An Evening With 3 Bananas (A Banana ‘Bread’ Recipe)

It all began with 3 overly ripe bananas sitting in my pantry. I could have just chucked them into the bin and saved all the hassle. After a game of tennis with the boys under the blazing hot afternoon sun, I was tired out, but I couldn’t rest as dinner was waiting to be cooked. To squeeze in baking during this time of the day would almost guarantee a very grumpy me, especially if the bake turned out less than desired.

Somehow, I decided to hang on to those 3 bananas and multitask (which really isn’t my forte). So I stir fried and searched for a good banana cake/bread/muffin recipe. Having ran out of butter made the task even more challenging. I highly suspect that my judgement was grossly impaired by fatigue. I could have ended up wasting more (in terms of ingredients, time and effort) with a failed bake while trying to save the 3 bananas. (which cost a dollar?) Nevertheless, I ploughed on mindlessly.

I found a recipe that required no butter, no creaming, no proofing, no yeast and they called it a bread. It baffled me. My limited knowledge in baking told me that if there is creaming, it’s usually a cake. When there is yeast and proofing, it’s usually a bread and if it’s just mixing wet and dry ingredients, it’s a muffin. And to call the latter a bread, chances are, the person probably couldn’t tell the difference between a muffin and a bread. Either that, or it’s called giving false hope.

Yet I plunged into it, while braving myself for disappointment. (and I couldn’t fathom why I would risk my sanity over 3 bananas)

I mixed everything up in 15 minutes and popped the batter into the oven. An hour later …

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It was crispy and fragrant on the outside and fluffy and light on the inside. It was so freaking tasty that I ate 2 big slices even after a full dinner.

I still don’t know what to call this. A cross between a bread, a cake and a muffin? Whatever it is, I got so excited that I stayed up the night to complete this post, a rarity these days.

Plunging into the unknown can be scary but it could be totally rewarding. Who would have thought that I would get so inspired over 3 bananas, definitely not me!

Banana Walnut Bread
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 3 eggs
  6. 1/2 cup sugar
  7. 3 very ripe bananas
  8. A handful of walnuts, crushed
  9. 1/2 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175 deg C.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whip together the eggs and sugar till pale and foamy.
  4. Stir in the mashed bananas and oil.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture, a third at a time, until just combined.
  6. Stir in the walnuts.
  7. Pour the batter into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour.
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Celebrating Me

Every few years, I get to celebrate this day with mothers in this part of the world (I realised not everyone celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of the year). This year, it was a day before and it felt almost right that I should be served and pampered like a queen.

We thought of a Friday date night but I couldn’t be sure as I was worried that I would be zombified by the time I put the kids to bed, it all depends … the kids, my mood, the weather blah blah blah

On Friday morning, my friend and I went for a longer than usual ride because she was eager to try out her new saddle. It was a good start to the day. The calories we burned was probably not enough to cover the breakfast we had at Starbucks. but it was good enough to set the mood right for the rest of the day.

The kids were generally well behaved (I was quite sure the endorphins from the morning ride helped). They remembered to flush the toilet, switch off the bathroom light, put their dishes into the sink, keep their toys and not eat like a caveman. Yes, these are the trivial that drive me crazy on a daily basis. I managed to catch a nap and by the time my husband came home, I was revving to go.

Since it was such a special day, my husband suggested dining at some upscale restaurant (got to love this man for being so thoughtful) but I wasn’t quite sure about sitting down pretentiously, nibbling on nicely curated dish that would only leave me half full but cost an arm and a leg. We ended up munching on finger food at a pub restaurant accompanied by an acoustic duet. It was informal and relaxing, just the way I liked it.

I woke up on Saturday morning with a slight hang over but couldn’t get back to sleep as I was too eager to try out my birthday present. It was a multi sport watch with GPS and heart rate monitor. Yay! I had to applaud him for not giving up on buying gadgety electronic stuff for me. It was a cool watch that comes with heart rate monitor sans the uncomfortable chest strap!

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I did a short ride with it and the grogginess dissipated as soon I started sweating. It’s amazing how a little morning sun and exercise could do wonder to your body and mind. I was satisfied and contented and a deliriously happy girl. I thought about the boys and knew exactly how we should spend the day.

The boys were all up by then and I got them to meet up with me. While waiting for them, I decided to cruise along the beach and do what I enjoy doing best.

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I thought I had a similar picture of this tree and the same tree caught my attention again this time.

I was famished by the time they reached. We started the day with everyone’s favourite. For me, it has to be dry Bak Chor Bee Hoon from this one and only stall.

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Right after a satisfying meal, we boarded the ferry to our favourite island, Pulau Ubin. The last time we came here was 1 month ago?!

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The ferry ticket costs $2.50 per person and each bike costs $2 to bring over. Definitely cheaper than catching a movie.

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The 10 minutes boat ride brought us to an idyllic island with swaying palm trees and lounging stray dogs.

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Before long, we were riding on gravel track, marvelling at ginormous tree that turned us into miniature beings.

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If you ask my 5 year old, he would tell you that we are visiting the wild boars. He’s not wrong, cos we almost always bumped into them when we were there.

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And indeed, we met one, an especially big female sow! She was rummaging for food and here’s my husband trying to back her off from a hiker who had a packet of snack with her. It was the first time we met such a big one and the kids thought it was funny that the mummy sow showed up to wish me a happy birthday.

It was a simple kind of special day where everyone got a bit of their favourite things and everyone was happy and that was the best kind of birthday gift.

 

 

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Parenting A Teenager To Be

My elder boy turned 11 recently and I am getting all jittery about having to parent a teenage boy. The raging hormones, the rebellions, the mood swings. It’s scary and exciting and whoever said that it’ll only get easier?!

Now that I have more than a decade of parenting experience under my belt, which makes me confident enough to write this
Yet the truth is, I still feel like a first time mom fumbling and feeling my way at each new stage my boy goes through
Parenting remains the most underrated profession. Why doesn’t anyone admit how hard it is.

With a preschooler and a preteen, gone were the days where my worries revolved round leaky diapers, breast or formula, co sleep or not, attachment parenting or cry it out. It has since progressed to structured learning or free play, tuition or not and how much ipad time they should get on a daily basis ?!

For every parenting books and advice you get from one camp, you can find an equal number of books from another camp. Bottom line, even with all the advice out there, we are still pretty much left on our own to decide what works for us and our children.

Now that definitely sounds less daunting, since we don’t have to follow any books, manual or require a phD in order to do our job as parents, yet it is exactly because there is no clear guidelines and instructions that makes it so tough. Sounds oxymoronic huh.

While I was writing the 5 Parenting Lessons From Mr Lee, I was tempted to add ‘Doing the right thing’. Mr Lee implemented many unpopular policies during the time he was in power because he believed that it was the right thing to do at that point in time. From defence to family planning to building a MRT. Some may not agree with his policies but the point is he believed that it was the best for Singapore and he did it.

Now can we do the same for parenting?

Doing the right thing when it comes to parenting would naturally mean doing what we think is in the best interest of our children. It sounds pretty absurd that a parent would choose to do otherwise, something that would be detrimental to her children. But what is best and what is right? Like many parents, we struggled with knowing what’s best for our children.

My husband and I had came to the conclusion that imparting the right values is about the only ‘right’ thing we know for sure. We believe that with the right values, everything else would fall in place. These values would eventually guide them in making decision and seeing them through hurdles and obstacles in life.

We had chosen to take a more relaxed approach to learning. I have to admit that it is not easy when most of their friends are attending 2 or 3 or 4 extra lessons every week. My boys, apart from doing their school homework, spent most of their time doing their ‘own’ things. Now that sounds pretty scary isn’t it? Am I starving them of new experiences? Are they missing out on things? I feel myself consumed by self doubt.

The boys attended soccer lesson when we were in the States but had stopped since we moved back to Singapore. A couple of months ago, we tried putting the boys in a Chinese language learning centre as they had totally missed out on the language during the entire year when we were in the States. After 1 semester, we decided to pull them out. We realised that it isn’t easy to find a suitable school and even tougher to find a good teacher or good coach.

Strangely, if you ask my boys now, their current favourite subject is Chinese. My 5 year old enjoys it because Chinese characters look like funny picture and he gained great confident and satisfaction learning how to write them. As for my elder one, he likes the subject because he likes his current Chinese teacher. As simple as that. He was so convinced by his teacher that he didn’t mind rewriting his whole page of Chinese essay. That is pretty unusual, coming from someone who rejects the conventional way of learning tingxie, that is, to write the words repeatedly.

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They enjoy swimming, cycling and rollerblading. We had spent enough time in the pool and on our wheels to let them figure out these sports themselves and had saved quite a bit on coaching lessons. Weekends these days are spent exploring different parts of the island on our bikes.

We had chosen a more child directed approach to learning. Apart from school work, the boys more or less decide for themselves what they want to learn and how much they want to learn. As parents, we are there to facilitate and guide them.

Apart from being naturally fascinated with numbers and Sciences, my 11 year old enjoys reading and is currently hooked on computer programming. Recently my 5 year old is into the reproduction parts of a flower. He was surprised to find out that a flower is both female and male and is eager to explain (illustrate with drawing) to anyone who is interested, how bees help plants make babies!

I guess as parents, it’s natural for us to be constantly worrying about our children. We worry whether we have done enough, whether we had done our best or whether we have done the right thing. I believe a lot of these answers can be found in our children, through conversation with them and through their behaviour. Unfortunately, very often their voices got drowned by the noises around us, mostly peer pressure and societal expectations.

Hopefully by spending enough time and being super attentive to them, we will continue to hear those voices. I am sure the close bond we built during the early years would eventually help us ride through their turbulence adolescence years.

 

 

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