It’s difficult to stock up on groceries when you plan on staying home indefinitely. Due to the coronavirus crisis, my boyfriend and I are both working at home remotely and limiting our movement to our apartment and exercise in the open air. We don’t know how long we will live like this or how dire the situation will become. To help ease our minds and prepare for the worst, we took a few shopping trips and purchased items that we hope will last us for about a month. The tricky thing about buying supplies for this long is making sure to get a good balance of nutrients despite varying expiration dates. On our last shopping trip before our unofficial self-sequester, we decided to stock up on fruits. One item that we perhaps got too much of were bananas.
Baking has become my go-to indoor hobby during the pandemic. I was excited to figure out what I could make with our bananas without using too many of our other limited food items. About a week ago, I decided to make banana bread. Like many of my decisions as of late, banana bread was a spur of the moment choice. The ingredients for the bread included one stick of butter, three ripe bananas, and two large eggs. Under ordinary circumstances I would not so much bat an eye at these proportions, however, not knowing when I was going to shop again made me hesitate. Regardless, I decided to dive in and make the bread, mostly following a recipe that I found on FoodNetwork.com.
Bananas, like many fruits, have a relatively short shelf life. It always struck me as funny how bananas can go bad so quickly. To the consumer they are such a fragile fruit—they brown in the cold, ripen quickly when in a bunch, and they, well, bruise like…bananas—however, if we zoom out a bit, bananas endure a lot. These fruits are grown in hot climates in bunches, they are chopped apart, packaged, shipped several hundred miles, transported by truck, stored, and brought home by us. What a life! …but, I digress. The bananas we purchased were close to ripe and did not have a long life ahead of them, so it was time to get creative.
My success with the banana bread loaf made me eager to try out another banana recipe when it was clear that the bananas were on their last leg. This time, when I looked for banana recipes, I had to be more sparing with the quantity of ingredients. Luckily, I found a ‘banana breakfast bar’ recipe that seemed to almost match my search criteria. I was missing a few ingredients and I ended up substituting wheat flour for all-purpose flour and vegetable oil for olive oil (I was concerned about how this substitution would affect the taste and tried to compensate by adding some honey as a sweetener). Also, because I did not have any white chocolate, I was unable to make the glaze that was supposed to be drizzled on top of the bars.
I had no problems following the instructions and was pleasantly surprised to see the bread rise in the oven and look like a real loaf. The taste was flavorful and banana-y, yet not terribly sweet. If I were to have done anything differently, I would have considered waiting a day or two more to let the bananas ripen or perhaps have added a little bit of honey to sweeten the batter.
Banana Breakfast Bar with walnuts
Again, like the banana bread, the banana breakfast bar recipe was easy to follow. Another appealing detail about this recipe is that the total bake time was only 18-22mins (while the banana bread was about an hour). The bar tasted good and sweet. The texture was spongey with some oatmeal roughness and walnut crunch (the walnuts were my own addition).
In times like these, open-mindedness in one’s situation is a must to help lift one’s spirits. For example, I turned the banana bread into a fancy dessert one evening by eating it à la mode with raisins and caramel sauce. Additionally, I ended the day once with a peanut butter and banana smoothie. Working within your constraints can yield boundless creativity. As our food situation changes, I will continue to challenge myself to figure out new and fun ways to combine our hodgepodge of ingredients into tasty meals.
As always, Dear Reader, I wish you good health and sweet treats during this time that is nothing short of…bananas!