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.

peanut butter banana bread

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Just when you thought banana bread was the height of loaf perfection, imagine peanut butter stepping into the game. Typically, I’ve been baking banana loaves with grape seed/coconut oil and using everything from dark chocolate to coconut in adding layers of texture and flavor, and never did I conceive of the most brilliant addition: PEANUT BUTTER.

I love how, with each bite, you get the crunch from the chips, the smoothness of the creamy peanut butter and the sweetness of the bananas. A cinch to bake, you will thank me (or want to punch me) after you’ve hoovered the whole loaf.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Oh Sweet Basil, with minor modifications
1 3/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup (5 tbsp) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I use Peanut Butter & Co)
2/3 cup cane sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed, ripened bananas (2-3 medium bananas)
1 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugar and eggs, and mix on medium/high speed to combine.

Turn the mixer to medium speed and add a small amount of the flour mixture and a tablespoon of banana until fully incorporated. Alternate between the flour mixture and the banana, starting and ending with the banana. Fold in the chocolate chips to combine.

Spray a 9×5 loaf pan, with cooking spray and add the banana bread mixture and even out with an offset spatula. Bake for 50-60 minutes, tenting with foil the last few minutes to avoid too dark a crust.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack. Enjoy!