Eating Noms: Banana Bars

Hey friends.

So remember when I said the nice weather wouldn’t last on Long Island? Well, I was right … for the wrong reasons. Gone are the days of 80 and sunny, replaced by 60s and rainy, rather than the insufferably hot and humid days I expected. Outdoor activities are still not a great idea. Know what is? An Eating Noms post! Get ready to expand your belt loops, folks. This one’s worth it!

The Eats Deets:

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Bars (slightly edited), from Butter with a Side of Bread.

Yield: 24 bars, but we’ll see how long that lasts….

Time: 30 minutes

Materials: Mixing device, baking sheet, oven, and the ingredients!

Pros: Simple ingredient list and directions, easily customizable, makes the house smell a-ma-zing.

Cons: You gotta love bananas (I do!) because they’re super flavor-forward.

Would you make it again? Would? Will. This recipe is delicious and is a great way to give some love to those bananas no one buys at the store because they’re not bright green. We all have the power to make small, impactful choices, peeps. Don’t let good food go to waste.

The Eats Story:

We had a bunch (ha! see what I did there?) of really ripe bananas in the house. We also had some Hershey’s nuggets in the freezer (frozen chocolate = the best chocolate). And as you may have guessed from the last Eating Noms post, we usually have flour and brown sugar. I just needed to find a recipe that would pull this goodness together. Enter: Butter with a Side of Bread.

I mentioned above that I slightly edited their recipe. Here’s what differed: I swapped chopped nugget bars for chocolate chips. I also left the cinnamon out and used one less banana because I only had four on-hand. They were still so, so good. I’m not sure the recipe needs either ingredient, but hey, go wild! And while you’re at it, you might consider adding other ingredients like walnuts or almonds, because again, this recipe has loads of potential for personalization.

The Eats Results:

So, when I hear the term “bar” in reference to food, I tend to think of something crunchier than what we ended up with. They’re not really like a cookie or cake, either, so I guess we can still call them bars with a straight face. Just wanted to give the heads-up for anyone who has a “texture thing” or is a “bar purist.”

Meanwhile, just look at how delicious these babies are! I wish I could show you how good they smell — alas, the internet isn’t that sophisticated yet. You’ll just have to make them to find out for yourself.

Let me know what you think!

xoxo,

Ryan

North by North Carolinian

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Full concept and content by Ryan Vale McGonigle

Eating Noms: Brown Sugar Pound Cake

Recently I discovered the joy of baking.

Most recent attempt: brown sugar pound cake. The recipe I followed didn’t come from my mom, or her mom, or anyone’s mom for that matter. It came from the back of a cardboard box.

As a self-respecting Southerner I should probably be ashamed to admit that. But as a new baker, forging new traditions in a new place, the recipe on the back of a Domino Light Brown Sugar box suited me just fine.

I followed this recipe to a T and it was delicious. What made it even better? An overnight stay in the fridge — covered, of course — and then sliced thick with a dollop of whipped cream and a generous portion of strawberries.

Have another toppings suggestion, or another pound cake recipe to try?

Send them this way!

xoxo,

Ryan

North by North Carolinian

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Full concept and content by Ryan Vale McGonigle

We’re all a little North by North Carolinian

Born into a family who worked really hard to put down stable roots in North Carolina, I suppose I should have stayed there. Instead, I went to college far from home, met the New Yorker who would become my husband, and now live in a small, suburban community on Long Island.

Husband and I are very lucky. In addition to each other, we each gained a new home (and friends and family) through our union. I gained New York, he gained North Carolina, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But this doesn’t mean life is perfect. I have to acknowledge that, from time to time, it can be hard to live as a Southerner in the elite club of generations-long Long Islanders. I miss the voices of the South, the foods, the sounds, the smells, the entire way of life — one which, through the process of assimilation, I must often hide if not outright deny in order to be taken seriously.

I have an incredibly supportive spouse. And his family and friends have been welcoming since the earliest days of our courtship, but unfortunately I cannot be around these loving souls all the time. Outside of this support system, the process of assimilation can be lonely and terrifying. In this environment, it’s hard to find other people like me, or at least other people who’re open to knowing people like me.

I started to grapple honestly with this predicament about a year ago — with trusted friends, with family, in church, at work, in other writing projects, basically everywhere the topic nagged at me. Since we carry our identities with us everywhere, and since the world around me isn’t always welcoming, that nagging happened a lot. And then it started to happen even more, and grew even stronger, to the point where I knew I had to do something about it. I knew that I could no longer hide in silence. Especially because, through earlier work and conversations, I knew I wasn’t the only person out there experiencing this struggle — and it wasn’t just happening in New York. Stories like ours are about the struggle to build a loving home, a way of life, in any place that, quite frankly, would rather we weren’t there at all.

There are several ways to build a life in these scenarios:

(1) Deny everything about yourself, and learn very quickly how to do life in a completely different way, in completely different words and meals and jobs and goals and expectations, and then prepare to find out that sometimes, even when you play by every rule, those around you won’t see past the person they want you to be.

(2) Build community with others like you, if you can find them, to celebrate and protect your heritage. Society may rail against everything about you, but you can build collective agency, and at least have others to cry or laugh with about the social experiment your lives have become.

(3) Grow an insanely thick skin and resist the actors that seek to silence you, but do this because of and through love. Love takes a helluva lot more strength than hate. But it also has the greatest capacity to affect change, so it’s worthwhile if you can master it.

Spoiler alert: I’ve tried 1 and 2 before. Both helped, but were more reactive than I’d prefer. I’m onto the third attempt now, and that attempt is this space, North by North Carolinian. Rather than deny or simply expose the factors that have the potential for harm (and many do), this space will take up the yoke of building more open-mindedness, trust and love for others who aren’t always like us. This space is dedicated to celebrating the good in different, if not altogether divergent, cultures.

At a time when I desperately miss home, I feel compelled to collect the stories, recipes, music, art, and culture that speak to who I am, rather than being made to forget what they mean to me, a North Carolinian up North.

At the same time, I feel compelled to lift up and celebrate what makes life up North lovely and full. There are so many stories, recipes, and pieces of culture that matter and help me create meaning here, as I make my life and my home in the great state of New York.

Each of these places, each of these cultures, are wildly beautiful. Each of them matter. And so do their people. With this in mind, I hope North by North Carolinian accomplishes something positive, however simple it may seem on the surface. I hope it opens minds and hearts. I hope it elevates conversations. I hope it highlights and preserves heritages rather than destroying or minimizing them over fear of difference. And as one, small act of love and resistance, I hope it amplifies the light from many people, places and things who seek to remind us that we all matter, all of the time.

Join me in the process of building a life between and as part of two cultures. May we all be brave enough to honestly examine and own ourselves, and in the process may we come to see that we are all needed, exactly as we are, exactly where we are, for as long as we choose to be there.

We’re all a little North by North Carolinian. 

xoxo,

Ryan

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Full concept and content by Ryan Vale McGonigle