Thursday, 9 January 2014

Banana and Cinnamon Maple syrup pancakes in 15 minutes!

Have you ever heard that there's no time better than the present?

You've probably heard it a lot.

Has it become a bit bland and meaningless? It may have, just a little.

There's a whole lot of truth in it. Not just with reference to chores and activities...but life. How many times have we sailed through the Christmas holidays or summer months, wondering how great it will be to one day, enjoy them without the hustle and bustle of daily commitments and endless tasks? That would be great - but it's totally unrealistic and will never happen. We are here  to accomplish something. Even though we may wish the better times last for so much longer uninterrupted...they will only ever exist in addition to whatever else we may have on our plate.

The trick of enjoying the moment? Is to literally enjoy the moment.

I guess a lesson we are meant to learn in this life is one of time management in a deeper sense - how can we shift priorities instantaneously so that we can make the most out of every little moment and time slot life presents us with? I guess it's so easy to dismiss all of the 'little things' in life because we are fed up of something else - this as an excuse to let the moment pass. Some days, times, moments and opportunities are likely to never come back.

I kinda see life as like tiny strands of the universes DNA unraveling - every shred which falls off of it, is totally unique and different to the next. Once it's gone, it's gone. The trick is to capture the moment within each and savor it, so we can add to our memory boxes and trunk of lovely emotions. Chances are, every moment has something to teach us in such a way, that we can trust each lesson to avert from any mines we stumble across in the future.

We will never know where our lessons will take us.

On a less deep note though,

I kid you not. I definitely used a vacant lunch time slot wisely on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon:

It was definitely not my most balanced day ever...

Breakfast? Giant almond croissant (work was going to throw them out...) and a half. Half? Yes. I toasted one, ate half. Realized I like almond croissants better un-toasted so I just put the half eaten one back in the back and got a new one. Clean slate and all. Yum yum. By the way...extra butter is the only way to eat croissants - toasted or not. I've met a few people who are slightly disgusted at this?

Then I had some pumpkin blondies with dark chocolate chips left over from the previous days baking (nom nom - recipe soon to come!) And then I had some more, simply because it's just the thing to do with a plate of gooey pumpkin fudge blondies.

I was on a bit of a sugar high. A light lunch had no chances. Butter over load, anyone? 

2 days ago, I attempted 'sweet potato and banana pancakes'. Delicious as they sound, they turned out looking like an orange and carrot scramble with pieces of old omelette also chucked into the pan. Definitely not a good look. They tasted amazing though, doused with maple syrup and served on a pretty plate - though it would admittedly have been hard to convince the eye of the beholder...

BUT I was determined to pick myself up and try again, this time using far less milk (I have a problem - whenever I add milk I add too much milk. I don't know if it's because my hand doesn't know when to stop or because I simply love the pants off of milk)

Lunch time? Spare time? PANCAKES! Omitting the sweet potato though. I felt like using some wheat for those fluffy, cafe type pancakes. They came out p-e-r-f-e-c-t.

These deliciously light, soft, fluffy and maple sweet pancakes have no added butter, milk, or extra oil inside the recipe (minus oil for frying). They use one egg, apple sauce and a touch of brown sugar.
They are dangerously moreish, but a mere 1/2 cup of flour will grace you with 5-7 small-medium sized pancakes. Bon appetite!

Recipe (serves 1-2 depending on how hungry you are...)

  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 medium mashed banana
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Greek/natural low fat yogurt. 
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Maple syrup for dousing
  1. Heat an oiled skillet/pan on high. I used canola oil. 
  2. Mix together all of the dry ingredients, then add the banana and vanilla. 
  3. Add the yogurt and the egg
  4. Whisk with a fork or whisker, but do not over whisk. 
  5. You should have a very thick, viscous pancakes batter. Do not worry about lumps - just make sure that all of the flour is incorporated. 
  6. Spoon the batter onto the high heated skillet/pan. A large pan should fit about 5 on, and the entire batter should give you 2 batches like this. 
  7. The first batch will take a bit longer. Flip the pancakes once bubbles start to appear on the surface.
  8. The second batch cook extremely quickly (like 1.5 minutes a side, if that).
9. Go crazy with the maple syrup, and enjoy! Extra banana and more yogurt go great in addition!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Molten Choc Chip: Banana and Oatmeal Peanut Butter cookies (Butter free & Flourless!)

I just love old people.

I went to visit my Nana today before she leaves for her 3 month travel to Asia.

Here's how our greeting conversation went:

"Tasha! Why aren't you at school?"
"I'm at uni, Nana. We don't go back until next week".
"Oh. And do people come to eat at your restaurant?" (Where I waitress)
"Yes Nana. They do. Everyday".
Cool story bro (?!)

Then I told her about the gorgeous Molten chocolate chip, banana-y, oatmeal peanut butter cookies that I had encountered just earlier on in the day... 

You can probably tell from the title that there is not enough adjectives in the world to describe these beauties.

Speckled and sweet, ripe banana folded into thick and dreamy...and super whippy-like peanut butter...

It looked like Mr Whippy's handsome, peanut cousin...

Whole grain rolled oats

Moist, caramelized brown sugar

The humble egg, and few other bits n bobs. 

And finally...Ooey gooey, creamy melted belgian dark chocolate chips. O.k - Belgian...was that necessary??

It just really, really was...

I woke up with a taste for peanut butter. Peanut butter.
Nothing out of the ordinary (for me at least). 

We had a bunch of bananas. And a whole box of cheap oats that don't make the best porridge. 
It appeared that I had some using up to do....SO I went ran out quickly to buy 2 humongous jars of smooth peanut butter (can't use natural for cookies - too runny) because it's totally better to be safe than sorry. Especially regarding peanut buttery matters. 

I could not for the life of me find an oaty banana peanut butter cookie recipe ANYWHERE which wasn't either: 
a) Vegan 
b) Paleo 
c) Only 2 ingredients - where's the fun in that?
 And nor could I find one which used an enticing photograph...(Looks like I've filled that void, eh?!)

I was hungry and kinda stuck, so made up a recipe based on about 10 others I'd jumbled up across about thousand tabs and 3 window. I just went for it, estimating pretty much everything by hand...but they came out absolutely p-e-r-f-e-c-t.

I hope you enjoy them just as much as me and my family did. The batch has been polished in less than 3 hours since school ended and the hungry horses came crashing in. Need I say anymore? 

Chocolate overload, and i'm lovin' it.

By the way...when I say molten...I mean molten. They were pure gooey, crumbly, chewy bliss. 

I used 3 bananas but you can probably get away with less.
The great thing about these is that there is nothing that is just too overpowering.

I've made peanut butter chocolate cookies before (no banana) - but there was always something in excess. I personally have a seriously challenging sweet tooth, but even I seemed to get a headache after those crazy dense cookies. These, however, are once again - a different dimension altogether. 

These are perfect. They are equilibrium cookies. Balanced, sweet, light, tasty, chewy, crumbly, oaty and nutty with a great texture and kinda filling - but not sickly heavy. 

You kind of had to be there...

The best you can go from here is trying them yourself and sinking into your own little bubble of bliss...

I was going to drizzle them in white chocolate in zig zags across the top because it seemed like a super cool, photogenic artistic-y thing to do...

But they got eaten too quick. 

Say no more. 

Recipe (Makes about 12-17 medium sized, chunky cookies depending on how you size them)
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (use jar peanut butter, natural is too runny and will make unhappy cookies...)
  • 3 small- medium, ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • Dark/bittersweet chocolate chips. (I just blitzed a block of chocolate in the food processor)
  • 1 cup rolled oats or more if desired. 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F or 175*C. 
  2. Melt the peanut butter a bit so its runnier (Microwave for 20 seconds on high)
  3. Mix in the sugars with the peanut butter, add the mashed banana, soda, vanilla and egg. 
  4. Add the oats and stir. Be careful not to over mix. 
  5. Chuck in the chocolate chippies and give the whole thing a quick stir (You may nibble, - they are too tempting)
  6. Take a small bit of batter (prepare to get messy) and roll into a ball as best as you can (the banana makes it runnier and harder to do)
  7. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and space out (darker paper gives you softer, chewier cookies)
  8. Try not to make the 'balls' overly big because they can fall apart easily when they come out - just go for normal sized cookies so they all get cooked the same. 
  9. Bake for about 8-12 minutes, until the edges are browned and they have lost the 'raw' look. 
Enjoy and drink with a cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate...and off of your favorite plate of course.

 And, P.S: Try with them ICE CREAM when they are fresh and super gooey out of the oven! OH.MY.GOD

Let me know how it goes!

Tash xo

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Gooey and dense: Praline Brownie & Honey Oatmeal

The penny dropped at some point between morning and lunch. You know when you're not quite hungry, but lunch should really happen sometime soon...but your strong chocolate cravings muffle up your nutritional pangs?

I had a waitressing shift from 12pm on wards. I wasn't hungry enough to chow down something too hearty, but everyone knows it's a bad idea to serve delicious, fried food, cheesecakes and crumbles on a gnawing stomach unless you really want time to go super slow and you generally enjoy the feeling of starvation...

Oatmeals good, right?

Oatmeal sounded perfect. 
It wasn't as if I had eaten 2 bowls of granola and with a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast already...

But then again, so did a nice big, endless block of rich and creamy dark chocolate. (Maybe 55% cocoa - gurl knows her chocolate)

Sigh. I was getting ready for work on a Sunday. Was this really my dilemma? 

Finally, I made oatmeal. Or 'porridge' as we English like to say. Into the microwave it was chucked. 30 seconds, a little bit of soda and a heap load of cocoa powder later...voila. It was the densest, most decadent bowl of oatmeal ever. It had a consistency like how under baked, peanut butter brown sugar and chocolate cookies do...just so....gooey. There wasn't even peanut butter in it. Yet, it managed to be fluffy, creamy, smooth and well textured all at the same time. I credit this the baking soda that was added before cooking it.

Mouth water.

Mouth is watering.

Mouth is watering now...

The photo really does not do it justice. It was so rich and just oh-so purely chocolatey. 

I am authorized to verify this for you. I am the girl who eats 90% dark chocolate with unsweetened hot chocolate on a normal day.

The picture kinda looks like the batter for rice krispie choco squares? Either way. This was so quick. Around 3 minutes from cocoa jar to table. 

By the way, there's a rule. If you make have to eat it with your favorite spoon our of your special bowl. There is just no other way. 

I had literally 15 minutes to concoct, photo and eat it. It might inspire you to know that I also added about 40g of chocolate chips afterwards. Well. I say 'chips' like a good, well stocked baker....but in reality. I just did my best to crumble a load of alpine praline chocolate that's been sat here a while, over shadowed by my giant stash of dark chocolate (in all the consecutive percentages, of course).

When I put them on top, they melted and went super ooey gooey and captured my heart in a single mouthful. My taste buds were pulsating, taking a trip to paradise (the budget kind). 

This oatmeal is dangerous. But super substantial too (this makes it a little more sensible sounding).

I was going to sweeten it with honey. But then I found some Golden Syrup. I know golden syrup isn't so good for you but I love is so much and it goes so well with porridge and it is so thick and sweet and golden and oh...I love you golden syrup (even if my teeth don't). 

You can totally have a kg of chocolate for breakfast with this genius excuse:

Recipe: (Makes 1 serving)

  • 1/2 cup quick cook oats
  • 1/2 cup whole or semi skimmed milk/vegan alternative 
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  • Honey/sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Extra chocolate/chocolate chips for meltage bliss!
  1. Mix the oats + milk. Stir well. Next add the cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla. 
  2. Microwave on high for about 1.5 minutes. Add cinnamon, put back into the microwave for another 30 seconds. (Be careful because the soda will make it rise)
  3. It should be done after around 2 and a half minutes. Stir again, add any more milk (it should be quite thick) to get your desired consistency
  4. Add honey and stir
  5. Go crazy on chocolate chips.
  6. Enjoy!
Wanna try? Tell me what you think! :):)

Hope you had a lovely weekend!

Tash xo

My heart flutters for the Sunrise

Good morning!

Are you team granola with flaked almonds? Or without flaked almonds? I've been experimenting recently. Pretty much all brands sell them with the almonds. The ones which don't relish the fact that they can say theirs has 50% lower fat...kind of a no brainer. (Yes yes, I know. I'm bad and I buy granola which can be made for a tiny ass fraction of the cost at home) Sometimes the flakes almond type takes so freaking LONG to chew that my stomach actually gets past the 20 minute mark where it's supposed to tell me that it's full and I feel bloated. Like...I want a big bowl of granola. But the almonds kill the thrill of having a big mountain of oat clusters and milk.
ANYWAY I finally bought (cringe) Quaker granola. Just pure, fresh crunchy bliss. Though, I think the freshness is due to the fact that it's a spanking brand new box. It's 2014. And guess I should probably master how to seal things up more tightly so that crunchy cereal isn't a rare luxury.

No overly full feeling. It must be the combo of all the dense nutrients together that my I can't cope with in the morning. I added a banana too! Yum.

Does anyone else add fruit to their morning bowl....but eat it all separately anyway? I feel like I should invest my chopping time more wisely elsewhere and just eat the fruity stuff alone...

*Insert bowl of Quaker granola*

As you can tell by the absent breakfast, I haven't quite mastered the photography of food yet.

However, there is one type of photography which I have kinda (smugly) mastered. He He. Say hey to January 5th at 8:00-8:20am.

 I remember reading a foreword of a book once. The author who's name I can't remember...was about 30 odd. She said something I have never forgotten: "No sunrise is beautiful enough to wake me up in the morning".

My heart bleeds.

 Sometimes, I wouldn't trade early mornings for anything. 
 I love how this looks like a spider web. The sun being the spider, the trees being the web. Can you see it?

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The most beautiful fog

Is anyone a  Diane Chamberlain reader?

She has a book with some chapters where she talks about fog. A little settlement on the cliffs by the ocean in the states which frequently gets smothered in fog, so heavy that the kiddies like to play hide and seek in it.

I can't remember the name! Does anyone know it? It's crazy. I have a shelf full of pretty much all of her books but I can't find that book? Either way, it's only a small part of the story, but something which has long stayed in my mind. The idea of that sorta fog baffles me. In London fog is accompanied by that annoying, misty rain which makes your hair poof before you get to wherever it is you commute. Diane describes it like another world. It's hard to believe that people live in such a contrasting place.

So naturally, when I was floating around in the low clouds before the clock even hit 7am one morning (I am an unswayed morning bird) on the 18th October (according to the photo 'Properties' button) I thought of Diane's little place.

The world is so silent at that time of the morning that it's eerie. It feels as if every little crinkly sound of your jacket is drawing too much attention. It got a bit creepy in the end. I was in the middle of this huge, foggy park with these horse-sized crows squawking around me in circles. Help. I took as many as I could before scooting away with saturated (literally) 'breathable' trainers. They went into the spin dryer and had to air for about a week. I guess it rained a lot the night before.

Little Foggy paradise:


Just a Sky that wants to say Hi


I'm a pretty morning sky. Some people wake up bright and early just to see me. I'm fairly shy though. As soon as too many people start opening their eyes and rolling on with their day, I tiptoe away and let the sun shine high in my place. 
If there isn't a cloud festival that day then you're in luck, buttercup. 

And here's my stubborn little cousin who ate lens marks for breakfast and left them all over her face so she could ruin Tash's picture, wahey! 

Sad face.

This could have been so pretty.


Sunrise or Sunset?



I have a question for you:

You are allowed to guess.


Are these photos of a sun rise...or a sunset?

*Insert mysterious eyebrow gif*

The folder I found them in was actually named 'Sunrise or sunset'

I do know when I took them. But they even caught me off guard for a second, too.

I was taking a (insert time of day) stroll. The clouds caught my eye. I ran home in a bulky puffy coat with my keys and phone springing around in my pocket like never before just so I could get to my window and say hey to the clouds in time. Ice particles? I don't know what. But these colors were just insane:

Some sights make us feel lucky to be you ever feel this way?

I have a talent for making Autumn look 10 years longer than it actually is...

HERE'S MORE Autumn shots of Regents Park. I promise you I don't live there in a tent under the stars, quacking and snapping away in synch with the geese.

Or maybe I do?

You decide.

Pink Pink Pink and green green green

Does the sun make anyone else go happy and la-la?

These last 2 aren't actually Regents Park. But they were clumped together and are now a happy family and will all live happily ever after.

What's your favorite London park?