Kitchen Magic – Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I have always enjoyed banana bread, but I could never find any that didn’t include walnuts. I’m not a big fan of nuts, go figure, and I always ended up picking out each nut. Yes, I despise them that much. Anyways, last week I went a little overboard and bought around 2kg of bananas. My partner and I definitely couldn’t eat that many bananas before they went bad, so I made some banana bread without nuts and cinnamon to accommodate my and my partner’s preferences.

You will need:

  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 milk cup (Any milk will work, but I used low fat milk)
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 1 cup, but 1/2- 2/3 is probably more reasonable)
  • 2 cups flour of your choice
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (Omit or use half depending on your preferences)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I prefer pink Himalayan salt)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Add the vinegar to the milk and set aside for a few minutes. Place the bananas in a bowl and mash them. You can leave it chunky or mash them until smooth. Mix in the vanilla, salt, sugar, milk and coconut oil into the bananas and mix until everything is combined well. It took me about 2 minutes of mixing. Add the flour and baking soda and mix until it is just combined. Now add you chocolate chips. Pour into a greased pan, I used a 9×9 cake pan, and bake on 190ºC for 35 minutes or until set in the middle.

Kitchen magic doesn’t have to be elaborate or take up a lot of your time. It’s about nourishing your body, feeding your soul and adding a magical touch to something that may seem mundane. I like to think about what each ingredient means and how they will work together.

  • Bananas – Luck, love
  • Sugar – Sweetness, love
  • Milk – Nourishment
  • Choclate – Love, prosperity
  • Coconut oil – Feminine energies
  • Vanilla extract – Joy, love, luck
  • Salt – Purification
  • Baking soda – Rising energy
  • Apple cider vinegar – Healing
  • Flour – Consistency. I also see it as bringing everything together and combining the energy of each ingredient.

For this recipe I found that each ingredient was well balanced, even with the overload of chocolate chips because I needed that sweetness during my moon cycle and the goddess knew. It also brought more of a feeling of home to our apartment. The lingering scent of baked bread in the air made us feel cozy and warm long into the evening. It was a subtle reminder of how simple foods can change our emotions for the better.

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Fire Magic – Making Sichuan Hot Pot (四川冒菜火锅)

I love to cook and try new foods and I really like hot pot. There are so many different vegetables that you can put inside of it that gives you something different to taste with each bite. However, this hot pot is more than what you put into it; the flavor is all in the broth. It’s spicy, yet cooling. The chilly peppers are balanced by peppercorns that have a numbing and cooling effect. And there are a plethora of other herbs and spices that make this hot pot flavorful and comforting. The herbs and spices work together and one does not overpower the other. It’s the perfect balancing act.

My partner and I decked to make this hot pot one chilly Friday evening. We covered the furniture and made sure no cloth was left exposed, lest it become permeated in hot pot aroma and continually tempt us long after our stomachs were full. Since I like to be in charge of the kitchen, even if I don’t understand the recipe, I decided to get started. My partner told me we could put whatever we wanted inside of the hot pot and I might have a taken that too literally. We made this hot pot on two separate days, so here are the two versions.

Version 1:

  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 medium sized sweet potatoe chopped
  • 2 small white potatoes chopped
  • 4 shitake mushrooms sliced
  • 5 button mushrooms sliced
  • 4 leaves from a large napa cabbage chopped
  • 3 bok choy stalks chopped chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • Thinly sliced beef
  • 1 package of Hot Pot Sauce

Version 2:

  • 1 1/2 cups of soaked wood ear mushrooms
  • 2 sausages sliced lengthwise
  • 6 bok choy stalks
  • 3 sweet potatoes chooped
  • 2 white potatoes chopped
  • 10 leaves of Napa cabbage
  • Sweet potato noodles soaked in warm water
  • 1 package of hot pot sauce

* These measurements can be adjusted according to preference. Hot pot is very versatile and there are many different types that you can choose from.

After boliling the water I placed the first seasoning packet inside the water and the aroma that came from the pot was overwhelming delicious. I think my mouth was literally watering. I boiled the potatoes and carrots for a few minutes, until they were almost tender, and then I added the remaining vegetables. After everything was cooked we mixed in the remaing 2 packets and stirred for a few seconds before adding the beef. Since it’s thinly sliced it only takes a few seconds to cook. You can eat this as is or with a small bowl of rice.

 

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Version 1: The vegetables are chopped a littler smaller.
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Version 2: The vegetables aren’t chopped, except for the potatoes, and we added sausage.

For me, part of kitchen magic is appreciating the ingredients that I use and enjoying the process. Making this hot pot is not only simple, but it is impossible to do it “wrong”. Each ingredient you use is what inspires you, so if you feel more inclined to use another vegetable you can use it. It’s not fancy or pretentious and it doesn’t require a lot of work to make it, yet it does more than any meal at a Michelin rated restaurant could do for me. It made me feel warm, relaxed and deeply satisfied.