Banana-chocolate chip-cranberry sauce cake

Banana cranberry sauce cake

Hello, and welcome to another installment of “Claire clumsily paraphrases wikipedia in an attempt to share an artist that she loves.” David recently purchased a many-volume set of Memphis Minnie CDs. So much good music! She just kills me. She, quite literally, rocks. In the past I haven’t been able to find recordings of all her works, but I’ve read her lyrics like poetry. It’s so wonderful to be able to hear them now. Let me tell you a little something about her… She was born Lizzie Douglas, in 1893. She learned very young to play guitar and banjo, and ran away from home at thirteen to try to support herself as a musician. She landed in Memphis, Tennessee, and played in nightclubs and on the street. She travelled with Ringling Brothers circus for a while, and eventually she married and recorded with Kansas Joe McCoy. In the thirties she moved to Chicago, and formed a band with drum and bass, thus single-handedly inventing rock n roll. (What? what?) She went on to record during the forties, but her popularity and her health failed in the fifties. She died in a nursing home in 1973. Her songs are remarkable. On her gravestone it says, “The hundreds of sides Minnie recorded are the perfect material to teach us about the blues. For the blues are at once general, and particular, speaking for millions, but in a highly singular, individual voice. Listening to Minnie’s songs we hear her fantasies, her dreams, her desires, but we will hear them as if they were our own.” You do feel this way when you hear her songs! Her life was so different from mine – so wild and uncertain and vulnerable – and yet when I hear her songs I often think, “I feel that, way too.” Her words are so human and raw and honest and mysterious, all at the same time. The picture you form of her, from her songs, is of a woman who is strong and funny, empathetic but guarded, and who has been hurt and has known a lot of pain.

Here’s I Hate to See the Evening Sun Go Down,

I hate to see evenin’ sun go down
I hate to see evenin’ sun go down
Cause it makes me think, I’m on my last go-round

Some people take the blues, go jump overboard and drown
Some people take the blues, go jump overboard and drown
But when they gets on me, I’d rather stay ‘n go sit down

I been to the river, looked it up and down
I been to the river, looked it up and down
But when my mind never let me, to jump overboard and drown

There’s such a strange hopefulness in the lyrics, with the very blues that are bringing her down also buoying her up.

She has quite a few songs about prostitution, but I love the odd beautiful detail of Hustlin Woman’s Blues…

I stood on the corner all night long, counting the stars one by one
I stood on the corner all night long, counting the stars one by one
I didn’t make me no money, Bob, and I can’t go back home

New Dirty Dozen is a sassy, funny insult song, based on the game dirty dozens, which involves inventing increasingly hurtful insults about a person’s family, until somebody can’t take it any more and gets angry…

Come all you folks and start to walk, I’m fixing to start my dozen talk
What you’re thinking about ain’t on my mind, that stuff you got is the sorriest kind
Now you’re a sorry mistreater, robber and a cheater
Slip you in the dozens, your papa and your cousin
Your mama do the lordy lord

She has beautiful songs about rambling, about being cold and homeless, with sore feet and not enough to eat, songs about being treated cruelly by policemen and judges and doctors and boyfriends, songs about dirt dauber wasps building nests on her when she was a child, songs about superstition, even a song about President Roosevelt and a mule, she has a lovely song of admiration about Ma Rainey, she has generous songs offering shelter and food to desperate men, she has saucy, sexy songs, songs full of hunger and pain, songs full of warmth and humanity. And she plays guitar like a mother-flipper!

Here’s a small playlist of Memphis Minnie songs.

And here’s a cake that uses up leftover cranberry sauce and bananas that are past their prime. It’s rich and moist and tasty. I added chocolate chips, cause I love them, but you could easily leave them out.

1 stick (1/2 cup) softened unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
pinch each cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
1 large or 2 small very ripe bananas, smashed
1 cup cranberry sauce (preferably the kind with actual cranberries in it.)
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add all of the dry ingredients, and mix till you have a smooth batter.

Stir in the mashed banana and cranberry sauce, and when everything is nice and smooth, mix in the chocolate chips.

Butter and flour a loaf pan. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until it’s risen and golden, and it springs back when you press lightly on the surface.


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