Bananas present an interesting problem to those in the UK who try to eat both seasonally and locally. Unless you have a super heated and large greenhouse it is highly improbable that you will be able to grow your own bananas, even if you do manage it they are unlikely to fruit. Furthermore, as far as I can establish there appears to be no one trying to do so in this country on a commercial basis.

As for seasonal, well once you’ve accepted the fact that bananas have to be imported then they are pretty much available all the year round… So what are you to do ? Well you either ban the carbon traitor from your diet or you accept that fact that you are unlikely ever to achieve carbon neutral nirvana and salve your conscience a bit by buying fair trade. The other thing you can do, having accepted that you’d rather not live without bananas in your life (which my friend Wingnut is more than happy to do, considering them as “the evil yellow devil herb”) is to make sure that you don’t compound the carbon sin by letting them go to waste.

If I haven’t got the time to incorporate banana into muffins, cake or breakfast pancakes prior to freezing then I have been happily skinning them, quartering them and sticking in a plastic bag for several years now. What I had not tried until recently was to follow the Economy Gastronomy trick of freezing them whole, skin and all. For those that try it please note, if you are in a hurry the skin is difficult to get off, and if you leave them to defrost you end up with a nasty black slime all over your work surface….they also take up more room then their quartered brothers.

We are ODing on bananas at the moment as in addition to buying a large bag of bananas at the weekend I decided to start clearing out the freezer prior to Christmas and the first thing I was confronted with was a number of EG style frozen bananas. So I have been working my way through recipe books. I didn’t try on this occasion, but I have in the past tried Nigella’s healthy banana muffins. (the original recipe doesn’t have the chocolate)  My recommendation is “don’t”; they sacrifice taste in the pursuit of healthiness, would rather eat less and enjoy some flavour (interestingly her Banana and Butterscotch muffins are nice).

Alternatively a healthy muffin that is surprisingly nice are the Banana Bran Muffins from “Economy Gastronomy” – yes there is a reasonable amount of sugar in them, but they do make over 24 reasonably sized muffins and the mixture keeps in the fridge so you can make them in advance and cook them when ready and freeze your leftovers. Disadvantages are they are more complicated than usual muffins and take longer to cook. Recommendation from Spider is that they are nicer warm.

Nigella’s Banana Bread is nice, thought Tessa Kiros’ banana bread from “Apples for Jam” would be nicer due to use of brown sugar but there was no marginal difference. Susan Austin’s Banana Pancakes are what breakfasts were invented for, and they freeze. I’ve also tried the Banana and Oats Smoothie from Leon:Allegra Mcevedy which…I am hoping to tempt Spider with at the weekend.

Finally this is more a serving suggestion than an actual recipe and has been known in my family for at least 35 years as “Banana’s Valentine”. Take a skinned banana. Sprinkle with dark brown sugar. Pour over a reasonable amount of evaporated milk, leave to stand for a few minutes. Eat with enthusiasm.

Guilt and a recipette

If and when Spider learns to read I shall give up this blog as he will start to know slightly too much about what motivates me  (and no doubt many other parents) should he ever stumble across these pages.

I have been very grumpy of late and not spending enough time with him, in fact have been jumping at the chance to let him stick his “Walking with Dinosaurs” videos on.

On sunday I made pancakes (american) for breakfast. This indicates a sense of guilt on my part and an attempt to make up for it.  We had no maple syrup, (but then I don’t think the Gingerbread pancakes need much really) so I made a storecupboard sauce out of cloudy honey blitzed in the microwave with some orange juice.

I then went on to make the Marmalade cake which I’d been threatening to make for ages plus the bean soup I mentioned a few posts ago, using fennel instead of tarragon, as that’s what I had to hand – the cake went down well. Comment from Spider “well I’d call it gorgeous” – he’s such a smoothy, he knows how to charm a grumpy and unresponsive Mummy round to his way of thinking !

Pancake Day

Despite what I said about wanting to cook more with Spider I have ducked out of the question of whether he’s old enough to make pancakes by being ill. Fortunately his Grandma is a champion pancake maker and kept him occupied for most of the afternoon watching her make the batter and flipping pancakes.

I was more than happy to submit to a bit of mothering myself and wolfed down 4 pancakes with traditional jiff lemon and caster sugar.  A blog I like a lot was discussing the merits of toffee sauce versus lemon and sugar and although I agree that lemon and sugar is the best, I have been longing to try a recipe I saw in the observer several years ago. Hugh Fernley Whittingstall made pancakes with a banana and toffee sauce for Lyn Barber. All you needed for the sauce was some milk and half a packet of chewy toffees…unfortunately the packet of wherthers original that was in the fridge appears to have been slowly disappearing…

RECIPE: Gingerbread Pancakes

The pancakes in the picture in the post below are made using the recipe from Feast:Nigella Lawson. I know the recipe is on her website and I was just going to post a link but I couldn’t find her site this morning…so I thought I’d post an alternative version of breakfast pancakes from Frost Bite: Susan Austin which I occasionally make when I haven’t any banana’s… but then I do keep banana’s frozen in my freezer anyway, a tip I got from one of Nigella’s books and from Frost Bite… I also tend to keep frozen pancakes in my freezer (plain, banana, gingerbread, whatever) so that I can be an indulgent mummy even when i don’t get a lie in !


240g SR flour

100g  brown sugar

1.5 tsp ground ginger

1.5 tsp cinnamon

0.5 tsp ground nutmeg

2 eggs

250 ml milk

60g melted butter

1. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredient. In a jug whisk together the wet ingredients.

2. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and  stir them until they are combined in a smoothish batter – presumably you could also bung them all in a food processor and whizz them together that way.

3. Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a frying pan. Then drop small amounts of batter in the frying pan, should be able to do 3 or 4 in the pan at the same time

4. Cook the pancakes until small bubbles start forming on the surface, then flip the pancakes and cook the otherside for a minute or 2 until golden brown on both sides. Makes about 15

Can be frozen once cool. Defrost in microwave when needed or slowly in fridge if you have the time

Movie Night and the mythical “lie in”

I have hi-lighted in my future diary a particular day in 2018 which will be the day that Spider turns 13. By then hopefully it will be me nagging him to get out of bed rather than the other way round. My commute to work means that I have to get up at 6.30, my aim (some would say obsession) is for a small lie in on Sunday… one strategy has been the introduction of movie night.

On Saturday evenings we have movie night where Spider gets to watch Disney films until late (9pm), I get to watch Spider watching Disney (I love watching the expressions on his face change as he gets caught up in the story) and Teenager gets to enjoy watching the films without having to remember he’s a teenager and therefore Disney isn’t cool…they also get to eat home made popcorn and hot dogs, pizza and other cinema related food.

The ulterior motive of movie night is that a late night for Spider usually means a lie in for me as he tends to sleep for just over 10.5 hours straight… there is the added bonus of course that Husband and I get to watch the films too and spot all the jokes or references that went right over our heads as kids.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Spider is currently down stairs watching cbeebies (having spent an hour in hour bed pretending he was camping) with a stand in snack of grapes and apple and a digestive. I am here drinking a cup of tea and working out which way is up…I know I know “bad Mummy” but in my defence I do have one hell of a sore throat and the beginnings of a cold…when I am slightly more alive I shall go down and make some Banana Pancakes (Feast:Nigella Lawson) as I have a banana that won’t survive to see another day and most of an egg left over from Thursday’s scone experiment – we even have some maple syrup somewhere… so that hopefully will win me some “good Mummy points”, and some green points for using up leftovers.

Anyone got any suggestions with what to do with half a plate of cold chips and a leftover hot dog in bun…?

ps. Having just visited the BBC website to get the link for cbeebies I noticed links on the front page to some upcoming christmas cooking. I knew that Nigella had a new christmas show/book – it would have made my Christmas if Nigel had too, but unfortunately its just his christmas recipes on the bbc food pages.

Rare shot of pancakes, normally they don't last long enough to be photgraphed

Can I have that one mummy ?: Rare shot of pancakes, normally they don

‘t last long enough to be photographed…