My mother and I share similar love stories. Both of our men were in the Army, both served in Korea (30 years apart), and both were from far away states. My mother and father met at a dance on April Fool’s Day, while dad was stationed at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. By June they were engaged and he was off to Korea for 15 months. They married in October 1962 upon his return. Mom always thought she would marry a local guy, someone she knew from the old neighborhood, not a Texan like my dad. If dad hadn’t come along it may have been a Sal, Vinnie or Gino, even though her Italian father told her to never marry an Italian man, “They’re no good,” he said.
I met Dan in NJ while he was stationed at Fort Dix and I was a nurse at the local hospital. Just like mom I figured I would marry a local, I had been in NJ most of my life. Dan is from Seattle. When I told my dad that I was dating an Army man he asked his rank. “Lieutenant,” I said, “They’re good,” he said. After 15 months of dating we were married and I was whisked off to Fort Bragg, NC, Fayetteville to be exact (or fondly, Fayettenam) and my life as an Army wife began, just like my mom’s 31 years previous when she was uprooted to Mineral Wells, Texas after living her whole life in East Boston. Army life was good to both of us. The good times and hardships had given equally to fond memories of our early marriages. But I think mom would agree that it was the friends we made during those Army days that added to the richness of our memories.
This banana bread is by far one of the best that has ever crossed my lips. It is the most requested dessert in my home and with the abundance of bananas lurking in my freezer, it is by far the most convenient. This old recipe is from one of my mom’s neighbors during her time as an Army wife in Mineral Wells, TX.
1/2 cup butter , softened
2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. soda
1 t. salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/4 cup milk
1 t vanilla
1 T. espresso powder (my addition-optional, but good!)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
Mix all ingredients on high speed in mixer for 2 minutes. Bake in a greased 9×9 pan at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. This is delicious right from the oven schmeared with butter.
Note: I use 2-3 “Costco-sized” bananas right from my freezer. To defrost, place bananas in the microwave and heat on high for 30 second increments until the bananas are soft. Cut one end off and squeeze the softened banana toothpaste-like right out into the bowl. That’s right, freeze bananas in their peel.