Goodbyes and Banana Bread

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6 days ago we drove a few friends to the airport, who were, “never coming back”. That is, college had ended, and although they may return to the bay for visiting, it was the realization that they were no longer living here which made them a bit sad. I don’t think it has really sunk in for me quite yet, but those words about never coming back, and it being the last time, made me pause momentarily [schoolisoverwhattheheckdoidonow?] And we said bye and hugged and they walked into the airport.

I’ve made a fair bit of friends and acquaintances these past two years. Some I will most likely keep in touch with and see again, while others are temporary friends, who filled up a meaningful spot in my life, and taught me things, but I will probably not see them again. This is sad, yet OK, because I suppose I have now learned–like I said before–that there are temporary friends and forever friends. Forever friends you may not see for years and then when you do see them, its like no time has gone bye. Temporary friends are situational friends, serving some purpose while they are your friends and then…they just kind of disappear and all you see of them are ditties on facebook. I am extraordinarily bad at keeping in touch with people via phone, which is definitely something that I should improve upon.

Its random moments when I am meandering through campus to walk to the bank, or walking down the street to get to the farmers market, or biking by the marina, that a few tears spring to my eyes behind my darkly tinted sunglasses. I am not necessarily tearing up for any specific reason, its more that, I am overwhelmed with feelings that are both happy and sad. Therefore, tears. I am excited for my summer adventure as a prep cook, although a bit nervous. I am excited to come back to berkeley and job hunt, although a bit nervous.

Said friends that we took to the airport, love banana bread. And so, a perfect snack to send them off with seemed to be banana bread. The recipe is from a book I have called “the cook’s encyclopedia of baking” by Carole Clements. It is actually the first baking book that I got (I think on sale at Borders…whoa) and it has a few recipes that I do like. It is your basic cookie, cake, quick bread, yeast bread, pie, etc baking book. And so, the recipe is your basic banana bread recipe  that uses half whole wheat and half white flour, 1/2 cup walnuts in it, and I sprinkled more on top.

It is not a vegan recipe. I used good butter and good eggs. And holy moly was I surprised with the rise I achieved in this quick bread. I suppose I am quite used to vegan breads that are slightly more dense and compact, but the eggs, butter, baking powder…must have done something right.

Unfortunately, said book is packed and tucked away in a box somewhere, since I am leaving my trusty room of 2 years tomorrow morning. So, enjoy the photographs. And if you want to make banana bread, there is always google to help.

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No Longer a Student. And Spiced Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies.

One day and one week ago I walked across the stage at Memorial Stadium in the clusterf*ck that was General Commencement. 6 days ago I walked across the stage at Zellerbach Hall in the well organized Sociology Commencement.

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I don’t think it ever quite “hit” me that I go to the best public school in the country, and then, whoa its graduation?! I am no longer a student; that piece of my identity has, for the time being ended. Of course this does not mean I stop learning and reading. In fact, I feel that most of my learning at Berkeley has taken place outside of the academic classroom, be it through friends or extracurricular activities. And, since I will keep reading about things I like, I can continue to build up my knowledge base until I go back to school in a couple of years from now. This is a strange, liminal, in between stage of my life at the moment. I have summer work, and then…ummm….uhhh…what do I do? That is the next adventure which awaits I suppose.

A while ago, when I was feeling nervous and uncertain and a little bit “empty”, someone asked me: “if there was a hole in the ground, and you had to fill it, what would you use?”. Well, dirt obviously. “Dirt, why dirt?” ummmmm…”Dirt because you have to fill the hole with the same stuff that it is made of” And so, over the past few years I have been filling up my empty with the same stuff that I am made of. And I am no where near complete, and I will continue to figure out what substance my dirt is made of.

I can list a few things. I am made up of sugar and flour and chocolate and butter because I like to bake. I filled with fresh fruit and vegetables because I am vegetarian and I value sustainable and ethical eating choices. I am made up of my bike because I like to go exploring the city on my bike. I am made up of adventures and excursions because I like seeing new things and new places. I am made up of words and sentences because I like to read and write (I suppose). I am made up of values and morals, because I think about the lives of others whether immediately in my life, or somewhere far off making the things I use. I am made of lots of questions and some answers and compassion. I am made up of laziness and tiredness because sometimes I like to take the easy way out. I am made up of some insecurities that sometimes make me jealous of other people. I am made up of all the people I have met these past two years, and years before that, because the self is shaped by others.

It is scary having this gaping hole of “time” now that I am done with school, and this hole will be sometimes empty and sometimes full. I don’t like the empty because it feels insecure, unsteady, unsettling. I don’t really know what I would like to do, which is the biggest gaping part of said hole. And, it is my choices that will determine what, exactly, gets to fill it.

And now, cookies.

My parental unit arrived on a Friday night, and like a good daughter, I wanted to serve them tea and cookies. And so, cookie making on a late friday night it was. (Bonus, they were still warm when my parents got here).

I settled on chocolate chip molasses cookies that I adapted from Averie Cooks. I made these over winter, they turned out delicious in my opinion, yet too chocolatey and too sweet in my parents opinion. So the following version omits some sugar and some chocolate. Admittedly, the following version allows the spices and molasses flavors to shine through, instead of being smothered by chocolate, which was very nice. I also used “heaping teaspoons” for the spices because, well, I love those warm, cinnamon-y spices. I also apologize for the poor quality photos; crappy kitchen lighting+crappy camera=crappy quality.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter. melted.
  • 1 egg. (preferably from the farmers market 😉
  • 1 cup sugar (fair trade, organic)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 T oil (I used applesauce instead because I had a bit sitting around)
  • 1/5 t vanilla
  • 1 t cocoa powder
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1.5 t ground ginger
  • 1 t cloves
  • .5 t salt
  • 2 1/4- 2 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/5 t baking soda
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Coating: 1/4 c sugar, 1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves

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Method (for about 18 cookies)

  • After you melt the butter, allow it to cool slightly before adding in the egg. Otherwise, you will get scrambled egg cookies. So, add the egg, sugar, molasses, oil, vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon ginger, cloves, and salt. whisk ’til smooth.
  • add the flour and baking soda. stir to incorporate. Start off with 2 14 c flour and add a little more if needed (depends on the type of flour and on weather). I used half white and half white whole wheat flour, so I stayed at around 2 1/4. The batter will, and should, be thick, but pliable.
  • add the chocolate chips, and stir to just incorporate. roll the dough into a ball, wrap it with wax paper, or just cover the bowl with a towel and refrigerate for 2 hours. Or, up to 5 days. (If you plan to store it for more than a few hours, I would recommend storing in an airtight container)
  • when you are ready to bake: preheat the oven to 350. grease your cookie sheets!
  • make your coating in a small bowl by stirring the sugar and the spices. get the batter out of the fridge.
  • use your hands (or a scooper) to make walnut sized balls and roll them around in the sugar coating.
  • place them on the tray about 2 inches apart and flatten them slightly (not all the way though. they should bake slightly domed up)
  • bake for 8-9 minutes. It is important to NOT over bake because you want that nice, chewy texture. I usually just do 8 minutes since the cookies continue to bake a little once out of the oven, and they will harden as they cool
  • Once you pull them out of the oven, use the back of a spoon to tap the cookies flat. This will also crinkle the top of them, which looks pretty.

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Liking the bowl was delicious. And, my parents approved. Success.