Buttermilk Banana Pancakes

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I hadn’t made pancakes since New Year’s breakfast, and when I saw the very ripe bananas in the fruit basket I decided to cook banana pancakes for breakfast.  What could be better than splurging on a tall stack of pancakes on a Saturday morning?

I added 1/2 cup PB2 powder to the batter for a hint of peanut flavor and for a dose of added protein.  If you are not a peanut lover like me, you can simply use all wholewheat flour and no PB2.  

Those pancakes turned out fluffy and soft in the center and crispy around the edges — absolutely delicious.

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Buttermilk Banana Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 cup wholewheat flour

1/2 cup PB2 or 1/2 cup more wholewheat flour

1 very ripe banana, meshed

1 large egg

1 1/2 cup buttermilk (You may need to adjust the amount of milk based on how large the banana is.)

2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted (you can also use vegetable oil such as canola oil)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons xylitol or sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Sliced banana and toasted walnut for topping

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Preparation:

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl, making sure that the melted coconut oil or butter is not hot.

Make a shallow hole in the dry ingredients and slowing pour the wet into the dry as you stir and mix them together.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium heat.  Scoop batter onto the griddle using either 1/4 or 1/3 measuring cup.  When the batter begins to bubble and the the underside is golden, flip it over with a spatular.  Cook another 1 minute or so for the other side to become golden. 

Serve hot topped with sliced banana, toasted walnuts and maple syrup.

Delicious Indonesian Home Cooking

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My friend Russel and his wife Judy invited me to their house for lunch today.  Their Indonesian housekeeper Yati is a fantastic chef.  I have had the pleasure of sampling her food many times before, but never took any photos because the food smelled and looked so enticing that I was always too eager to begin eating.

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Yati was frying the chicken when I arrived at their house.  The whole kitchen was so aromatic that it put my salivary glands in overdrive.  She explained to me that the chicken had first been marinated and boiled before being fried.  Historically, the Indonesians didn’t keep raw meat because it would spoil quickly in the hot weather.  The meat had to be cooked immediately, then left to be cooled either under a net on the table or in a screened cabinet.  It will later be fried at meal time or whenever one is hungry.  Be it cuisine, architecture or art, it is interesting how the core of any enduring style evolves from function.  We change, we improve, we create new forms and narratives, but we always return to our original reason, our ancient roots for sustenance and inspiration.

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Today’s menu:

Semur Daging Sapi (Tangy Beef Stew)

Ayam Goreng Kuning (Golden Fried Chicken)

Tempeh Goreng (Fried Tempeh in black sweet sauce)

Sambal Goreng (Vegetables in sambal)

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Tempeh glazed in a sweet and spicy sauce

Indonesian cuisine is amongst the most intensely flavorful of all foods. Yati uses a myriad of fresh spices, many of which she grows in the back of the kitchen — turmeric root, galangal root, coriander, candlenuts, lemon basil, chili peppers, shallots, lemon grass…  Her freshly made sambal sauce is especially good.  It could make anything taste delicious.

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After today’s lunch, I could see myself coming back to Russel’s house at mealtime very frequently in the next couple of months. 

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Russel is a very successful and renowned photographer in Singapore. We became friends almost 26 years ago at the inaugural Singapore International Film Festival.  He was the only friend I actually met in a bar.  I don’t drink and almost never go to a bar; I am also extremely shy and never talk to strangers.   For some reason I was at the hotel bar that day and Russel came over to introduce himself.  He just started out his career as a photographer and he was going to have a photo session in LA, where I lived.  It must be his warm, cheerful and straightforward personality that put me at ease with him.  Throughout the years, he has been to many of my film sets and I have seen him warm up many of his subjects and make them feel comfortable to produce his best work.  Since that day, Russel and I have collaborated on many magazine shoots, but more importantly, we have been pigging out together whenever we see each other.

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My first shoot with Russel in LA

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photographed by Russel in Phuket

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In Singapore

Another Slow Lazy Saturday

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I love the slowness of Saturday mornings, especially when Peter is not on call and the girls are either away or still sleeping.  This morning, I made us Mexican omelette with red jalapeño, cilantro, avocado and Mexican cheese, and Peter made us coffee with condensed milk. 

Many years ago — I think it was in the mid 90s — I read a book called Slowness by Milan Kundera about the sensuality that had been lost with the incredible speed with which everything seemed to be done in contemporary life.  The idea resonated with me then.  How can anything be sensual if we are only concerned with efficiency?  Since the 90s, we have sped up much more with the constant connectivity and the feeling that opportunities might be lost if we don’t check our emails the second it arrives, or keep doing 10 different things all at once.  Everyday, I see people checking their phones at stop signs or red lights.  And sometimes, I do it myself. 

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Today, Peter and I took our time eating, glancing at the headlines of the morning paper, talking about whatever came to mind, or simply enjoying the food in silence.  Food tastes so much better when you eat slowly, savoring every bite.  We talked about Ida, a stunning Polish film that we watched together last night.  Compared to most film and TV shows seen on the screen today,  Ida was striking and indelible in its stillness, simplicity and sparseness of words.  The film looked cold and grey, yet it was boiling with deep emotions.  This film will stay with me for a very long time, while I have forgotten so many seemingly exciting spectacles the minute I finished watching them.  Speed is never good for remembering.  Stillness.  That’s what’s missing in the speed of today’s life.  And silence.

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Still from Ida

Speaking of stillness and silence, I want to share with you a Naruda poem called Keeping Quiet — an ode to stillness in this busy and sped-up life. 

KEEPING QUIET

by Pablo Neruda

*

Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still.

*

For once on the face of the earth,

let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for one second,

and not move our arms so much.

*

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

*

Fisherman in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would look at his hurt hands.

*

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.

*

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.

*

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

*

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.

Pablo-Neruda

Naruda

Mexican Omelette

Ingredients for each omelette:

2 large eggs + 2 egg whites (beaten with a pinch of salt)

olive oil cooking spray

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

1/4 cup Mexican cheese blend

1/2 red jalapeno, minced

1/4 avocado, diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

Spray non-stick pan with oil on medium high heat.  Pour egg mixture into pan and let it cook for 15 to 20 seconds.  Add all the vegetable and cheese on top of the egg and cook for another minute.  Using spatula and fold the omelette into a roll.

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