Banana Abundance

Let’s take a trip to the bottom of the garden, and harvest some bananas…

We live in New Zealand, two hours south of Auckland. Not exactly sub-tropical, but nevertheless, we grow bananas. They’re a hardy bunch really! Missi Luki, or Lady’s Fingers, so named because they are slightly smaller than commercially available bananas. They like sunshine, but don’t mind shade either. We have a stand of bananas in the full sun, and then I planted some on the south side of the house, never expecting more from them than screening from the neighbours. Seems like these are even more prolific than the ones down the bottom of the garden, in full sun. Go figure!

The banana stands get hammered in the frosts of winter, and shredded in the wild winds of winter and Spring. But fear not, I have discovered that bananas are a hardy lot! They fight back and in Spring, they literally spring into action, sending out new fronds and new pups (baby banana plants). They require little attention, and only during Autumn, I may throw a big plastic green bag around a nearly-ripe bunch, so that it becomes a mini hothouse, willing the bunch to fruition.

Sometimes I forget to check these recycled “growing bags” (Mike collects coffee husks for our compost bin, from a local coffee roastery in the bags) and I end up with a bunch so ripe, that the minute I hook it down and open up the bag, fruit flies from a mile away congregate within minutes! So just a few weeks back, this is what I encountered. Normally, I would cut the fruiting bunch off, and hang it up in our garden shed, harvesting a few “hands” of bananas as they ripen. Not this time!

Suddenly I had to jump into ripe-banana mode, shelve all plans for the day, and start getting all BananaRama in the kitchen. Many made it to the freezer, where they will form the base for SummerTime Smoothies, while the rest became (several) versions of Banana Loaf. I have a Go-To banana loaf recipe, which I’ll share. I am not a baker, but somehow this recipe is so dead-easy and yum, everyone who savours it yells out for more, and or asks for the recipe.

Fat little Ladies Finger bananas, ready for mashing. I substitute two small Ladies Fingers for one commercially produced one.

Banana Loaf Ingredients

* 1 1/2 cups plain flour

* 1 cup brown sugar

* 3 ripe bananas (or 6 small ones)

* 1 tspn Baking Soda

* 1/3 cup butter (vegetarian) or coconut oil (vegan)

* 1/2 tspn cardamom powder

* 1 tspn Vanilla Essence

* pinch of salt

* 2 TBspn milk (vegetarian) or milk substitute (vegan)

Method:

* Preheat oven to 175 deg C.

* Mash bananas.

* Melt butter or coconut oil. Add to bananas.

* Add rest of ingredients, stirring to blend and add sifted flour last.

* Stir till mixture is blended through, don’t over stir. Pour into greased loaf pan.

* Place loaf pan into oven, bake for 45-50 mins.

* Stick a bamboo skewer in to check if loaf is fully baked.

* When complete, allow to cool slightly then place onto a cooling rack.

Banana Loaf blend before flour is added.

Add flour and mix till blended through.

A double batch of banana loaf. Why not? Freeze one, Eat one!

Fresh from the oven, the aroma of banana and vanilla fills the kitchen.

Our home-grown bananas were put to good use, two loaves (more like cake, really) and a dozen muffins. The recipe can easily be changed up to make a muffin mix, simply pour the batter into muffin tins and bake for 20 – 25 mins.

Variations:

* Why not add dark chocolate chips?

* Peel and chop up an apple to add to the blend?

* Add a 1/4 cup desiccated coconut?

* What about a handful of sultanas?

* Chop up 1/4 cup of dates….?

* Come up with your own variation!

This is so easy, simple and fool-proof, I have even just made it while on holiday in Fiji, banana Paradise……an easy treat to rustle up. Yum! Happy Diwali everyone!

Ciao, Jizzy

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