Most people think of Sunday as a day of rest. Throughout his childhood, however, Tengo had never once viewed Sunday as a day to enjoy. For him, Sunday was like a misshapen moon that showed only its dark side. When the weekend came, his whole body began to feel sluggish and achy, and his appetite would disappear. He had even prayed for Sunday not to come, though his prayers were never answered.
-Haruki Murakami (“Town of Cats”)
It’s hard to say which day of the week is the worst: Sunday or Monday? Sunday is still the weekend, so it’s technically free time, but it’s time that is on the brink of disappearing; just around the corner is the beginning of the work week, the Monday to Friday grind that makes the weekend so superbly joyful. And these past few weeks, the weekends have truly, at least for me, been the light at the end of the tunnel.
I don’t know if it’s the 8 a.m. class or the thought that another dissertation chapter needs to be produced while teaching this class, but things have been, for lack of a better word, a little tense around here these days. Since the semester has started, I’ve already read 34 papers, responded to 17 thesis statements, read 5 texts (we’re now on our sixth) and had about a dozen meetings. Not to mention the fact that this past week, inspired by a youtube video that uses classical music and a single-action shot to aestheticize insect murder, I waged war on fruit flies (for the curious and similarly inspired, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, a few drops of dish soap and you’ll be free of them for good!). Given the pace of modern life (and the admittedly absurd forms it sometimes takes), it almost makes you long for those days when one could sit under apple trees and wait for inspiration to strike in the form of falling apples. But these days, we don’t even give ourselves a chance to have that kind of “eureka” moment: we don’t sit still long enough for an apple to fall on our heads!
Maybe there’s no time for apples, but, for better or for worse, I made time for bananas. Partly because they were becoming the icky overripe kind that attracts my new nemesis (the fruit fly), partly because I wanted something that was easily portable and that I could take to campus as a snack–and a healthy one at that. Although I’ve made plenty of banana bread in my day, most exciting about this latest venture is that I bought coconut flour for the occasion! After my experiments with coconut oil, I wanted to take my coconut obsession to the next level and try to bake something without any white flour (if you hadn’t noticed, these last few posts have been about experimenting with new ingredients). In short, I was going to try gluten-free baking and see what happened! I was a little worried about this because, in my readings about coconut flour, I discovered how much moisture it absorbs. And it seems that most people take care of this moisture requirement by using 5-8 eggs per one loaf of banana bread; that seemed a little excessive to me–despite the fact that we all know there’s nothing worse than dry, cardboard-flavored baked goods–but I managed to create, with the help of buttermilk–something that was tasty, properly moist and bursting with coconut flavor and fiber (food fun fact: coconut flour is rich in fiber).
Maybe I’ll go crazy by the end of the semester, but at least I’ll eat well while doing it. Or, even better, perhaps these culinary moments will stave off the madness….
(Gluten-Free) Coconut Banana Bread
Yields 8-10 slices of gluten-free goodness
Heavily adapted from The Spunky Coconut , a great gluten-free site for those hoping to try some new baking techniques
3 mashed bananas
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup agave nectar
3 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil (make sure that it’s in a liquid form; if necessary, melt it in the microwave)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3 Tbsp. coconut flakes (sweetened or unsweetened, you decide! I went with the former)
-Preheat the oven to 350, and oil and flour a bread pan (sticking with a coconut theme, I used coconut oil for this step).
-Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork. Set aside.
-In a large bowl, add the coconut flour, sea salt, baking soda and powder, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg, and whisk.
-In a small bowl, mix the coconut oil, bananas, vanilla, agave nectar, beaten eggs and buttermilk.
-Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until mixed through.
-Add the walnuts and the coconut flakes, folding them in gently.
–Note: if there are lumps in the coconut flour, whisk them out. Unlike with white flour, you can’t overmix coconut flour!
-Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until golden on top and a cake-tester comes out clean (I recommend checking the bread at about 40 minutes; my bread baked faster than I expected, but the extra crunch didn’t hurt anything).