Friday, March 29, 2013

Oh How I Love My Banana Bread Cake!!!!!!

It's been a year now since I first started making Banana Bread Cake. I am no expert in Cake making, but this one gave me a sense of being a sensational pastry chef!

I know it is preferred at our home as I make this cake quite frequently. I must declare, I do not like bananas but I encourage my husband to pick up some just to make this cake.

The fruit is available year around which gives me the luxury to bake this anytime I desire. Reasonably priced, consistent quality and easy to peel makes this a good choice for an evening coffee cake.

The yummilicious thick sweet batter with chunky bananas, toasted nuts and a hint of vanilla and cinnamon gives it a divine appearance and smells delicious. Simple to put together, I have the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another. Combine and whisk into a prepared pan for baking.

The result is a crispy golden brown crust, an aromatic room and bread that is soft and buttery delicious. Yummm!!

Here is my recipe for a tasty Banana Bread Cake:


1 cup (115 grams) walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
1 3/4 cups (230 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ripe large bananas mashed well
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract                                      

Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter and flour the baking pan. I line it with parchment paper to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan.

Whisk 2 large eggs at room temperature and set aside.

Melt ½ cup of unsalted butter and set aside to cool.

Place ½ cup of walnuts, pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Chop coarsely and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1 ¾ cups of all -purpose flour, ¾ cup of granulated white sugar, ¼ teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and nuts and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 whisked eggs, ½ cup of melted unsalted butter, 3 large mashed bananas and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry and mix everything till well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter as it will yield tough dry rubbery bread.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350°F for 50 to 55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place the pan on a wire rack for cooling.  Serve warm at room temperature. Store in an air tight box for up to 5 days.

A variation of this is Chocolate Banana Bread Cake where I add 1/2 cup of Semi-Sweet Choco Chips and 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder to the batter.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Email Etiquette. Why it cannot be done?

I’m no grammar specialist but I find it unpleasant that people do not know how to compose an email at their workplace. After all, with marginal effort, it is communication that can be structured impressively and made sophisticated to a lot of people reading that composition.

I recognize we spend a lot of time composing emails at our workplaces. It is taken for granted that sending an email means that some communication is done. I know we get the contentment that we have indeed informed somebody about the progress, but can we not put some determination into composing an impressive email? Of course we can, let’s start by paying attention to what we write.

While at a friend’s place for lunch one lazy afternoon, I remember starting a conversation on “email etiquette” and how it annoys me to see the kind of email exchanges between professionals at the workplace these days. It is apathetic that we indulge in writing emails like as if we were conversing in person. I find it disturbing to be at the receiving end of that email. Why try to comprehend the content like as if the person himself was dictating it to you?  Simply unrealistic and to a certain extent unacceptable that we forget to take that extra effort in composing an email like it is known to be.

A lot of professionals these days know the basics of English grammar and hence they compose emails like they were talking to the individual himself. I do not understand why we cannot say “I had” instead of “I’d” . As lame as it looks, it sounds even bad when we read it in mind. I read emails that said “gonna” for “going to”. What tragedy to English grammar?  Very soon, we would be swallowing half of the English alphabet.

Email composition is like English grammar composition that we used to write at school to impress our grammar teachers on how well we compose sentences. But for a professional, it is not important to be correct in grammar, it is only important to be correct in message conveyance.

I understand the dictionary corrects spelling, and warns of grammar fragmentation, but how many times do we hit “Ignore Grammar”? It is dismal. I wish something could be done to prevent us from committing this repeated offence. Perhaps a software program that does not allow one to email unless the grammar is checked?. Harsh on us, but i guess a fair place to start.

Let’s look at some obvious questions on email etiquette:

How do I compose an email to someone I don't know?

There are a few important points to remember when composing email, particularly when the email's recipient is a superior and/or someone who does not know you.
·          Ensure to include a meaningful subject line to clarify what your message is about and 
       may also help the recipient prioritize reading your email.
·          Just like a written letter always open your email with a greeting like Hello Xyz.
·         Use standard spelling, punctuation, and selective capitalization. THERE'S NOTHING 
      and condescending.
·        Write clear, short paragraphs and be direct and to the point; professionals and  
      academics alike see their email accounts as business. Don't write unnecessarily that  
      waste the recipient's time
·        Be friendly and cordial, but don't try to joke around, include those smileys and nasty 
      punctuation which are inappropriate.

What sorts of information shouldn't be sent via email?

Always remember that email composition is a private matter. Without additional setup, email is not encrypted; meaning that your email is "open" and could possibly be read by an unintended person as it is transmitted to your reader. With that in mind, never send the following information over email:

·        Usernames and passwords
·        Credit card or other account information

Additionally, avoid sensitive or information that could be potentially damaging to someone's career and/or reputation, including your own.

The ease of transmitting files to a particular person makes email very attractive. However, there are some guidelines you should follow:

·        Never send an attachment to someone you don't know.
·        Avoid unnecessarily large file sizes like digital photos. Learn how to re size your digital    
·        When you must send a large file or set of files, do the recipient the courtesy of sending  
       an email telling them to be on the lookout so that they do not consider it to be spam and    
       hit delete.
·         Be sure to have anti-virus software installed on your computer to scan all of your 
       outgoing and incoming messages for viruses.

The best way to start adopting email etiquette is to type all complete sentences, avoid random phrases or cryptic thoughts and be clear and to the point. Try that and let's see how it goes for you!


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