Cinnamon Walnut Banana Muffins are a great way to use up any super-ripe bananas we all have laying around the kitchen. Sweetly warm from the cinnamon-sugar topping, they also have a little crunch from the walnuts. They’re great for a quick breakfast or a mid-morning snack!
Well, hello there. Long time, no write, eh? It’s been about three months since I last posted anything. It hasn’t been for lack of trying. I’ve started writing so many posts, only to get distracted or not get around to making the actual dish. Or, I’ll make whatever it is I choose to write about, but I don’t get around to taking pictures until it’s too late, and then what’s the point? I’ll state it now that this will be a long post before the recipe, so feel free to jump ahead for banana muffin deliciousness.
My motivation has been seriously lacking for a long time – Even before my dad passed away last year. But that, combined with work, all but put the final nail in the blog’s coffin. Which I felt really guilty about. I spent money on getting a new logo and redesign done (which I absolutely adore!)…And then I did jack with it. Now it’s been over three months since I posted any recipe, and a month since I posted the weekly Friday Frenzy (and I apologize to all my fellow Frenzy-ers for being such a crappy participant).
Dealing with my dad’s passing has been really rough. Not that I expected it would be easy, or anything, but I guess I didn’t know what to expect, given that I’ve never lost a parent before. Losing grandparents isn’t quite the same, even if they pass suddenly. I think it’s easier to accept because they’ve lived their lives, and in a way, you know they’re getting closer to the end. You don’t expect that your father is going to go to the ER for breathing troubles and then get transported to a cancer treatment facility, where they discover your father has leukemia that’s pretty much too far along to treat, and three weeks later, your father is gone.
And after that shock, I threw myself into work, both for the distraction, as well as the necessity. Fall Rush in my department is no joke – We’re gearing up for it again as we speak, and the fact that we’re already getting busy spikes here and there says to me it’s going to kick in sooner rather than later. My mom (who’d lost both her parents years ago) told me work was a good distraction for her, and helped her focus on something other than grief. I’m not like that, though. I need time. I need time to wallow, I need time to rip off the bandage, I need time to figure out how to deal or cope with things, and then I can move forward. I haven’t had that time. It’s been a year, and I’m only now starting to sort everything out.
Grief is such a strange thing to carry around. You feel it constantly, because it’s always there, it’s always part of you. But no one else can see it. It’s like an autoimmune disease – You look fine on the outside, but on the inside, the pain has twisted your heart into knots, pushed all the air from your lungs, making them ache and burn, until you feel like you’re coming apart at the seams, and sometimes you look perfectly normal, like there’s nothing wrong, but of course, everything is wrong. Sometimes, the occasional tear snakes its way down your cheek. Sometimes you fling yourself on your bed, toddler-style, and throw a full-on tantrum about the unfairness of it all. Or sometimes you just disappear into the void and allow the sadness to swallow you.
And those things creep up at the oddest times. I’ve had to get up from my desk after phone calls to go and try to compose myself in the bathroom so that I can do my job. I’ve had breakdowns in the grocery store or out shopping because I hear the song my dad and I did our father-daughter dance to at my wedding. I start talking about something completely unrelated, and something triggers a memory or thought about my dad, and I crack. I had that happen when my sister and I saw Social Distortion last month – During their opening song, of all things.
My sister and I were lucky, in some respects. We had more time than some get to prepare, though all the time in the world wouldn’t have helped. We got to say goodbye. We were there up until the end, for the most part. I got to hear my dad speak his last words. There are a lot of people who don’t get that, so I am grateful. But of course, I’m also resentful. My dad was barely 70. There were things that he wanted to do in retirement that he never got to. He only got to see two of his eight grandchildren graduate high school. My family and I only got to spend time in his new apartment after it was a given that he wasn’t coming back to it.
And there are other aspects of grief that come, but you don’t realize right away. The bambino occasionally gets sad and is envious of his cousins, who got to know Papa better and spend more time with him than he did. Jay and I have had spats when I’m having a breakdown, because he’s a fixer and a problem-solver, and I have to remind him sometimes that this isn’t something he can fix. I wish he could, but it’s just not possible. The emotional toll has been exhausting, combined with a work schedule that is turning out to not be what I expected/hoped. People I once thought I could count on have basically disappeared. I assume it’s because no one knows what to say or do, aside from “Let me know if you need anything.” I know people mean well, but that’s probably not the best thing someone can say. I don’t even know what I need some days. I could use a hug, a shoulder to cry on, a cup of coffee, or a shot of whiskey. It just depends on the week/day/hour, I guess.
There have been some good moments, though. The people who do check on me are the true friends I didn’t realize I already had (because you can sometimes be a selfish jerk and get wrapped up in your own misery, not seeing the forest for the trees). My sister and I make it a point to talk more frequently. I’m busy with working outside the home, she’s busy working at home and with scouting activities and homeschooling, but we have realized just how precious time is, and how you really don’t know when life is going to pull the rug out from under you and tip over your apple cart. I’ve been taking the attitude that a Facebook friend of mine posted that’s stuck with me – “Just buy the damn tickets.” I don’t remember in what context she posted it, but I do remember it was in regards to a concert. It’s why I went to see Wilco last November in the Twin Cities.
Why I flew to Chicago to see Depeche Mode back in May.
Why I flew to Columbus to see Social Distortion.
And why I have a reward in the wings for making it through this year’s Fall Rush unscathed. Come October, I’ll get to hear one of my desert-island albums in its entirety:
I am so ridiculously excited for that concert, I can’t even begin to tell you. Also, if you’ve made it this far and your eyes haven’t glazed over or you haven’t gotten irritated with me about trying to explain why I’ve been so absent and such a shit food blogger (though not as cool as THE Shit Food Blogger), please I know how much I appreciate it, and that I will (finally) reward you with the recipe for the aforementioned Cinnamon Walnut Banana Muffins.
I hate bananas. I have tried to like them, I really have. But I just can’t do it. Jay takes one in his lunch every day, and while the bambino won’t eat them just as-is, he’ll eat them in smoothies, or in bread or muffins like these. I have some that are in the freezer (in case anyone decides they want a smoothie) but these were on the counter and on the verge of turning black.
The last time I tried to make banana muffins, they were a disaster. The muffin cups were not overly full, but the did that thing where the batter oozes out, and what’s left in the muffin cup is dried out, and the center is sunken in. I’m very glad these didn’t end up like that!
While I can’t promise I will keep to any regular schedule, I am going to try and post with more frequency. I should probably also revive my poor newsletter, but one thing at a time, right?
For the Muffins:
- 2/3 C sugar
- 1/2 C vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 C mashed very ripe bananas (2-3 small bananas)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 2/3 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the Topping:
- 1/4 C sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 C unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, oil and eggs, and beat with a wire whisk. Stir in the bananas and vanilla. Stir in remaining dry ingredients just until moistened. Using a large (3-Tbsp.) scoop, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups
Bake 17-21 minutes or until tester inserted in the center of several muffins comes out clean. Immediately remove from pan and place on cooling rack.
In a small bowl, mix 1/4 C sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Dip the muffin tops into the melted butter, then into cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve warm.
Slightly adapted from Betty Crocker