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The Best Banana Bread Ever
By Carol LeBeau
3/11/2013 3:33:57 PM


For decades, Tom and I frequented a cute café in Coronado called “Stretch’s….” an eclectic little eatery on Orange Avenue known for it’s huge, fresh salads. My favorite was a combo plate with an array of greens, assortment of fruit and homemade chicken salad.

But the best part was the thick slice of freshly baked banana bread that came with the salad. In all my life I’ve never tasted banana bread that good. Just writing about it makes me salivate!

But alas, the recipe for the sensational sweet bread was “Stretch’s” secret. Fortunately, I could order a loaf or two for special occasions. When it was my turn to bring snacks for my couple’s group, Bible study or girlfriend brunch, “Stretch’s” fantastic bread would be gobbled up. All I had to do was enjoy the compliments!

Sadly, “Stretch’s” was sold last year and today a new restaurant has taken over the space. Boy, I miss that warm, moist banana bread.

By chance, I recently ran into the former owner of “Stretch’s,” Vicki Jones. Vicki was also responsible for baking their famous banana bread…fresh and warm every morning for years. After exchanging pleasantries, I told Vicki how much I missed her famous bread.

Vicki quickly found a piece of paper and began writing. It took a minute for me to figure out she was giving me the “secret” recipe for her mouth-watering banana bread! Oh, joy! “Don’t worry,” Vicki smiled. “It’s not a secret anymore.”

Vicki also said it was okay to share her secret with you. So here it is…the recipe for the best darn banana bread in the universe! Enjoy!

Vicki’s Banana Bread
Mix in Kitchen Aid:
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
½ lb. margarine
4 large bananas

Mix until appears curdled

Add: 2 cups flour
1tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Mix until well blended (2-3 minutes)
Pour into greased loaf pan
Spread ¼ cup brown sugar on top
Cover half with walnuts
Bake at 375 for 55-60 minutes

I think it’s the brown sugar and walnuts that make it so special. Give it a try. And when it’s your turn to bring snacks, you’ll be a hero!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@pph.org.

Learn to Listen
By Carol LeBeau
3/10/2013 2:56:53 PM


Our pastor recently gave a thought-provoking sermon on prayer. While extolling the virtues of communicating with God, Pastor Jim also emphasized the two-way aspect of the discipline. “Prayer is more than rattling off a laundry list of needs and concerns,” he explained. “We need to “be still and listen to what God has to say.”

I keep trying, but truthfully it’s often a struggle to clear my cluttered mind long enough to hear from the Almighty. And that got me to thinking. Do I keep my mouth shut long enough to actually listen to those around me? The answer? A resounding NO!

Listening does not come easily for me. Most of my adult life, I was paid to talk. As a TV newscaster and public speaker, “dead air” is the enemy and must be filled with something…anything. Even in social situations, I’m the one yakking – not listening. So it’s come as something of a revelation that I can do more with my ears than I can with my mouth.

In her book, “Listening to Others,” Joyce Huggett relates personal experiences of listening to suffering people. She said they often talk about all she’s done for them. On many occasions, she wrote, “I have not “done” anything. I have just listened.” Joyce says she quickly came to the conclusion that “just listening” is indeed an effective way of helping others.

According to author, David Roper, listening is a lost art. We don’t listen well and we aren’t used to being listened to. Most of our words simply fall to the ground.

I don’t want to be like that anymore. Says Roper, “I want to listen well so that when I finish conversations others will walk away knowing there’s at least one person in this careless world who has some inkling of what they’re doing, thinking and feeling.”

Here are some things I’ve learned about listening from Roper’s essay, “Learning to Listen.”

1. When I’m thinking about an answer while others are talking – I’m not listening.
2. When I give unsolicited advice – I’m not listening.
3. When I suggest they shouldn’t feel the way they do – I’m not listening.
4. When I apply a quick fix to their problem – I’m not listening.
5. When I fail to acknowledge their feelings – I’m not listening.
6. When I fidget, glance at my watch and appear to be rushed – I’m not listening.
7. When I fail to maintain eye contact – I’m not listening.
8. When I don’t ask follow-up questions – I’m not listening.
9. When I top their story with a bigger, better story of my own – I’m not listening.
10. When they share a difficult experience and I counter with one of my own – I’m not listening.

Ouch! Based on this list, I am officially a lousy listener. If you are, too…how ‘bout we try putting aside our “Chatty Cathy” ways, put a sock in it and let the other guy talk.

Maybe he just needs someone to listen.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@pph.org.