Brain Re-Train + Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Scones

When asked, “How are you? Really, how are you doing?” I imagine most of us in this overseas life would have a complicated answer. Perhaps the answer would change from day-to-day. I also assume a lot of us would include something about missing our other home across the world. No matter if we’re in our country of service or stuck in our passport country, many of us long for the other. Perhaps more so because of the complicated situations this pandemic has caused.

I’m no different.

I’m a girl who likes a plan. Serving in this “plans are fluid” culture, I’ve learned to let them go…sometimes. But our plans to return to our passport country for a visit? That one was hard to let go.  

I’m prone to complaining. I balk and wish things were different. I compare with those that have it another way—a situation I’d rather be in than my current one.

Because I know this about myself, I’ve been trying to re-train my brain recently. It’s a very slow process because there are so many bad habits to unravel, but here are some things I’ve done recently to cope with the “bad” news that seems to just keep coming:

  • Meditate on who God is and what He has done and continues to do for me (Psalm 84:10 comes to mind often)
  • Read through Paul’s journeys and trials, focusing on his persistence and faith no matter the trials he faced
  • Actually listen to my husband who tends to be the optimist
  • See the good in why we are still where we are
  • Read stories (often aloud to my kids) of other people like us who served in much harder times
  • Be thankful we haven’t been put in a situation where we had to make a drastic decision, like needing to return for some emergency
  • Listen to uplifting music—sometimes it’s worshipful, other times it’s Christian hip hop and a dance party
  • Remember past trials and how God brought us through them
  • Reach out to supporters to send us things we intended to re-stock this summer. This was a hard one to stick our neck out there and ask, but a handful of people were so delighted to serve in this way!

Some days, I do none of these and I find my mind and heart spiraling into asking lots of “why” questions and whining. However, I’ve noticed that God doesn’t leave me there long. He sends along a word, song, or something encouraging to help pick me up and shift my perspective.

Other days, the Spirit fills me with the right attitude and outlook on life and I’m used to encourage others.

I’m thankful for a community of locals, expats, and people in our passport country that the Lord uses at just the right time to mutually encourage one another.

This past year + has been difficult. How are you doing now? Are you still in the trenches? Are you peaking over the valley?

*****

I used to think all scones were dry without much flavor. Maybe I’m not cultured in scones, but I prefer those that have a bit more moisture and flavor! These are bursting with both! Your favorite banana bread flavors with little bits of creamy chocolate, all in cute, individual portions. These have become recent favorites in our house!

Once again, I use my milk + lemon juice to make buttermilk. Works like a charm!
I know it’s not a necessity, but this tool makes breaking up the butter so much easier!
The dough is quite sticky, so be patient and don’t add too much flour, or you’ll dry out all the beautiful moisture we’re going for!
Another favorite tool: the bench scraper. Cuts great and even better, gets the sticky mess off the counter so easily!
Baked to perfection.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Scones

Makes: 12 scones

Ready in: 45 minutes

Slightly adapted from: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

  •  2 2/3 cups (13.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
  •  1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  •  1 tablespoon baking powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 cup (4 ounces, 8 tablespoons) butter, cubed (I use salted)
  •  2/3 cup cold heavy whipping cream or buttermilk* (see note for buttermilk)
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  2/3 cup (about 6 ounces) mashed very ripe bananas (1-2 medium bananas)
  •  1 to 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (mini or regular) or chocolate chunks
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt (if using buttermilk, see note for adding baking soda). Add the butter. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut in the butter to the flour mixture until crumbly and the butter is in small pea-sized pieces. Alternately, you can grate the butter into the flour with the large holes of a box grater and toss to combine with the flour (don’t cut the butter into chunks, leave it whole as a stick).
  3. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the cream (or buttermilk), mashed banana and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork or rubber spatula until it starts to come together and forms large clumps. Add the chocolate chips or chocolate chunks.
  5. Using your hands, knead the dough until it forms an cohesive mass and most of the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and pat into a long, skinny rectangle, about 15-inches long by 2 1/2-inches wide. (You can alter the dimensions if you want larger or smaller scones.) Using a sharp knife or bench knife, cut the rectangle into 12 wedges or triangles.
  7. Place evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for an hour to firm up the dough (or up to 24 hours) or bake right away. If baking right away, the scones might lose a bit of their shape, but they’ll still taste great.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and baked through. If you want a simple glaze, you can add one, but we think they’re sweet enough as is!

*Buttermilk: if using buttermilk, decrease the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

2 Comments

  1. Sarah Hilkemann August 4, 2021

    Oh, I resonate with this Ashley. I’m a girl who likes a plan too. 🙂 Sometimes I think I’ve learned to let things go and be more flexible, and then I get tired or stressed and I cling so tightly to what I can control. Or I feel overwhelmed because everything is out of my control. Your list of the things you are doing to hold tight to truth in the midst of everything is helpful.
    Also, scones make me happy and these look lovely! At the bakery I used to work at we had rotating flavors through the different seasons and my favorite was a chocolate and almond one. 🙂 Give me a scone and a cup of coffee and I’m good.

    1. Ashley Felder August 6, 2021

      I’ve had to remember this list in the past few weeks when everything seemed to be spinning out of control! It helps a little when I have zero actual say in the situation. Well, sorta helps. 😉

      Yum, chocolate and almond sounds delish!

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