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Archive for February, 2012

For topping

¾ stick unsalted butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

3 large just-ripe bananas, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

 

For batter

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

½ stick unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¾ cup warm milk

 

Special equipment: a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat, then stir in brown sugar and simmer, stirring, 4 minutes. Remove from heat and arrange bananas on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, fitting in as many pieces as possible.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, mix warm milk with vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with milk, mixing until just incorporated.

Spoon batter over bananas, smoothing top. Bake until top is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Let cake stand in skillet 15 minutes. Put a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any banana pieces stuck to bottom of skillet.

Serve cake slightly warm or at room temperature.

 

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Youth

Youth is the island

Where we forget about

The rest of the world.

Youth is the kingdom

That is ruled solely by

Carelessness and joy.

Youth is a memory

That shines like a beacon

In everyone’s heart.

Youth is the place

The gray and the wrinkled

Wish to return to.

Youth is a mirror

Of what we dreamed to be

And all we once were.

Youth is a candle—

It glows bright as the sun

But quickly burns out.

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The Orphanage

This is not our home,

Yet it is here that we are raised.

Within these gray walls

We spend our woeful days.

What cannot be forgotten

Here we try to forget,

But should the memories escape us

We would become filled with regret.

 •

We think of what we have lost

As we play under cloudy skies.

Sometimes we may smile

Though it will never reach our eyes.

 •

At night we cannot sleep,

For we fear what lies under our beds,

But the most terrifying monsters

Are the ones in our heads.

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The Fisherman

            I remember clearly the day I was standing upon the pier, watching the sky burn with the colors of sunset. The water glistened as if there were thousands of diamonds floating on the surface, allowing themselves to be carried with the tide. At the horizon, the sea seemed like it had caught on fire, for it was so bright that I had to squint to look at it.

            Behind me, the shore was deserted. The only audible sound was that of the waves, gently lapping against the beams of the pier. Such a breathtaking sight—it was like the world had erupted in flames, yet I was the only one present to witness it.

            I sat down on the end of the pier, my feet dangling off the edge. The water was a long way down; nonetheless, I wished I could dip my toes into the drink. Somewhere above me, a seagull cawed. I leaned back and closed my eyes, but just as I was about to drift off into sleep, I heard a sudden voice.

            “Beautiful sunset, I’ll say.”

            I turned around. It was an old fisherman, tan and wrinkled like a raisin. He had a long white beard and blue eyes that still seemed to sparkle with youth. Behind him he carried his long fishing pole, and in his other hand was a ratted net that looked as if it had gone too many years without being replaced.

            “Have you ever thought that somewhere on the opposite shore, there’s someone doing the same thing we are now? Staring off towards the sea?” he went on, smiling at me with his collection of golden teeth.

            I blinked. Never had the thought hit me before. The world suddenly seemed much, much bigger, and I—who had felt so alone just minutes ago—realized that I was one of many.

            For now I knew there was someone on the other side of the sea, countless miles beyond the horizon. Someone with hopes and fears—with worries and dreams for the future. A real human being, gazing out at the water exactly as I had been. Although this person obviously couldn’t have been watching the sunset wherever they were, they still could’ve been marveling at the beauty of the world.

            The beauty of life, which I now believe is often revealed through nature.

            “No,” I replied at last. “I have never thought of that.”

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