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VOL. 38 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 5, 2014

From Blibber-Blubber to Black Bottom

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Nov. 28 was a highly celebrated day in my life. No, it wasn’t my birthday, or my anniversary, although those are important. (Well, not the birthday one, unless for some reason I start getting younger.)

So why is that day so important? It was National Chocolate Day and National French Toast Day. What could be any finer? Two of my favorite foods celebrated on the same day.

So, in honor of this celebrated event in my house, I made a recipe I’ve loved for quite a while: Black-Bottom Banana Bars. This recipe has been around a long time, but it remains one of my favorites, and with all the newer recipes out there, they don’t get made as often.

These bars are easy to make, moist and, in my opinion, better the second day. But then, I like brownies better the second day, too, so that might just be me.

So you might want to pull out your brownie pan and make these. They’re great to take to all the office parties and family gatherings going on around this time of the year.

Anyway, before I get to the recipe, I have some “foodie” tips and trivia for you.

1. In 1970-1971, a family of four could eat very well on a grocery budget of about $45 to $50 a week (ouch). That would include steaks, chops and seafood.

2. The first bubble gum ever marketed was called “Blibber-Blubber.” Manufactured by the Frank Fleer Corp. in 1906, it was never a hit with the public. The bubbles would burst into sticky fragments all over the chewer’s face.

3. Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. A perennial plant, cranberries grow on low-running vines in sandy bogs and marshes. Because cranberries float, some bogs are flooded when the fruit is ready for harvesting. Others are harvested using machines that resemble lawnmowers that “comb” fresh cranberries off the vines.

4. Can you name three close relatives of the turkey?

5. How many cranberries does it take to make one can of cranberry sauce?

6. Did you know that eating bananas and other high-potassium foods will make you much more likely to be attacked by mosquitoes? If you’re going duck hunting this year, leave the bananas alone!

7. Which has more calories and fat, and why: a plain sugared doughnut with a hole in the middle, or a round jelly filled doughnut?

8. Ducks store a lot of fat just beneath the skin. Prick the skin of the duck all over with a sharp fork or point of a knife so the fat just under the skin drains while cooking. Also, always cook duck on a rack so it doesn’t fry in its own drippings.

9. How long does it take the liver to oxidize one alcoholic drink?

10. If your Christmas feast included fried fish, spinach and lettuce, in what country would you be?

11. The staff at DoItYourself urges us to stop throwing out those itty-bitty pieces of soap. Instead, pulverize them in your blender to create a powder that’s perfect for washing delicate fabrics.

12. The next time you make meatballs, try this tip: roll the meat mixture into a log, and then slice off even sized meatballs.

13. Keep a roll of painter’s tape handy in the kitchen; it’s great for sealing bags and resticks over and over. (It even stays sticky in the freezer)

14. If your toddlers love pancakes for breakfast, instead of trying to cut them up with a fork, try a pizza cutter. It’s super quick.

Kay Bona is an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at

Quiz answers

4. Grouse, quail, and pheasants.

5. About 200 cranberries.

7. While this could never be considered a dieter’s option, jelly doughnuts have fewer calories and less fat than the plain ring ones. While a ring doughnut might weigh less, it has a greater surface area exposed to the oil than a round one. Maybe that’s why Elvis always preferred jelly doughnuts.

9. 60 minutes.

10. Armenia – this is supposedly the last meal Mary ate before giving birth to Jesus.

Black Bottom Banana Bars

1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about three medium)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup baking cocoa

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until thoroughly combined. Blend in the bananas. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Divide the batter in half.

Add the cocoa to half; spread this half into a greased 13x9 pan. Spoon the remaining batter on top and swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the bars test done. Cool.

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