Unknown Treasures from the Room of Requirement (and Banana Honey Cake)

Last week my parents came to visit us in Iowa, and ever since we cut the distance from 12 hours (meaning they typically would fly to see us) to 5 (meaning it would be somewhat of an extravagance to fly, particularly for we Midwesterners who think everything is driving distance) I get nervous.

Why?

Despite not having lived in my parents’ house for many, many years, and despite the fact that my mother with her own two eyes has seen me move out nearly all of my possessions from her house, she remains convinced I have left “a lot of stuff” in their basement. She is so convinced of it that she mentions it every single visit. 

To imagine my parents’ basement, one may think of a Room of Requirement reduced to the dimensions of the foundation of a modest, standard ’90s suburban house. It features, among other things, Holiday Decoration Corner, Cat Litter Corner, and mildew. A winding path cuts through the towers of boxes and plastic storage tubs, allowing theoretical access to all sectors. Theoretical, because it’s easy to disturb the stacks and become buried until you would waste away because cats, unlike Lassie, are not good at getting help.

My contribution to this is two plastic totes with random college-era belongings, half of which are actually Bryce’s. The only other things that remain of mine in the house are in the closet of my childhood bedroom, and those are boxes of my baby blankets and stuffed animals. By now, nearly everything else has been sorted and either donated or trashed.

Cut to last week when my mother arrives. Bryce and I had to be at church for something, so after a quick dinner we gave my family the keys to our house and met them later. Upon walking in the door, my mother announces that she’s “brought me some of my stuff.”

ME: *looking with panicky eyes to Bryce and immediately beginning to scan the entire house to find whatever mountain of items she’s brought me* Oh, uh, really? What stuff is even left there?

MOM: This box, and a bag, and your old garment bag, and that.

That, it turns out, is a black box fan I’ve never seen in my entire life, and it takes me ten full minutes to convince my mother that it’s not ours and has never been ours and yes, I promise I would remember if it was ours, and no, I don’t want it anyway because we already have one, and no, we don’t need a second one, and see these magical inventions called ceiling fans?

The box was actually labeled in my own handwriting “TERESA BOOKS 2018” so I knew it was a box I had recently sorted and could affirm was actually filled with my own possessions.

And then we come to this bag.

My mother, bless her heart, whom I dearly love, hands me a reusable tote bag which I instantly know is not ours.

MOM: Well, it’s not ours.

ME: *scanning the logo on the bag* Mom, this says “Mamas on a Mission,” and isn’t that the logo from your church, which you joined after I left the house, meaning this would definitely be yours as I am not a Mama or on a mission or a member of your church?

MOM: OK, well, maybe the bag is mine, but the stuff is yours.

I open up this bag and inside there is a brand new Greek yogurt maker in its box, a plastic bag full of mismatched gloves and mittens, and another plastic bag filled with lids from reusable coffee mugs.

At this point I am almost crying from laughing, and worried that my mother will think these are tears of relief and gratitude that she has brought me mismatched gloves (none of which were ever mine) and lids from cups that likely have been lost for decades.

ME: *trying to cry only from laughter and not from horror* Why would you bring this??

MOM: Well, it fit in the car.

Please pray for me, as the prerequisite for hauling mystery items to my house is apparently whether or not they fit in the car, and my parents have recently bought a van.

They took back everything but the box of books and the Greek yogurt maker. Now, I haven’t used the Greek yogurt maker yet, mostly because I’ve been going through the house to make sure my family didn’t bring me some collection of used travel-size toiletry bottles or back issues of Reader’s Digest.

I did have time, however, to make this banana honey cake.

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I almost always use overripe bananas for banana bread, but I changed it up to make this cake. It’s not overly sweet, and the banana flavor comes through very nicely. It would be great with a cream cheese frosting, but we didn’t have cream cheese so we dusted it with powdered sugar and served it with vanilla ice cream.

Banana Honey Cake

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3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter
2 eggs
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mash bananas in a mixing bowl, then mix in honey and applesauce. In an electric mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add banana mixture to butter mixture and beat until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients. Add about a third of the dry mixture to the wet and mix on low speed. Mix in about a third of the milk (1/4 cup), then alternate dry and wet ingredients until the batter is finished.

Pour batter in a greased Bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven on the middle rack for about 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Mine baked in exactly 50 minutes.

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