New Year’s Reflections and Kitchen Experiment: Vegan Banana Muffins
Posted January 2, 2010on:
Good-bye 2009! Seriously, it was a rough year. By starting off with frustrations from my previous career, the prospect that my mother may have serious complications during surgery and my father possibly having cancer, it was just really one of the worst ways to start any year.
At the start of the 2008-2009 school year, I was a high school math teacher. As a graduate of an accredited master’s program and a former New York City Teaching Fellow, I was looking forward to gaining my tenure at the end of that year, as it was my third year teaching. However, many changes were taking place at my school. Changes that scared me and made me nervous and yes, even angry. So I did what I thought was right and chronicled things that were taking place in a public school for all the public to see–I posted the daily happenings of my school on a public blog. (I never used any names, in case you were wondering.) And my blog received a lot of attention! So much in fact that when my principal found it, because another teacher brought it to his attention, I was called into a meeting to discuss it. I was angry. I felt betrayed. I went to the union and no one would talk to me. I didn’t want to face what he thought was so awful, so I quit. While I still regret turning my back on my students, I do not regret leaving a career that caused me regular stress and grief. (By the time I quit, I was getting regular migraines and had high blood pressure.) At the end of 2008, I thought I was a teacher, and I thought I was good (the jury’s still out on that one) but by 2009, I knew I had to find another path.
I left teaching and have not really looked back. Mostly because I couldn’t. My mother ended up having an ordeal in the hospital which was extremely stressful and scary. My father was indeed diagnosed with cancer and so, that was stressful and scary too. And with my job being in disarray, I did one thing I always knew I wanted to do–I enrolled in culinary school.
Culinary school turned out to be the best thing for me this year! It gave me structure and goals to work towards. It also opened my horizons about different foods and cooking methods. And it helped distract me from my family crises and job dilemmas. While I was in culinary school at night, I focused and cooked. During the days, I was with the family getting in quality time when I could. Graduation from culinary school was a very nice triumph since we all had work together as a class to cater the event. It was a ton of work, but fun.
So, what did I learn in 2009? I’ve learned that family really is the most important thing to me. I’ve learned that without my family, I will feel lost. I’ve learned that while I thought I was equipped to be a teacher, maybe that wasn’t the best path for me at the time. But, maybe teaching will be better when I’ more mature, more patient, and better able to see the big picture of things in a school. I’ve learned that while I love to cook, I really love to bake and that if I didn’t already have so many student loans I’d go back to get a pastry degree. I also learned that I do not want to work in a restaurant, so I’m still not quite sure what to do about my lack of job. I also learned that I really, REALLY love food! I love it so much that I’ll taste and try almost anything. But, I’ve also learned that I’m very sensitive to stress, and salt, and butter, and well, I need to lose the weight I’ve gained in culinary school!
So, this year, 2010, I’m going to try to keep my stress lower. I’m going to try to use less butter, except where you REALLY need it like cakes, cookies or buttercreams! And I’m going to try to eat less of these butter-laden items. I’m going to try to walk more, as much as possible. And I’m going to try to experiment with alternative types of baking and cooking, such as gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian baking & cooking. 2009 was a real roller coaster and while it ended on a relative high note (mum & dad are much better!) there are still other events ahead that I’m trying to remain hopeful about. 2010 will be the year I try to keep hope, keep my head held high, face my demons and hopefully, walk though it all fairly unscathed. Let’s hope for a great new year!
And so, in keeping with my objectives for this year, here’s my first kitchen experiment for 2010.
Kitchen Experiment: Vegan Banana Walnut Muffins
These were a soft, yet dense muffin that are perfect for breakfast!
- 3 very ripe bananas
- 1/4 cup neutral flavored oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons maple sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, add the bananas and mash well with a fork.
- Add oil and combine thoroughly.
- Add maple syrup and maple sugar and combine.
- In another bowl, add flour, salt and baking soda and whisk to combine.
- Add flour, salt and baking soda mixture to wet ingredients and just mix until combined. Add nuts, if using.
- Line a muffin pan with baking cups and spoon the mixture into each cup until about 3/4 full.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.