What do you make yourself for lunch, if nobody else is around? I bet you’re hoping I’m going to say something ambitious, like “a gently poached chicken breast, cooled and sliced across a vegetable salad with a hand-whisked vinaigrette,” because that happens, ever. Or maybe you’re hoping that this is where I tell you about my secret peanut butter fluff with crumbled potato chip sandwich habit, alas, I’m not even interesting enough at lunchtime to be scandalous. The sad truth is, if I’ve by some miracle found a couple hours to get work done in relative peace, I’m ecstatic, and I find hunger an inconvenience. If I must succumb, whatever I make for lunch must be quick, and tends to fall into the Stuff On Bread category: avocado, olive oil, lemon and sea salt, peanut butter (always low-brow) and jam (always fancy), or, smashed soft egg.
Three weeks ago, we together rolled our eyes because it seemed like everyone was either celebrating spring (pea tendrils! meyer lemons!) or on vacation without us, cluttering our social media feeds with shiny, happy scenes on distant beaches. We had a brief but unequivocally necessary pity party because while we were stuck here, shivering, with a fresh layer of sleet accumulating outside. We consoled ourselves with blood orange margaritas.
I won’t lie: I generally feel — being a Jewish kid from suburban New Jersey — about the least qualified person on earth to talk about biscuits. My grandmother didn’t make biscuits. I am almost certainly the first person in my family to keep my fridge regularly stocked with buttermilk. And growing up, our breakfast breads were a rotation of Thomas’ English muffins, bagels and maybe corn/blueberry or bran muffins, so it’s not like I have a deep well of biscuit nostalgia to tap into when I decide, on a whim, that what our morning, slicked with heavy snow, really needs is freshly baked biscuits.
Seeing as I’ve already admitted that I’m kind of a terrible host, I might as well let the confessional continue and tell you that I’m a terrible traveler. Oh, I don’t mean that I kvetch and whine the whole time (though you might want to ask Alex if he agrees, now that we’ve taken six flights and visited five cities in eight days together!), I just mean that I never do any of those really great things those really smart people writing really quite logical articles suggest, like keeping the amount of stuff you bring down so that it will fit in one of those bitty suitcases you can stuff into overhead. I don’t roll my clothing to prevent wrinkles or have my most important items in my carry-on so I won’t be at a loss if my luggage is. I never have one of those scarfy/pashmina things to use as a blanket/pillow/tent of warmth on the plane or train, nor do I remember Vitamin C, hand sanitizer, eye masks, earplugs or to eschew caffeine for purer forms of hydration, like water, and I never, ever remember to pack a wholesome homemade snack.
One of the saddest things you should probably know about me is that I’m a terrible host. I don’t mean to be; in my head, I’m the kind of person who would find out you were coming over, quickly gather some wildflowers from the side of the road, put them in an old Mason jar, pour-over some coffee from a local roaster, steam cream from an upstate dairy in a spouted glass and pull out something warm and enticing from the oven right as you arrived. In my head, I understand that none of these things are terribly difficult to pull off. In reality, were you to come over right now, you’d find a plate of pears (one with a toddler mouth-sized bite removed) and mostly-empty jar of something delicious, but alas, too delicious to have lasted until you arrived, on the table, a colossal explosion of wooden train tracks and fire station parts all over the carpet and a fireman in a time out (“What did he do?” I asked. “He did NOTHING!” I was informed. Well, then…). Also notable is the absent aroma of freshly-brewed coffee. Upon closer inspection, you might see that I don’t actually own any coffee-making apparatus. And not a single warm thing has left the oven this morning; we had stove-top oatmeal for breakfast again.
Something kind of terrifying is going on around here, and it started in the back of the closet. I found shoes there, old shoes, shoes that did not fit. They had to go. Thus far, this is the snoring-est horror story yet, but wait, the discontent simmers: Half the closet followed, all of the plastic hangers that drove me batty were replaced with nonslip ones, sweaters were color-sorted, dresses were arranged by season and my husband’s closet is on notice too.
There are a lot of good reasons to make banana bread: You have a pile of sad bananas on top of your fridge that have reached their life’s expectancy. You like things that are unquestionably delicious. It’s raining and you need something toasty and cake-like to go with your coffee. You’re into recipes you can make with one bowl, and feed a dozen. You’re going to be wildly busy this fall and are hoping to pack your freezer with all sorts of wonders that that can be warmed up whenever the craving strikes, even if you’re not around to enjoy them.