There's nothing like the sweet taste of a warm slice of Cranberry-Walnut Banana Bread to take some pleasure in as we begin navigating this brand new year that's already full of opportunities for lessons and positive change going forward.
Happy New Year!!
Here we are, once again, unwrapping a sparkly, shiny, and spankin' brand-new year, pulling it gleefully out of the box.
Ah...does it have that “new year” smell? That never-been-lived-in-before, fresh, clean aroma?
Let's just take a moment to breathe it all in, and revel in all the endless possibilities that it contains, the untapped potential just waiting to be, well, tapped.
And while I'm not, personally, really looking to make any big dietary changes, I thought a healthy but sweet little Cranberry-Walnut Banana Bread would be a good little offering for the first post of the new year; a little something simple and cozy to toast up nice and warm for breakfast, or to slice and enjoy in the afternoon with some hot coffee or tea, for a little fragrant comfort as we delve into yet another new chapter of life numbered “2016”.
See, I like the challenges that a new year offers up: the challenges of betterment, of progress, of growth, and of pushing one's own boundaries of comfort.
A new year is a fresh opportunity to become a better person, to rethink old habits that aren't working, and even examine those things we do that we think are working, but perhaps, they're not.
And, so, in the spirit of openness, honesty, and just generally trying to push back the boundaries of my own comfort level, I felt compelled to share a little humbling experience that my husband and I had several weeks back that, though unnerving and frustrating at the time, ended up being a really great gift to us; because it made us think (thinking is good!) and examine our own mentalities a bit.
Like so many food bloggers, or any other bloggers who have a photo-heavy style of site, we enjoy the many visitors that a wonderful and inspiring site like Pinterest brings to us.
Don't you just love Pinterest?
And because it's all about pinning images, it introduces new people, on a daily basis, to The Cozy Apron and the recipes and posts that we have to offer, as well as giving long-time readers the opportunity to “pin” and save our recipes for another time, which is a really great thing.
I use Pinterest and love it; and most likely, you probably do too.
So you can probably imagine my husband's and my horror when we began receiving emails from our readers on a Saturday evening, several weeks ago, saying that they could not access any of our recipes through Pinterest because they had blocked us and deemed us a potential “spam” site, not allowing for people to click on their pin and then be sent to our site.
At first, we thought it was a mistake; but when my husband tried clicking on an image of ours on Pinterest, he was shocked to, sure enough, see a pop-up that said something to the effect of “Sorry, we’ve blocked this link because it may lead to spam…” instead of taking visitors to our page.
Wha—??!! Us??!! Spam???!!!
That verbiage really stung us, let me tell you.
It wasn't enough that we had lost a ton of visitors to our site that day; the insult to injury was that we were now being deemed a potentially unsavory site, and that's not a good thing when “savory” is what we're literally longing to be.
Since it was almost midnight on a Saturday night, we braced ourselves for a major hit in traffic (the number of visits we get on a given day) until this matter could be resolved.
And we had a fear that it could take days, which was not a good thing, but...what could we do?
My hubby quickly reached out to the support page on Pinterest, and we crossed our fingers that someone would get our correspondence ASAP. But with it being Sunday the next day, well...
So we prepared our obsessive/compulsive selves to just let it go and make “peace” with the situation until we heard back and could get things resolved—there wouldn't be much we could do until then.
What I remember most is how sort of sick to our stomaches the label “spam” made us feel, however; it felt like such a mischaracterization, which, in turn, made us feel a bit wounded and a little helpless.
At some point my husband turned to me with a little sadness in his tone of voice and said, “You know, when I look at this whole situation, I can't help but wonder how many times I've ‘blocked’ someone or something that perhaps shouldn't have been blocked, or labeled another person or thing in a negative way that didn't deserve the label?”
In other words, how many times had we, ourselves, unconsciously stopped the flow of something that could've been beneficial, or thought something to be negative that didn't rightfully deserve that label?
Oh, yes….the introspection started.
We couldn't help but feel like there was a lesson in this experience for us to learn, something for us to consider for our own lives going forward, and that this experience was less about the blog itself.
It was a situation that was meant to catch our attention, so that the lesson within it could be witnessed and become a teacher.
Long story shortened slightly, we did get quick correspondence from Pinterest by afternoon the next day, where they apologized for a mistake that happened on their end, and got our pins working and linking back to our site, deeming us “savory”, once again.
Of course we were grateful for such an easy and quick resolution; but even more so, we were grateful for the food-for-thought that the whole experience provided us with.
It made me realize that in this new year, I'd like to grow more conscious of not labeling someone (or something) in a certain way in my mind, since, chances are, what I'm basing my assessment on could be completely inaccurate, or not the full picture.
Point well taken, and a good lesson learned, all in a moment of our own vulnerability.
(I just love God's sneakiness.)
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Cranberry-Walnut Banana Bread
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes 1 loaf
• 3 very ripe medium-large bananas (with lots of brown spots), well-mashed
• ¾ cup brown sugar
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 4 eggs, room temp
• ½ cup, heaping, sour cream, room temp
• 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup, heaping, fresh cranberries
• ½ cup chopped walnuts
• 2-3 tablespoons rolled oats
-Preheat the oven to 350°, and mist a non-stick loaf pan (9 x 5) with cooking spray.
-To a large bowl, add the mashed bananas, and the brown and granulated sugars, and using a hand-mixer, mix on low speed until well-combined.
-Add in the oil, the eggs, the sour cream and the vanilla, and mix those in until well-incorporated.
-In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, and add those into the banana/oil mixture, and mix just until blended.
-Fold in the cranberries and the walnuts, then pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan; sprinkle over top the oats, and bake for about 1 hour and 10-15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out fairly clean. (You may need to cover the loaf with foil for about the last 20 minutes of baking if it begins to become too dark.)
-Allow the loaf to rest in the pan for about 15 minutes, then carefully turn the loaf out and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.