Bananas

Featured

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.

Advertisements

Dusting off the lunchbox

Been relatively quiet on these pages recently, not because we’re not cooking (we are, gotta eat, don’t do a lot of ready meals in this house) but because it’s hard to write about food when you are feeling sluggish and  feel like the back end of a horse – I am suffering from a body image problem, which I’m not going to talk anymore about as reading about dieting is about as boring as actually doing it.

We have been busy harvesting the free food of Warwickshire. Nothing too adventurous just the usual sort of jams and things – not like my brother who has been busy bottling sloe and apple jelly – don’t think that one is destined for toast, probably more of a savoury use like red currant jelly.

I’m hoping that the start of the school year and the need to make lunch on a daily basis for Spider, who is notoriously difficult to make sandwiches for (other than cheese) will spark off my interest in food again. We are also back on the watching our budget and not wasting anything regime…

I have been watching Economy Gastronomy recently, and like a lot of people have been amazed at the generosity of the “budget”, either we are miscalculating what we spend or we are already thriftier than average. I have not until this evening made anything from the book – however the co-op were selling 12 eggs at half price (otherwise I’d never have made a frittata with 8 eggs), we also had potatoes (red not new) and spring onions which needed using, always have chorizo and there was a tablespoon of clotted cream lurking in the fridge (to which I added some hot water and lemon juice as a sour cream substitute). It was OK, nothing special, perhaps it really needs the salsa they recommend with it, but it did use up the leftovers, served with some half price garlic bread AND there is still enough left fo r 2 lunches this week, as frittata is quite nice cold.

will link the recipe when they put it up on the BBC website

Economy Gastronomy: The Book

On Wednesday the neighbours surveyors report arrived, and quite frankly it was the same “being hit in the stomach” experience I’d had when I received the solicitors letter – how can anyone get things so wrong ?

I went round to see a neighbour to ask her if she knew any other neighbours who might have been here long enough to quote authoritatively on the boundaries and she said “glad you came round, I have a parcel for you” !

It was my copy of Economy Gastronomy that the wonderful Fairy Goth Mother had ordered for me… boy did that cheer me up !

Have only glanced at it so far as I’ve been rather shaken over the surveyors report and had to take a day off work on Thursday as I didn’t sleep on Wednesday night…ended up watching Tampopo at 3am in the morning and drinking tea.

I’ve never been to Durham

I have been pretty low recently, so low that a number of friends expressed stated that they had been worried about me. Things have been getting me down, but it is thanks to these friends (and family) that I am not sinking. I owe a lot to my friends and weirdly it’s been my “new” friends who have been there for me when I’ve needed them.

The weekend was full of lovely hi points. It was Teenager’s birthday and we had made a cake. I say “we” as Spider was helping with the icing, primarily by eating the cola bottles bought for decorationjuly 2009 002. The cake was Nigella’s Coca Cola Cake (How to be  Domestic Goddess) – which was very very nice and incredibly easy to make…it is however quite a flat low cake, and it stuck to the foil which lines the tin to stop the mixture seeping out and all over the oven…so I iced it on a plate and used the icing to hide the fact that the cake was in several pieces!

We were visited by the Fairy Gothmother, who is always happy to talk cake and has now a page on Facebook called “Cake District” she was bearing lovely gifts, late birthday presents for me and presents for her goth son…she also waved her fairy gothmother’s wand in the direction of Amazon, sprinkled fairy dust and lo and behold they delivered a copy of Economy Gastronomy to our address…or at least they will do as soon as it gets released!

On Sunday we invaded Flapjack Queen’s house to ask them to come for a walk and ended up spending most of the day there – when we did finally get out we discovered a hedge of “wild” plums in the allotments out back and introduced the children to the delights of pick your own fruit grinning conspiratorially at each other as the sticky juices ran down our chins and on our fingers.

Back at FQ’s palace we made plum crumble (plum and pecan (HtbaDG), a big one for the family and a small one for a lady up the road who no doubt picked the plums in the 1930’s when she was a teenager…I love the continuation of  history you get in a village. FQ made a banana and blueberry muffin cake and sent me away with half of it in return for my plum crumble.

So thank you friends, and in particular Fairy Gothmother, Flapjack Queen and Wingnut (who introduced me to geocaching which gets me out of the house) – all of whom it turns out are graduates of Durham university…