Bananas and boots

A couple months ago, back in the bitter cold, I was sitting around the dinner table enjoying supper with a great family.

As we talked we also were waiting for the arrival of another family member.

So, as a brand new truck pulled in the driveway everyone, shruged it off thinking it was just Hannah, another family member. Then we realized – Hannah doesn’t drive a truck.

Well, it was only a matter of seconds until Drew walked in the door. You may all be a little lost and wondering who is Hannah and Drew are and why they are significant.

Drew is the older brother to someone very important to me and he was in Afghanistan for almost a year and decided he was going to surprise the family that night by coming home early.

So, as the joys erupted and tears flowed, you can imagine my surprise when Drew sat down for dinner and started telling us how hot it was in Afghanistan and that he really missed the snow. But then he picked up his glass of milk, took a big sip and said, “My goodness it’s nice to have milk again!”

Can you imagine?

A whole year without milk! I can’t even begin to think of all the things you couldn’t enjoy because you didn’t have milk for a year.

We sat there discussing his time away, eating banana bread and apple sauce for dessert. I was thankful for my ability to enjoy all the food, because of our troops keeping us safe.

More recently, we were sitting in church where Drew was given an award, thanking him for his service, and it just hit me – think of all the men and women fighting so we have our freedom.

Think of all the men and women who were raised on farms and have enlisted in the military just to be insured and income to keep the family farm afloat.

I’d like you all to stop amidst the fun and laughter, the kids playing, that dads grilling, and look around at all you have and then I want you to thank a farmer for all the food you’re about to eat, and then say an even bigger thank you to all the soldiers who put there lives on the line so farmers can do their jobs and you can enjoy your family, because I’m certain that somewhere in the world there is a soldier in uniform, sweating in the hot sun wishing he or she were picnicking with his or her family, and that’s a dad that can’t grill for his family or a brother who can’t pitch a ball to his younger siblings, or a mom whose’s not home to make all those salads.

Banana cake

Makes one 8-inch cake

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)

1/4 cup sour milk (you can make sour milk by adding 2 tsp vinegar to milk and let it sit about 10 minutes)

1 tsp vanilla

Adapted from a recipe found at

Vanilla buttercream icing

1 cup butter

1 cup shortening

8 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3-5 tablespoons water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add eggs and mix well.

Add flour and baking soda and mix until combined. Add bananas, milk and vanilla and mix well.

Pour batter into two prepared 8 inch pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.

Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.

While the cake is cooling, beat the shortening and butter until smooth.

Slowly add half the powdered sugar. Mix until combined. Mix in the vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons water.

Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add more water to get the right consistency for the icing.

When the cake is completely cooled, level both cakes so that they are flat on top and bottom.

Cover the top of the bottom layer of cake with icing. Place the other cake on top of the icing.

Using an offset spatula, fill in any gaps in the icing around the outside. Ice the outside of the cake with the remaining icing.

Smith, 19, is a 2012 graduate of Mifflinburg Area High School and is the 2014-15 SUN area dairy princess.

Her column prints on the first Wednesday of each month.

She can be reached at