Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Going bananas

Some fruits are just assholes.

Take strawberries, for example. They look all tantalizing in their container, but then you pour them in the strainer for a rinse and discover a universe of mold. The only sure fire way to ensure they are fresh, ripe and mold-free is to go out and pick them yourself. Which is fine. For about two weeks at the end of June, where I live.

Then I bought a pineapple on sale last week and when I cut into it I discovered there was significant rot. I was able to salvage enough pineapple for one lunch. Out of five. Not cool.

Grapes are hit and miss, too, forcing one to either buy them in good faith and hope they aren't sour little orbs of nastiness or sneak a taste in the grocery store, risking public humiliation at the mercy of an overzealous produce manager. Or possibly banishment, if your grocery store is hard core.

You might say all of this makes a pretty decent case for the fact that we should be sticking to in-season fruits, and I would say you have a good point, but it's hard to stick to those kinds of principles when you are packing 20 lunches a week. Variety keeps us sane and somewhat satisfied.

That's why I think it's important that we take a moment here to extole the virtues of the simple banana. Portably packable, definitely dependable and emminently edible in so many ways, the banana is a mainstay of our lunches. I don't pack them in their original form too often, as they do have a tendency to get a little banged up in the lunch bag which (apparently) renders them inedible. At least, according to my kids. But I have been known to cut them in half, leaving the half in the skin and encasing it in a reusable container.I also sliced banana up to include in little toothpick fruit kebabs for the kids' lunches when they were younger.

The thing I find about bananas is that everyone has their own window of acceptable eating. One person might like them a little green, another will only eat them perfectly yellow, while another prefers the sweetness associated with blotchy brown skin. Even if everyone in your house only likes them one way, you still have options. You can throw a slightly overripe banana in the morning smoothie. When they get really brown, then you pop them in the freezer to chill out until you're ready to bake banana bread. Or cake. Or muffins. Which is exactly what I did this week.

My usual banana bread/muffin recipe calls for sour cream, which I also discovered was moldy when I opened the lid (sigh), so I made a new recipe that used oil instead and included oatmeal, which always makes me feel unnaturally nutritionally smug for some reason. I threw in some chocolate chips for good measure and the kids ate them quite happily for two lunches.

So while we wait for warm June sunshine and the small window of opportunity to gorge on ripe, luscious local strawberries, I may grow ever wary of what's lurking under the skin or imported fruit, but I will happily continue to buy bananas with confidence that they will never go to waste.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup milk
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (or more, if you like 'em chocolatey)

In large bowl measure first 6 ingredients. Stir to mix. Make a well in the center.

In another bowl beat the eggs until frothy. Mix in the cooking oil, milk and bananas. Pour into the well. Stir just to moisten. Add in chocolate chips and stir, but not too much or the batter will get tough and your muffins will be weirdly pointy.

Line a muffin pan with paper cups or great the tin well. Fill cups 3/4 full. Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes.


  1. The one mouldy strawberry that infects the whole box, apparently while in the trunk of my car on the way home from the grocery store, makes me stabby.

    Fruit on sale this time of year sucks me in Every Single Time. This week I got burned by strawberries (2lbs for $5!) and golden delicious apples (3lbs for $4.50!) Throwing out rotten fruit within a day of bringing it home makes me SO annoyed.

  2. Bananas: the overachievers of the fruit world. I do love bananas. Screw the 100-mile diet!