Mochi Cake

One of my homework assignments this weekend is among the most difficult I have been required to do.

I do not necessarily mean difficult from an academic standpoint. I have had more academically challenging tasks to perform.

The assignment tears me apart. “Should the United States have dropped the atomic bombs on Japan?”

I recognize the appalling behavior of the Japanese army before and during the Second World War. Perhaps I would see the question differently if I were not a Japanese-American. If it were a different nation upon which we released “…Death, the destroyer of worlds,” how would I feel about the issue? Still shocked by the horror unleashed, but I would be able to take a more detached, rational-minded view.

I wrote yes. Yes that the bomb was the lesser of two evils. Yes because the expedient end to the war prevented the U.S.S.R. from reaching Japan and establishing their own zone of occupation. Yes because I know the pain of the divided Germans before 1989, the heartbreak of the separated Koreans still today.

I cannot put myself into this paper. I must state my opinion and the facts. There are things I long to add to the words of that essay, which I cannot. That it breaks my heart to take the stance that I did. That it is to my deep regret that wars must happen. And yet it seems that there are occasions when they must.

With today’s recipe, I hope to initiate peace and reconciliation. Peace  that comes with sitting around a table with people of different backgrounds, enjoying food from different cultures and conversing. And realizing that we aren’t so different after all. And moving on from our past errors into a more hopeful future. Though right now that future seems unlikely, as the events of the news trend toward the disheartening, perhaps a change in our perception of each other may inch us closer to a brighter tomorrow. If we learn about each other, then no matter the decisions made by our leaders and foreign leaders, we will be civil toward each other to the best of our ability. And maybe there will be no more Rapes of Nanking, no more Bataan Death Marches, no more Executive Orders 9066, no more unleashings of atomic bombs.

Will you join me?

Mochi is not a treat exclusive to Japan. Glutinous (mochi) rice is widely used throughout Asia. (Note that glutinous refers to the rice’s stickiness; it is gluten-free). In fact, if I am not mistaken, mochi cake originated in Hawaii as a result of the Japanese influence there. Mochi cake contains all the components of a Western flour cake, but mochiko (glutinous rice flour) is used in the place of wheat flour. I like to make it less sweet than other cakes, because I am accustomed to mochi not being sweet (it’s usually covered in some kind of sweet sauce or topping; I often had it as a child in a mixture of soy sauce and sugar). But you can adjust it to your taste. The cake is sticky, like mochi, but holds its shape because of its cake constituents.

The original recipe contained vanilla extract, but the idea of that somewhat repulsed me. I like the pure mochi taste. I’ve also made a matcha (green tea) flavored mochi cake, but I feel that plain is vastly superior. Just my opinion. I usually like to drink matcha, though. Did I mention that it’s slimming and full of antioxidants? But I digress.

The recipe is adapted from Kirbie’s Cravings. You should try her blog–she has some singular recipes.

 

Mochi Cake

Adapted from Kirbie’s Cravings

Ingredients:

1 cup melted butter (I used applesauce)

2 cups sugar or Stevia in the raw (not the liquid Stevia, the kind in bags)

4 eggs, beaten

2 tsp. baking powder

16 oz. box Mochiko flour (Available at most Asian grocery stores. Also, I believe this is 4 cups; check the nutrition label on the box)

1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix butter and sugar.

Beat in the evaporated milk to the butter mixture. Beat in eggs.

Beat in the rice flour and baking powder.

Pour batter into a 9x 13 inch pan. Bake for about 1 hour.

Cool completely before cutting.

Almost-Vegan Sugar Cookies

Ah, sugar cookies.

How timeless, how unadorned, how classic, how sensationally appealing.

Who would ever have guessed that the convergence of so few, basic ingredients could form so pleasing a confection?

Sugar cookies have always been my best-loved comfort food. Well, along with baumkuchen and miso soup. But that’s for another post, if I ever master baumkuchen 😉

Have you ever partaken of the ones from Subway? Those chewy, sweet, buttery Subway sugar cookies? I haven’t indulged in the delectation of one in a while, but they are the ones I so fondly recount savoring as a child.

Well, a younger child, anyway.

I generally eschew unhealthful food (except on special days, when I indulge 🙂 ), but I was craving a chewy sugar cookie something fierce. The coercive cravings consumed my cognitive consciousness, clamoring for a cookie, menacing me by muddling any mental effort I put forth in math class, fouling my focus.

I was impelled to appease them.

I bought some Earth Balance. I baked the cookies. They were too crunchy for my yearning.

Undeterred, I found another recipe and baked a second batch. I wanted to cry. Still too hard!

Unassuaged, thwarted, foiled, frustrated, disappointed. I was set to throw in the kitchen towel and give up. My cravings had mostly dissipated, anyway.

But then a recipe caught my eye.

I was inspired to try one more time.

 

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Food.com

1/2 cup sugar or Stevia

1/3 cup Earth Balance, softened (I’ve heard Olivio is also a healthy brand. When buying margarine, peruse the ingredient list very carefully. If you see hydrogenated anything, drop it and flee.)

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) nonfat cream cheese, softened

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup cake flour

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the sweetener, Earth Balance, cream cheese, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.

Stir in flour until well blended.

With your hands, roll the dough into balls slightly under 1″ in diameter.

Place 1″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 7 – 10 minutes. (I did 275 for about 7 minutes, then 300 for 5 minutes, then 350 for final 3 minutes)

Yum! 🙂

Almond Tiramisu Cake

Oh, dear. I shouldn’t have made this.

I cannot desist from consuming it.

It is simply so terribly toothsome.

I am virtually out of wheat flour, and all I had was a bag of almond meal and a craving for tiramisu. I desired to make a tiramisu cake, but how?

I turned to innovation.

Almond cakes are so elegant…I honestly think this is better than a wheat flour tiramisu cake. And it’s gluten-free, with the healthy fats, protein, and Vitamin E found in almonds.

Thoroughly acceptable for breakfast 🙂

 

Almond Tiramisu Cake

Cake adapted from MyRecipes

Ingredients:

Cake

3/4 cup ground almonds or almond meal

3/4 cup Stevia or sugar

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Syrup

3-4 tablespoons water

2 tsp instant coffee granules

2 tablespoons Stevia or sugar

Frosting

1/2 cup nonfat cream cheese, softened

1-2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

1/3 cup Stevia or sugar

1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt or sour cream

Cocoa powder for dusting

 

Line a 8 or 9″ round cake pan with parchment paper or even nonstick foil. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine almond meal, sweetener, egg yolks, vanilla, salt, and water in a large bowl.

In another large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar to medium peaks.

Gently fold egg whites into almond meal mixture, adding about a third of the whites at a time.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until edges begin to brown. You may need to tent the cake with foil part-way through.

 

While cake is baking, prepare the frosting and syrup.

Combine syrup ingredients and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

For frosting, beat the cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer. Add yogurt and sugars. Stir in coffee and beat until smooth. Set aside in the refrigerator until cake is done.

 

When cake is finished baking, poke holes all over the surface and slowly, evenly pour the syrup over the cake, giving the syrup time to soak into the cake. When cake is completely cool, spread the frosting over it and lightly dust with cocoa powder. Chill until ready to serve.

Angel Food Cupcakes

“Sin had left a crimson stain;

He washed it white as snow.”

 

One cold night in November of 1989, thousands of people poured into the streets to celebrate. The day was not an official holiday. The party was not planned. But people danced and cheered and hugged…

and chipped away at a wall of concrete.

The Berlin Wall.

That was almost nine years before I was born. But history strikes such a chord in me that I may as well have been there.

I watched this video of the news coverage the day after the barrier between East and West was opened. I watched it on a whim, but I am so glad I did. I felt as though I were watching on TV it the very day it happened, I felt as though I were there among the Berliners.

Ich bin ein Berliner. I was them. They were me. I could just as easily have been born in East Berlin during the Cold War as in Pennsylvania in the closing years of the 20th century. The history of mankind connects us all. I love history…

But watching the video and the jubilation of the people of Berlin made me think of another event, in the more distant past, but which affects us more than any other event in our history.

When the Iron Curtain began to crack as the Cold War waned, people celebrated the triumph of freedom. As a sinless man hung on a cross to liberate a world fettered by sin, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”–the barrier that separated us from God existed no longer.

That is also a cause for jubilation.

This weekend is Easter weekend, so why not celebrate with some angel food cupcakes? Airy, ethereal, almost like partaking of fragments of the cloudy sky.

It’s angel food cake in cupcake form. I am unable to construe how prodigiously phenomenal that is.

No necessity of a specialized tube pan. No need to grow flustered over ensuring the cake cools up-side down. No hassle…

Ingenious.

And oh, the sensations: how might I ever expound them? Can a mere moral, this lonely, foolish writer, describe the exquisite and unearthly taste and feel of the ethereal clouds? Yes, clouds! eating one of these cupcakes is like inhaling a cloud as one’s fare.

Nothing like the parched Styrofoam angel cakes sold in the grocery store bakery.

 

Angel Food Cupcakes

Recipe from Two Peas and their Pod

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar or sweetener of choice (such as Stevia or Truvia)
1/2 cup sifted cake flour (I used part white whole wheat for health, but use cake for optimal results)
5 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (Finally, a 350 degree recipe!) Line a regular 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Mix flour and sugar in a bowl.

In another bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy, then add in vanilla, zest, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat to soft peaks.

Gently fold whites into flour mixture.

Divide evenly into prepared muffin tins. 

Bake 16-18 minutes, until tops are golden and spring back lightly. Watch them carefully! Mine took less time.

Cool, then serve these sublime bites of celestial delight.

Lemon Ricotta Loaf Cake

Let me tell you about this lovely, luscious, and likable lemon loaf.

(Our language has lamentably few expressive verbs which begin with “L”.)

How might I describe it to you? Lemony and moist, with a slight cornbread-esque crumble to it and faint buttery undertones.

My inarticulate baker’s parlance does not do this dessert justice.

It belongs on your Easter table.

Do not be disheartened by the ricotta. I am averse to the stuff as well. But not in baking, for it lends to goods a superlative quality. Oh, yes, in baking I cherish ricotta cheese.

Try it once and you shall fathom the marvels of ricotta.

I had three-quarters of a cup remaining in a little round container after producing some lasagna roll-ups. Several days went by. I was a maiden in distress, for the spoilage of extortionately-priced ricotta would be a dire predicament. But no fear! Tuscan lemon muffins came to my deliverance. It was an intriguing idea, and I was open to the endeavor.

I made a loaf instead of muffins. Muffins are adorable, but a loaf cake bears a unique aura of elegant simplicity.

 

Lemon Ricotta Loaf Cake

Adapted from MyRecipes

1 cup cake flour

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup Stevia in the raw or granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup olive oil or applesauce

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or 1 tsp lemon extract

1 large egg, lightly beaten

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8×4″ loaf pan.

(You know what’s funny? This blog is called Fahrenheit 351, but none of the recipes which I’ve shared with you so far require you to preheat the oven to 350 degrees!)

Combine first six ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl.

Mix remaining ingredients (ricotta through egg) in a smaller bowl. Mix wet ingredients into dry.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until loaf is done. It will be very soft, yet firm enough to spring back when gently pressed.

Cool before slicing into 8-12 slices. Enjoy!

Succulent Zucchini Bread

We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way– everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want . . . everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear . . . anywhere in the world.

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I believe that fear is the root of much of the evil in the world.

Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those that do evil, but because of those who don’t do anything about it.”

There have certainly been truly evil individuals, such as Hitler of the Second World War, that war of light and darkness. But could such people have achieved or held onto their power if not for the human tendency towards moral cowardice and staying seated?

During the Red Scare of the 1950s, few people dared to speak out against the lies of Senator McCarthy and the other communist “witch hunters” for fear of being cross-examined by the HUAC themselves. Filmmakers came out with movies about red spies to prove that they had no communist sympathies. Hundreds of lives and reputations were ruined. And most people witnessed the injustice in silence.

In Salem, Massachusetts, a group of Puritans allowed fear of witches to drive them to hang twenty innocent individuals based on the words of a group of attention-seeking adolescent girls.

During the Second World War, Americans allowed fear of “Jap spies” to excuse the internment of and suspension of habeas corpus from thousands of their fellow Americans.

During the First World War, fear of spies allowed Congress to pass, and the Supreme Court to condone, the Espionage and Sedition Acts, depriving Americans of their basic civil liberties for the sake of a war that was supposedly being waged to “make the world safe for democracy.” Freedom is slavery, Orwell once wrote…

In high schools today, bullying and drug abuse are common because young individuals do not have the courage to say “no” to the crowd.

But…Lillian Hellman once firmly wrote to the House Un-American Committee, “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashion.”

And Jeanette Rankin took a lonely stand in Congress against entry into the Second World War because she believed violence was wrong, even though her choice was extremely unpopular and led to her her pursuit by an angry mob afterward.

And Edmund Ross, though he literally “looked into [his] open grave,” and though his supporters hated President Andrew Johnson (as did he), voted “not guilty” at the president’s impeachment trial because that what what he really believed.

And Corrie Ten Boom and her family, among thousands of others, in full knowledge of the consequences which could and did befall them, defied the Nazis and hid Jews in her home to save them from Hitler’s death camps.

Yes, there is hope.

Courage is daring to be the 1% who stands up for what is right when the 99% are sitting down and tolerating injustice because they are afraid. Many people do not possess courage. But many others do.

If I were called upon to have moral courage, would I have it? I do not know. I hope I would. I hope that when the time comes, I will find that I am able to do what is right, even if I suffer for doing so. But I am only a teen, and my life experiences have been limited. I do not know yet the extent of my strength of heart. I pray that God would give me the resolve to always be guided by my conscience.

But onto today’s recipe.

I. Love. Zucchini. Bread.

This zucchini bread is so aperitive, one wouldn’t believe it’s healthy.

It almost makes me want to cry.

You know, for a long time, I had an irrational fear of thick batters.

I almost didn’t make this bread. GASP.

That would have been an evil. A craven, deplorable crime. To not taste this bread and share it with you…

Yes, fear is the root of all evil. So don’t fear making this zucchini bread! It’s easy and the smell alone will fill you with craving. A bite might make you swoon.

What else can I say except that you must try it? Moist, full of warm spices, nutritious, zucchini-y.

It’s the perfect zucchini bread.

Bookmark it for the summer when your zucchini plants inundate your gardens. Or better yet, hurry to the store and purchase a zucchini now.

I was going to wait until summer to share this recipe with you, but I just couldn’t. It’s April. That’s almost summer, right? Kind of? Sort of?

Okay, maybe not quite…

Succulent Zucchini Bread

Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:

2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 cup cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil or applesauce

2 1/4 cups white sugar, Stevia, Truvia, etc.

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini (I ran it through my food processor)

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

 

Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan or two 8×4″ loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking  soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.

Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix.

Stir in zucchini and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan(s).
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until bread springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then remove from pan and cool. Or, if you’re impatient like me, don’t cool and cut into it immediately 🙂 Zucchini bliss!

 

If I may end this (long!) post with one last thought, it’s these words from Mark Twain’s essay “United States of Lyncherdom”:

It must be that the increase comes of the inborn human instinct to imitate–that and man’s commenest weakness, his aversion to being unpleasantly conspicuous, pointed at, shunned, as being on the unpopular side. Its other name is Moral Cowardice, and is the commanding feature of the make-up of 9,999 men in the 10,000. I am not offering this as a discovery; privately the dullest of us knows it to be true. History will not allow us to forget or ignore this supreme trait of our character. It persistently and sardonically reminds us that from the beginning of the world no revolt against a public infamy or oppression has ever been begun but by the one daring man in the 10,000, the rest timidly waiting, and slowly and reluctantly joining, under the influence of that man and his fellows from the other ten thousands. The abolitionists remember. Privately the public feeling was with them early, but each man was afraid to speak out until he got some hint that his neighbor was privately as he privately felt himself. Then the boom followed. It always does. It will occur in New York, some day; and even in Pennsylvania.

It has been supposed–and said–that the people a lynching enjoy the spectacle and are glad of a chance to see it. It cannot be true; all experience is against it. The people in the South are made like the people in the North–the vast majority of whom are right-hearted and compassionate, and would be cruelly pained by such a spectacle–and would attend it, and let on to be pleased with it, if the public approval seemed to require it. We are made like that, and we cannot help it. The other animals are not so, but we cannot help that, either. They lack the Moral Sense; we have no way of trading ours off, for a nickel or some other thing above its value. The Moral Sense teaches us what is right, and how to avoid it–when unpopular.

It is thought, as I have said, that a lynching crowd enjoys a lynching. It certainly is not true; it is impossible of belief. It is freely asserted–you have seen it in print many times of late–that the lynching impulse has been misinterpreted; that it is act the outcome of a spirit of revenge, but of a “mere atrocious hunger to look upon human suffering.” If that were so, the crowds that saw the Windsor Hotel burn down would have enjoyed the horrors that fell under their eyes. Did they? No one will think that of them, no one will make that charge. Many risked their lives to save the men and women who were in peril. Why did they do that? Because none would disapprove. There was no restraint; they could follow their natural impulse. Why does a crowd of the same kind of people in Texas, Colorado, Indiana, stand by, smitten to the heart and miserable, and by ostentatious outward signs pretend to enjoy a lynching? Why does it lift no hand or voice in protest? Only because it would be unpopular to do it, I think; each man is afraid of his neighbor’s disapproval–a thing which, to the general run of the race, is more dreaded than wounds and death. When there is to be a lynching the people hitch up and come miles to see it, bringing their wives and children. Really to see it? No–they come only because they are afraid to stay at home, lest it be noticed and offensively commented upon. We may believe this, for we all know how we feel about such spectacles–also, how we would act under the like pressure. We are not any better nor any braver than anybody else, and we must not try to creep out of it.”

Hummingbird cake

I believe that my God can turn a mess into a message.

Like this hummingbird cake.

I was in high spirits. The homework was done early and I had plenty of time to bake. Perhaps my spirits were a bit too elated, because I made some…blunders.

I had originally intended to halve the recipe and make one 9″ cake, not two. When I make a recipe for the first time, I like to make a smaller batch, just in case it doesn’t turn out well.

Except…as I flitted about my small kitchen, measuring and pouring, the realization struck me that I had used half the amount of flour called for…but the same amount of baking soda.

I know what too much baking soda can do. It can make one’s cake turn out flat!

EEP!

So I had to add flour and make the entire recipe. Three cups of flour, two 9″ round cakes.

I was pushed very far out of my comfort zone.

Still, something inside me told me to relax; all would be well. I mixed the batter and placed the cake into the oven.

About fifteen minutes into baking, I came to a dire and appalling consciousness.

I. Had. Forgotten. To. Add. Eggs.

This was not intended to be a vegan cake. It was supposed to have two eggs.

I nearly collapsed to the floor.

Still, the inner voice told me to keep calm. This was a culinary mess. God can turn a mess into a message.

The timer counted down. The oven radiated heat. The cakes baked on.

I pulled the cakes from the oven. They looked fine. But how would they taste?

 

Heavenly.

 

Hummingbird Cake

Recipe from Baking Bites

Ingredients:

1.5 cups white whole wheat flour

1.5 cups cake flour

2 cups sugar or Stevia in the raw or Truvia

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil or applesauce

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs (don’t forget them! *wink*)

2 cups banana, chopped (2 medium-large)

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained (or finely chopped fresh pineapple)

Cream cheese frosting, if desired (recipe follows)

 

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, mix together vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.

Stir chopped banana into flour mixture and toss to coat. Stir pineapple into wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry and mix.

Divide evenly between pans. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until done. Cool.

Eat as is, or layer with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

 

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese block, any fat content

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, strained

1 tsp vanilla extract

1T powdered sugar

1 cup Stevia in the raw or sugar

Beat ingredients together until smooth. Chill.

The Only Banana Walnut Bread You Will Ever Need

“‘There was once a small, strange man,’ she said. Her arms were loose but her hands were fists at her side. ‘But there was a wordshaker, too.'”

The Book Thief

I love words.

I love to learn them, take them apart, study them, fondle them.

I’m an abysmal speaker; I rattle on too rapidly to be comprehensible and trip over my clumsy tongue in a flamboyant display of nervousness. The words in my head crying for release protest indignantly at the manner in which they are unceremoniously, inelegantly, and clumsily dumped out through my tongue. I am neither mellifluous nor silver-tongued. The eloquence of my writing is merely satisfactory.

Yet I love words. I love them in their glorious beauty and ugliness. Their pulchritude and power. The best-placed words are simple yet profound, delicate as the petals of cherry blossoms yet impacting and deep as the hammer’s blow.

We have seen throughout the past that words and rhetoric have altered the course of history, for better or for worse. They have pushed wars and made peace, inspired hatred and promoted equality for all mankind.

Words have a history of their own. Languages have come from languages, words borrowed from words.

Words are beautiful.

This banana bread, which I am sharing with you today, is also beautiful.

My mother requested that I make banana bread with walnuts. My mother is always right.

I have some words to characterize this banana bread: enticing, delectable, ineffable, aperitive, saporous, palatable, sublime.

The banana and walnut flavors balance each other perfectly.

Banana Walnut Bread

Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients:

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup cake or AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1 egg white

1 cup Stevia in the raw or sugar

2 tbsp applesauce or oil

1 1/2 tablespoons milk or buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup (about 2 large or 3 smaller) bananas, mashed

1/4 cup or 30g walnuts, toasted if desired

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and spray an 8×4 loaf pan (mine was glass).

Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

In a larger bowl, combine the egg white, sweetener, and oil. Add milk, vanilla, and bananas.

Add dry to wet and stir until combined. Stir in walnuts.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the loaf springs back when lightly pressed.

 

“The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

-Mark Twain

German Cheesecake (Cottage cheese cheesecake)

Don’t leave yet! I know, I know, the notion of a cottage cheese cheesecake seems atrocious. I myself might likely never have tried it had not the fates, taking the form of an unpalatable tub of fat-free cottage cheese, impelled me to such desperate measures. But the result? Superlative.

Permit me to elucidate. I normally like to consume nonfat dairy products. Although healthy fats are an essential part of our diet, animal fats tend to be high in unhealthy saturated fat. That’s the kind that doesn’t make your heart happy! However, when it comes to cottage cheese, I have discovered that I must have 2%.

At first, I was elated to find a tub of nonfat cottage cheese sitting there on the refrigerated grocery store shelf. My buoyancy quickly dissipated, however, when with one bite I discovered a cold, hard truth and understood the cheese’s dearth of popularity.

Fat-free cottage cheese is odious.

I was distressed. What was I to do? Then a lightning bolt of an idea struck me from the heavens. Cheesecake!

Might it work? That was the uncharted expanse. Like any valiant explorer, however, I pressed forth. I pulled out the ingredients, the mixing bowl, the cake pan. I boldly washed my food processor. I embarked on an expedition of preheating, pureeing, pouring. Brazenly I placed the concoction into the oven.

When I took a bite, the new found land proved itself to be rich and bountiful.

 

German Cheesecake

Adapted with alterations from Taste of Home

Ingredients:

2 cups nonfat or lowfat cottage cheese

1/2 cup nonfat or lowfat (Neufchatel) cream cheese

2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1-1 1/2 cup Stevia in the raw or sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1/4 cup white whole wheat or AP flour

 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, then transfer to your food processor (depending on size, you may need to do this in two batches). Puree until completely smooth. No lumps, or you risk an unpalatable cheesecake!

When the batter is pureed to your satisfaction, pour it into a cake pan (a springform would be best. I don’t own one, so I sprayed a regular metallic cake pan and poured the batter in there). Place it in a preheated 325 degree oven.

Bake for about 60-70 minutes, until the edges have set but are not too hard and the center is still a little jiggly. You may need to tent the cheesecake with foil part-way through to lessen/prevent cracking.

Chill until cold, preferably overnight.

Marvel in the wonders of how a previously repugnant food can turn out so delectable. Enjoy guilt-free. It’s healthy.

Sakuramochi

The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival in Philadelphia started Tuesday, but the cherry trees are not quite ready yet! We live about an hour from Philadelphia, and we like to visit the city on weekends. Maybe we will go to see the cherry trees sometime soon.

The National Cherry Blossom festival started on March 20th and will last until the 13th this year. According to the bloom watch, the blossoms are not quite in bloom yet. I’m hoping to see the blossoms there, too, when they open!

The cherry trees in Washington, D.C., were first brought here from Japan in 1912 at the request of then-first lady Helen “Nellie” Taft, wife of William Howard Taft, who visited Japan and fell in love with the cherry trees she saw there. For over a century since then, people have been able to enjoy the beauty of this gift when they visit the Tidal Basin in spring.

Last March, my mother and I were visiting relatives in Osaka, Japan at the peak time of the sakura. I, like First Lady Taft, was enchanted and awestruck at the pulchritude of my ancestral land in full bloom.

In Japan, people celebrate the cherry blossom season with hanami, or flower viewing. People have parties under the sakura trees. When the parties are at night, they are called yozakura. Sakuramochi–cherry blossom mochi–is a popular treat, of course!

There are two types of sakuramochi, Kansai style and Tokyo style. In today’s post, I’ve provided you with Kansai style, but the recipe for Tokyo style is coming soon!

 

Kansai Style Sakuramochi

Ingredients:

360 mL (1.5 U.S. cups or 2 Japanese cups) uncooked glutinous rice (mochi rice)

180 mL (.75 U.S. cups or 1 Japanese cup) uncooked Hukkura 10% milled brown rice (you can use regular white or brown rice; I like this brand because it has the taste of white rice while retaining the nutrition of brown rice)

1/4 cup Stevia in the raw or  white sugar

Optional: very minimal quantity red food coloring, to tint the rice (I left this out; I don’t think food dyes belong in my body!)

540 mL (2.25 U.S. cups or 3 Japanese cups) water

Anko (azuki bean paste)**

Salt-preserved sakura (cherry blossom) leaves (yes, they are edible, and very good!)

 

Rinse the rice.

Mix the food coloring, if using, with the water.

Soak the rice in the water for two hours, then add the sweetener and cook in your rice cooker until done. I was able to cook the rice on the stovetop half-successfully, but I do not recommend this method for glutinous rice…you’d be better off steaming it.

When the rice is done, mash it until the grains are half crushed, but still quite lumpy–you do NOT want to mash it until smooth!

Roll the anko into balls of your desired size (I estimate around 2 teaspoons?) and wrap the rice around the balls.

Rinse the sakura leaves several times until most of the salt is removed.

Wrap the sakura leaves around the sakuramochi. I did not have sakura leaves, but I did have salt-preserved blossoms, which worked as well.

Chill and enjoy, preferably under the boughs of a cherry tree in bloom!

 

**You can buy canned pre-made anko paste, or you can make your own. Boil azuki beans (or buy the beans canned, then rinse them thoroughly), add sweetener to taste (anko is supposed to be very sweet; I add about 1/4 cup Stevia in the raw to 1/2 cup cooked beans), and mash the beans to your desired lumpiness.

 

Recipe is from Cookpad