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Monday, February 15, 2010

Sour Cream Banana Bread: A Love Letter

I love the Internet. Every week or so I have a moment when I just want to freaking shout this from the rooftops, even though I know it makes me seem like a crazy old person. And I'm only 29! Those of you under 25 or so will have to trust me on this: THE INTERNET HAS REVOLUTIONIZED LIFE.

For instance, cooking. A few months ago, R and I wanted chocolate chip cookies. We had chocolate chips, but no butter and eggs.

We thought that it might be possible to substitute something else, but weren't sure what. In the olden days, we would have looked through a few cookbooks, found that all the cookie recipes use butter and/or eggs, and either given up or tried to make up something ourselves, which might have been fun but probably would have turned out inedible.

Instead, we turned to the Internet and easily found a recipe. The result was not fantastic, but we now I know that you can make chocolate chip cookies without butter or eggs, in cases of extreme chocolate cravings during blizzards or famines.

Today, I searched for "sour cream banana bread" and came up with this recipe. So what? Probably everyone reading this has Googled a recipe a million times. The fact that you can search some sites for things like "banana bread with sour cream but no baking soda" is slightly more interesting, but nothing mind-blowing.

But look again--this boring, ordinary recipe has 383 reviews. I don't care whether these people liked it or not--the value of these reviews is in the modifications the reviewers made. One reviewer added craisins--mmm! Another made it with half Splenda and whole wheat flour. A third used oil instead of butter and claims it made the recipe better.

And one brave soul used strawberry banana yogurt instead of sour cream. Now that's something I wouldn't have tried, but it worked. No sour cream? Use your kids' leftover Go-gurt.

This isn't one banana bread recipe--it's 384. It's the cookbook that your grandmother had with careful pencil notes on oven adjustments and substitutions, only 383 people are making the notes.

These people will tell you what you can use if you're out of something, how to make a recipe healthier, how to make it low-fat/low-salt/vegan/gluten-free. You don't need a hundred separate cookbooks on Low Blood Pressure Cooking and Easy Microwave Dinners for Teens and Five-Ingredient Meals and Atkins-Friendly breakfasts. All you need is Google, RecipeZaar, and some strawberry-banana yogurt.

Read enough reviews and you'll begin to understand how to make these changes yourself. You're intuitively learning kitchen chemistry. I know people who have cooked their whole lives and never really understood that there's nothing magical about the exact ingredients and amounts in, say, a Joy of Cooking recipe. It may be really great when followed exactly, but you can also do all kinds of stuff to it and still end up with something recognizable as banana bread, and maybe even something that you like better.

There goes the oven timer--time to see if the people on RecipeZaar were right.

1 comment:

katty said...

The banana have many properties like the potassium and some vitamin too. that is why i prefer to use the bananas frequently in my recipe. and i love the flavour too. Even power the tissues, muscles and bones that can help with the sexual performance too.

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