blackened banana bread

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At this point it probably seems like I’m purposely fucking things up. I mean, how could I possibly burn a loaf of bread, twice?

Just like last time, I have to blame my EZ-Bake. Seriously, though. That’s not a cop-out. I’ll admit that I suck balls at being a “domestic goddess.” I’ve come to terms with that…kind of. But it just simply isn’t my fault that my oven is the size of a microwave and distributes heat as precisely as a blind person would fill in a color-by-numbers.

So, on to the subject of this post, and a more heartening reflection. Yesterday, I decided to bake banana bread. Not for my own purposes, but because my girlfriend’s smile is the most adorable, sparkly, lights-up-a-room smile you can imagine, and I thought that baking her something would elicit this response. (Also because I did that thing where you buy a bunch of bananas, forget that you have them and buy another bunch.)

I found a simple recipe to follow, which I expertly augmented to my liking.

Here’s what you’ll need:

• A bunch of really ripe bananas. And by “a bunch,” I mean 3 or 4.
• 1/3 c melted butter
• A handful of chocolate chips/walnuts (I had these on hand)
• 1 c sugar
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• A pinch of salt (I added a good bit since there’s so much sugar)
• 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

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Mix all of the shit together. Yep, it’s that easy. The best part is smashing the bananas—I used my hands, like a barbarian. It feels like the kind of thing you always wanted to do as a kid and still kind of want to do but can’t because you’re now an adult. I’ve seen home videos of myself as a toddler burying my fists in birthday cake. Totally indulged. But someone had to clean me…I’ll be damned if my future children ever touch anything. Maybe I’ll wrap their little hands in plastic wrap.

Bake this in a loaf pan at 350 degrees for, the recipe says, one hour.

One hour. After 45 minutes, one side of my loaf was black. Wtf? Really, I cannot take responsibility for this. It’s a fluke.

I have not tried the bread yet, but I’ll have to let you know how it tastes. But I have to admit, much like that anorexic aphorism promises, nothing tastes as good as self-pity feels.

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how to make your entire house smell like a pond

Let me begin by saying that The Fresh Market is quite a dangerous place, unless you happen to have an endless supply of money. The ambiance is always much nicer than the local Kroger—meaning there aren’t clusters of homeless people loitering outside—with lush floral displays, tables stacked with nuts and candy, rows of fresh herbs and spices, a spotless deli and yummy coffee samples.

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I went to pick up some vegetables and also a catfish fillet for the catfish creole I planned to cook for dinner, enough to last the week. I had to force myself to leave behind unnecessary temptations, like an overpriced container of dark chocolate almonds. At this point, though, I kind of wish I had purchased the almonds and scrapped the catfish.

My hands, after three soap and water scrubs and a spritz of perfume, still smell like they were recently elbow-deep in a giant catfish corpse. As I cooked, my small kitchen, which is door-less and attached to my studio apartment, quickly absorbed the pervasive scent of a vagina that has never been washed.

Sorry, I think I took that one too far.

Anyway, after such an appealing preface, allow me to share this recipe with you. Maybe you’re more accustomed to handling raw fish and not as sensitive to the pond-like odor.

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First, you’ll need a catfish fillet. Preferably fresh, not frozen. When you cut this bad boy into 3/4-inch chunks, your knife will catch disturbingly on little strings in the meat. Or maybe that just happened to me because I literally have two “sharp” knives, which are maybe a little sharper than a butter knife.

As a vegetarian who eats the occasional fish dish (meaning, at a restaurant or a frozen salmon fillet I stick in the oven), I’m not used to handling any kind of raw meat. This took some courage. But I—ever the amateur—thought it would all be worthwhile.

You’ll want to start cooking your rice first, especially if you’re cooking brown rice (that’s what I use). One cup of uncooked rice is about four servings. That’s how much I prepared, since I thought this was a recipe that could sustain me for a few days.

In a medium saucepan (I’ve never fucking heard it called that except in recipes. So, just a pan), bring the following to a boil: a 16 oz. can of stewed tomatoes (with the juice), 2 tsp. dried minced onion, 1 tsp. vegetable bouillon (the original recipe called for chicken, but I used a vegan one…it also called for “granules,” and who the hell knows what that is, or even what a bouillon is. I used a cube), 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce (hot sauce? The hell? I used some sriracha).

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I also added about 1/2 c of sliced up carrot, as well as a sliced up green bell pepper. Because, you know, I wanted to waste as much food as possible.

Add in the slimy catfish chunks and cook them until tender. Or you can do what I did and cook them for an indefinite amount of time, until they literally start disintegrating into the creole mixture. I thought overcooking would make it more bearable—some psychological quirk.

You’re technically supposed to cover the pan, but I didn’t have a lid large enough. So, I tried to use a cutting board. That didn’t exactly work…it started to smoke.

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Catfish are maybe the most horrifying things found in freshwater. It absolutely stuns me that anyone would think it a good idea to grab them with their bare hands. I mean, that sounds absolutely like a punishment.

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I think I forgot how fishy they taste. Maybe “fishy” isn’t the right word. Maybe “exactly like the bottom of a pond” would be more accurate. This seems logical, since catfish are bottom feeders and spend their nights eating all the debris and shit at the bottom of bodies of water and also looking heinous.

Serve the catfish creole over the rice. I tried to eat some, discovered that I could NOT get the smell of raw fish off of my hands, and shoved it all into my refrigerator. Then I opened my window, lit two candles, and doused my wrists in my strongest perfume. Everything still smells like the asshole of the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Tonight’s dinner was a bowl of cereal and half a peanut butter sandwich, served with a side of self-pitying, hormonal, regressing, I-just-want-someone-to-cook-me-dinner-but-I-only-live-with-a-brainless-feline tears (cat wouldn’t even eat the stuff! And he eats rubber bands!)

We live and we learn, friends. Now I know to buy the chocolate almonds next time and call it a night.