Banana Chocolate Chip Bread/Muffins & Memories of My Mom

One of the reasons I love to bake is because it allows me to have me time. It gives me time to be free of thoughts; to just relax both mentally and physically. Some people’s me time consists of lounging around the house, reading, getting a pedicure, etc. Mine consists of baking delicious things for others- something I enjoy so much (and hopefully the people they are given to enjoy it as well 😀 )

This past week I have been attempting to be extremely productive in order to get all of the assignments I have due over the next few weeks done. This means spending hours upon hours in the library every day. With so much mental activity, a little me time each day is a necessity to keeping my sanity.  So of course I had to bake this weekend (see recipe below). And, with baking often comes time to self-reflect on what has been happening in my life as well as time to reminisce about the past.

One thing I realised while enjoying my me time is how easy it is to let the time in-between remembering your past slip away. I realized that it had been quite a while since I had reminisced about what my Mother was like. I do think about her every day, but thinking about her and remembering what she was like are two different things. Now, I know some of this might be due to the fact that for the first time since her passing I am surrounded by people who don’t know her or my past, so of course conversations about what she was like or what we did don’t occur naturally. Even so, I have spent the past three and a half years keeping my memories of what she was like alive in my heart, so knowing this made me realize it was time to spend some time remembering.

So, I decided to take some time to remember the things I loved to do with my Mom, and now miss so dearly. Here are some of the memories I came up with.

  • I loved going grocery shopping with my Mom on weekend mornings. Here is an example of how much I loved it:

One day she tried to do me a favor by letting me sleep in and she left to go grocery shopping while I was still sleeping. I ended up waking up shortly after she left. As I searched the house wondering where so was, I became so upset as I realised that she had gone without me. I called her on the verge of tears wondering where she was. As I told her how much I loved grocery shopping with her every weekend I began to cry. Of course, I was probably sleep deprived from my busy schedule (hence the sleeping in favor) but I had felt hurt missing out on our weekly activity. She quickly turned around and was in the driveway within minutes, not realising that it was something I looked forward to every weekend.

  • I loved having my Mom as my taste-tester for everything I baked. I used to make her try everything. Although, I often disliked when she responded with a simple ‘that’s really good’. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know the things like if it was over cooked, if there wasn’t enough vanilla, or what actually made it good. And, of course she was my Mom so she was going to tell me everything was good, even if it wasn’t. She would just laugh at me when I used to hound her to tell me more about what made my baking good.
  • My favourite part about going to Kenny’s Drug Store with my Mom was that she would always slip two mini peppermint patties onto the counter at check out. Every single time we went to Kenny’s we always got a peppermint patty for each of us. And every time she opened hers, before she took that first bite, she would close her eyes and smell it. She explained that it was to open her senses, to allow her to fully enjoy the treat. I used to laugh about that. It seemed like such a funny thing to do. However, now year later, I find myself doing the exact same thing every time I eat a peppermint patty. And you know what.. it does arouse your senses and make for a better tasting experience!
  • I loved going on walks and runs with my Mom, even if they were often times after my own cross country practices or later in the evening. She used to always tell me it was okay if I wanted to go ahead; she never wanted to slow me down. But I hardly ever left her. I wasn’t running with her to be ahead of her the whole time. I was running with her to be with her, to show her trails she had never been on, and to run on trails she was too afraid to run on alone. But most of all I ran with her to be with her. I was always inspired at how dedicated she was to maintaining her health after she lost her weight. She made sure to be active as often as possible. I loved being able to help her reach her goals by being active with her.
  • I loved going to both of the Banker’s and Rulph’s apple orchards each fall with my Mom to go on wagon rides out to the pumpkin patches. Yes, each year we would go to both orchards. And yes, each time she would laugh at me for acting so embarrassed about going on a childish wagon ride with her Mother. But deep down I loved it. It was fun going out and picking pumpkins together. I can still see the smile on her face as we got on to what actually was a wagon filled with mostly little children and their parents. I would give anything to go on one of those rides once more with her.
  • I loved how we both had huge a sweet tooth, yet we both didn’t want to eat everything our sweet tooth’s craved. This sounds a bit confusing, but basically it means we were those people who split every sweet thing we bought. Yup, we split everything! A cookie from Rombach’s- split, a truffle from the chocolate store in the mall- split, a cider donut from Banker’s- split (yes, we even split cider donuts!) It allowed us to have a little bit of those special treats we loved without having too much. I loved this aspect of our relationship so much. It allowed us to bond over our love of sweets without indulging completely in what could be a very unhealthy hobby.
  • It wasn’t uncommon for me to get into the car after very hard test or a cross country race with scratch card awaiting my arrival. It was always the crossword kind (and sometimes the bingo type if the store didn’t have the crossword ones.) We always chose this one because it took time to complete. We would sit in the car, with a random book as our table, and slowly find the letters within the crossword puzzle. We didn’t even really play to win money. We knew the chances of winning were so slim. It was just fun and it was something we enjoyed doing together. During my first year of college I could be sure that every card she sent me would have a few crossword scratch cards in it. And every Christmas Eve night, when the whole family was together my Mom would pull out a whole pile of scratch cards, one for every member of the family, and we would scratch them together. We still carry that tradition every year, knowing she would still be doing it if she were there.
  • I love how my Mom always invited me to the different get-togethers that her friends hosted. Most children wouldn’t normally want to spend their Saturday nights with a group of their Mother’s friends. However, I loved such occasions. When I was in 10th grade (I am pretty sure it was 10th grade)  my Mom got a new job that came with a whole plethora of new friends, all of whom were very welcoming and active. I loved seeing her enjoyment in spending time with them, and I was so happy when she wanted to include me. We would go to dinner parties at Laura’s, spending the evening with good friends and great food. Every so often we would stop by her house on Sunday mornings with a few fresh treats from Rombach’s, ready to spend a couple of hours talking over a cup of coffee. We also would go to the jewellery parties that her friends hosted.  I especially enjoyed these as they often would include the purchase of a few pieces of jewellery :). To this day, you can find one of those rings she bought me at a jewellery party on my finger, reminding me of my Mother every time I look at it.

These are just a few of the things I loved doing with my Mother. They are the memories that keep what she was like alive in my heart. My Mom was a wonderful woman; a woman who should never be forgotten. She really enjoyed the simple things in life and was always willing to share them with me. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.

I believe that an important way to keep those that you love alive in your life is to spend time remember what made them special. So, my task for you is to take some time and think about what make’s the people you love, both dead and alive, so special. What did/do you do together? What are the little things that made/make them unique? What do you love about them? I know it can be a hard and sad task to do, but in the end it will allow you to reflect on someone you care about, it will warm your heart with memories filled with love, and it will add a little brightness to your day.

My Mom <3

My Mom ❤

Now lets bake 🙂

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Banana Chocolate Chip Bread/Muffins

I realised it had been a while since I had made gluten-filled banana bread, and I had a few bananas that needed to be used up, so I decided to crack out a banana bread recipe for my housemates and classmates to try. Tryout this recipe, take some you time, and spend some time remember those you love… maybe you could even surprise them with one of these! I hope you enjoy 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 cups mashed bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (or nuts if you want)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tin or loaf pans by buttering and flouring them.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars.
  4. Stir in vanilla and bananas.
  5. Stir in eggs, one at a time.
  6. Mix dry mix and chocolate into wet mix in three sections, until just blended.
  7. Pour into prepared pans.
  8. For muffins- Bake 20 minutes. For loaves bake about 45-55 minutes (or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean).
  9. Let cool & enjoy 🙂

Yields: 24 muffins or 2 9×5 loaves.

This batter latest delicious uncooked! I definitely enjoyed licking the spoon after :p

This batter tasted so delicious uncooked! I definitely enjoyed licking the spoon after :p

Ready to bake :)

Ready to bake 🙂

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Using my creativity skills to make a mock-cooling rack.. haha

Using my creativity skills to make a mock-cooling rack.. haha

Melty chocolate and banana goodness.

Gooey chocolate and banana goodness.

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Extremely moist and delicious 🙂

One reason I love to chop my chocolate is because the little tiny pieces spread evenly throughout the batter making every bite have a little bits of chocolate while the big chunks make those bites even better :)

One reason I love to chop my chocolate is because the little tiny pieces spread evenly throughout the batter making every bite have little bits of chocolate, while the big chunks make those bites even better 🙂

Enjoy :)

Enjoy 🙂

2nd Attempt at Gluten Free Banana Bread

Huge beads of rain bounce off my bedroom roof, creating a soft humming noise which would normally lure me into sleep.  The small spaces around my curtains briefly light up as a quick flash of lighting illuminates the sky beyond my windows. Its moments like this that used to rush me out of my cozy little room and into my parents’ room where I would nestle up next to my mom, in fear that my wildly active and naive imagination would come true. Years later, although the spontaneity of todays weather still brings a slight tremble into my bones, I find some sort of relaxing aurora to the unknown world beyond my curtains knowing that these small little storms are what make those bright, warm and sunny days so much more precious.

I sit here, trying to find mindless things to do as I continually procrastinate the unpacking that should be going on. I believe this is partially due to the denial I am in as I realize that I will never be moving back to St. Lawrence again and partially due to the fact that unpacking one large part of your life is quite a tedious and slow process. Its a form of denial every one of us goes through as one enchanting chapter of our life comes to an end and a concealed one sits in our impending future, just waiting to be opened.

Who knows what is to come in the pages that follow the conclusion of my life at SLU, who knows what chapters lie ahead. I guess I am pretty excited to find out what will arise as I start down a new path and who will be supporting me along the way. All I can say is that I hope I can share the happiness that each and every day brings to me with all of those around me. ❤

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One of the last weeks of college I decided to try out one more gluten free banana bread recipe. Knowing that once out of college I would really have no need to bake things gluten free, I decided to try a recipe I had been wanting to make for months. Turns out I like this recipe much more than the first one I posted 🙂

Here it is and I hope you enjoy!

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Gluten Free Banana Bread 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 dark organic chocolate bar, chopped

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, sugar, applesauce, oils and vanilla
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened
  5. Stir in chocolate
  6. Transfer into muffin tins or to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray
  7. For muffins bake between 16-22 min, for loaves bake between 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean
  8. Enjoy 🙂

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Enjoy

Enjoy