This week was a nice and busy blur of family, meetings with friends, photos, and lots of kids running around my house. Sometimes I need these weeks, to get me fueled and inspired for more.
During my wonderful meeting with some friends, we discussed how foods are hard to let go of. While you know that it's not what you should eat, some foods tie you to something precious. Memories.
We don't always have control over what foods trigger things. It's something that subconsciously caught you while you were running around being a kid. The way orange jello with cool whip reminds me of the 4th of July on the edge of the forest in our small town. I can see the sun beaming through the tops of the pine trees as it started to set, and I can feel the grease on my skin from the mosquito spray my parents tormented me with. I rarely eat orange jello and cool whip, but just seeing it floods my mind with these snippets of another time.
I have no control over it. I never knew how precious that moment was, not until I could smell the jello heating up did I realize how lovely that time was.
Hers was brown bread. She smiled when she grabbed a piece from the basket and tore it. It was warm and soft, with a bit of tooth to it, and an earthy spice that only dark breads possess.
She said it reminded her of the sandwich shop her entire family frequented. I don't know the intricacies of her memory. Like did the place smell warm and humid with ovens baking fresh bread? Or maybe the clank of a bell on a door to bring the family from the back to start crafting your sandwich.
Some of my food memories swing to places I want to forget. Scrambled eggs smothered in catsup bring me back to my summer of pneumonia. I remember making them that morning as the rest of the family was already busy with outside chores.
It felt so laborious just making eggs. My body was already starting to give way to the sickness and every move felt like I was in cement. I plated my breakfast and squirted the catsup the way my dad had told me, to give them flavor. One bite, and it was as if I became aware of how sick I was getting. I shoved the plate aside, laid down, and don't remember much more of that summer, besides medicine and doctors offices. I hate when catsup comes near eggs now.
I can't eat the way I used to. It's something I'm just accepting. I finally have learned that in order to feel better through my day, and avoid the stomach pains, dairy is just not something I can eat.
This isn't a new idea, but I'm finally feeling like it's something that I can accept. I don't eat dairy. It's a hard reality for me to just go with. I have a lot of good memories tied to some foods with dairy:
Strawberry shortcakes with homemade whipped cream - my Grandmothers blue carpet and they way she smelled like Estée Lauder.
Peach Cobbler and vanilla ice cream - my brother and me laughing when we were sitting around the avocado green kitchen table.
Malts - my dad making my meals when my mom was gone. They were totally unacceptable nutritionally, and perfect for the soul.
Cheesy gooey enchiladas - my mom's favorite mexican dive and how we treated ourselves just for making it through another week.
I adore banana cream pie. I don't think there's one specific memory tied to it. Just love. Love of someone crafting a pie from scratch. Love because family or friends were probably coming from far to join in eating and talking.
I've tried to make an entire banana cream before, excluding all the things I can't/don't eat any more. It was a miserable fail.
I decided to simplify it. Perhaps if I didn't try to reinvent the entire wheel, just take the essentials and make those parts great.
I tried a few different versions; one entire raw with coconut cream and raw nuts. It wasn't bad, but it left me wanting to suffer the consequences of the real deal just to taste something great.
I was in the kitchen and was day dreaming about my mom's banana cream pie. It tastes, for lack of a better word, baked. I know the pudding isn't baked, but it has a homeyness and richness that I believe is what floods my head with the memories. I knew I could somehow bring that to my new school way of eating.
I had some cans of coconut milk chilling so I could skim of the cream and make some whipped coconut cream. I sweetened it with a bit of honey, then I thought of nut meg. Nut meg brings warmth and a great cooked flavor to things. That was it.
Then the nuts on top. They needed something to make them both subtle and rich at the same time. Something like butter.
I roasted them in a pan, added some butter, salt and some coconut palm sugar at the end. It was the baked feeling I was looking for. Sliced bananas covered with the cream and nuts. One bite, the memories of birthdays, Colorado kitchens, summer and flaky crust all came back.
Comfort food is real.
New School Banana Cream Pie
this makes one LARGE serving or 2 normal servings (I didn't share)
1 can coconut milk (left in the fridge at least over night)
1 Tablespoon honey
fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 cup of mixed nuts (I like walnuts and cashews)
1 Tablespoon butter
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon coconut palm sugar
1 large banana
When you open the can of coconut milk there will be a layer of thickened cream on the top. Skim just the thick layer of cream off the top and in to a bowl. Reserve the rest of the can for something else (like your morning smoothie). Whisk in the honey and ground nutmeg until it's foamy and entirely incorporated. Set in the freezer to keep firm and whipped while you make the rest. In a small frying pan add the nuts and toast over medium high heat. Once they become fragrant add the butter, salt and sugar. Toss gently and remove form heat. I let the nuts cool then chopped them up, but this is optional. Slice the banana in the bottom of a bowl, pour the cream over the top and sprinkle with the nuts. Enjoy immediately.