Day 50: A Fountain Of Gratitude & Cookies

IMG_20140219_204247_203 IMG_20140219_205847_453

I am totally spent from a day full of channeling creative energy. Tomorrow prospective students will be coming to look at one of the institutes where I work in droves and we have been preparing for more than a month. The teachers are under a lot of pressure to create interesting performances and we have done just that.

The students have done such great work memorizing their lines for various parts of various performances and I am so proud of them. I made cookies to prove it. The first batch came out as one giant cookie and luckily my roommates came home in time to stop me from eating the whole thing.

Giant cookie = TEAspoon not TABLEspoon, got it.

Giant cookie = TEAspoon not TABLEspoon, got it.

In my hazy daze I’ve been dreamily wondering about the nature of creative energy; it’s not like physical energy, you don’t get it from ATP and glucose reactions in the chemistry of your body. Instead of something tangible it comes to us in the form of “inspiration” and we use our will power and physical power in tandem to create something new and (sometimes) wonderful. Creative energy becomes art like chemical energy becomes playing a sport. I guess that means that in the same way we have veins for proteins and carbohydrates to flow through, we must then have veins for inspiration to flow through.

Teaching a student of mine who is playing Planet Earth how to act sick and polluted.

Teaching a student who is playing Planet Earth how to act sick and polluted.

How do you visualize the flow of creative energy through your body? I know this is how it feels to receive it but then what? What does your inspiration feel like?

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Day 48 – Pancakes: A Love Story

Sweet dreams are made of these...

Sweet dreams are made of these…

Hi everyone, my name is Veronica and I am bat-shit crazy, head over heels, ridiculously, hopelessly, madly in love with pancakes.

Hi Veronica.

I didn’t realize how much of a problem I had until the first time I went to Europe. No big deal, I thought, I’m not super close with my family or friends in America, this will be a breeze. I was mindlessly consuming diner and out-of-the-box pancakes so I didn’t really understand how fundamental they were to my happiness.

Home At Last

Home At Last

Well in some respects, yes, it was easy living abroad. But you know what I didn’t expect to miss? Know what was the hardest to live without during those eight months? Know what the first thing I ate was when I woke up for the first time in America? You guessed it: PANCAKES.

There’s this adorable place called “The Shack” in my hometown. I’ve been a regular there since before I knew how to feed myself. They have literally defined breakfast for me. Sure I love fruit and cereal and all that other jazz. Coffee is nice and bacon, well that’s another story, but nothing puts a smile on my face like a nice tall stack of round, fluffy happy-cakes.

Now I live in Spain and not only do they have a thing called “American breakfast” but it turns out they actually have a word for pancakes, tortitas, which is a step up from Italy (mi despiace, Italia). Sadly, the ones I have found are lackluster to say the most, not pancakes at all to say the least, and maple syrup isn’t even on the menu! If you want that you have to pay twelve dollars for a mini bottle of mystery brown liquid at a specialty shop.

SO. This weekend I took matters into my own hands, partly because my poor-person’s kitchen already had all the ingredients except milk, and partly because I needed to CREATE something for my 365 Day Challenge. The results were out of this world. I died and went to heaven and reincarnated with every single bite. Seriously, guys, we’re talking religious experience here.

Like, guys, listen… have you ever eaten clouds sprinkled with vanilla-flavored rainbows while your whole body was bathed in the softest golden glow of warmth and angels lovingly massaged your brain? That kind of approaches the magic I’m talking about here.

Here‘s the recipe I used. I didn’t add the last quarter cup of flour and I might not have added the last quarter cup of milk either but I’m not sure because I was so excited to mix it all up that I forgot to count (even though I specifically reminded myself to pay attention). Anyway you should go by the batter texture anyway, not the recipe. If you have to pick, lean towards too thick. Go wild. And let me know how your angel massage goes.

Banana-Walnut... I can't recommend this enough.

Banana-Walnut… I can’t recommend this enough.

Pancakes – The DOs and the DON’Ts:

  • Do use vanilla soy milk, animals don’t drink other animals’ milk. Plus, vanilla.
  • Do add a splash of vanilla extract. Because, vanilla.
  • Don’t use the prepackaged mix. The additives of even the friendliest-looking brands aren’t worth the three minutes you save.
  • Don’t use bleached or enriched flour. Ever.
  • Do add strawberries, bananas, walnuts, chocolate chips, ricotta cheese, pears, brie, pine nuts, blueberries, MAGIC, etc. (But maybe not all at once?)
  • Don’t drown them in syrup. Give these babies a chance to wow you solo.
  • Do share your pancake love below. What’s your favorite combination of flavors?! Do you have a different recipe you want to share?

Day 31 Again: The Choc Chip Banana Bread You CANNOT Mess Up

So last night I came home from a meeting and remembered I had to bake something before the New Moon was over. (Read about why, here.) I was feeling giddy about an exciting project in its early-manifestation stages and therefore wasn’t in the tidiest mood so I thought, I know, yeah, a blog post about how to bake, for messy people!

I know you’ve seen all those high-tech, gourmet food bloggers, I drool over their posts too. But I am not one of them. No one taught me how to bake, I just figure it out as I go along and this is one of the recipes that’s always been the most forgiving. I’ll include below what they told me to use, and what I actually used, adjust yours according to taste.

It’s always hard to eat all the bananas before they inevitably turn to mush. Next time that inevitably happens, don’t shed a tear, pop them in the freezer! I know the bananas look scary and black, but they taste SO good, trust me on this one, it’s worth the “ick” factor. Now you never need to be afraid to buy too many bananas. You’re welcome.

bbread1Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Oh, how is it that you can’t mess this one up, you ask? Well you see, my terrible Spanish oven burned the living crap out of this loaf I made last night and all three of my roommates still wrote all over the refrigerator about how delicious it was – on the inside, because that’s where it counts, guys.

1 2/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Cinnamon [I used way more]
1/2 tsp Salt [A little more]
1 Cup + 2 tbsp Sugar [Half of it brown]
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Olive oil [Half coconut oil]
3 1/2 Mashed v. ripe bananas [Used 3]
2 tbsp Sour cream [Original recipe called for creme friache but I don’t know what that is. Greek yogurt works but I used flan, since I’m in Spain and that’s more common.]
1 tsp Vanilla [Twice that]
2/3 Cup Walnuts [Chocolate chunks]

bbread21. Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. If you can’t sift (which is actually really worth the extra dish to wash if you like fluffy baked goods) use a whisk or a fork even.

2. In your mixing bowl (if you’re a normal technologically advanced baker, unlike me) bbread3beat the sugar and eggs for ten minutes until they’re fluffy. If you’re stuck in the stone ages and you’ve got to do this by hand, don’t worry, totally worth it.

3. Drizzle in the oil and mix it up good.

4. Mush up the bananas with a fork first in another bowl. They’ll slide out of the skins really easily after they’ve been defrosted, bbread4don’t worry about touching them for long. I know, gross, but again, so worth it. Add the yogurt (or whatever) and vanilla.

5. Fold the banana mixture into the egg/sugar one. Then add the dry ingredients (remember, always add dry to bbread5wet for the best combination). Last, add the chocolate and or nuts.

6. Pour into a lined loaf pan, pop it in the oven at 350F and leave it for 45 minutes to an hour.

bbread87. Time to clean up after yourself! Even if it is only to avoid eating the rest of the chocolate you have left over.

8. Check if it’s finished by sliding a toothpick or clean knife into the middle and when it comes out clean, the bread is done. My little guy was crispy after only 45 minutes in the new Spanish oven but sometimes I’ve needed more than an hour to get the center solidified.

Here’s a little before and after action:

bbread6 After

So I went to bed only slightly devastated that my first baking experience in Spain had been such a massive failure but woke up to love notes and hugs from grateful roommates! I feel like this was a victory. I chose not to cry and be upset, I thought, well at least the process was creative and fun, who cares about the outcome. It would have been so easy to get down about wasting my time and being imperfect but I remembered we always have a choice.

How did your banana bread come out? Is it less burnt? I hope so.