Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Tale of Two Easters (and some wheat-free, dairy-free bread)

Easter has always been a season of highs and lows for me. How befitting, given that the holiday encompasses both the saddest and the most joyous days of the Christian calender.

Of course, as a child, any type of family or school stress was entirely blotted out by two thoughts: 

Candy
cliffandally


And a cute stuffed rabbit.
Sequelguy   
I have gleaned, from reading other food blogs, that some families debated the tradition and virtues of eating ham versus lamb, but all memories of the real food I ate are completely blotted out by my fixation on sugar the week before and week after, as well as the day itself. It took a great deal of brain power to decide what order to eat my cream-filled eggs (usually I would begin in order of preference: maple, followed by caramel, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and then finally the large, gummy marshmallow bunny) and what flavor jelly beans to consume after eating the red ones (my favorite color).

I only have vague Easter-related memories not connected to the basket, such as a local Easter egg hunt when my grandmother and mother specifically directed me AWAY from the candy, for fear I would get too much of it and eat all of it, and having to wear an itchy, home-knitted dress given to me by one of my aunts.  But only looking back at photographs do I see how angry my father looks in all of the pictures, sulking and scowling.

My father is Greek Orthodox, and I later discovered how much he resented having to celebrate 'American' Easter.  But more so than an issue of faith, I think he hated the delicacy, femininity, and childishness of the holiday. To him, Easter should be about eating massive amounts of meat and cheese, to break the Lenten fast, and as for childish rituals that took attention away from the head of the household--let's just say that the Greeks have a word for it, and it's called the 'Oedipal Complex.' He's happier now with my stepmother, eating fresh-killed goat in an Easter basket-free world.

Of course, just to inflame family tensions a bit more, the quirks of the calender usually mean that Greek Easter and my Easter don't coincide.  I usually forget and one year when I did ask my stepmother and father out to eat on 'my Easter'--at their favorite restaurant, no less--my stepmother spent the afternoon saying things like:

"The food ees usually verrry good, but because it's fake American Easter, they only have a special menu."
"Our favorite restaurant--ees so crowded--ALL BECAUSE OF YOUR FAKE AMERICAN EASTER."

So, I've stopped trying to ingrate myself with 'the Greeks' at Easter-time. Beware of bearing gifts to Greeks!

I do like to bake for others around the holiday and one of my friends is eliminating wheat and dairy from his diet, so this presented a bit of a challenge. I found, while trying to conform to his diet, I gained a new appreciation for oat flour. It adds wonderful, wholesome, slightly sweet quality to this banana bread.  There is nothing fake about this bread, and it's good to renew and reset something--dietary or otherwise--this time of year.  Accept the new, and challenge at least a few of your conventional assumptions, even while you honor your traditions.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

Wheat-free, Dairy-Free Intensely Cinnamon Honey Oat Banana Bread
Ingredients

The bread

1 1/2 cups oat flour (or whole wheat, white whole wheat or all-purpose if you're not avoiding wheat and don't feel like buying a new bag of flour)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium-sized 'oops, I forgot I bought those a week ago' mashed, overripe bananas
2 large beaten eggs
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water

The topping
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and line a 9X5 loaf pan with parchment, leaving some of the paper overlapping to make removing the bread easier. Reserve the 'topping' ingredients for later.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.


3. Blend the bananas, eggs, oil, honey, and water in another bowl.

4. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients, mix, and pour into the pan. Mix the reserved sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on the batter.

5. Bake for approximately one hour, until a toothpick can be withdrawn 'clean.'  Cool for at least 30 minutes, preferably slightly longer.

2 comments:

  1. At first I thought that was Asta behind the stuffed bunny but that appears to be a real rabbit! And a shout out to all the baby bunnies who will end up in rescue in a month's time when frazzled parents realized they knew nothing about the care and feeding of rabbits when they decided to get their kid an "Easter Bunny." I want to save them all but I have my own dog to contend with..

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  2. @MD--I know, the rabbit is so huge, it does look like my dog! I also feel sorry for all of the little (and big) bunnies that end up at rescues and humane societies. :( I am partial to the little lop-eared bunnies, but if I ever got a rabbit it would have to be large enough to muscle Asta around! I think Koko would require a hare to compete with her dominance!

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