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We have always had a cat (or two). From the beginning the deal is that they can’t sleep with us. At bedtime, they are out of the room. Over the years that deal has been altered a wee bit thanks to Abby.

Abby is a 14-year-old tabby who doesn’t look like she could lift anything heavier than a cat treat. But this funny feline has jaws of steel and her favorite method of getting attention is to go for the nearest abandoned shoe, carry it in her mouth and yowl. She can go a pretty good distance with footwear and when one is done on the journey she goes back for the other. She can also drag my garden boots that I’ve kicked off at the back door and can even manage to get a toehold in the front closet door, slide it open and unearth my winter boots. She’s never had kittens, so maybe this is her way of transference.

I have no idea, but I do know that if we leave our shoes available before bed that she will find them, drag them and turn up the caterwaul machine to 11. At 3 or 4 in the morning. Then she cries at the bedroom door until we (usually he) will get up, feed her, let her in the room and fly the flag of surrender.

I have been accused of sleeping the sleep of the dead while this is happening so that my husband does indeed get up, gives up and heads to the other bedroom. Meanwhile, Abby hits the bed in his place and we snooze away.

The other night I happened to hear her and managed to vault out of bed before he could let out a snort. But going back to bed wasn’t an option because I was wide awake. Instead I went on the Internet and found my favorite food blog, theviewfromgreatisland.com from Sue Moran.

Moran’s recipes are always enticing and I’ve fixed several of them to much success and accolades. When I saw her recipe for Bourbon Banana Bread I clicked. I mean there must be a zillion recipes for using this past-prime fruit and I have them all (or so it seems). But not this one. I’ve varied the nuts, used coconut, lemon, dried fruits and chocolate chips but bourbon? A no-brainer to be sure.

I shared the recipe on Facebook, made a mental list of ingredients to get the next day and wandered back to a warm bed with visions of banana bread still in my head.

The next morning, my Chicago friend, Mindy, wrote: “You had me at bourbon.” My oldest daughter wrote: “What the heck were you doing up at 4 a.m.???”

It’s a long story.

Kate Lawson is the retired Detroit News food writer. You can reach her at katecook@comcast.net.

Bourbon Banana Bread

Recipe is from theviewfromgreatisland.com. Sue Moran uses vanilla bean paste here, a favorite of bakers. It’s essentially a small jar of the scraped-out vanilla pod, so you’re going to get that super fragrant, sweet, speckled end product with the convenience of a quick scoop of the teaspoon. The paste is available at Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and online but you can easily make your own with the recipe at right.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon bourbon

1 tablespoons vanilla bean paste; can substitute 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sour cream

2 mashed bananas

Bourbon Glaze

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

4 tablespoons bourbon

milk or water to thin

Set oven to 350F

Lightly spray a standard 9x5 loaf pan and line with a piece of parchment paper with long ends so you can lift out the bread after baking.

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the bourbon and vanilla bean paste.

Toss the flour, baking soda and salt together.

Blend the sour cream and mashed bananas together.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar, alternately with the sour cream/banana mixture, beginning and ending with the dry. Blend just enough after each addition to combine, don’t over mix.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until fully risen and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out without wet batter on it.

Let cool before glazing.

To make the glaze, stir together the sugar and bourbon, adding a touch of milk or water to thin to glaze consistency.

Pour or spread the glaze on the cooled cake. Makes 1 loaf.

Moran’s notes:

• Instead of the glaze, you could try another approach with the bourbon…while the cake is still warm, poke little holes all over the top and drizzle on a tablespoon or two of bourbon and let it soak in.

• Loaf pans vary in size, if yours is not standard, your bake time will likely be different. Tent with foil toward the end of baking if the bread is getting very brown.

Per serving: 348 calories; 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 31 percent calories from fat); 52 g carbohydrates; 35 g sugar; 67 mg cholesterol; 326 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 1 g fiber.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Paste

Making your own vanilla paste is a cinch. The best part is that you can have total control over ingredients, and you can ensure that your end result is 100 percent natural. Serves 8.

6 whole vanilla beans (also known as “pods”)

½ cup agave nectar

Slice each vanilla bean lengthwise with a paring knife.

Once opened, allow beans to air dry for about 2 days. (You can speed this process up by baking them at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes.)

Break up the now brittle beans and grind them in a food processer until they become a fine powder.

Add the agave and continue processing until fully blended.

Pour the liquid through a fine strainer to remove any large pulp. Store in fridge.

Per serving: 67 calories; 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 0 percent calories from fat); 15 g carbohydrates; 15 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 0 mg sodium; 0 g protein; 0 g fiber.

Bourbon Banana Bread

Recipe from theviewfromgreatisland.com. Moran uses vanilla bean paste here, a favorite of bakers. It’s essentially a small jar of the scraped-out vanilla pod, so you’re going to get that super fragrant, sweet, speckled end product with the convenience of a quick scoop of the teaspoon. The paste is available at Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and online but you can easily make your own with the recipe below.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon bourbon

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste Can substitute 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sour cream

2 mashed bananas

Bourbon Glaze

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

4 tablespoons bourbon

Milk or water to thin

Set oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line with a piece of parchment paper with long ends so you can lift out the bread after baking.

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the bourbon and vanilla bean paste.

Toss the flour, baking soda and salt together.

Blend the sour cream and mashed bananas together.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar, alternately with the sour cream/banana mixture, beginning and ending with the dry. Blend just enough after each addition to combine, don’t over mix.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until fully risen and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out without wet batter on it.

Let cool before glazing.

To make the glaze, stir together the sugar and bourbon, adding a touch of milk or water to thin to glaze consistency.

Pour or spread the glaze on the cooled cake. Makes 1 loaf or 10 servings.

Moran’s notes:

• Instead of the glaze, you could try another approach with the bourbon…while the cake is still warm, poke little holes all over the top and drizzle on a tablespoon or two of bourbon and let it soak in.

• Loaf pans vary in size, if yours is not standard, your bake time will likely be different. Tent with foil toward the end of baking if the bread is getting very brown.

Per serving: 348 calories; 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 31 percent calories from fat); 52 g carbohydrates; 35 g sugar; 67 mg cholesterol; 326 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 1 g fiber.

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