Sunday, 9 March 2014

Banana Berry Cakes (Gluten Free)

Life has been a complete whirlpool these past 6 weeks. The trip to Asia: Malaysia/Hong Kong/China has been eventful to say the least and since touching ground on NZ soil two thursdays ago I've been swept into a nice little storm called Masters. Wow. So, I do apologise for my lengthy absence from the blog, rest assured that I have not forgotten or abandoned it and you dear readers! I've just been trying to sort life out, catch up with friends, organize (still) a schedule for my studies, and *I know this is probably not the best time for it, but I'm super excited, and don't judge!* learn how to knit. 

So, first thing first, trip to Asia. Was a collection of family, food, stories, drama, hellos, goodbyes, laughter, tears, exhaustion, transport, toilets, beds, flights, reminders, hugs, history, future, shopping, learning, life. If I could stuff all my experiences into a ball, it'd be a very colourful and dense ball containing the whole spectrum of colour intermingling with one another. Oh it was rich, yeah. But it was to be expected, our trip back home in 3 years and considering that our last trip was so rushed we didn't have time to meet all the people we wanted to. 

Malaysian heat has been turned up several notches since the last time we were there, causing draught and water rationing! I've always been able to withstand it, but this time, ah it was hot, so very hot. I told everyone that the moment you sit down, your bum starts to sweat. And you constantly feel like showering. AC was your best friend. 

Traffic was as horrendous as ever. People run reds as they please and especially during the Chinese New Year period, a trip down to visit grandma which would normally take 2 hours took us 5. But despite all the difficulties and hardship, seeing the people, my relatives made it all worthwhile. Of course, not being the one driving makes a big difference. My dad was such a champ driving us everywhere. All that patience while driving, he deserves medals. And hugs. 

It's always such an experience when you reunite with someone you haven't seen in years. Especially for us who live so far away, we really do savour every precious little second of it. It really is a cocktail of emotion for us, seeing cousins that we used to play with when we were little and how much they've grown and progressed in life; and also seeing cousins that were babies or weren't even born when we left, all grown up now. I do feel a sense of regret that those cousins we don't have that tight bond with due to our lack of time spent together. But such is our fate in life and we can only do the best we can to build relationships across oceans and nations. 

The trip to China/Hong Kong was definitely a huge eye-opener. China was spacious, vast, neat, clean and orderly, a big contrast to the crowded, fast-paced and very colourful Hong Kong. Like our other visits in Malaysia, we're yet again embraced by the generosity of family and friends who offered their rooms/houses for us during our stay. Things in China weren't cheap, unless you know where to go. I loved their MRT, it was so convenient! Overhead, a female voice reminds people to look after children and respect elderlies, and I was pretty surprised that people actually give up their seats whenever they see someone old board the train. Everything was oversized there, the roads, the buildings, the parks, the malls. I don't think there's anything I can complain about. Except their toilets. Long drops just aren't my thing. And I probably spent record time in this rural toilet, where the walls were only about 1m high and there are no doors. AND... you pee into a drain and 'flush' with a pail of water that sits by the toilet. People HAVE CONVERSATIONS in there. Definitely a one of a kind experience. 

Hong Kong was very fast paced. The escalators go at running speed and even the traffic lights feature running man instead of stationary or walking man. I found that neighbours and people you encounter 'at home' were extremely friendly and hospitable. However if you wanna ask for direction or help on the street to some stranger or bus driver, mean mode is switched on to the max. But it was still such a great experience. I LOVED THEIR EGGTARTS. So damn good. The ones we had were freshly made at this little kitchen by the stall in the wet market and were so cheap! 2.50HK dollar which means about 40 NZ cents each! I wish we'd stayed there longer, just for the egg tarts. The nightlife in HK was amazing. Neon lights flashing, heavy traffic, row after row of shops and stalls selling food, bags, socks, phone accessories, everything! Though since I wasn't used to the crowd, it got a bit tiring at the end of the night trying to meander through the stream after stream of people. 

Now these muffins. I have to admit, I haven't touched the oven in over six weeks until tonight, when I made some fig muffins with my mum with the over-abundance of figs we were given! As I've mentioned, I've sort of hit the ground running ever since we got back, sorting out my postgraduate studies. So this recipe is from the archives, and it was one that I planned to share for a rather special red and green occasion. But, yet again, I was away and busy that period! *No excuse really... I know...* But here it is, special occasion or not, these muffins are rather good. They are super healthy for you, with all the goodness from the almond, bananas, berries, spices and eggs. Really, you are getting your fibre, your vitamins, minerals and your protein from this! And those of you who are gluten intolerant, here's a treat! They are super moist because of the bananas, but drizzling on some honey just makes it go that one step further. Oh and ignore the plums by the way... I was trying to add some colour into the picture... little polka dots of plums, so cute! So try it out, have it with a cuppa. Your morning tea is sorted :)


Banana Berry Cake (Gluten Free)

Recipe adapted from At the table with Fee
Makes 12 little cakes

3 cups almond meal
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp five spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1 tbsp blended raw sugar
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup natural yoghurt or soy milk
3 tbsp honey 
3 free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cups.
Sift together all the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Stir in the blueberries. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until smooth. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Divide the batter into the 12 holes. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and leave in muffin tray to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan and cooling on a wire rack.

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