It snowed nearly eight inches yesterday. This is by far the biggest snow the kids and I have ever experienced, and we sure acted like it. We slid around outside, our knees wobbling like newborn deer and shrieking with marvel. Meanwhile, the hubby, whose childhood was apparently buried under a mountain of snow, expertly built a snow fort next to our driveway large enough for an adult and child. It was cold and uncomfortable, but glorious. Ge Ge grabbed all of his beach gear — buckets, sifter, sand castle molds — and tried to dig out the driveway. Not having enough experience to properly sled, the kids found theirs far more useful for loading up and carting heaps of snow from one area of our yard to another. In other words, it’s amateur hour over here.
Inside, in the warm belly of our house, I baked a coconut oil banana bread. Cocozia provided me with a sample of their coconut oil to try, and boy, have I tried it over the last few weeks. Before Cocozia, I’d only tried coconut oil in cooking a couple of times, but I’d read and heard about its benefits and had always been curious to really make a go of it. Coconut oil is supposedly good for everything from cooking to rubbing a dollop directly on your face. My family loves coconut-flavored anything, and I really like to rub tasty substances on my face, so Cocozia’s coconut oil seemed like a good fit.
As it turns out, coconut oils are not created equal, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising since there’s all sorts of different qualities and types of other oils out there. Right now I have four different kinds of olive oil in my kitchen. I use one for everyday cooking, and the other three I use as finishing oils or the base of salad dressings, depending on what flavors I’m aiming to accentuate. I love bright, grassy olive oils in salads, since they tend to punch up crisp vegetables, but for the end note on pastas, I prefer mellower, fruitier olive oils. Extra virgin coconut oil, like the one made by Cocozia, hasn’t been processed, refined or preserved in any way, so the coconut flavor is extra powerful and pure. I tried using Cocozia in lots of different things, with varying degrees of success. It works as a great substitute for oil in making play dough for my kids, for example. It also tastes pretty good straight out of the jar (but like, who eats oil for a snack?), and is a wonderful base oil for sauteing onions and garlic for curries. It did not, however, make a good substitute for all savory cooking. The coconut flavor is strong enough that it kind of permeates through whatever you’re making. Coconut oil scrambled eggs, for example, were pretty much a big fail. I’ll spare you the photographic evidence.
For banana bread, however, coconut oil is a great added flavor. The combination of caramelized, overripe bananas and coconut oil (boosted with grated coconut, as in my recipe below) embodies a tropical existence, one that lives on a white sand beach with the gentle flapping of palm trees instead of the frigid tundra outside my front door right now. The crumb on the banana bread turns out delicate and moist, with the texture of flaky coconut woven throughout. I also made a powdered sugar glaze for my banana bread using the coconut oil instead of butter as the base, which boosted the sweet aroma of coconut that permeates through the bread.
It snowed until dusk last night, and while the neighborhood lay under a blanket of snowy fondant, I baked. The house filled with the warm hug of coconut and bananas, and I glazed slice after slice of banana bread with coconut glaze, mostly to give myself more excuses for licking the glassy substance off my fingers. This morning, when the kids woke up, I served them each a thick slice. Ge Ge thoughtfully devoured his, proclaiming it a “slice of Malaysia” and then asking me whether we could get a real dog for a pet. I launched into a long but cautious diatribe about lifestyle choices, and maybe how a dog might not fit into ours right now. Ge Ge, mouth still full of banana bread, paused. I braced myself for a parade of tears.
“Do you think anglerfish would still need to use their light to see if they were brought to the surface at night? And when can I go out in the snow?”
So, I guess we’re moving on.
- For the banana bread:
- 3-4 very ripe bananas (approximately 2½ cups)
- ⅓ cup virgin coconut oil
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ cup grated coconut (fresh, if possible; otherwise, use unsweetened)
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- For the glaze:
- 1¼ cups sifted powdered sugar
- ¼ cup cup coconut milk
- 2½ tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.
- Peel and mash bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add coconut oil and sugar to the bananas, and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
- Gradually add flour mixture to banana mixture, beating on low speed until just blended. Try not to overmix.
- Stir in coconut and pecans. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake or 55-65 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.
- While banana bread is baking, pour powdered sugar into a bowl and set aside.
- Melt coconut oil in a small pan over medium heat. Watch carefully so that it does not scorch.
- As soon as coconut oil is melted, pour into bowl with sugar. Add milk and whisk rapidly until blended.
- Pour glaze over banana bread and serve warm.