Overripe Bananas to Banana Nut Muffins

My eldest sister and I had a quick chat about muffins the other day. She mentioned that she liked cupcakes with frosting more than muffins and I told her that I wasn’t a muffin person as well. But despite my lack of passion for muffins, I still find myself being intrigued by the muffin method and the countless sweet and savory muffins I could possibly make and tweak! So, when we had quite a handful of overripe bananas last Sunday, I immediately thought of experimenting on a new Banana muffin recipe.

Banana Muffins
Banana Muffins

The recipe I used produced 15 regular-sized muffins. They didn’t taste bad, but they weren’t the best ones as well. The muffins had the right amount of sweetness and banana flavor, but I prefer them to be more fluffy, light, and moist. Generally speaking, they were “just okay” muffins and because of this, I was a bit disappointed.

Banana Muffin Batter
Banana Muffin Batter

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Later that evening, we invited some of our relatives to our house to celebrate my eldest sister’s birthday. While my parents, uncle, and aunt were having their coffee after the dinner, my older sister suggested that we serve the muffins I baked that morning. At first, I hesitated to bring them out because they weren’t the best muffins I’ve had, but eventually, I agreed and hoped that somehow it wouldn’t be THAT bad. Haha.

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Banana Muffins
Banana Muffins

As soon as my aunt (Tita Marie) ate one of the muffins, she went to me and gave a comment on the moistness of the muffin. She asked about the ingredients I used and then she said: “I know how to make it more moist and I can teach you.” My eyes lit up and I smiled as I continued to listen to her tips and suggestions. It was a humbling moment for me because I was very much aware of my weaknesses, but at the same time, I was privileged to have a tita (aunt) who naturally cooks and bakes delicious food and who was graciously willing to share her secret tips and recipes to me.

Banana Muffin
Banana Muffin
Banana Muffins
Banana Muffins

 

While she passionately shared some of the experiences she had in the kitchen, she mentioned something that I will never forget. She told me that she was able to read some of my blog posts before which gave her an idea to mentor me in the kitchen someday. She had an idea of teaching and helping me improve in my skills and knowledge when it comes to cooking and baking because she saw how much interested and passionate I was in these things. My tita and I don’t get to regularly talk and see each other, so these words from her were very heartwarming.

Banana Muffins
Banana Muffins
Banana Muffin
Banana Muffin

After the dinner party, I remember lying down on my bed with a heart that was pumped with excitement because my passion for cooking, baking, and food was revived. I felt like a plant being watered on a hot sunny day. It was very, very refreshing. Before I slept that night, I thanked God for what happened. Despite the discouragement I previously had with the “just okay” Banana muffins earlier that day, He reminded me to continue dreaming big, doing my best, and having hope in Him when it comes to the passions He has blessed me with.

Banana Muffins
Banana Muffins

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Ptr. Peter Tan-Chi once said “When you look at people, don’t look at them where they are today, but look at how they can become through Christ in the future.”

I remembered this quote that night because I saw how my aunt didn’t give up on me or on my passion for food and culinary. Even though I wasn’t able to bake the best, moist muffins in the world that evening, she still saw the potential in me and she helped me see it too. If my aunt was able to express her desire to mentor and help me improve after seeing my weakness, I know that God (who loves me in spite of every speck of flaw, sin, struggle, and limitation in me, and knows the past, present, and future) is so much more able to work in and through me and my passions for His glory.

Banana Muffins
Banana Muffins

 For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” [Philippians 2:13]

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The day before I baked the Banana muffins, I posted a photo of the overripe bananas in the kitchen with a caption: “I can already imagine freshly baked banana muffins. Hahaha. Maybe I should bake today. ‪#‎baking ‪#‎overripe ‪#‎bananaEven if the overripe bananas didn’t look like they were the best bananas, I still saw the possibility of making muffins by using them. In the same way, by God’s grace, I pray that I will learn to look at myself and at the people around me through the eyes of Christ – to look at how we can become through Christ in the future.

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Overripe bananas
Overripe bananas

 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” [Ephesians 3:20-21]

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Banana Muffins

Banana Nut Muffins

Recipe Adapted from Cooking Light:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas

1/3 cup plain sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup of diced nuts

*Bake at 350 degrees.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Hanako’s Excellent Service

Before going home from church this morning, I decided to make a quick stopover at the supermarket to buy a few ingredients and to take out lunch for myself. While I was paying for the groceries, I was already daydreaming of hot and delicious Pork Katsudon from Hanako (one of the newly opened restaurants in the supermarket). However, I got a bit distracted because I noticed that my plastic bags with raw meat and shrimp were placed beside the fresh vegetables in the same brown paper bag. As soon as I saw it, I asked the guy who was putting the items in the bags if he separated the raw food from the fresh ones and he said “yes”.

Pork Katsudon from Hanako
Pork Katsudon from Hanako

The lady in the cashier realized that the man didn’t really separate the items because she immediately explained to the guy and asked him to put the raw food in a smaller brown paper bag before putting it in the bigger paper bag with the other items. After he was instructed by the cashier lady, he slightly grumbled and said: “Kaunti lang naman yun eh. Hindi naman madudumihan yung mga katabi.” He quietly tried to justify that the few pieces of raw meat and shrimp wouldn’t contaminate the fresh vegetables even if they were placed inside the same paper bag.

I was quite disappointed with the bagger’s service and I was tempted to explain the contamination process to him. But, I decided not to make a big deal out of it and I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was his first day at work or maybe he had a rough morning today. Besides, the lady at the cashier seemed like she understands the process well. Maybe she can guide the guy and help him become more efficient and excellent in bagging the items.

Pork Katsudon at Hanako
Pork Katsudon at Hanako

I left the grocery store with two medium sized paper bags and quickly walked towards Hanako. As soon as I got to the place, I paid for one order of Pork Katsudon (Php 189) and patiently waited at one of their tables. After around 7 minutes, my take-out was ready! The quick service was pretty impressive. The lady server (Marsha) placed the brown paper bag with my Pork Katsudon on the table beside my two other brown paper bags from the grocery store. While I was preparing to leave, I noticed that she was still standing beside me and was looking at the three paper bags on the table. Just when I was about to stand up from my seat, she quickly asked me if I wanted a plastic bag to help me carry the paper bags easily. I was surprised by her simple effort and I smiled at her and said “yes, please.”

Hanako Japanese Restaurant
Hanako Japanese Restaurant

She rushed to the kitchen area and immediately went back to my table. Without me asking or saying anything to her, she initiated to put my Hanako paper bag and another one of my paper bags in the plastic. I thanked her, got the plastic bag and paper bag, and went home feeling grateful.

While I was driving home, I couldn’t help but compare the two instances that I had in a span of 10 minutes. I experienced a not-so-good kind of service from the bagger at the grocery store and then unexpectedly, I experienced a simple yet excellent kind of service from one of Hanako’s staff members. It was only just a plastic bag and I could have carried the three paper bags using my two arms and hands. But, somehow, this small act of excellent service made it more convenient for me. I didn’t have to worry about having ripped paper bags on the way to the basement parking or I didn’t have to struggle with looking for the car keys in my bag while carrying three other paper bags. Marsha (the server at Hanako) didn’t have to give me a plastic bag, but because she saw my need for it, she did and it had a huge impact on me!

Pork Katsudon at Hanako
Pork Katsudon at Hanako

I then wondered if I too am also able to intentionally and humbly show excellence in the workplace, in ministry, or even in the way I communicate with the people around me. This morning’s experience reminded of the importance of being sensitive to the needs of others and being faithful in excellently serving the Lord whenever and wherever.

“Do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” [Colossians 3:22-24]

Pork Katsudon at Hanako
Pork Katsudon at Hanako

Thank you, Hanako, for the excellent customer service and of course, for the generous serving of delicious Pork Katsudon. I will definitely be back for more. :)

 

Hanako’s Facebook Page

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Making S’more Memories with the Family

Our family has this tradition where we celebrate birthdays in the middle of the night. But, when it comes to celebrating the birthdays of our two dogs, we usually do it over dinner. Two days ago, I sent a message to my siblings and invited them to join me after dinner to have a mini-bonfire and s’mores birthday party for Clue (our schnauzer) at the clubhouse. Originally, my two sisters and I wanted to start early so that we wouldn’t sleep late, but since my older sister and I suddenly needed to work overtime, we had to postpone the party.

Roasting marshmallows for s'mores
Roasting marshmallows for s’mores

I got out of the office at 8 pm and rushed to the nearest grocery store to buy a portable and affordable grilling pot and charcoal. However, it was only until an hour later that I was able to buy the ingredients and materials I needed. Before leaving the grocery store, I sent a message to my siblings and informed that the mini-bonfire will push through and will start at 9:30 pm. I honestly didn’t think that they would make it because we were already three hours late. But, some of them replied and confirmed that they would be joining me, so I hurried home.

with my sisters and our two dogs
with my sisters and our two dogs
with our schnauzer, Clue. :)
with our schnauzer, Clue. :)

As soon as I got to our house, we prepared the ingredients and things we needed for our midnight “bonfire” party and we left a note (“Bonfire near the pool”) on our front door for my dad and older brother who were still out for a meeting/work. We then went to the clubhouse and started our attempt to make fire. It wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. We tried to burn coals for an hour, but most of our methods didn’t work. Haha. Thankfully, dad arrived and joined us in our next few attempts and after ten to fifteen minutes, more coals were burning.

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While some of my siblings continued to help dad with the fire, my older sister and I played with our two dogs, Copper and Clue, on the grass. Our fluffy dogs really enjoyed their night out with us and we had fun hanging out with the family too! We took turns fanning the burning coals, playing with the dogs, and stargazing while enjoying the cool breeze. When the burning coals were ready, we started arranging the graham crackers and chocolate chips on a plate and roasted our own marshmallows on the sticks. After a while, I heard my dad shout “Hey, kuya!” (referring to my older brother). I think it was already past 12 midnight at that time and my older brother just arrived from work. Woohoo! We were finally complete!

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Dad helping us out with the fire.
Dad helping us out with the fire.

While my dad and younger brother were helping us with the fire, I remember them giving us a tip: “We have to start with one coal first. Once that coal is burning, that’s when we add more coals beside it to help spread the heat.” I’ve only tried to make fire with coals twice or thrice in my life. So, it was really interesting for me to try it again and learn from the experience with my family. The tip my dad and brother gave us reminded me of the similarity it has with developing the relationships we have in the family. Just like heating up the coals, we don’t always have to start big, we don’t always have to come up with extravagant plans or spend time together only when there are birthdays or special events. Sometimes, all it takes to maintain good relationships within the family is to heat up one coal at a time, to regularly do small things with and for the family.

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“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

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Doing small things like, sharing what’s in our hearts after a long day at work or giving each other a hug or a pat on the back every now and then or planting more vegetables in the garden with your mom or discovering how to make origami schnauzers with your older brother or picking mangoes with the siblings while walking the dogs or sending encouraging words to each other via SMS or patiently listening to and sharing with the joy of your sister who can’t get enough of her favorite band and music (HAHA. Thank you, dear family. You know I love you.), etc. Sometimes, the smallest things we do with and for the family make the biggest impact.

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During Clue’s birthday, I knew that my dad already had a previous commitment for dinner that night and that my older brother would be working late at the office, so I didn’t really expect them to make it to our family’s mini-bonfire party. However, it was encouraging to see God use certain delays that evening (e.g. when I experienced delays in the grocery store, when my older sister and I suddenly worked overtime, when we struggled with starting the fire) to allow our family to be complete at the party. If there weren’t delays, we would have started and finished the bonfire party earlier, without the company of my older brother and our dad.

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That mini-bonfire party was a reminder for me to always find joy and have hope in Him who loves families, who desires for families to stay together. Sometimes, it can be quite disheartening to feel hurt or witness unresolved issues within the family. Sometimes, there may also be delays in extending forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love towards each other. But, God is able to help us burn one coal at a time. He is able to encourage families to spend time together. And more importantly, He is able to change hearts and help families become more like Christ.

We ended up sleeping at 1:30 in the morning after the mini-bonfire, but the late night hangout with the family was definitely worth it. Here’s to making some more memories with the family. Happy birthday, dear Clue!:)

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Encourage yourself one treat at a time.