Cold Brew Nutella Banana Walnut Bread

When life gives you spotted brown bananas that emit fruit fly activity, life gives you banana bread.
I had the urge to make this banana bread in lieu of PMS symptoms in full rage and the deluge of chocolate cravings in full force. In the process of making this banana bread however, I wanted to tjuze it up a bit, so after a few more additions here and there, what went into my oven was a Cold Brew-Nutella-Banana-Walnut Bread (talk about the hyphenation game on fleek!).

INGREDIENTS
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups AP flour (I use King Arthur’s)
1 egg
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cold brew coffee concentrate (I use Grady’s Cold Brew)
4 ripe bananas
12 tbsp butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup nutella (or chocolate hazelnut spread)

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2. In a medium sized bowl: mash bananas, milk, cold brew coffee, salt, vanilla and egg until banana mixture is the consistency of your desire (I like a bit of banana chunkage in mine).
3. In a separate bowl: sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
4. In the largest bowl: beat together butter and sugar until well combined.
Add in banana mixture until well combined.
Add in dry ingredients + chopped walnuts until just combined. Do not over mix or your banana bread will baking into hardened condensed loaf!
5. In a 9″ x 6″ greased loaf pan, spread 1/4 o f the banana bread mixture and layer/marble in a layer of nutella.
Repeat this step until banana bread mixture and nutella reach 3/4 of the way up the loaf pans (this recipe makes 2 loaves).
6. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until your kitchen smells like chocolately-nutty-banana-coffee goodness!
7. When done baking, take out of the oven and rest for 30 minutes.
8. Slice up your little loaves of love and enjoy!

Indelible – Edible Gratitude, 
-Kat

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Everyday Geek Chic

Okay guys, this isn’t really a confession of sorts for those that know me in real life, but for those that don’t I’m an aficionado of comics. Big time. I’d figure to make a post about this just in time for WonderCon 2018 coming up this week and how to celebrate through your wardrobe!
While other girls were playing with Barbies, I was that awkwardly disproportionate girl reading up on the latest comics and drawing horses to my heart’s content; I didn’t really fit in and nor do I think I ever will.
Anyways, with all these comic-based shows and movies coming to fruition (hint hint….Logan, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, Wonder Woman, BLACK PANTHER… the list can go on and on) I figure why not show your spirit in the workplace through your wardrobe, I certainly did. Every Tuesday, I wear The Flash related shirts because that is when the new episodes premiere. My coworkers never notice, but it brings just a lightning bolt of happiness that improves my mood in regards to my workday.
I digress though, because what I’m about to bestow upon you is how to celebrate your everyday inner geek without wearing full on lycra that exposes your private bits in a “grown-up” professional manner. Here are five tips to wearing your geek wardrobe on the daily! (For those that work in an office environment). Nurses & other medical professionals, you’re on your own…
1. SHIRTS, SIMPLE AS SHIT– Wear your favourite super hero shirt and partner it with a structured piece (such as a blazer or leather jacket or denim ). I personally always go for a structured leather jacket or a blazer (see Featured Image).
2. THE SMALL THINGS ARE THE GREATEST- Wear small accessories (pins, jewelry, beanies). I’m notorious for sporting a Superman pin on Fridays or wearing Ironman socks on my feet, completely concealed from the unknowing eye. Whatever your vice, it could be a small simple reminder to yourself to feel less normal and more “superhero.”
3. IN LIVING COLOR- Come up with color palettes of your favorite superhero, pair them in muted colors OR be bold if you want to be. The choice is yours. Google “Disneybounding” and see what I’m talking about
4. CUTE ASS CUTICLES- For the females, cute up those cuticles with nail art. I personally suck at this because I don’t have the patience to work on a small scale masterpiece, but I’ve seen crazy detailed nail art via Pinterest.
5. TIE-DIED UP– For the men, a tie could work!

Managing How To Meal Plan: 5 Tips for Beginners

This blog entry has been a long time coming and I’m finally glad to say that I’m determined to carve out time to share my tips for efficiency  when it comes to meal planning that I have experienced.
I began meal planning seven years ago, when I watched a short documentary/ attended a lecture in university called “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard. It opened up my eyes to the systematic ways of our capitalist consumerism and one thing led to another and I watched Food Inc. on Netflix. This documentary changed my perspective on our large scale monopolized food system and how detrimental mass-farming for profit and volume and conventional ways of producing food is both harmful to ourselves and to the organisms we hurt in the process. I was so inspired by both these films that I decided to take a summer internship in 2009 at a local learning center whose curriculum focuses on educating inner-city communities about growing organic healthy food and demonstrated how to create adaptable recipes to please everybody’s palate. This place is also where I gained knowledge about the global impact coffee culture has presented within our society and why I love coffeeshops so damn much. Third wave obviously…

Before I go on, I want to preface that I’m not a nutrition expert or a health care individual, but I demonstrate living a sustainable healthy lifestyle to the best of my ability everyday since 2009. So I’d like to say that I’ve had enough experience eating sustainably & healthy.


There are a few tools/tips  that you need in order to begin your meal planning process. 
1. Start a Pinterest account
          Pinterest is a powerful visual vehicle for recipes and DIY. I have separate boards for things I want to bake, things to make for next week, and festive holiday recipes to try out.
2. Purchase a blank notebook 
          This step may seem simple, but I have volumes of filled notebooks that play witness to the documenting of recipes that I will eat throughout the week. Here’s usually a breakdown of how I categorize my meals
  • Breakfast (heaviest/heartiest meal of the day, most protein dense to help fuel you)
  • Snack 1 (sweet)
  • Lunch (something that’ll sustain me, but won’t make me fall asleep post eating)
  • Snack 2 (savory)
  • Dinner (I always aim to make a soup for the week, soup is filling but light and for me, is something I can eat everyday)
3. Compile a list of pantry/fridge essentials
     Nothing frustrates me more than in the process of meal prepping and I noticed that I lack an ingredient. Having a continuous supply of necessary items in stock will ensure that you don’t run into this problem like I have. Over the years my essentials from week to week are:
  • Herb of your choice (for me it’s cilantro and basil)
  • Eggs
  • Fresh lemon
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Kerrygold unsalted butter
  • A tomato sauce of some sort (like a bolognese, that I’ve made prior)
  • Salsa
  • Green onions
  • Bananas
  • Seasonal snack fruit of choice
  • Cheese (parmigiano reggiano, shredded cheddar, and cotija)
  • Some sort of carb to carry the protein and side veggies (such as cous cous, brown rice, polenta, and oatmeal)
  • A “carrier” veggie, basically any vegetable that you like that can also be a vehicle for flavors (for me it’s sweet potato, spaghetti squash, zuchini, and cauliflower)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (high quality)
  • Coconut oil
  • A tub of full fat Greek yogurt
*If this list seems daunting, note that this list is just MY personal preference of what I like to have on hand. The beauty of cooking is that you can customize everything to your liking.
4. Set a budget for yourself. 
I’m typically not one to go into scrupulous detail regarding budgeting, but budgeting your money for things that you consume everyday is more essential and crucial to get a handle on as I step into a more frugal lifestyle.
For myself, since the farmers market that I frequent only accepts cash, the most I will spend for myself on produce is roughly 30 dollars. For anything else that I don’t purchase at the farmers market, I buy at Trader Joe’s, which results in a maximum budget of  40 dollars. If my calculations don’t deceive me the weekly total for my budget equates out to be $70 and if we were to break it down further, that means I spend roughly 10 dollars a day feeding myself three meals a day in addition to two snacks a day. If that’s not eating a healthy lifestyle on a budget, then I don’t know what is anymore.
5. Have designated containers for specific meals 

Once you’ve tackled the daunting task of preparing your meals, it is imperative for these delicious meals you’ve made to have a home. For myself, I have four 2-cup volume glass pyrex cups for my breakfast and two large BPA free rectangular tupperware containers to hold my lunches and dinners. My snacks are usually batched in gallon Ziploc baggies and my crucial cold brew is in my usual 32 ounce glass bottle. The overall spatial footprint of all these items in the fridge amounts to half a shelf with strategical maneuvering.

 

The Last Note:
Get hands on
Basically, you can mentally plan and plan all you want but without proper execution and gratitude for the trial and error process, you won’t know what works for you and what doesn’t. My trial and error process has been extensive to say the least, but I’ve had a lot of enjoyment out of it. Throughout the work week, I dream of spending Saturday mornings perusing my local farmers market and talking to all the farmers about their recent growing season. This process has served as a new method of therapy for me on the weekends, I call it “My Sacred Saturdays” and I wouldn’t change them for a second.

Febrewary.

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Welcome To “Febrewary”
     Today is officially the first day of the second month of the new year. I feel like we as a culture have finally simmered down from the first month frenzy and have come equipped with some sort of routine for ourselves.
As for myself I’ve finally come out of the trenches of being sporadically ill for almost a month and have finally slowed to a pace of life I can manage right now. My sleeping schedule has finally aligned with my goals. My meal prepping is no longer a task that I had become anxious/scrupulous about and I am a month into the new fangled world of Bullet Journaling.
Needless to say the month of January was a readjustment month.
February however is just beginning and I am exclaiming that for this month, I will be writing with a focus on coffee. I’ve written about coffee before and my cathartic  relationship with it, but now I’m going to take that enthusiasm and expand it a bit.
I need to write about different coffeeshops and how each one I step into has a variable vibe.
This will further push my goal to write more and harness my writing skills that I have been in distant contact with (really need to do my English minor justice). Hopefully you enjoy the forthcoming posts featuring Instagram worthy images.
Indelible Gratitude,
-Kat

In Love With The La La

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On a cold Friday night in the hazy winter light. 
I had seen a film ever so magical, so wonderful. A delight. 
The colors that graced the screen so vibrant and vivid. 
The music so variant. It was both bold and timid 
The dancing had captured my heart in an instant 
My own memories of tap dancing, jazz piano, and musicals had been so distant 
This film I’m describing in none other than La La Land 

Please watch it if you love Los Angeles, fleeting dreams, or swing & big band.


**I couldn’t help myself but make a rhyme scheme introduction on quite possibly one of my favourite movies of all time.
I know I know I know guys, this is a big statement to make! Have no fear, I fully support this film from within my bones.
Before I gush on about the Top 10 Reasons why I’m in love with La La Land, I have to preface that I have a long running background in dance, piano, & musical theater. I’m also a classic film enthusiast so every single easter egg was a slice of intense joy for me. My perspective is completely bias, but after seeing this movie with various audiences (ranging from having no musical background to die-hard fans of overtures and 4 chord minors) there are overall themes that run through this film that are universal to anyone whose ever had a dream they wanted to pursue.
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( image via Google)
10. The Opening Sequence featuring CinemaScope 
If you aren’t familiar with 1950’s classic films by MGM, the widescreen lenses they utilized during that era were CinemaScope lenses. These lenses were integral for motion pictures at the time to capture everything in frame. From panoramic views to sweeping perspectives capturing long sequences of choreography, the fact that La La Land was shot with these infamous industry lenses is a simply sweet homage to the classics.
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(image via Summit Pictures)
9. Damien Chazelle and his personal story
There are directors that self impose their narratives in the work they do, but often do so in a way that is glorifying and centralized, Chazelle however inserts his personal experiences through struggle. He loves jazz music and musicals, but his cumbersome fear of stage fright kept him from the spotlight. I had rewatched his film Whiplash prior to seeing La La Land. The film Whiplash is Chazelle’s exploration of when he was a jazz drummer in high school and in contrast to La La Land, both films portray the process of achieving one’s dreams. One situation that is isolating and self-centered (Whiplash) and another that is communal and almost altruistic (La La Land).
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(image via Summit Pictures)
7. The Non-Cliche Iconic Landscapes of Los Angeles
Having seen this movie with company from both LA and far from LA (London, in fact) there are variable differences on what people would like to see about Los Angeles in the movies. My British friend complained that they didn’t see the Hollywood sign; my Los Angeles friend loved that there was a scene at Watts Towers. Overall, I’m quite enamored at the fact that Chazelle didn’t choose the road most taken when it comes to filming in Los Angeles, his implicit direction to show some “uncommon but familiar” landmarks that ground the nature of this city is to my liking.
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(image via Summit Pictures)
6.  The Subtle Jokes About Los Angeles 
I went to college in Los Angeles county and became acquainted with all the Los Angeles stereotypes. This film captures these seemingly real stereotypes and situations in such a light-hearted humorous way; from Prius popularity to gluten free galore it also portrays that although this city is filled with dreamers where everyone is trying to make it, there is room to find your “tribe” or “squad” in the immense demographic that is the people of Los Angeles. In a city full of people playing professional make-believe, I’ve  made an immense amount of authentic friendships that last a lifetime.
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(image via Summit Entertainment) 
5. The Title’s Double Meaning
Not only is LA known for its moniker “La La Land” but La La Land is defined as “a fanciful state of mind” in which the cinematography captures so effortlessly in many frame by frame moments. It toggles the boundaries of reality and disillusion through dream like sequences. I’m a sucker for things with depth and the movie title’s double meaning adds another layer.
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(image via Miguel Aguilar) 
4. The Production Collaboration + Minimal Post Production Editing 
Due to the nature of making this film in the 1950’s technique, Chazelle’s objective to take elongated one camera shots with minimal takes was an operation of meticulous proportions. In addition, I’m appreciative of the use of the actual landmarks and the minimal use of a soundstage/ set. It is rare nowadays to see a film without some sort of CGI, multiple takes and multiple cameras used, so this film felt like a visual breathe of fresh air. It is relaxing to the eyes; you’ll experience it once you see it.
 
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(image via Summit Entertainment)
3. Ryan Gosling + Emma Stone’s Chemistry 
Originally, Miles Teller and Emma Watson were cast to play the roles of the two lovebirds.  Due to conflicting filming schedules, Chazelle went with Gosling and Stone instead. Prior to this film, the pair starred in two roles together. If you have ever seen the 2011 movie  Crazy Stupid Love their chemistry was very natural. Both of these actors’ dynamic emotional range is versatile as well. During the filming process, Chazelle, the screenwriter, and both of the actors were integral in the development of Mia and Sebastian. The result? Absolute chemistry. If you pay attention closely, the behaviors/dialogue of one transfers onto the other in the same fashion as a real relationship.
2. The Music 
The composer of the musical score is James Hurtwitz. He also has worked with Chazelle on his two prior films Whiplash and Guy And Madeleine On A Park Bench. The thematic musical score has five main melodies from it’s five main songs. If you listen to the film’s soundtrack closely you can hear each one of the five songs transposed in a different key and tempo throughout the film to convey the emotional atmosphere. The film’s soundtrack is really meant to be listened as a whole, each song advancing the narrative. Creating together an amalgamation of scenarios that define the human condition when it comes to trying to achieve your dreams.   In the process of composing the musical score for La La Land, Hurwitz compiled roughly around 1900 piano demos to show to Chazelle as well as the lyricists Justin Paul and Benj Pasek. Paul and Pasek also wrote original music for one of my favourite shows, Smash.
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(gif via Summit Entertainment)
1. The Dancing + Rehearsal Process
All strengths put aside, if there could be one reason and one reason only for me to love this film, it has to be the dancing. I’m a sucker for dance movies, but lately the movies that have come out in recent years didn’t have a narrative I was fully invested in. The plots were predictable and the choreography (or lack thereof) was inundated with tricks and gimmicks. La La Land however heavily pays homage to cult film dance classics such as Sweet Charity, Singing In The Rain, Umbrellas of Cherbourg and many others. Iconic sequences of choreography recorded in beautiful one camera one take constraints (like the Old Hollywood movies did) effectively hones in on the beauty that happens when dancers, dancing, and a compelling musical score converge together. Mandy Moore, the choreographer also created these pieces to be accessible due to the capabilities of the actors. She wanted the choreography to to be approachable and realistically anchored in everyday movement that (when shot on camera) would blur the dreamlike dance sequences and dialogue seamlessly.
Prior to the four month filming process, Gosling and Stone had a three month rehearsal for both the dance choreography and the learning of the piano. Although the rehearsing schedule was rigorous, it was beneficial in the long run.
In addition, if I could shamelessly plug in another aspect as to why I love this film so much, a couple of my favourite dancer friends from the YouTube community also make an appearance in the opening number (ahem,Jilly Meyers, Dana Wilson, and Galen Hooks to name a few) and it’s rewarding to see other dancers that I’ve watched on YouTube/had taken workshops with for  years, finally get the recognition they so well deserve.
If you have read this far, I applaud and appreciate you. Leave comments if you have other reasons as to why you love La La Land too!
Indelible Gratitude,
-Kat