Between the snow last week, and this quieter, less cluttered time of year, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (as I waxed poetically about here). About a lot of life things, yes, but also a lot about food.
I’ve always been an aesthetically minded person. When I was little, that meant hours of arranging and rearranging my room, constantly making collages for the smallest occasion, and taking over every one of my family member’s closets. I’ve dabbled in graphic design. Fashion blogging. Entertained ideas of studying architecture. Decided I was ready to buy a house, solely focused on decorating it (I later realized). Thankfully, these often crazy dabblings have landed me in what I feel is a healthier arena, cooking and learning food photography.
The pursuit of beauty and meaning have always been tied in my mind. I learn and gain so much from beautiful images and videos. I am touched, blessed and inspired constantly by the incredible creative people I’m lucky enough to know (online or in real life). Which also means that I spend hours worrying about things I make, hoping that they do the same for somebody out there.
Lately, when it comes to food, I’m full of questions. Does my food have the right look? What’s my culinary style? Do my photos represent what I want the overall “look” of BW to be? Is my food “fancy” enough? Does my food look worth what I’m asking people to pay for it? Do my plates look the way they should? What would other cooks/stylists think of my plates? Do I have what it takes to get where I want to be?
I realize the irony of putting your fears and failures out there for all to see on a site that just so happens to also function as client contact, but that’s who I want to be. Real, genuine, learning as I go. I’ve figured some of those questions out, and I’ve got some still to answer, but I always come back to the fact that none of this is really about food, photography or even aesthetics. Deep down, the success of this crazy operation is directly dependent upon how much love, work and heart I put into it. “Style” be damned.
If I cook food that makes me feel happy or inspired, I’m going to cook well. If I’m inspired, I’m going to create beautiful plates and images. If I’m creating beautiful things with love, attracting the kinds of people I want to know and work with is going to take care of itself.
So simple, yet so difficult to remember at times.
In honor of making food for love and not for culinary prowess, I’m sharing my favorite recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Bread. When I was a poor, starving, rain-sodden college student, loaves of banana bread or glazed poppyseed bread would appear in my mailbox from family in Montana. A recipe for chocolate chip zucchini bread was one of the first things I ever made when I started to fall for cooking. And nothing could be more full of love, than this rich loaf of dense, peanut butter-y goodness, made for me by my sweet husband. We had this for breakfast with tea the next few mornings, a thick slice (or two) fresh out of the toaster. Perfection.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 medium bananas, mashed
- ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup almond milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper so that it hangs over the two long sides.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the bananas, peanut butter, sugars, almond milk, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula until completely combined and there are no spots with raw flour. Gently stir in the chocolate chips.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top into an even layer. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick or thin knife inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. If your bread appears to be browning too quickly, place a tented piece of foil over it.
- Allow the bread to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. The cooled bread should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap; it can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.