It’s no secret (to those who know me, anyway) that I’m a math & science person at heart. Numbers speak to me, process comforts me, and exactness is a standard I treasure. I think that’s how I got into baking in the first place — it’s all math and science. Precise quantities and timing and chemical reactions. I’ve always felt comfortable with a reliable recipe, as it gives me confidence that I’ll be able to replicate the outcome (assuming my oven isn’t a total pile of poo that day). It’s a recent development that I’ve ventured into cooking, into playing with flavors, and into just… winging it. It’s part of this long-term project I have to loosen up more as a person, and has been accompanied by immersing myself in the arts, and talking about my feelings, and sometimes being late to parties, and wearing mismatched socks, and dripping egg yolk down the front of my newest blouse…
So, the other day, I was making banana bread, which is kind of an old stand-by “I am making this SOLELY for the purpose of not having my kitchen smell like rotting food” project. I had my own recipe, but I apparently hadn’t had any coffee or meth or ATP that day so halfway through I realized I had been arbitrarily pulling ingredient quantities from like three different recipes. All of which made different numbers of loaves.
A few minutes of winging it and about an hour of baking time later, I had the best damn banana bread I had ever tasted. And then I made it two more times and it was still the best. So… here you go. A loaf of personal-development banana bread.
Here’s to having NO IDEA what you’re doing sometimes.
Recipe: nutella banana bread
- 5 very ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup nutella
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a loaf pan with parchment.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Do it with your hands. It’s fun.
- Whisk in butter, eggs, and brown sugar.
- In a separate bowl, mix together baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Add to wet mixture and mix until incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Drop nutella on top of the batter and swirl with a knife to distribute it a little more evenly across the top and to marble it a little into the batter.
- Bake for about 1 hour, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (or, only covered in nutella).
When life gives you a winter full of snow storms, the latest of which cancels your board exams after you’ve been studying non-stop for the previous six weeks, leading you to spend a cumulative 3 hours on the phone waiting for a human to take you off ‘hold’, which never ends up happening, so instead you go to the website and suck up the $110 fee to reschedule your test for the following week, and then snow barely even happens so that by the time you wake up it’s just sort of sleet-misting and you don’t even have the luxury of going outside and frolicking in piles of snow, and your boyfriend’s classes aren’t canceled so he can’t even stay in and read you stories to make it a proper snow day…
you make muffins.
and stay in bed.
and play Hungry Shark.
I should have named this blog “How to eat your feelings.”
Recipe: gluten-free, grain-free chocolate chip coconut almond muffins
Note: These taste like marzipan. I hope you like marzipan.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville, available at Costco for cheaper I believe)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until super soft and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the eggs in individually, mixing after each to fully incorporate. Mix in the extracts.
- Mix together the baking soda, salt, and almond flour. Add the mixture in thirds, alternating with half of the milk (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Toss in the chips and coconut and mix those in as well.
- Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup of batter. Sprinkle tops with extra coconut, if you like.
- Bake for ~25-30 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Makes 12 muffins.
I don’t want to always sound like a grumpy fart on my shiny new blog, but it just so happens that I made this thing in the midst of a fairly grumpy, farty time in my life. C’est la vie.
I mentioned the januaries earlier, which constitute a phenomenon I fairly predictably experience every year, for one reason or another (or, perhaps more simply, for no reason at all). The sun shines a little less brightly (that’s science), my stresses accumulate and weigh on me daily (that’s partly mostly my fault), and I indulge in copious amounts of carb-binging and sleeping (that’s hibernation). Recognizing and confronting this sort of… dysthymia? has helped me better deal with it in recent years, and frequently exercising my “life effing rules!” muscle has allowed me to drift through the januaries with a more balanced (if slightly reclusive) calm, rather than wild emotional flailing.
I can sometimes defend my affect by citing awful things that tend to happen to me during the winter months. This season has, perhaps, reached an all-time low on the “jesus christ that sounds miserable” scale, but I’m okay. Life has given me enough awesome for me to know that I’ll get through this. When I start to forget that, I can just break out a pint of my favorite ice cream or whip up a batch of these cookies. Because seriously: if you’ve got ice cream on your chin, or a cookie in your mouth, life can’t be all that bad.
Here’s to enjoying yourself.
And to the magical combination that is butter, sugar, and chocolate.
And to eating your feelings.
C’est la vie.
Recipe: chocolate chip cookies
Note: I like my cookies chewy, with crispy edges. And loaded with chocolate. There is a time for flat, greasy, cracker-cookies; this is not that time.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold-ish
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used dark)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup flour (I used half whole wheat, half all-purpose)
- 1 bag semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat your oven to 325°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Pizza stone works well, too.
- In a medium bowl (or stand mixer), cream butter and sugars together until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
- Mix in egg and vanilla.
- Add baking soda, salt, and flour and mix on low until fully incorporated.
- Dump in the whole bag of chips because, you know, feelings. Fold them in.
- Chill the dough in the bowl for at least an hour. Spend this time on the couch, watching something cathartic, with an alcoholic beverage in hand.
- Scoop tablespoon-sized (or larger) balls of dough onto baking surface, leaving at least 2 inches between each one.
- Bake for roughly 18-20 minutes, until cookies are golden. Let cool on a wire rack before stuffing your face.
Makes ~25 cookies.