| 14.4°C Dublin

The domestic: Sophie White's recipe for decluttering

While we all know there's no such thing as a free lunch, Sophie White has also learned that there's no such thing as no-strings babysitting from her mother


Cardamom and Dark Chocolate Banana bread

Cardamom and Dark Chocolate Banana bread

Cardamom and Dark Chocolate Banana bread

After 100 days of lockdown, Himself and I, like everyone else, had been beaten. Pre-Covid, we were like a couple of casual drug users who believed our penchant for narcotics was recreational and not a devastating dependency. In this analogy, the drugs I'm referring to are school and childcare. Pre-pandemic, we believed school and childcare were just nice additions to our lives, enabling us to work and socialise and generally stay sane as we navigated the intense years of naps, nappies and no sleep.

This side of the pandemic, we have ditched any cosy little notions of being able for this parenthood thing without a veritable army of family and friends, teachers and childcare workers drafted in to help.

At the height of Covid, I saw a fair few eye-rolls at the plight of parents during the pandemic. The line seemed to be: you chose to have children. Which I resented deeply. Yes, we chose to have children, but no one chose to have children in a world with absolutely no school or creches.

Not even Atwood could have conceived of such a heinous dystopian nightmare as one that saw legions of innocent parents held hostage by their domineering offspring for 100 days straight. In case there's any doubt here, I'm joking. It's been heaven (still joking).

Thank god I have been able to avail of my mother's help with my kids in the last weeks. Of course, there's no such thing as a no-strings-attached transaction between family, and I quickly spotted an annoying trend. She is in the process of decluttering her house - she has been doing it for around 25 years - and seems to have hit on a creative way to parlay unwanted items out of her house without the effort of going to the dump, or the attendant guilt at the waste. Each time I collect the kids, I spot something that's made its way from her 'get rid of' pile into their bags.

Books, old candles, unwanted chutneys - all slipped in without my say-so. "Oh, I popped a few books in, if you don't like them, pass them on," she says, as if she hasn't just 'passed on' an annoying task from her own to-do list.

The last straw came when I discovered a bunch of ancient bananas among the kids' things. I texted her, "You seem to have forgotten your bananas in the kids' bag". She held her ground, texting back, "I thought you might like to make banana bread with them".

No, I raged internally, you just can't be bothered making banana bread with them and now you're making that my problem! Obviously, I made the banana bread and even gave her some.

It's the very least I can do.


Home & Property Newsletter

Get the best home, property and gardening stories straight to your inbox every Saturday

This field is required

Cardamom and Dark Chocolate Banana bread

Makes 1 loaf

You will need:

3-4 ripe bananas, peeled

70g butter, melted

200g caster sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Seeds of 5 cardamom pods, ground

275g flour

75g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

50g walnuts, toasted and chopped


1 Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4. In a food processor, blend the bananas, the melted butter, the caster sugar, the egg and the vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth.

2 Sprinkle in the baking powder, the salt and the ground cardamom, then stir in the flour, ensuring no pockets of flour remain — but do not over-mix. Then stir in the roughly chopped dark chocolate and the chopped toasted walnuts.

3 Pour the cake batter into a lined loaf tin and bake it in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Most Watched