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  • Jennifer Stewart

Not For Hire

Ever since I can remember I have always been a working woman. Strangely, over time, the jobs I had were never really the ones I wanted… they were just enough to keep a roof over my head. I was a dreamer for most of my 20’s and 30’s. Battling an idea of becoming a successful actress that was never too famous, but talented enough to keep working and telling stories. 14 years of bartending from one bar to another in 3 different big cities that only got me one line on a famous ABC show and a couple of scenes with Facility Huffman. I’ve worked hard. I’ll give myself that. Navigating through life at a speed I wish I could take back. The stories, the friends, the adventures, and the laughter I would never replace. 

I know most, if not all, of you these days are experiencing a rather strange day to day. Or perhaps what they say is a “New Norm.” My new full time job for the first time in my life is being a mom. This is my new norm. A mom. I never thought I would ever say that. My job is on stand still… coming off a maternity leave that turned into working from home until further notice has my days filled up with a 2 ½ year old and a 3 month old. My days are active to say the least. Frustrating. Exhausting. Hilarious. Educational. I’m alone most days with the two of them, trying to get into a routine or a schedule… from craft time on the front porch to nap time and then maybe baking time in the kitchen and then pool time to end the day before dad gets home. 

I know there are so many other mothers out there… working mothers… that are experiencing the same things I am during this time. I wanted to help out by assisting in what I call stress baking. (This can clearly be entered into your daily activities if necessary) My toddler loves to dip his hands in the flour and make a really awesome big mess and I love it so much. I can’t wait to teach him to love to cook and bake and all the things… Let’s start with the Joanna Gaines’ Banana Bread Recipe. It’s not only easy, but it’s DELICIOUS. Love her. And I know you will love this… 




“BANANA BREAD” 

By Joanna Gaines

Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 45-50 minutes Cool: 5 to 10 minutes

Ingredients

+ Nonstick baking spray, for the pan + 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted and cooled, plus softened butter for serving + 1 cup packed light brown sugar + 2 large eggs, beaten + 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract + 4 to 5 very ripe bananas, mashed (I like to leave them a little chunky) + 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon baking soda + ½ teaspoon kosher salt + ½ cup chopped pecans (optional; see Tip) + 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar as needed

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with nonstick baking spray or line it with parchment paper.

  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer), beat together the butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Add the bananas and mix until combined.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat just until combined. Add the pecans (if using) and mix until combined.

  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the sugar over the top. I like to cover the whole surface completely with sugar; use as much as you’d like.

  5. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the bread cool slightly in the pan on a rack. Slice and serve warm with butter.

  6. When completely cooled, cover the pan with foil and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

I’ve been reminiscing to my college days when I did a musical called Working by Studs Terkel. I loved musical theatre… although I didn’t have the voice to do it for always, I knew that the third time seeing Les Miserable got me to continue pursuing acting for a lifetime. Working was about people… common people that worked hard. Whether you were a maid, a mother, or a ‘millworker’ the challenges that each person faced came with a song and a story. It’s one of my favorites. I was the millworker. I did a solo to the Millworker song and James Taylor happens to have a version of it that makes me tear up. I’m pairing this pretty easy banana bread recipe with James Taylor’s version of Millworker. It’s a good reminder that hardship can exist for everyone no matter where you are or what you do in the World. But that we are all in it together. 

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Some days are easy. Some days are hard. But it’s not every day that we get to be with our little ones and protect them from the outside World. Truly. It took me a little longer to become a mom… longer than most I suppose. And although I’m traveling through life with God’s spirit in my belly, hanging onto hope even moreso today, I believe we are all right where we are suppose to be. In this moment. Our jobs are to protect. To provide protection to our little ones and ourselves and each other. That’s a pretty damn important job. 




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