I had a good time with Gideon and Judah.
Look at those cheeks!
But I’m back home now, muscle sore from all the lifting and carrying and tired, but feeling full and content from all the love!
So, I’m back at writing and deadlines and all the stuff that comes with being at home.