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Entries in banana (21)

Wednesday
Aug292012

Banana Rum Bread

Banana Rum Bread

Like the ebb and flow of the ocean tides, inspiration seems to come and go with a steady rhythm. Some days it rides in on a large wave, electric and exciting as it washes over me. Eventually the inspiration is called back into the sea and I desperately grasp at the departing water, trying futilely to hold onto the last remains as it slides easily between my fingertips.

With the last burst of warmth before fall surrounding me, I've been feeling inspired by everything from the color of ripe peaches to the golden light before the sun sets.

Banana Rum Bread

This time the inspiration for this recipe unexpectedly stood out between a set of paragraphs—"Today I learned how to bake mean banana bread. The secret apparently is half a cup of dark rum." The baker in me, interest piqued, wondered if it could be true. Was this the secret to baking up a remarkable banana bread? With such a bold claim written in front of me, a secret ingredient exposed, the impulse to discover the truth propelled me forward.

The bananas were purchased. They rested on the counter until speckled and brown. The batter was mixed, the rum was added, and when the loaf emerged from the oven, hot and steamy, I didn't wait until it cooled to take a bite.

Puzzled, I took another taste. The rum, it seemed, was nowhere to be found.

Banana Rum Bread

In my sheer desire to taste the barest hint of rum, a third of the loaf disappeared in front of my searching eyes. Defeated, I divided up the rest to share with friends, hoping they could taste something I couldn't. Even so, the consensus was clear—though it was a good loaf of bread, it just didn't live up to my rum-infused expectations. I allowed myself to drift into other projects, forgetting about the loaf of bread. The banana bread, however, wasn't finished with me.

Out of the blue, my friend informed me that a couple of days later the banana bread had mysteriously changed in the night. It seemed the rum flavor missing on that crucial first day had finally come out to play. In disbelief, I rushed to the store to buy another set of bananas and the cycle repeated once more. With my patience tested, I waited the right amount of time for the rum to emerge before I took a bite. As promised, it was there, subtle and sneaky.

Inspiration, ever mysterious, likes to keep me on my toes, reminding me I can't always find it when I'm looking for it. Unpredictable, it can be found equally in a few words in a novel full of sentences or in the virtues of a friend who can hold out on a loaf of banana bread longer than myself.

Banana Rum Bread

Banana Rum Bread is a boozy twist on the traditional loaf of banana bread. Like a fine wine, the longer the banana bread rests on the counter top (or sits in the refrigerator), the stronger the rum flavor will develop. The first day the rum flavor is completely absent, but the subtle flavor slowly creeps in the following days, resulting in tingling tongues and happy taste buds. The banana bread batter is a very basic recipe so you could certainly throw in a pinch of cinnamon or a handful of chocolate chips if you desire, but the real star is the half a cup of dark rum.

Note: All of the rum does not bake out of the bread, so this is not an appropriate recipe to share with children.

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Friday
Jun292012

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

When I lived in a tiny, but undeniably lovely apartment in Montreal, I spent most of my time around the kitchen table baking, eating, or working. I spent my mornings and evenings in the kitchen, discovering a passion for food in the sugar jar and the heat of the oven. The kitchen was minuscule, incapable of even holding a refrigerator, but the dark, wooden table and the large open windows made the space feel like a home. I wasn't the only one who had the same feelings.

A small mouse moved in, making a nest in a hole behind the stove.

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

My roommate was the first to spot the visitor, as he scampered into hiding once his secret had been found out. As we wondered what to do with our little friend (mousetraps were certainly out of the question unless they were humane), my roommate went away for a weekend and my mother came to visit. My roommate and I thought it best that my mother didn't know of our little friend. Firstly, so she wouldn't believe we were living in squalor and, secondly, so that she wouldn't fear sleeping on the futon which rested only a few feet from the mouse's house. Since it had been nearly a week since the mouse's discovery and he hadn't appeared for me, it seemed best to keep mum on the subject.

On the second night of my mother's visit, we sat around the kitchen table enjoying spaghetti squash and fresh figs. In the quiet of the apartment, there was suddenly a tiny scratching sound coming from the inside of one of the cupboard doors. The mouse, it seemed, wanted to say hello. As my mother stared at the cupboard in horror, imagining a range of creatures hiding behind the door, I spilled the secret, backed into a corner by none other than the mouse himself. Though my mother raised her eyebrows at my explanation why the mouse had become my third roommate, she kept her thoughts on the subject to herself.

My mother, to her credit, still slept on the futon.

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

It was a few days more until I spotted the mouse for myself. As I quietly worked in the living room, he finally peeked out to look me over. He was so tiny I could have easily held him in one hand, sporting ears as large as elephant's. I couldn't help but fall hopelessly in love. I began to have childish fantasies of transforming the movie Ratatouille into a reality, turning the mouse into a pet with an appreciation for good food.

Then the reality of having a mouse in the house hit me.

The mouse, though tiny as he was, had an uncanny ability to peep about in the baking cupboard. He ignored the baking staples as he looked for his prize—a large bag of almonds. Overnight two pounds of almonds disappeared. Though I was upset about that (almonds certainly aren't cheap), it was the thousands of little crumbs he left behind for me to clean up that drove me to frustration. I cleaned out the cupboard, moving sealed baking supplies and tossing out the rest. When we discovered the corner he treated as a litter box, my desire to have a mouse friend began fading. The mouse, to his credit, was a very quiet house guest, leaving a long enough time between his little surprises that we'd forget we even had a third roommate.

I moved away before the saga of the mouse had come to a head. Sometimes I wonder about that little mouse and his whereabouts, curious how long it took him to eat his almonds. Sometimes I worry that my own kitchen will capture the attention of a little mouse, especially when the dishes begin to pile on the counter top. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if it did—he could help me pick up the crumbs from off the floor.

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

This Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie is sweet (without added sugar) and absolutely filling. Bananas, peanut butter, tofu, and oats come together to create a robust, flavorful beverage. One serving of the smoothie has roughly twenty grams of protein, making it a good choice when you need to power up. If you are nervous at seeing the word "tofu," don't be worried; like yogurt, it thickens the smoothie but lends no flavor to the final product (just protein!).

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Wednesday
Mar142012

Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread

Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread

After traveling on the road, skiing down mountains, and falling asleep under heavy comforters hours before normal, my weekend vacation has come to an end. It's a bittersweet affair. I love to run away from "real life" for a moment, reveling in the suspended time only travel can lend. Even so, all good things must come to an end and (unfortunately) that also includes vacations. Returning to reality jolts my senses and it takes me a moment to realize that this is home and I'm back where I belong. I feel a great sense of loss, but for what I'm never quite certain.

Nevertheless, after a day or two, I settle back into reality as if nothing had changed (and maybe nothing really had).

Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread

The anticipation and build up before the trip, the rush to pack everything, the early morning turn out of the driveway, the frantic screaming to stop the car!, the last minute dash back inside to collect forgotten items, and finally hitting the highway, leaving the familiar brush of reality behind—this is what I love about traveling. There are many more moments I have fallen for, but this is where they all begin.

Maybe my early start turns later than expected. Maybe, for once, I haven't left something behind. Maybe I make it all the way to the airport before I realize I've left my cell phone behind (which is only made more ironic after strongly asserting to everyone within earshot that if I didn't pack it, I don't need it). Sometimes the order of events is different, but it's the on ramp of the highway or the takeoff of the airplane that I look forward to most.

Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread

After coming home from my getaway and remembering once again that I do, indeed, like to bake, a loaf of banana bread with tropical flair seemed to fit my bittersweet mood just right. Pineapple and toasted coconut remind me of faraway places and the banana part of bread keeps me grounded. A balancing force for a Wednesday morning.

As I sit down to eat this bread, I can only dream of the tropical vacations to come...

Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread

This Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread combines the fruits of the tropics and dishes them up in a familiar experience. Pineapple chunks and coconut flakes are scattered throughout the bread, with a sprinkling of toasted coconut to round off the top. The bread is moist and flavorful on its own, though it pairs perfectly with a pat of butter. It's just the right combination of flavors to bring sunshine up an ordinary weekday.

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