My last semester of college, after I’d finished student teaching and before I walked off with a bachelor’s in education, I decided I didn’t want to teach at all. I wanted to write.
Someone I knew knew Kelley, who worked as a reporter for a Wisconsin newspaper, and that very kind person gave Kelley my phone number, which led to our meeting on a Saturday afternoon.
I didn’t know what networking was back then, but I guess that’s what we did—I, very badly, I should say.
Kelley took me around the newsroom, let me sit in on a phone interview, gave me advice on breaking into the field and (here’s the worst part) took ME out for lunch.
(Let me offer this advice when you’re looking to network: Do not follow my bad example. If a very kind person in the industry you’re looking to enter does you a favor, don’t let her buy you lunch. You may, of course, be breaking bread with a wonderfully kind and gracious person like Kelley, and she may tell you it’s fine, but, really, someday you’ll realize how utterly classless that was, and you’ll regret it.)
That was the one and only time I ever saw Kelley in person, although, honestly, now that I’ve typed that, I realize how strange it sounds.
We’ve been in touch all along.
The first time I ever saw my name in print—I think it was an article about a book club, published in a tiny weekly paper that probably 15 people would read, I sent Kelley a copy, and she understood why it mattered.
When I had questions about dealing with editors, Kelley gave me feedback. When I felt the sting of rejection, she told me not to give up.
And, you know, almost five years since our weekend lunch, she’s still giving to me, expecting nothing in return.
Around Thanksgiving, when she read here that I would be making the big meal by myself, she wanted to print out all her favorite holiday recipes and send them out to me. I mean, really.
Doesn’t that make you want to name a parade after her or something?
She sent me links and documents with recipes to try, one of which was her favorite banana bread. I printed it off immediately, stacking it with a group of other print-outs I wanted to create.
But one week flowed into another, and here it is late January, and I’ve just now tried it.
The loaf’s all gone now, so let me just say this: if you don’t already love Kelley, this recipe might do the trick.
It’s a sturdy cake-like bread, easy to slice off and hold in your hand. The sweetness is subtle, not overpowering. And the chocolate chips?
That Kelley, she’s really something.
Also, the first time I made this, I was out of yogurt, and substituted light mayonnaise which worked quite well and the end result was very similar to the yogurt version.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.