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 🙂

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Caramel Popcorn

We all know that time sure does fly by, although we often try to avoid thinking about it. Minutes turn in to hours, days turn in to weeks, months turn in to years. Before you know it, life has slipped through your fingers. Moments come and go, only lasting long enough for our minds to take a quick snapshot with the hopes that our memory will find it worthy enough to store away forever.

This is how I feel as I reflect on the past month; like time is flying by and all I want to do is find the remote and press pause. I want time to stand still, I want to remember everything. Where have the past few months gone? What have I been doing? How have I let a month slip in between my baking and more than a month slip in between my posts!?! Yikes!

Even though I haven’t been baking or blogging, I know I have immensely enjoyed everything I have done recently. Yet I still sit here wondering how all this time has gone by so quickly.

Reflecting back, I have actually been doing quite a lot. I have spent this time exploring the unfamiliar world of life after college, allowing new and exciting people into my life, spending time with family, traveling whenever I get the chance, and of course trying to be the best I can be– All things that I believe are time well spent. I have come to realize that I am happy to spend as much time to these things as possible, as they are the things that bring joy and brightness into my life. So I guess what I am trying to say, as I come to the end of my little reflection, is how important it is to take time to reflect on what you have been doing recently. Are you enjoying yourself? Are your recent activities worth your precious time? What, if anything, can be done differently? It’s nice to consistently look back on how life is being spent- it brings a breath of fresh air into any pressures on your life, it allows you reorganize what is important to yourself, it give your mind and memory a chance to catch up, and it allows you to see where your happiness truly stems from.

So take a moment, reflect on your life- hopefully it will brighten up your lives a little bit, and in return you could brighten up someone elses while you are at it 🙂

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One thing I love to make is caramel popcorn. This has always been the perfect thing to make when it comes to providing homemade gifts for large groups of people. Its quick, easy, can be made in bulk, and of course delicious.

This past 4th of July I decided to make it for a work BBQ I was going to. I have made it a few times for my company before so I knew it would be a huge hit.

I hope you enjoy it as much as they did! Remember, if you are going to try it you better be ready to eat a whole lot of it. Once you start is is really hard to stop!

Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8-10 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1 1/2 cup nuts
  • Oil or oil spray

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray two large pans with oil and divide the popcorn and nuts between them.
  2. Over medium heat, melt butter in a medium saucepan.
  3. Once melted mix in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, string very often.
  4. Once the mixture is at a complete boil, let boil for 4 minutes without string.
  5. Once the 4 minutes is up, remove pot from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla. Stir well until mixture become a light caramel color and becomes very puffy.
  6. Pour mixture over the two pans of popcorn. Using a rubber spatula, mix the caramel and popcorn as much as possible.
  7. Bake for 1 hr, stirring mixture every 15 minutes.
  8. To cool, put parchment paper on your countertop and transfer popcorn onto it.
  9. Enjoy 🙂

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Try not to eat it all 🙂SONY DSCEnjoy 🙂

Carmel popcorn also makes really easy gifts or party favors. Just put some in a bag and tie a pretty ribbon around it and everyone will think it so creative and adorable!

Carmel popcorn also makes really easy gifts or party favors. Just put some in a bag and tie a pretty ribbon around it. Everyone will think it is so creative and adorable!