Let’s just pretend that it hasn’t been months since my last blog, shall we? We are eyeballs deep in COVID-19 and no matter where you fall on the spectrum of supporting social distancing and stay at home orders, I think we can all agree that this is getting hard. Real hard. As a longtime sufferer of anxiety and depression, my extra outlets no longer exist. I can’t go grab a drink at the bar with my besties and my boyfriend and I can’t just walk into a coffee shop and sit together while he draws, and I work on my resume. Those things might seem silly, but we are all struggling in our own ways and this isn’t easy on anyone. People are dying, unable to pay their mortgages because they lost their jobs and it’s nearly impossible to get on the phone with your local unemployment office. We are all doing the best we can and trying to find ways to cope. This shit is hard.
I’ve been living in all the stages of grief through this. I go in and out of denial since this all started because I’ve been living in the bubble of my home. I’ve been angry since I found out that I was getting laid off from what I thought was my dream job and found out that I am not eligible for unemployment. Even angrier when I realized that I was replaced at work and have since felt helpless and unworthy, especially when every application I’ve submitted for a new job usually ends with the “Thanks but not thanks” email. The depression and feeling of disconnect has probably been the worst of it all and as we’ve all turned to a more digital sense of community it’s easy to feel even more disconnected than ever. We’re using FaceTime, Zoom, House Party, Marco Polo but those can’t replace a huge hug or being able to hold the hand of a friend as they mourn some loss in their life. Those moments are so precious and I’m holding onto the memories that flood my mind fiercely.
Okay, so bear with me as I try to pull this all together. I know at the start I said that we should pretend that it’s hasn’t been months since my last post but let’s be serious. I haven’t written in months and I’m a bit rusty.
Alright, so a longtime friend of mine and her husband decided to send me some money to help me with my bills.
I have so many memories from back home of the two of us baking holiday treats and recreating our grandmother’s Christmas cookie recipes. Well, as you all know baking essentials are incredibly hard to come by these days so while I was experiencing all this gratitude, I was also feeling so disappointed that while y’all are over there baking banana bread, I’m disappointed that I can’t participate and bake something. #firstworldproblems
Well, a week later another friend sent me a care package with a bag of flour and a few boxes of sugar. I’d been commenting all the drool emojis on every single post about her baking adventures in Southern California and she knew I’d been unable to get my hands on any sort of baking essentials in the grocery shops here in Denver. I mean, I cannot. I’m even crying as I write this because both of these incredibly kind gestures reminded me that even in times like this, people are there. In large and small ways, people will show up for you. People will help you find joy.
The world is changing, life is changing, and now there’s no looking back unless it’s to see how far we’ve come. Dream big, reach out and ask for help, be honest, chase your fantasy. It’s time for all of us to rise up for each other. I’m in this with you and ready to help you find your light too. Oh, and share this recipe with you because it was damn good and we can all use something damn good in our lives.
Nonstick cooking spray, for spraying the pan
2 cups flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 TSP baking soda
1 TSP kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
5 very ripe bananas (I’m talking hella brown)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 TSP pure vanilla extract
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
12/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 large eggs
- For the banana bread: Preheat to 325 degrees F. Generously spray a 13×9″ pan with nonstick spray.
- For the cheesecake swirl: Combine cottage cheese and lemon juice and puree with a food processor until smooth. Then blend the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg in a large bowl and mix until well combined; let that star of the show hang out on the sidelines for a bit.
- For the banana bread: Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Mash the granulated sugar and bananas in a large bowl to a paste. Whisk in the oil, vanilla and egg. Whisk in the flour mixture until just combined.
- Reserve 3/4 cup of the bread batter. Spread the remaining batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the batter and put the reserved 3/4 cup batter in a line down the center of the pan. Insert the tip of a paring knife into the batter and drag it through and up to swirl 5 to 6 times.
- Bake until the top is cracked and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. But every oven is different so make sure you keep an eye on the goods. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then carefully invert onto a platter or cake stand and then flip upright. Cool completely but I definitely recommend you refrigerate that magic overnight and then share it with friends.