Friday, July 26, 2019

Ben's Banana Cake

When we have overripe bananas I usually make smoothies or banana pancakes out of them. This time my intention was to make banana bread instead so we could enjoy it for breakfast in the morning. But my son had other ideas, so I lured him into the kitchen to make this banana cake from scratch. We don't like a cake heavy on frosting, so we ate it bare, but I'm thinking we might try a light cream cheese frosting next time. A few mini chocolate chips mixed into the batter might be another yummy variation.

Ben has been helping me in the kitchen since he could stand. He's also taken a couple of kids cooking classes. He especially loves baking. He's known how to measure and level off flour since he was about 5. I love that he has these skills to carry him into life. He may not make a career out of it, but he'll be able to cook for himself.

The cake is light and moist with a banana flavor that's not overpowering.

Tip: If you don't have sour milk, add about 2tsp of vinegar to the cup of milk and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

Ben's Banana Cake

  • 1/2 c salted butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup mashed banana. 
  • 1/4 c sour milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and mix well. Stir in dry ingredients. Add mashed banana, milk, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. 

Pour batter into two 8 inch pans lined with parchment. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out nearly clean. 

Let cool before removing from pan. If desired, frost or lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Lost Art of Making Do

Stock Image
Make do - v. to use what you already have, to manage to get along with the means available.

It seems that in this hyperconsumerism driven culture, we've lost the art of making do. Probably the last time we as a society collectively practiced making do was during the Great Depression and World War II. It was a survival skill that was quickly forgotten amongst the disposable world we live in today. Don't get me wrong. There are still people out there who know a thing or two about making do, mostly out of necessity. But the majority of our society has fallen into the mindset of discarding and buying new. Using something until it has no use left in it is a foreign concept.

We are bombarded with commercials that tell us what we need to buy. Products are manufactured with disposal in mind. Big tech companies make it hard to repair their products, thus it becomes easier if you have the funds just to purchase new. Most things these days are manufactured to appear to become obsolete within a limited time, manipulating the consumer to buy the latest computer/phone/shoes, etc. And many items are manufactured for single usage.

The clothing industry is a good example. Except for the rare knee patch on a kid's worn pair of jeans, most people no longer mend clothing or have the skill to do so. Unfortunately, most clothing doesn't even get to that stage before it's discarded or donated. Fast fashion has created a highly wasteful market. While I think it is important to donate and shop used, the used market has been overwhelmed as well. What we need to go back to is using up, mending, repairing. That is where the impact is going to make the biggest difference to the environment and to the current market.

Stock Image

This past week I made a realization about making do when it comes to food. Money is tight right now. Really tight. I've been keeping us fed by making do and using up food staples I already have on hand. I'm amazed at how much food I have even though it doesn't feel like it. We get so accustomed to being able to make our weekly or monthly grocery shopping trip and when it doesn't happen we feel like we are lacking. In truth, most of us here in the U.S. have plenty in our pantries that we can use up before truly going hungry. We may be eating lots of boring rice, dried beans, and pasta, but we are not going hungry. When you are hit with hard times a well-stocked pantry and the ability to make do are a life saver.

How can making do improve our lives? What if we learned to appreciate the fine wear of our shoes, the slight pull of a thread on our sweater, the miles displayed on our car's odometer, the harmless chip on our coffee mug? What if we saw the beauty in how much use an item still holds instead of allowing ourselves to be pulled in by the desire for something new? What if we learn truly be grateful for what we already have by using it up or wearing it out?

Stock Image

Making do can make a big impact on our environment. We'll buy less stuff, which in turn means fewer resources will be used up and less pollution created during the manufacture of new items, as well as less of an impact from discarded items. Our money will go further and we can spend it on things that are truly fulfilling, like time with friends and family, traveling, or pursuing the things that feed our souls. It pairs nicely with minimalism in that we aren't going out and filling our homes with more unneeded stuff. And I suspect it encourages greater respect toward our possessions that lead us to care for them better so they will last longer.

Do you have a story of making do? Was it by choice or for survival?