The Secret Ingredient is Always Love

Some of my most cherished memories as a child revolve around cooking and baking. Growing up with a single mom that worked full time, raising two kids on a very fixed budget – so to say it wasn’t easy would be a understatement. As a single mom raising two growing boys with an insatiable appetite, she had to be very innovative in what she made, and savvy in how she shopped.

Always a deal-hunter, my mom would sometimes buy groceries from three different places, because certain items would be cheaper at some stores compared to others – or she had a flyer or coupon. My mom would usually cook enough for 6, even though it was the three of us, because she could always freeze the other half for another day – it also generally was more cost effective to do so. My mom also made a lot of food that was inspired by her childhood, being born and raised in South Africa.  

This month, I had the chance to partner with Cuisinart so I could get myself back in the kitchen. I opted for the “Cuisinart 4 piece easy grip bakeware” [2 cup muffin pan, 9 in. (23 cm) round cake pan, 9 in. (23 cm) loaf pan, 13 in. (33 cm) baking sheet], Cuisinart 12-Cup Madeleine Pan and the Cuisinart CBK-110 Compact Automatic Bread Maker.

I was really excited for the breadmaker, because let’s be honest, I LIVE FOR CARBS – much to my waistline’s chagrin. Growing up, my mom had a Cuisinart bread maker that she would use all the time, from a classic multigrain to cinnamon swirl or apple bread – my mom would try it all. When I moved into my own tiny apartment, I didn’t think I would have the space to have a bread maker for my own. Well, I was dead wrong. The Cuisinart Compact Bread Maker really lives up to it’s name, it fit really well in my small kitchen and doesn’t feel too obtrusive for my prep area.

Flipping through the recipe book, I was surprised how many different recipes I could make in this bread maker. They have several recipes for Artisanal breads, gluten-free breads and even pizza dough! I made the Country French Bread With Olives and Rosemary recipe, and it was so easy to make I felt like I must have been doing something wrong. I literally followed the instructions and added the ingredients straight into the machine in the order it listed, picked the setting and pressed start. That’s it.

While I was making the bread I had a short power outage (about ten minutes), and I was worried it was going to be game over. But when the power came back on it just started going again. I had no idea why, and then read in the manual that the machine actually has a power failure back-up that maintains which part of the cycle it’s on for 15 minutes, and resumes when power goes back on. Another great function is that you can program a delay start for up to 13 hours, so now you can wake up fresh bread the next morning.

With the bakeware, I went to the classics and started off by making my moms blueberry muffins. This is another one of my moms stand out recipes that I love as a kid (and still do as an adult). They are so soft and moist that they taste like cake, likely why I love them. I use 1.5x the amount of blueberries the recipe calls for, because there’s nothing worse than taking a bite of a blueberry muffin and not getting any blueberry. The silicone handles make it easy for removal from the oven without burning your fingers through your baking mitt. The heavy gauge steel the pans are made of don’t warp while baking (I used to have a muffin pan – not Cuisinart – and a few minutes after it would go in the oven I would hear a pop sound and the pan shape would warp and sometimes cause the muffins to leak or bake unevenly). The heavy gauge steel in the Cuisinart pan also allows for even heat distribution – VERY important with baking obviously – and it’s non-stick on the inside and outside incase you’re as messy as I am 🙂

When it comes to cookies, I have a couple go to recipes. One of them is my double peanut butter cookies which are LEGENDARY amongst my family and friends. The other is maldon salted chocolate chunk cookies, which is one of my all time favourite cookie flavours. There’s nothing like biting into a chocolate cookie and then getting that little tingle of salt on the finish. I hadn’t made the maldon salted chocolate chunk cookies in years, so I figured I would give them a go. The last time I tried to make them the cookie sheet warped in the oven, they cooked unevenly and I couldn’t get them off the pan.  With my Cuisinart 13″ baking sheet, they came off easily, and they were not even fully cooled yet.

Now that I was hitting my stride in the kitchen it was time to try and make my mom’s secret banana bread recipe. My mom hated things going to waste, so as soon as the bananas would go very ripe, she would make her banana bread. Truthfully, I would always get her to buy bananas and never eat them, so she would have to make her banana bread more often. It’s possible for me to have eaten half a loaf in one sitting. Of all the senses, the sense of smell is the one that’s closest linked to our memories. For me, that smell of my mom’s banana bread opens the floodgates to my childhood memories.

As a kid, I remember that I would sit on the countertop as she made it, helping where I could (I loved mashing the bananas, so much that part a good part of the mix would end up on my face and in my hair). Even though I would make such a mess, my mom would stand there smiling and telling me what a great job I did. To this day my mom will hand me a loaf of her banana bread when we meet up, but until now I had never made it myself. While making the banana bread the first time, I sat on my counter like I did as a kid, and started mashing bananas (Just as messily as when I was a child). This huge wave of nostalgia swept over my body as the smell of the banana, sugars and butter started mixing. Once I poured it into my floured Cuisinart Loaf Pan, I sat in front of the oven, like I did as a kid, and watched it rise. When I pulled it out of the oven, and out of the pan, my entire apartment smelled like my childhood.

I decided to post my moms [not so secret anymore – sorry mom] banana bread recipe for you below to try out yourself. Let me know how it goes!

Mama Langston’s “Secret” Banana Bread Recipe
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  1. 6 RIPE bananas (Must be quite ripe)
  2. 2 eggs well beaten
  3. 2 cups white sugar
  4. 8 tablespoons melted butter
  5. 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  6. 2 teaspoon salt
  7. 3 cups all purpose flour
  8. A good dollop of Vanilla
  9. Good Dash of cinnamon
  10. Not so big dash of nutmeg
  11. Chocolate chips and walnuts [Both optional]
  1. Mash bananas and add sugar, well beaten eggs and melted butter. Mix welland put aside.
  2. Sift together all the dry ingredients, if adding chocolate chips or walnuts, do so now. Using a whisk is best to get everything evenly incorporated.
  3. Stir in liquid.
  4. Pour into a greased and floured [Cuisinart] Loaf Pan.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for an hour and a half. Prick in the middle to ensure it’s cooked.
  6. Remove and Enjoy***
  1. ***I recommend slicing it and putting a couple slices in a couple different reusable ziplock bags and freezing it, so you can grab it and take it on the go.
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Until next time, dare to dream!


If you can dream it, you can do it.” –Walt Disney 

Photos by Meagan Faye 

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