Well, it's been a while. A very long while. Another year has gone by and here we are already well into the new one. What does this year hold for you?
I'm in the middle of completing my dissertation, enjoying the relative freedom from the strict study regime the past years and appreciating the new balance that allows time to enjoy my family, cook, bake and get back to blogging.
These days I wake to a tiny cold nose pressed to my cheek between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. and my daughters' little voice whispering, 'Wake up. I'm so, so hungry'. Hoisting myself out of bed and taking her chubby hand in mine, I stagger into the kitchen to fix her breakfast after which we snuggle together on the couch and watch Mickey Mouse Club House before the others wake up and it's time for all of them to start getting ready for school and work respectively.
Which brings me to my daughters' lunch box. Each night since she started preschool a week ago, before going to sleep, she lists all of the 'so, so, many things' she wants me to pack in there. I think she thinks 'the lunch box' is a portable buffet and must contain infinite choices. When I pick her up from school in the afternoons I'm told how well she eats and how she really seems to enjoy her food. All of this is baffling for me when I consider that the same child has previously never wanted to sit down for a formal meal and would just eat sporadically out of the fridge when hungry. Think 10 mini-meals a day. A trail of half-eaten fruit and small bowls of nuts were left behind in every room of the house. Food always consumed while either bouncing on the chair, running around the dining table in circles, dancing to the tune of Higglytown Heroes, or sitting on the kitchen counter after 'helping' me with whatever I was making.
Sandwich fillings were licked clean, the bread discarded. Pasta & Veggies consumed, chicken ignored or vice-versa. Curries either devoured or hated. And always a stronger preference for sweet treats. It wasn't possible to predict what she would or wouldn't eat. But as long as she was willing to try new things, I never pushed her.
So this transition is pleasantly incomprehensible. Maybe it's the fact that she recently turned four. Big enough to be happy to go to school, assert her independence and enjoy things on her own, totally in her element, without me. I miss her boundless energy, her non-ending stream of stories, incessant chatter, our 'tea parties', her 'cooking' experiments in the kitchen and the silly singing.
Last week my son had a day off from school so we made this banana bread before we picked his sister up. It's an interesting recipe from Orangette that uses no butter or oil and yet resulted in a banana bread that stayed moist for a couple of days and added a delicious sweet element to their lunch boxes. I urge you to try it.
Banana Bread with Chocolate and Cinnamon Sugar
3 medium to large ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375F. Butter or spray an 8" square pan.
In a medium bow, mash bananas. Add eggs and stir to combine. Stir in the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla. Add 3/4 of the chocolate chips, stir, and reserve remaining chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan.
Mix together topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle them evenly over the batter, topping with remaining chocolate chips.
Bake 35-40 mins. Cool on a wire rack for 15 mins before serving.