Banana Bread and The Canteen

Archie and Arabella went to a private primary school.  On top of the fees we were required to do ‘maintenance hours’.  If you didn’t do your ‘maintenance hours’ you had an extra fee (more like a fine) added to your fees.  I’m forgetting how much it was but probably around $350.00.

In order to keep my $350.00 in my own pocket I signed up for the minimum amount of 12 hours of maintenance.  There was a list of dud choices of ‘volunteer’ tasks you could choose from like spending a few days in the library covering new books.  No thanks –  a bit monotonous and I just couldn’t see myself sitting quietly in the library with no one to talk to for long stretches of time while I wrapped clear plastic around book covers.

Banana Bread

Then there was ‘banking’.  The students had bank accounts (real ones) and they could bring in money every Tuesday and some poor mother would compile it all and take the deposits down to the bank then return the bank books to the rightful owners.  No thanks – not good with figures or detail so that could be dangerous.

Then there was helping out at events like the walkathon where the students had to raise money for some charity by going on long walks and parents were asked to stand at checkpoints, sometimes in the pouring rain and yell out encouraging things like, ‘Good on you’, and ‘You can do it’, and ‘You’re nearly there’, etc to all the walkers.  No thanks – didn’t feel like standing for hours in the one spot in probable rain yelling out encouraging noises.

And the last option was the canteen.  As unappealing as this was, it was the lesser of all the above evils.  I wouldn’t be on my own, I would have people to talk to, the prices were deliberately easy to add up, if it was raining you were undercover, there was no requirement to be encouraging and they gave you a lunch break.

School canteen food

So after dropping Archie and Arabella to school I would park my car and head on over to the school’s canteen where I’d put on the mandatory frumpy apron.  Sadly, there was always so much to do in this school of a thousand students.  The canteen made its own pastas and muffins and sandwiches and fruit salads and wraps and chicken burgers and cheese on toast and popcorn and cookies and salad boxes.  Very little was outsourced except for the sushi and the butter chicken curry and a few pastries.

As soon as you arrived you were put straight to work by the person paid to run the canteen and my first job was to go through all the lunch orders and mark off what we needed out of the freezer in terms of pies and sausage rolls and patties for the chicken burgers etc.  And you didn’t want to get the count wrong or some poor child would go hungry.

When I first started volunteering in the canteen, it would sell licorice straps and cans of soft drink and slush puppies and hot dogs and giant iced donuts.

Fast forward a few years and none of these items were available.  The licorice straps were replaced with dried apricots, the soft drinks with bottled water, the slush puppies with frozen fruit sticks, the hot dogs with sushi and the iced donuts with fresh fruit salad.

But, as a volunteer I found, (as much as I hated it when my turn rocked around), that I actually enjoyed myself despite the frumpy apron and hard work.  The women I worked with were always welcoming and fabulous and the children were mostly gorgeous.  I loved the little girls who would nervously approach the counter and put their five cents down on the counter and ask what it would buy.  (Actually nothing but I would at least tell them they could have an arrowroot biscuit).

Freshly sliced banana bread

And as for Archie and Arabella, every time I was on canteen they were in overload.  That day they were the most popular students as they had a never ending stream of friends ready to cash in on freebies from the canteen.  There was an unwritten law that if you were on canteen you had to buy for your child and all their friends.  Ice blocks all round!

So I never did pay the $350.00.  I always did my ‘volunteer’ hours and always did them on the canteen.

One of the items we used to sell a lot of was the banana bread.  Here’s a quick and easy recipe for making your own at home…

Delicious toasted and served with melted butter and strawberries

Banana Bread

Serves:  8-10

Degree of Difficulty:  1/5

Cost:   This can be easily made using ingredients you already have on hand.  I only needed to buy eggs.

  •  1 cup (150g) plain flour
  • 1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g butter, melted, cooled
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 180C (375C).

Grease and line a loaf pan 11 x 21 x 6cm.

Combine flours, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk butter and eggs together. Stir in banana. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth the surface.

Bake for 45-50 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the pan for 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm spread with butter.

This recipe has been adapted from Taste.

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  1. Got to try this one – I am a sucker for an easy recipe with ingredients in the pantry! love it.

  2. I love banana bread, but its dangerous in my house my other half and I will quite easily eat and entire loaf in one sitting! this looks gorgeous!

  3. I’m glad to hear that the junk food is being replaced with healthier foods and snacks. That show Jamie Oliver had about the schools was disgusting and disturbing.
    That banana bread sound delicious; I love it lightly toasted with butter.

  4. I love banana bread and canteen too lol. The kids are just gorgeous and I am forever forking out for those little girls and boys who cant buy anything because they dont have enough – i just give it to them and put it on my tab to pay at the end of the day. i cant help myself and besides, whats a couple of extra bucks when your own kids are sending you broke shouting all their friends 🙂 x

  5. Ohh i love Banana bread and I’ve use this recipe from taste all the time 🙂 Love it! So so so easy, yummy and i reckon healthy hahaha

    WOW you’re so good Charlie always volunteering hehe my mum hate volunteering and would avoid it at all costs 😛 it must be fun doing it once a while though hehe

    I think i only need to give my bananas one more day and then it’ll be ripe enough yay!

  6. I love banana bread – yummy! Our girls’ school has the same volunteer offer – pay or work. We chose to do yard maintenance last year and had such fun! We kept having to rake up the same pile leaves because we just couldn’t stay out of it.

  7. I volunteered a lot in California, Rules are a bit different here in this MA town I am in, so still figuring out. But I d love volunteering. It’s makes it easier for me as a parent to know the school and the teachers, and also get a hang of what the kids are doing.The banana bread looks awesome.

  8. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Volunteering at the schools when my kids were young was a lot of work, but it was fun. I think I had a lot more energy in those days!

  9. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    I was one of those library volunteers wrapping books in plastic and clear contact paper and loved it. Loved it mostly because I got to choose and buy the books for the library in the Christian school my children attended. I did that for more than a dozen years. Volunteering wasn’t a requirement, but I am passionate about books. So glad you found your niche and enjoyed it.

  10. That sounds like fun to volunteer at their school! I agree with you, though, the other possibilities didn’t sound so great. I love banana bread and this one looks great. Reminds me I haven’t made it in too long!

  11. I would probably have volunteered for the library duty. Not stressful and at a leisurely pace. 🙂

  12. I agree about the library…way too boring and lonely! And standing in the rain…not with my frizzy hair! Sounds like the canteen was the perfect place. 🙂

  13. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    Sushi and Butter Chicken????? Where were these when I was in school–these are a fa cry from the icky fish fingers but ok sloppy joes of my youth. Doesn’t sound like a bad volunteer job at all. You picked the right one, clearly, frumpy apron or not.
    And you can never go wrong with a good banana bread, and this one looks great.

  14. kitchenriffs says:

    Banana bread is great – my wife has been baking a bunch lately (she’s the baker in the family). But I have to say the menu at your kids’ school is much better than anything I ever had. Sushi? Fish sticks was more like it. 😉

  15. yummychunklet says:

    I’d stick with the canteen volunteer hours myself. Seems like a better way to monitor what’s going on during the school day as well.

  16. Wot can I get for dis much?

    I remember those days well.

  17. This bread looks so beautiful and scrumptious! I’d love to snack on this during the day or break off a piece for breakfast! Great recipe.

  18. You’re right, Charlie. This is one easy recipe to follow. Considering how much I love banana bread, this is going on my “must try” list.
    You can really see how society has changed just by watching the lunch rooms, canteens as you call them. When I was in secondary school, a Christian Brothers college preparatory school, the food served was healthy, by the standards of the day, but I distinctly remember one of the lunch room monitors, the school’s principal, smoking cigarettes while he watched us as we ate. What is wrong with that picture?

  19. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    Banana bread is calling my name. I’m going to have to try it…

  20. cityhippyfarmgirl says:

    I love the fact that sushi has turned into a treat food for kids these days replacing hotdogs/sausage rolls or something like that. My boys wouldn’t know what a hot dog was 🙂

  21. I wonder if you really did save $350, Charlie, or if it all went to buying rounds of iceblocks for the kids.. 😉 See, I’d have been completely happy covering books – I like being in the kitchen, but struggle a bit with being bossed.. 😉

  22. Oh you know how we love our banana bread! This one sounds like a winner. 🙂 12 hours is quite a bit of volunteer hours at the school! I do like that they serve sushi though. Wish my school had done that. 😉

  23. InTolerant Chef says:

    That is a nice easy yummy recipe, I feel like whipping some up for breakfast!
    Our canteen was run by a horrible clique of women who resented intrusion and were so rude I gave up quickly and did my time in the classroom instead.
    I tried applying to volunteer at littlej’s school this year, but despite ringing repeatedly have had no one get back to me, and the co ordinator is never in. Oh well, their loss!

  24. You’re such a better mom than I’d be. I’d pitch a fit!

  25. Our canteen was always run by the same people. Our food was definitely not in the healthy category the best you could get was a salad roll with lashings o butter and a generous slice of cheese. No cakes, just ice blocks and chocolate. The nana bread looks great.

  26. Claire @ Claire K Creations says:

    I used to love it when mum was on tuckshop. I remember thinking it was so cool because we could get ‘free’ stuff. It never really occurred to us that mum was paying for it all.

    The best story she ever came home with… a little girl came up to the counter and placed her order. The other mother said to her ‘what’s the magic word?’ the little girl said ‘abracadabra?’

  27. Tina @ bitemeshowme says:

    I’ve never heard of such a thing.. but then again I did go to a public school. I suppose it’s not a bad thing that the schools are trying to get parents a little bit more involved.
    amazing recipe – soooooo simple!

  28. I don’t know if I would cope going to school now, with only healthy canteen options. I used to adore my treat of fluoro blue ice blocks that were never allowed at home!

  29. This looks like a step above what was ever at my school canteen. It’s interesting to hear your perspective from ‘behind the counter’ as the canteen is such a big part of school life. I was probably one of those small girls, in primary school, nervously approaching with a 20c coin (the process of making an independent transaction is quite challenging for a 5 year old!), and in high school, I remember the canteen ladies being very kind and chatty. I’m sure you made lots of children happier in their food buying.

  30. I didn’t choose the canteen, I chose the infirmary. I had to sit there with hot water bottles at the ready for cramps, band-aids for cuts and a phone to call the nurse. I didn’t have to actually DO anything and I looked forward to sick kids to talk to. My son was always had something wrong on that day. Nothing more than a hangnail but he got to go to the infirmary and sit with mom.

    There was NO banana bread in the infirmary so I’ll have to bake this one on my own. 🙂

  31. GourmetGetaway says:

    Wow! Butter chicken and sushi! My kids are in the wrong school:0 love the banana cake recipe 🙂

  32. Juliet Batten says:

    The canteen – how perfect for you! It’s always fun being around others preparing and serving food, and the banana breads looks yummy.

  33. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I would have definitely chosen the canteen too! And I remember ours was a healthy one. They had “healthy” pies which had a wholemeal pastry-quite gross really and everyone just ate the filling and threw the pastry out! 😛

  34. Ah, the things that parents do for their kids’ education. Jamie Oliver would definitely approve of the current canteen menu by the sounds of it.

  35. Gosh that’s a rough that you get stuck with 12 hours of maintenance while paying private fees as well!! I loved having my Mum do the canteen occasionally at my high school though I have to admit, even my Dad did a couple of rounds at my primary school… If I had to pick I would have chosen the same out of all those tasks though! This looks like a great recipe as well – I think I’ve tried the Taste recipe a couple of times, always great results!

  36. justonecookbook says:

    I signed up for parking lot duty (loading kids into car) to save $1000 (if you don’t do 40 hr volunteer you have to pay). I think it’s the easiest volunteer as I’m not creative to help out in the class to do art project and year book etc. I baked banana bread yesterday too. I’ll make your recipe next time. Looks moist and delicious!

  37. At my son’s new daycare I have to do “volunteer” hours too. I hope it doesn’t involve yard work is all! Ha

  38. My Inner Chick says:

    –This bread looks FABulously Deeelish! Especially w/ melted butter on top!

  39. Barb Bamber says:

    I worked at our School’s store when I was in Grade 7, child labor was an acceptable practice in our schools, lol. That banana bread looks excellent, if you’d sold that one at your store you’d be up baking all night!!

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