a spirit-lifting banana bread

We missed a Gator football game last weekend, despite having had season tickets for years and years.  It was a big deal, missing that particular game, the Florida-LSU game.

I’ve been known to skip a game or two – okay, maybe even three – during the college football months. My usual reasons are: (1) work; or (2) the game will be over too late; or (3) it’s too darn hot; or (4) I just want to stay home and bake something and write and sit quietly, in a quiet house, with air conditioning, and access to clean bathrooms. My husband, though, he never skips a home game. Like, ever, in 20-plus years.

Sam injured his back a couple of months ago, during a workout, when he heard and felt a pop during one of the exercises. Over time, his symptoms worsened, an MRI showed a nasty ruptured disc, and he’s now seen an orthopedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon. There was an epidural injection last week (fingers-crossed that it was fungus-free), and there may be surgery in the future.

So we stayed home last weekend and skipped the game.

I spent a lot of time trying to write, trying to get words onto screen. But the good words – the right words that turn into great sentences and even better paragraphs – those words just wouldn’t come. Mostly I sat at my computer, watched the blinking cursor, and wrote crappy sentences. Which I would then delete. The sentences I wrote were depressing, accurately reflecting my mood, but not saying what I wanted, what I needed, to say.

Which is, simply, that I have been sad.

Over the past few weeks, I have been sad about Sam’s back and about how it’s affected him, his life, and his outlook on life. I have been sad about how this has affected  our family. Sam has missed family dinners, because he can’t sit on a hard chair at the dinner table. He can’t pick the kids up because of his pain. He can’t walk far and he can’t sit for long – and for these two reasons, we cancelled a meticulously planned trip to New York City that was to be this weekend. And we missed – more importantly, Sam missed – that game last Saturday.

So when the words didn’t come, when I continued to feel down, I did what I usually do next. I turned to food to lift my mood. No, not eating it – though sometimes that does help – but preparing it: chopping, measuring, mixing, stirring, cooking, and baking.

I made a big pot of chicken and sausage jambalaya Saturday evening. It had enough heat in it that we all had runny noses after eating a bowlful. On Sunday, I baked a big batch of chocolate chip cookies, part of my mission to perfect a recipe I’ve been working on. The kids thought they were great, but I was dissatisfied with them.

Truthfully, I was just plain dissatisfied.

After dumping a disappointing pan of cookies into the trashcan, I spied the bunch of brown-spotted bananas we’d bought earlier in the week, sitting forlornly on the counter. I decided to rescue them from our neglect and turn them into banana bread. And, in fact, I turned them into the best banana bread I’ve tasted in a very long time.

It was that banana bread that did the trick. As the bread baked, the heady, faintly sweet aromas filled the kitchen, warm and familiar and cozy, like my son’s beloved red blanket. Before even tasting the banana bread, I felt better, felt my spirits lift.

After tasting it, I knew my life – my attitude – was back on track.

Yield: 1 9-inch loaf

Banana Bread

I believe too many banana breads are ruined by nuts, so there are no nuts in this recipe. Feel free to add them if nuts are your thing. As is, this banana bread is so moist that it's almost creamy in texture, without being actually creamy. It is, simply, a perfect banana bread.

Ingredients:

1 cup (4.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2.75 ounces) whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ripe bananas
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream (light or full-fat)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the middle of oven. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.

Use the back of a fork to mash the bananas in a large bowl. Add the melted butter, sugar, beaten egg, vanilla, and sour cream, and mix well. Finally, add in the flour mixture and stir until well-incorporated. Pour batter into the buttered loaf pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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24 Responses to “slow-cooker creamy southern grits”

  1. Paula — November 7, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

    I’ve never had grits. I’m 56 years old. This post makes me think that my life has been missing something wonderful for many, many years.

  2. Kathryn — November 8, 2011 @ 4:33 am

    That does look like a big bowl of deliciousness and so comforting especially at this time of year.

    I’m so glad you’re back in the kitchen!

  3. Brian @ A Thought For Food — November 8, 2011 @ 7:16 am

    Cooking can be so cathartic. Glad to see you back in the kitchen, darling! And these grits… well, it makes me wish I lived in a place where one ate them more.

  4. Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — November 8, 2011 @ 11:07 am

    Comfort in a bowl. These look perfect!

  5. margaret — November 8, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

    I think that I now have a reason to buy a slow cooker. Grits are my ultimate comfort food. Thanks!

  6. Macaroni Mama — November 8, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

    I agree. Grits seem like a comfort food.

  7. Dina — November 8, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    i love creamy grits 🙂

  8. Nutmeg Nanny — November 9, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

    These look awesome! I’m a huge grits girl. My Kentucky born grandma would always make them…yum!

  9. Chris — November 13, 2011 @ 11:08 am

    Stone ground coarse grits are the best thing ever, who needs polenta? Never thought of making them this way, rather a genius idea.

    I like grits topped with smoked pork and a fried egg and a dash of hot vinegar sauce. Think I might have to have that for lunch.

  10. Lucy — November 15, 2011 @ 10:47 am

    What a novel idea–I’m of the standing-over-the-stove-stirring family, but I think I’ll have to try this method. I so love grits. Southern comfort food!

  11. Cheryl Balara — November 15, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    These grits are DELICIOUS!!! So creamy, hearty tasting and I haven’t even added butter, salt or any pork topping. This is my first time cooking “real” grits, usually I cook the quick grits. These are so much better. Plus with the crockpot method; Very easy! Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    ps. I think I’ll set this up Christmas eve. It will be a wonderful Christmas present to myself.

  12. Pingback: looking back, looking forward, and a cocktail recipe: the st. honoré 75 | The Merry Gourmet

  13. Kathy Vaught — August 13, 2012 @ 8:20 am

    Can’t wait to try this method. I am not sure how much water to add from “add enough cold water to come about half-way up the outside of the glass measuring cup which holds the oats mixture” – is that 2 cups?
    thanks.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 13th, 2012 @ 8:43 am

      Kathy – It really depends on the size of your slow cooker, so I can’t give you an exact measurement. Pour a cup or two in, then see where the water level comes (remember, you’re not pouring it IN the oats). Add more if needed.

  14. cottonlily — October 17, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    I read the recipe twice but want to make sure I got this! You place the glass bowl/cup with the grits mixture in the crock pot? You do not pour the grits directly into the crock? I didn’t get that until I read the reply to Kathy. I can’t wait to try this! I agree the slow cook grits are the best; we just never get them because of time constraints.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — October 17th, 2012 @ 10:23 am

      Yes, put the grits in the glass bowl, NOT directly in the slow cooker. I’ll try to make this more clear in the recipe itself.

  15. Natalie — November 29, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

    This is similar to how I do Steel Cut Oats. Can’t wait to try these grits!

  16. Susan — January 18, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

    Hello- Great site. I am looking to make Grits this weekend for a dinner party. Would love to know which recipe you recommend for Grits – the slow cooker one or the one with shrimp and sausage that is made on the stove top. I prefe to use the slow cooker (sounds easier) but also seems a bit bizarre to put the ingredients in a glass bowl and then into the slow cooker. Am I reading this right?? Thank you very much. Susan

  17. patsy — January 30, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

    Grits are corn not oats!

  18. Phil — February 12, 2013 @ 10:44 am

    I have used this method for Steel Cut Oats, as well. If you are reading this in the morning and wanted to go home at lunch to set it up, but just don’t want to eat at 8pm you can just put the cooker on high and do it for 4-6 hours. I generally just use 3 cups of whole milk to 1 cup Stone Ground Coarse Grits, which makes a thicker consistency, then chill and slice and sautee and top with Shrimp Creole….really hard recipe to mess up no matter what liquid you use. I do caution not to salt too much beforehand, though.

  19. Jamey — August 10, 2013 @ 9:48 am

    So it confuses me. Do I then take out the measuring cup. Seems like a dumb question but … Need this tomorrow night for our back to school teacher breakfast on Monday morning. Hope u have time to answer. Thx

  20. Donna — September 9, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    My husband loves grits. I bought Bob’s Red Mill Grits/Polenta and made the slow cooker recipe twice now for him. They turn out perfect.

  21. Kevin Sr. — November 10, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

    I eat grits every where I go for breakfast and some times at home, after making them this way this will be my go to recipe, I dehydrate my own fruits and vegetables and added some of my dried apples with sugar and cinnamon and this was the best I have had any where

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 11th, 2013 @ 8:23 am

      Oh, I’m so glad! Thanks so much for your comment, Kevin.

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