necessary diversions from self-induced madness: spiced banana pancakes

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I’m all out of sorts. While I know I can’t stay at home and hawk Sophie’s every movement, pray that she’ll inch to her bowl and eat (please, my god, please eat), she’s all I think about. I can’t but help feel responsible for her illness. Over the past few months I’ve watched her recede and I told myself that it’s because she’s getting older, that everything is fine, just fine, because she is the one thing in my life that will never leave. My fear of her passing was, and is, that great. So here we are now, me counting the hours until tomorrow’s veterinary appointment (the clock ticks and ticks and ticks), she spending time next to me or around chairs and beds. Safe.

All I can do now is cancel and reschedule lunches. All I can do now is read, watch movies, work alone on marketing plans. All I can do now is bake. That’s all my hands can do until I know what’s what.

You don’t understand. You don’t. I can’t bear losing her. I just can’t.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Joanne Chang’s Flour, Too, modified slightly. Read my review of her cookbook on Medium!
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp all-spice
3/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup almond (or rice milk)
2 tbsp safflower (or grapeseed) oil
4 overripe medium bananas, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2-3 tbsp unsalted butter
Maple syrup

DIRECTIONS
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (i.e. flour, powder, all-spice, salt, pepper, brown sugar). In another medium bowl, whisk the egg, milk and oil until combined and add in 3 of the bananas. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet mixture. With a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Don’t overmix. Accept that the dough will be sloppy, gloppy — essentially, a big, hot mess. This is okay. Life is sometimes a hot mess, too.

Melt a tablespoon of butter in a hot medium skillet, add a 1/2 cup of batter at a time and cook for three minutes. The edges should curl up slightly and brown and you should see small bubbles ont the wet side of the cake. Carefully flip the cake over and cook for another 2-3 minutes, gently pressing the cake down so it cooks evenly. At this point, you may want to lower the heat and clean the pan with a paper towel so subsequent cakes don’t burn.

Rinse, lather and repeat for each cake. You’ll get 8-9 from this batter. Serve with sliced bananas, maple syrup.

11 thoughts on “necessary diversions from self-induced madness: spiced banana pancakes

  1. Felicia, you and Sophie are in my thoughts and prayers. I know no one understands your unique pain and I hope you get answers tomorrow. The unknown is usually the worst thing. I had my cat, Izzy, for 17 years and just lost him in April. He was a blessing in my life every day. I hope you will have much more time with Sophie. But since none of us ever know how long we (or anyone else) has, it sounds like you exactly where you need to be. Sophie knows she is loved – that’s the most important thing. I hope this gives some small measure of comfort until tomorrow’s apt.

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    1. Melissa- Thank you for your kind words. I wept while reading this. I keep blaming myself for her condition, but I have to remind myself that I’m human, that I’m giving her the best life I know how, that I’m doing everything I can to save it. It just hurts so.

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      1. I was the same way. I questioned everything I did. Did I give him the right kind of food? When I switched it that time, did that cause a problem? But everything I did was in trying to do what I thought was best. And it sounds like you are exactly the same. They know that. I KNOW that they know when they are loved.

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      2. We can drive ourselves crazy with this. But I think you’re right. I need to focus on the life I’ve given her and the fact that I’ll do everything to save her life now. xo, f.

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  2. Hi felicia, I’m a first time commenter but a long time reader. I fully understand the emotional importance of animals in our lives and the pain we feel when they are in pain. Please know that Sophie’s illness is not your fault. Sickness happens and it is often not preventable. I can tell that you love Sophie very much, and she knows it too. I hope you can take comfort in knowing that your presence is the best comfort you can give her for the time being. Your girl is in my thoughts!

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    1. Edie,

      Thank you! Your comment really made my day. You can’t understand how much I love my cat — she is my child, and I imagined an evening without her cuddled up next to me, and suddenly I’m a wreck.

      I’m hoping that she doesn’t cancer (the ultrasound will confirm this next week), and I hope to have more time with my sweet girl.

      Warmly, f.

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  3. I’m so sorry to hear about Sophie :( My friend has also been having some bewildering issues with one of her dogs who just won’t eat and it’s kind of heart-breaking. Best of luck at the appointment tomorrow!

    Also wanted to say that I thought your Medium review was magical! Made me want to run out and buy the cookbook right then and there. I was especially captivated by the description of the banana pancakes and I’m so excited to see them here! I will be making these very soon while sending good thoughts to Sophie!

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    1. Erika,

      Thanks so much for your kind words re: my Medium review. I was so NERVOUS, as it’s my first LEGIT review. I spent hours on it, and I’m glad it made you fall in love with the cookbook just as much as I loved it. Joanne’s recipes are pretty stellar — her book will definitely be a mainstay in my collection.

      And thank you for your warm words about Sophie. I’ll know more about her condition once I get her ultrasound on Monday.

      Warmly, f.

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  4. Hi Felicia,
    So sorry to hear Sophie is sick… After having 2 Labs that died from different cancers but both at 11 yrs old, I drove myself nuts with “what did I expose them to, or what did I not do for them?” but realized it wasn’t me, it was luck of the draw. In the end I was very content with knowing they had the best lives, didn’t ask for anything from me but got everything possible in return for their unconditional love. I think that Sophie knows that of you and that’s the best way to be.
    Prayers to the both of you, hopefully you’ll be so relieved at the crazy scare you had at this same time next week…
    Thinking of you,
    Tracie

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