Being a foodie doesn’t mean only liking fancy food… It means having the courage to try it. And then, you get to serve what you like.
– Rachel, from Suits (Season 1, Episode 3)
I’m fairly willing to get myself into all sorts of messes. I’ll try (almost) anything once, as long as I’m reasonably confident that it won’t cause me any semi-permanent or permanent damage. My due diligence process in order to ensure reasonable confidence, however, may not always be entirely rational. (Spiders in general are a no-go; I don’t care if they’re “not the poisonous type.” I remember reading a Kids National Geographic magazine when I was about six that said that all spiders, no matter how small, have enough venom to kill a person; they just don’t all have big enough teeth to break through human skin. I’m pretty sure that either my memory is failing me, or it was April Fools, or it was just generally incorrect, but I am still paralyzed with fear every time I even think of spiders).
In terms of food, while I did pass on the live deep-fried scorpions in Beijing last year, I have tried my fair share of off-the-beaten-track ingredients. I’ve had squid ink pasta (it doesn’t really taste any different than regular pasta, and the black sticks to your teeth about a hundred times worse than red wine, so I don’t recommend it on a date), lamb brains (I know, that’s horrible, and I’m sorry, but to be fair if you’re going to kill the lamb to eat it anyway then you may as well use as much of it as you can. Having said that, it was tasteless mush, so I don’t recommend it either), durian (tastes almost as bad as it smells), and fried pig’s ear (which was a bit too chewy for me, but had a really great flavour. It’s pork crackling taken to a whole new level).
On a more regular basis, I experiment with new food combinations, types of desserts, recipes and cooking methods. A lot of these experiments – provided they turn out – end up on this blog. But when I’m not baking with the intent to post, I have a few recipes that I return to again and again. So even though I would consider myself a foodie, if an unrefined one (foodie in training?), my favourite foods to share with those I love are often the simplest ones. Like this banana bread, just out of the oven.
Vegan Banana Bread
Adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen
three very ripe bananas, mashed (if I have overripe bananas and I’m not ready to make banana bread, I peel them, put them in a ziploc bag, mash and freeze them. Then I just defrost them when I’m ready to bake)
half cup light brown sugar
half cup granulated sugar
half cup margarine, melted
two cups all-purpose flour
one teaspoon baking powder
one teaspoon cinnamon
half teaspoon ginger
quarter teaspoon all spice
half teaspoon salt
quarter cup almond milk
one teaspoon apple cider vinegar
one teaspoon vanilla
two thirds cup dark chocolate chips (optional, or if you’re not vegan then white chocolate chips are great)
half cup pecans or walnuts or both (also optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix almond milk and vinegar together in a glass and set aside to curdle.
Stir bananas, margarine and sugars until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients.
Add one third of the dry mixture to the banana mix and stir until almost combined. Add the vanilla to the almond milk, and add half of the milk to the bananas. Add another third of flour, the remaining milk, and then the remaining flour mixture. Do not over-mix.
Fold in chocolate and/or nuts if using. Scoop into a lined muffin tin, or into a 8×4″ pan.
Bake just until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. I find this takes around 22-25 minutes for muffins, or 30-35 minutes for a loaf.