Thursday, November 19, 2009

Banana bread

Banana bread can also be filed under "cheap things for breakfast," though it can also be a lovely dessert. (Added bonus: you can reheat a slice and crumble it over vanilla ice cream. This is particularly yummy with a raspberry sauce.) I like my bananas a little underripe, when the ends are still green. Once they turn fully yellow, I don't want them anymore. The problem is that a bunch of green bananas has maybe a day or two after they make it home, before they're too ripe for me. Either I have to eat a lot of bananas all at once, or find another use for overripe ones.

Enter the freezer. Now, the freezer is the greatest thing to happen to food since salt. It's usually vastly underutilized. You can freeze just about anything. Milk, bread, cheese, fruit, many different vegetables, chopped onions and garlic, cookies, juice, chocolate chips, broth, any kind of meat, nuts, you name it, you can put it in your freezer. Got half a gallon of milk or a few slices of bread about to go bad? In the freezer. You buy butter and cheese in bulk but can't use it quickly enough? Put it in the freezer. Love cooking but hate chopping onions? Do a bunch, put them in the freezer, use as needed. Bought a bunch of peppers/blueberries/spinach/whatever on sale? Use some, put the rest in the freezer for later. Got a bunch of overripe bananas? Put them in the freezer.

Don't peel them. Just throw them in there, whole. They'll turn black, but they're supposed to. Leave them there until you're ready to make banana bread (or banana muffins, or banana ice cream, or banana smoothies, or whatever). Let them thaw, then slice off one end and squeeze out the banana goo. It's not pretty, but it tastes great, especially when baked into something. So much more banana-y than fresh bananas.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups mashed thawed banana
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted Crisco
1/4 cup milk

Sift the dry ingredients and set aside. Add the lemon juice to the banana, mix a little, set aside. Blend sugar and shortening until fluffy; add eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Add the flour mix and the milk slowly, then the banana mix, until well blended. At this point you can add walnuts, or pecans, or cranberries, or chocolate chips, or anything else you see fit. Pour into two greased loaf pans, bake at 350 for one hour. Let cool 15 minutes before removing from pans.

Cost: 17 cents each for eggs, maybe 15 cents each for 3-4 bananas, the other ingredients bought in bulk and already in your pantry... I estimate maybe $1.25 total for two loaves.

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