When I lived in Rome I had the pleasure of knowing the conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth, who worked there from his studio on banks of the Tiber River. His iconic art has a very intimate relationship to language. Most of his work highlights words, phrases and texts with simple yet striking visual representations that question the meaning of art through language, and examines their relationship to each other.
I’m fascinated by how we use language to communicate with others, but maybe even more so by how we use it to organize our own thoughts – to inspire us, or sometimes even to crush us. Language is so intensely personal. What a word means to one person, can and often does mean something completely different to another at any given time. Last Sunday, I was wandering through the MOMA and stumbled upon this piece by Joseph, Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) The Word “Definition”.
“A statement or explanation of what a word or phrase means or has meant… the power of a lens to show in clear, sharp outline”. I love that the word definition can be applied both to words and photographs, two different mediums we use to communicate and illicit thought and emotion. The definition of the word seems to be saying that a definition is not clarity itself, but is only trying to make things more clear. I think about definition in my own life. I often define things in order to create space in my mind, to move forward, to understand where I’m going. Someone challenged me a couple weeks back to not immediately define situations in my mind as good or bad – to remain in a state of perplexity for longer than I normally would – and then maybe even look at things in another way, to turn definitions on their head. What if fear was good? Taking a little more time before defining things and then knowing that nothing needs to be defined in a particular way forever brought me a lot of peace. I wish it were something that I did all the time, but for me it’s a practice that I need to consciously evoke.
I was inspired to make this gluten-free coconut banana bread, when my favorite coconut cake at Shanti Shack ran out the other weekend and I headed home on a stormy, snowy afternoon empty-handed. I could have defined the situation as bad, but it forced me to fend for myself and bake this bread, which turned out to be a very good thing.
GLUTEN-FREE COCONUT BANANA BREAD – Adapted from Oven Love
The bananas keep this bread very moist, it has no butter, sugar or gluten and is really fast and easy to make. Coconut flour can be a little challenging to find, but more and more health food stores and specialty food stores are carrying it, or you can buy it online. The cake is so moist it easily stays fresh for 3-4 days.
Makes 1 loaf
½ cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled
¼ cup raw honey
¼ cup agave
½ lemon zested, plus a 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
2 medium sized bananas, mashed
6 eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pure almond extract
¾ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup coconut flour
4 tablespoons shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan with coconut oil or line with parchment paper.
In a small bowl whisk together coconut oil, honey and agave.
In a small bowl, mash bananas and stir in lemon juice.
In a large bowl whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract and sea salt. Stir in oil and honey mixture. Add coconut flour and whisk together until there are no lumps. Stir in mashed bananas and lemon zest. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan and top with coconut. Bake for 45-50 minutes. If the coconut browns too quickly, you can cover the loaf pan loosely with aluminum foil. The bread is ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.