2-Ingredient Banana Pancake Experiment

2-ingredient banana pancake breakfast.

This past week, I saw a recipe on The Kitchn for 2-ingredient banana pancakes. It looked like a good idea for a quick high energy breakfast that might taste incredibly good. So this morning I decided to try it.

While the recipe is technically just two ingredients, there are several other ingredients mentioned as optional extras. I got a bit carried away and should have kept it simple.

I added a tablespoon of leftover granola, which is probably fine. I added a pinch of salt, some vanilla and baking powder. Also probably fine.

Here is where I veered off the road with my breakfast. Last year, I read an article in Brandeis Magazine about coffee flour.

Coffee flour, developed by Brandeis biophysicist Dan Perlman ’68, got media outlets and many other observers buzzing this winter.

Two decades ago, Perlman and nutritionist K.C. Hayes developed the “healthy fats” blend in the Smart Balance buttery spread. Now, on his own, Perlman’s invented and patented what he says is a healthier form of coffee.

Needless to say, I was intrigued. So I searched for coffee flour and ordered some from Nuts.com. The coffee flour has been sitting in my fridge lonely and unopened for months. So I decided to put a couple of tablespoons into this recipe. Well. It didn’t really work.

My excitement over this new recipe, and probably and ironically my lack of coffee, caused me to forget that the coffee flour should be mixed with regular flour.

Anyway, I took a picture of the pancakes. Not my best work! The flavor wasn’t great, but it was edible. Next time I’ll just stick with the two ingredients!

For the coffee flour, I’ll add it to the flour mixture that I keep in the fridge. Have you ever tried coffee flour?

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Photo Credit: The Kitchn

Dîner en Blanc Boston 2017

Dîner en Blanc Boston

Today is the last day of summer, so it seems like perfect timing to write about a big event that capped off the summer seasonDîner en Blanc , which is French for dinner in white.

I wrote about this event back in 2015, but had never attended it. If you’re not familiar with the event, it’s basically a dinner where everyone dresses in white. Plus, the location is secret until a couple of hours prior.

When the location is emailed to the attendees, they gather up everything that they need for their dinner — tables, chairs, place settings, food, etc., and quickly go to the now revealed location. Then they set up their tables and have their meals.

Dîner en Blanc started in Paris nearly 30 years ago and events are held in cities all over the world with thousands of people attending each one.

Me dressed in all white for Dîner en Blanc Boston

This year I finally attended! A friend of mine happened to mention that she was on the waiting list and wanted to go. Since I was invited to go as media, I brought her along as my guest.

We had a great time! That’s me in my new white outfit! One of the perks of going as an invited guest was that we didn’t have to bring anything with us. We got to hang out in the comfy media lounge and enjoy sandwiches and champagne courtesy of Bon Me and Taittinger.

One of the best things about this event was the diversity of the crowd.

There were many people of color and people of all ages too. The range was probably from 20s to 60s. I feel like this doesn’t happen too often. It was nice to see, especially considering all that is happening in this country right now.

The Ring Fountain lit up and steamy at Dîner en Blanc Boston.

When the dinner started, it was light out. If you can’t tell where we are, it was at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. The location was perfect. The weather was perfect. It was maybe mid 70s, so it was warm enough out even as the sun set.

We were near the Rings Fountain, which lit up and spewed steam and water. With everyone dressed in white and walking around, the effect was just magical. Dreamy. Enchanting. It’s hard to describe.

There was live music playing during dinner, with singer John Everett Martin featuring Bob Christopherson and Gregory Holt. Click here for some video that I took so you can see, listen and get a feel for the ambience. It was so very nice. Smooth and jazzy. Singing one of my favorite Sinatra tunes — Witchcraft.This couple dancing it up at Ring Fountain at Dîner en Blanc Boston.

After dinner the band left, then DJ Ryan Brown got everyone up and dancing. He played music that appealed to the whole crowd and everyone really seemed to have a good time. Including me! What a night!

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Disclosure: I attended the event as invited media. My guest and I were admitted free of charge.

{You Pick Six} An Interview with Radio Host: Tom Ashbrook

On Point with Tom Ashbrook, radio and podcasts.

For those of you who regularly listen to the radio and podcasts, you’ve probably heard  On Point at least a few times. If not, you’re missing out! Please tune in!

In my opinion, the show has widest range of topics of any show I’ve encountered. Ever. With in-depth analysis and callers from every walk of life. From the latest news stories to food, books, music — you name it. Tom has covered it. Or he’s about to.

One thing that I especially like is that people of color are regularly included as part of the discussion. Not as a gimmick. Not because diversity is being forced. But because we are part of the fabric of America. Inclusion has been part of the show for as long as I’ve listened to it.

Two shows that I especially enjoyed recently and I hope you’ll check out are: Rediscovering African-American Roots And Cuisine, with Michael Twitty and Black Motherhood In The Spotlight.

Since today is September 11th, it seems especially fitting to have Tom “here” today. That date was also the genesis for his show.

On Point was born in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, when the country was looking for answers and impatient with old certitudes. We still carry that urgency today: to test, challenge and probe. And while we do it, to celebrate the people, arts and ideas that make life a joy.

Today is also an important date for me. It’s my birthday and the 3rd year anniversary for the relaunch of this blog on this domain.

So let’s resume this ongoing series with the 15th interview of You Pick Six and learn some more about Tom.

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What is a favorite childhood food memory?
I grew up on an old family farm in Illinois. As kids, we were put on the big tractors early, and in the hay fields, and we really worked. Coming back to the house from a big day in the fields, I was crazy for all the fresh stuff right in from our garden – asparagus, snap peas, tomatoes, sweet corn. The flavor and fragrance of absolute freshness was so sublime. I can still taste it.

What is a favorite dessert?
Hands down, peach cobbler. But only the genuine, old-school article. I had aunts who were almost Amish. Mennonites, with the big bonnets and all. And they made peach cobbler that had flavors I can’t even name. Subtle, exquisite, caramelized flavors that were other-worldly. They made symphonies with peach cobbler.

How did food become an important part of your life?
Food is an important part of everybody’s life, whether we treat it that way or not. It literally shapes us and our pleasures. When I left home, my palate exploded. Oysters in Boston. Beef tartar in Washington. So many kinds of yogurt and fish in Sweden, the “old country” in my family. Being a midwestern farm kid, there were so many revelations waiting. I went from naive love to amazed appreciation.

A favorite fruit plate from Les Sablons in Cambridge.
A favorite fruit plate from Les Sablons in Cambridge.

What is the best meal you ever had and where was it?
Rajahmundry, in south India. I was nineteen, traveling alone way off the beaten path. Looking for an old ally of Gandhi’s who had become a dissident and was lying low on an ashram upriver. I ducked into a very simple restaurant on the main street and managed to use my newly-acquired language skills in Telugu to order an okra curry and raita. Everything was served on a huge banana leaf. That curry blew my mind. Flavor so robust and delicate at the same time. I still dream about it.

What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Thank you, Jesus.

What inspires you?
The human capacity for reinvention and kindness. A few years ago I lost my childhood sweetheart to cancer. I grieved so hard. And ate almost nothing but broccoli and sardines for a year. Weird disaster food, but it kept me alive. Many people helped me profoundly, but then I met one who brought me fully back to life. And an important part of that happened in the kitchen. She made me a happy near vegetarian. Now we cook together every night.

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Thank you so much for participating Tom!

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Photos: Provided by Tom Ashbrook.

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Updated 2/16/2018: Tom Ashbrook is no longer hosting On Point.

ACLU Freedom Agenda in Quincy

Canvassing with the ACLU in Quincy.

Since the election, I’ve been trying to find ways to resist and fight this current administration. Some of it has been by blogging about it here. Amplifying other voices on Twitter. Contacting my elected representatives. Donating to causes that I believe in.

I have not been to any protests though — even though there have been many. Many people who know me and are aware of my political activism are shocked by this and assume I’m out there. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty.

Like many others, I have a lot on my plate and am aware of how much I can handle at a time. An article called 12 Ways You Can Be an Activist Without Going to a Protest gives some doable options for those of us who because of time and other factors, like being an introvert, choose not to be in huge crowds.

As the article states and I believe, we can resist in different ways. Sometimes smaller and quieter ways. But we can all have a positive impact.

Back in July, I volunteered for the ACLU of Massachusetts by canvassing in Quincy. Another volunteer and I stood outside the library and asked people to sign postcards supporting the ACLU Freedom Agenda.

It was one of the hottest days of the summer and we were melting, so we weren’t out that long, but we received positive and enthusiastic responses. Many people signed the postcards and were thrilled that we were there. One woman even hugged me, thanking me for doing this work!

Of course, there were some who were not fans of the ACLU and were supportive of Trump. It was to be expected. Quincy has a fair number of Republicans. During the campaign, I remember seeing several  Trump signs on lawns and MAGA bumper stickers on cars, usually trucks. They still make me shudder every time I see them.

Organizing with the ACLU in Quincy.

After we finished getting our signed postcards, we met with several other Quincy residents to share information. The postcards will be sent to Massachusetts legislators to let them know the priorities and beliefs of their constituents.

If you’re wondering about the ACLU Freedom Agenda, here’s some information below that ACLU of Massachusetts Volunteer Coordinator Olivia Santoro would like you to know.

Donald Trump said many things during the campaign that raised serious constitutional concerns. Mass deportation, restricting reproductive freedom, persecution of Muslims, weakening the press, etc. We think we have a special responsibility—and opportunity—right here in Massachusetts.

Our federal system permits state constitutions to be more protective of human rights than the federal constitution. So we’ve put together a “Massachusetts Freedom Agenda” that lays out ways that Massachusetts can do this.

Reproductive freedom
The Massachusetts constitution made possible our Moe victory in 1981, protecting state-funded Medicaid coverage for abortion despite laws denying federal funding. We need to ensure that access to contraception in Massachusetts remains consistent and affordable in anticipation of attacks against the Affordable Care Act.

Immigrants’ rights
Several cities and towns have passed Trust Acts (which restrict local cooperation with federal deportation efforts) — Amherst, Boston, Cambridge, Holyoke, Lawrence Northampton, Somerville. We need to defend and expand these protections, and ensure that state and local authorities do not participate in federal immigration enforcement, raids and roundups.

We also need to protect the “dreamers”—the young people who immigrated to this country as minors, and who the bi-partisan federal “DREAM Act” aims to protect—to make sure young people are able to safely and fully participate in American life.

Religious freedom
In a similar way, we need to begin working now to restrict local cooperation with any federal efforts to persecute Muslims or other groups.

Privacy and free speech
Especially in Massachusetts, with its centers for education and our high-tech economy, we need to update laws to keep pace with technology, preserving the First and Fourth Amendments in the digital age.

That means updating search and seizure laws, and set clear limits on collecting and sharing information about First Amendment-protected activities (speech, associations, and religious affiliation). We also need to strengthen the right to dissent and speak out.

If you live on the South Shore and would like to become involved, there will be a meeting to discuss the Freedom Agenda on Saturday, September 16th at 1pm.

The location is Quincy Point Congregational Church, 444 Washington Street in Quincy.

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Another way to become involved is by attending ACLU Lobby Day at the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday, September 27th.

Click here for registration information. If you register in advance, there will be a boxed lunch. A free lunch! Check out the event on Facebook too.

Registration opens at 9:3am. The program starts at 10:30am and continues through the afternoon.

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Can’t attend either of these events, but still want to be involved? You can still support the Freedom Agenda by telling your legislator online. Click here.

Hopefully you can find a way to get involved that works with your schedule and comfort level. All of us are needed at this vital turning point in our country’s history!

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*Update 9/17/2017*

Yesterday, I attended the meeting in Quincy mentioned above. There were around 30 people, all from different parts of the South Shore, including Quincy.

Gavi Wolf, Legislative Director for ACLU of Massachusetts

The key takeaway from the meeting was for us to take action. Gavi Wolf spoke about how just a few people can make a big difference when we speak to our legislators. We voted them in and they want to continue to get our votes.

We formed small groups based on our common state Representatives. I found this discussion quite interesting. He said that because Massachusetts is such a Democrat heavy state, many legislators who would be considered Republicans in other states, run as Democrats here, because they think that is the only way they will get elected.

What I’ve long suspected! Based on the conservative stance and policy of some, they are Democrat in name only.

Because of this disconnect between party and policy, we have many conservative Representatives who are “Democrats” and the focus now is to lobby them and let them know how their constituents feel about certain issues.

Those of us who were at the meeting will be contacting our legislators and hopefully meeting them in person to discuss the Freedom Agenda.

After tweeting about the meeting, I received an email from someone who is interested in getting involved. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. Stay tuned!