Thoughts of a College-Grad-To-Be (Plus: What I Ate This Week)

Food, Life, Music | May 8, 2014 | By

When I left for college in August of 2010, my parents held a little send-off for me, wherein my older friends and relatives offered me a variety of college “survival” tips. Among them were the standard, “bring flip-flops for showering,” “always eat a good meal before a ‘night out,'” and “leave your door open while you’re home to meet new people.” I must say, though, that the best advice I received that evening was, “enjoy your college years, because they’ll be over before you know it.” I couldn’t imagine at first that this could possibly be true. My college degree was (hopefully) going to take four years, as did high school, and high school seemed to take FOREVER. Then when I got to college, I knew.

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Maple, Dark Chocolate Chip, & Sea Salt Banana Bread

“Ew, Sarah, why would you EVER put sea salt and bananas together?” – You

What can I say, I’m good at reading minds. But you know what I was slightly less good at until recently? Baking banana bread. It has literally (and I mean literally, not figuratively…there is, in fact a difference) taken me YEARS to come up with the perfect banana bread recipe. I posted one back in my Tumblr-blogging days that I’m pretty sure consisted mostly of chia seeds. Not to hate on chia seeds (they have their time and place), but this recipe is tastier for sure, and just as healthy. Now, to address your sea salt inquiry, it’s pretty much universal knowledge these days that sea salt and dark chocolate are the new power couple. Caramel tries to make it a love triangle, but I am definitely on Team Chocolate. And lately, I have been putting dark chocolate in and on everything I can get my hands on.

Why?

Well, I’m celebrating, because (Spoiler: if you follow me on Instagram, then neither of the following things are going to be “big news” to you) after a whirlwind year of suddenly changing plans and deciding NOT to take a year off, I took graduate auditions and was accepted to everywhere I applied! I’m going to be pursuing my Master’s degree next year at the conservatory of my dreams in New York City, and I couldn’t be more excited. I also gave my senior recital a few weeks ago to a lot of positive feedback, which means I officially CAN graduate and go to New York City. Also, I thought the performance went well had a lot of fun giving it, which for self-doubting and perpetually unsatisfied me was kind of big.

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So, yeah… I’m declaring that I now deserve to put chocolate in everything. You can judge me or whatever, but you’re going to be thanking my little chocolate binge when you taste this banana bread. Notice I said when, not if, because that’s how sure I am that you need to make it immediately.

Just in case you’re not convinced yet and need a REALLY compelling reason to make it (other than that it’s chocolate banana bread and because I said so), it will use up your ugly, mushy, seemingly inedible bananas. I bet you’ve thrown out some spotty/browning bananas in your time, thinking they were unusable. Think again, my friend – your banana-wasting days have passed, because for this recipe and banana bread in general, the spottier the better! (Unless they’re actually rotten and wrinkled… Then you probably shouldn’t cook with them. :P)

This is what perfect banana bread bananas look like. <3

These are what perfect banana bread bananas look like. <3

Also, this bread came out super moist, and has just the right texture! You could also omit the chocolate chips or walnuts (or both) and the base recipe would come out fine. I will definitely be keeping this as my go-to banana bread recipe!

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Maple, Dark Chocolate Chip, & Sea Salt Banana Bread
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Ingredients
  1. 3-4 overripe medium bananas
  2. 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  3. 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  4. 1 egg + 1 egg white
  5. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  6. 1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup oat flour (may do 1 and 1/2 cups oat flour for gluten free alternative)
  7. 1 tsp. baking soda
  8. 1/3 cup 60% dark chocolate chips, plus 1 tbs. for melting
  9. 1/4 cup walnuts
  10. Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash peeled bananas thoroughly until mostly smooth. Some small lumps of fruit will remain, that's ok!
  3. Mix in melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla, and then add the egg/egg white (adding the egg and coconut oil too closely together may cause the egg to cook in the hot oil).
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients (except for the 1 tbs. of chocolate chips for melting), and then slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
  5. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.*
  6. Melt the remaining chocolate chips, pour onto the batter, and swirl with a fork. Sprinkle the top lightly with sea salt, and bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Notes
  1. *I recommend using coconut oil spray, which I swear by for baking, roasting, and sauteeing! So flavorful, and so much better for you than most non-stick sprays.
The Hungry Musician http://thehungrymusician.com/

Enjoy! 🙂

Balance

Life, Music | November 14, 2013 | By

This week’s buzzword is balanceI have spent four years of college desperately trying to figure out what balance actually means in the context of my daily life. Each year, balance has meant something different to me. Let me take you on a virtual tour. 

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I can’t sleep, so here’s an update!

Since it has been quite a while since I posted, I feel I have a fair amount of catching up to do. In a nutshell, since I last posted, I’ve been practicing. A ton. And playing in orchestra under amazing and inspiring conductors! Also, my mom came to visit two weeks ago! We did an early morning hike up to the Maroon Bells/Crater Lake. I also took a picture of a Quest Bar on our hike, which won me a free box of bars from the company! We also took the Gondola up to Aspen Mountain, saw some concerts, and went cray cray on the Aspen food scene. I had a good solid 3 days where I ate almost every meal at a restaurant and I freaking LOVED it.

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Aspen 2013: First Few Days

I am in my second full day and third partial day at the Aspen Music Festival, and my biggest impression (so far) besides the fact that I’m actually here to begin with is that it’s indescribably beautiful here. Pictures can hardly do it justice, but here’s one I took from where I’m sitting to write this, just in case you’d like an idea…

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The travel it took to get here was extensive and, I won’t lie, a little scary toward the end. The flight into Denver was nothing, but trying to land in Aspen was another story. The short flight was pretty turbulent (understatement) and because of the way the wind was blowing, the tiny connecting plane went in to land but instead, shot straight back up and had to circle around the mountain again before finally landing, at which point everyone clapped, cheered, or finally breathed out. Yeah, it was one of those kinds of flights. But that was a relatively small price to pay to be in such a magical place.

I haven’t really had anything eventful happen yet, besides registration and getting my ID picture taken, before which I promptly slipped in a pile of mud in one of my cuter sundresses and got earth all over the lower half of my body. I have auditions for orchestra and chamber music tonight and tomorrow morning, and have been preparing for those. Taking a practice break to sit outside and listen to the stream while I write this was a good idea, as it’s taking some of the stress away!

In terms of the food here (I am, after all, the Hungry Musician), it’s becoming progressively easier to find options in the dining hall. I haven’t been to the one on campus yet, which I’ve heard is better, but I can tell that for the next 8 weeks, my diet is going to consist of a lot of salad and steamed vegetables. Thankfully, the salad bar has balsamic vinegar, olive oil, AND hummus, so I can make my magical dipping sauce/dressing/sandwich spread, which is really REALLY good. 1 tbs. hummus, 1-2 tbs. balsamic, 1 tsp olive oil. Make it immediately and put that ish on EVERYTHING. You’re welcome. I also went shopping yesterday downtown, which is adorable and has gorgeous real estate, and bought some breakfast-y food like oats, bananas, peanut butter, pre-cut fruit, yogurt, etc. to store in my “kitchen.” Not having a stove is going to be torture for me, but I’m sure I’ll figure out ways to prepare food (I may even be able to bribe some of the apartment dwellers to let me cook for them). For example: Mom is shipping me my blender so I can do the green smoothie challenge in July. I know, I would.

Running and training for my 10K, on the other hand, I can tell won’t be so easy. First of all, I hurt my knee and I don’t know what’s wrong with it at the moment, so I’m not sure how that’s going to play out. Also, I’m still adjusting to the altitude. Walking up a hill gets me 10x as winded here, so I need to be careful about how much strenuous activity I do in the next few days. Fortunately, I’ve been doing a lot of walking so I still feel like I’m getting some exercise in while I’m acclimating to the altitude. Luckily, I think I have also managed to avoid altitude sickness by staying ridonkulously hydrated. (I drank almost a gallon of water yesterday – lets try to make that a habit, shall we?)

I can’t wait for all the music making to get underway, to meet my teacher and start lessons, and for my 21ST BIRTHDAY, WHICH IS IN LESS THAN 2 WEEKS! Weeeee! But for now, back to the practicing grind, so I can feel like I earned those margaritas on July 2nd 😉

-Sarah