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Entries in banana (21)

Sunday
Feb022014

Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins

Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins

I feel restless. My legs want to run when I need to stand still. My mind wanders when I need it to stay here, in this moment. My heart begins to stray when I give it a minute of rest. These disparate emotions become exhausting, pulling me one direction and then the next, placing me at odds with myself.

I think of summer and sunlight and grass between my toes when I look at snow drifts taller than myself outside my bedroom window. I wonder why I live in a place where the winter air physically hurts my face. I dream of running away to Europe, drinking wine and eating cheese, when I permit myself a moment to watch an old episode of No Reservations. I try to imagine what it would be like to actually have free time while I'm at school on a Friday night at 5:30 pm grading papers.

Restless, restless, restless.

Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins

To be truthful, I didn't expect much from these muffins. They were more of a last minute idea, a product of restlessness, than a thoughtful intention. A few forgotten bananas on the counter met some buckwheat flour hidden away in the back of the cupboard. I threw in a handful of cacao nibs as an afterthought, a snack food I recently bought and found too bitter to eat on its own.

When the comforting scent of baking muffins filled the air, I began to think that I may have judged these muffins too soon. In the end, they taste a little like banana bread, but can also hold their own as something unique. While the cacao nibs were too bitter by themselves, in the muffins they lose their bitter tones, transforming into something else entirely. A little like chocolate, perhaps, but with the addictive texture of walnuts.

I ate a dozen over the course of a week (and I would have eaten more if there hadn't been another muffin lover in the house). I may not have believed these muffins would be much in the beginning, but they became something memorable in the end.

Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins

Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins are a comfort food for breakfast or dessert. The flavors of banana, cacao, and the nuttiness of buckwheat come together in these muffins. The color may appear dark, as if they are made from cocoa powder, but the shade of brown comes solely from the buckwheat flour and a touch of espresso powder. I enjoyed these with a mug of hot chocolate, to feed the soul while giving it warmth.

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Sunday
Jan052014

Almond Date Banana Smoothie

Almond Date Banana Smoothie

It is a new year. When the calendar on the wall is replaced, my mind drifts to thoughts of resolutions and new beginnings—often whether I'd like it to or not. This time last year I shared with you how I felt I no longer needed to make a list of resolutions. I was already keeping both mind and body healthy; a list to remind me to do so felt redundant. This year, however, is quite a different story.

When I took a teaching job and moved across state lines this fall, it threw my life, my predictable patterns and routines, into disarray. Even though months have passed, I haven't been able to get the fragments back in order. I often feel like a puzzle with the outer edges intact, but missing a few pieces in the middle.

Almond Date Banana Smoothie
Almond Date Banana Smoothie

I pay for a membership to a gym I rarely attend. More often than not, it feels as though I'm paying for the privilege of guilt; a packed gym bag sits in the front seat of the car acting as a silent, but continual reminder. As my days are long and filled with the hours of a first year teacher, I find I do not often cook for pleasure anymore. When dinner rolls around, I opt for the least involved option, which is often take out or some version of plain noodles covered in a fried egg. Truthfully, I eat this type of meal half a dozen times a week, throwing nutrition out the window. I miss food, real food.

I have been working on these changes for awhile, however slow progress may feel at times. Just this afternoon I filled the refrigerator with a real, honest to goodness pork roast. Progress. It seems that when the new year slides in, we compile lists of all the things that we are doing wrong, instead of congratulating ourselves for the things that we are doing well. I, too, am guilty of this, if my prior confessions are any indication. It is noble to want to better ourselves, but I also believe that we shouldn't forget how far we've come on our journeys of self discovery. This is perhaps the most important thing we can do.

Almond Date Banana Smoothie

When I was reading quotes about the new year, I was drawn to the one I shared with you above. As a teacher, I feel that for everything I do right in the classroom, there's a misstep that follows, whether it be a genuine mistake or simply something I could have said or explained better. By the day's end, there's a dozen of these little missteps that follow me to bed, before I bury them and start anew the next morning. If I'm making mistakes, whether I'm in the kitchen inventing a new recipe or leading young minds through the field of physics, I'm learning something new. I'm trying something new.

I may not be perfect, never perfect, but I am strong and doing well. I'm making mistakes because I am putting myself out there and trying something new. While some aspects of my life may be neglected now, I'll figure it out. I always do. For your next year, I hope you make mistakes too.

Almond Date Banana Smoothie

Lately I have been craving a good smoothie, but haven't gotten around to making one until this weekend. This Almond Date Banana Smoothie is naturally sweet and has a character all its own. A frozen banana composes the base, a spoonful of almond butter adds a nutty tone, and a handful of dates gives it a rounded flavor. Small pieces of date are left in the drink, giving a nice little treat for each bite. Though this smoothie may be simple, the flavors are sophisticated and perfect for an early morning or afternoon on the go.

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Thursday
Sep192013

Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

When I was wheeled into surgery six weeks ago, I knew I would have a road ahead of me, but I didn't realize it would be unpaved and stretch so far into the distance that I wouldn't begin to see the end for a month. I held strong in the days before, reassuring everyone I was tougher than I looked, a smile on my face. I even felt lucky, gown and hospital bracelet in hand, knowing that I wouldn't have to endure the fear and anxiety as my loved ones would in the waiting room, wringing their hands as the hours ticked by on the clock. I suppressed the nervousness, for family, for myself, only allowing it to surface when I found myself on the table, counting backwards from ten.

When I awoke, my mind cloudy with medication, all I could feel was pain—an endless, enduring pain that threatened to consume me.

Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

Recovery is hard. It is harder than I ever gave it credit for. After a handful of days in the hospital, after four sleepless nights, after being poked and prodded until I lost my ability to care, I was released. I was weak and exhausted and in pain, but the worst had passed. I went home with my parents. I spent time on the couch. I picked at my food, appetite gone. I watched countless of hours of Full House, my angel and saving grace from three until six in the morning. With a foggy head and a cabinet of pain medications, I felt as fragile and vulnerable as a leaf fluttering in the wind.

My strength came back slowly. Each day was a little better than the last, but I could never pinpoint how or why. I walked like an old woman, hunched over from too much life experience. My spine gradually straightened. The milk carton felt like a 50 pound weight. It grew lighter. The fog in my brain began to lift. I could stand for more than an hour, then three. The process was slow, encompassing the next month. Eventually it grew comical, as I struggled to pack up and move while under 5 pound weight restrictions.

Even so, I was healing, my body gently finding a way to put itself back together.

Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

Scars have always been a part of me, surface remnants from surgeries I was too young to remember. I cannot imagine myself without them, my eyes glancing over them as if they were never there. With my new scars, my eyes linger, pausing at the unfamiliar scene laid out before me. The map of my chest has changed, as angry red lines cross my abdomen and travel around my side in one big swoop. In all, there are eight—five old, three new. I wonder how long it will be before I forget they are there.

While some people view scars as flaws or disfigurements, I view them as a symbol of strength, a badge of honor, a sign that I have lived. These scars hold my imperfect body together. Standing naked in front of the mirror after a shower, I traced a finger over my permanent lines. I imagined my muscles weaving themselves back together. I imagined being able to stretch and bend as I did before. I imagined these lines fading into the background of life.

I can put on a shirt and cover up my experiences, hiding them from the people I meet. Sometimes I forget they are just beneath the thin cloth, this part of me that few people get to see. When the fabric is lifted, the secret exposed, I don't feel self-conscious or ashamed. These scars tell my story. These scars have made me whole.

Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

I have long held the belief that warm cookies, fresh from the oven, can heal both emotionally and physically. These Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies allow both flavors to shine in this chewy cookie. Banana chips are processed into fine pieces before mixing into the cookies, giving them a pronounced banana flavor without the softness or cake-like texture that comes from using fresh fruit. Combined with chocolate chips, these cookies become the cure to whatever ails you, whether it be a broken heart, broken body, or afternoon sweet tooth.

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