Growing up during World War Two almost everything was rationed, or simply not available. If you were very young during the war years you would never have tasted marshmallows or chewed bubble gum. Gas was rationed. We lived in the small town of Prince Albert, in the northern part of the province of Saskatchewan. A National Park and dozens of beautiful lakes were a short drive away. Our Dad cycled several miles to work saving his gas ration coupons for the occasional family outing.
The annual Pet Parade was a much anticipated event. Cats and dogs were coerced into sitting in small baby carriages, propped up in decorated, polished wagons or coaxed along with a leash. Patriotic costumes were expected. I felt quite smart dressed in a red, white and blue crepe dress. Fortunately it didn’t rain.
This photograph of my sister Mona and myself was taken shortly before our Uncle Bert left for war. He was one of the many who did not return.
It was important for everyone, young and old, to do ones bit for the war effort. We collected string, tin foil (from cigarette packages) metal and even fat. Once a week the women in our neighbourhood met and knitted socks or rolled bandages. Tea and only one kind of cookie or cake was served. Food was rationed. My Mother came home from one of these projects with this recipe for Banana Bread. It was the talk of the afternoon because it didn’t contain nuts, but looked like it did. Nuts of any kind were simply not available. This is my Mother’s world War Two Banana Bread. The only change I have made is to add nuts.
MRS. BASSETT’S BANANA BREAD
1/2 cup butter ( or very good quality hard margarine)
2/3 cup scant or white or brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp each salt and baking soda
1 1/2 cups generous of VERY VERY ripe bananas. They should be soft and squishy in the skins
1/2 to 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Have all ingredients at room temperature
Cream butter and sugar until soft and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time.
Combine the dry ingredients and mix alternatively with the mashed bananas. Start with one-third the flour, when this is mixed add half the bananas, now add another third of flour mix just until the flour is assimilated, add the rest of the bananas. Mix briefly, then add the final one-third of the flour. Add the chopped walnuts and mix briefly.
Pour into a loaf pan and let stand twenty minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Test by sticking a cake tester or a very thin knife, into the centre of the loaf. It should come out clean.
Banana loaf, like most loaf cakes or breads freezes well.