banana bash–three dishes you’ll want to make and one you will not

Those who’ve been here before may have read mention of neighbors who bring over a box of food every Sunday. My understanding is that their church has a community food bank, from which they take any leftovers home to share with friends and family.

It’s much like a CSA as I never know what a Sunday will bring. Near-expired dairy products, produce, cookies, bread–it’s been fun to receive this kindness weekly. We offer our thanks each time they bring bounty (though their being from Nigeria and ourselves born and raised Minnesotan means communication can be spotty) and when appropriate, share what we make with their gifts. (They once brought over a 50-pound (!) box of chocolate chips–you’d better believe they got a batch or three of cookies out of me.)

they dared me to use them all

they dared me to use them all

I share this here not so much as a personal anecdote, but rather to set up this post’s reason for being: four bunches of spotted bananas. Not four spotted bananas, no. Four bunches.

What to do? A loaf of banana bread wouldn’t even make a dent. Freezing (peeled or no, both work) would take care of what I couldn’t use, but I was up for a challenge, so put it out there on deLizious facebook that I needed banana recipes stat. And my awesome readers came through. Here’s what I did to use up three of those four bunches. (One went home with friends, so was not my problem.):

My friend Jill wrote about a smoothie her family enjoys on summer nights. Cleverly named Monkey Smoothies blend frozen banana chunks, chocolate sauce, peanut butter, and milk. I cut a few bananas up and froze them overnight, then followed Jill’s instructions the next morning. The shakes were dreamy and tasted much like a peanut butter cup would were it frozen and drinkable. Definitely a winner.

frozen bananas, pbutter, choc sauce, milk--yum!

frozen bananas, pbutter, choc sauce, milk–how could this be anything but extraordinary?

monkey smoothie: drink a candy bar for breakfast

monkey smoothie: drink a candy bar for breakfast

Fellow WordPress blogger Perky Poppy Seed opened new worlds for me with her “recipe.” She suggested slitting unpeeled bananas “banana split-style” and placing on a baking sheet. Next, the slits were filled with small pieces of butter, ground cinnamon, and a splash of rum (or brandy or bourbon) and roasted at 400°F-ish until the skins turn black. Finally, the puree is spooned from the skins and used wherever mashed banana is called for. This was a “wow” for me–any banana bread I’ve ever made (and I’ve made a fair number as I try not to repeat b bread recipes) could be made again with this spiked puree, taking on a slightly different flavor. This I had to try.

not going to win any beauty contest, but they smell heavenly

not going to win beauty contests, but they smell heavenly

I filled and roasted 10 of the bananas, placing them on a foil-lined baking sheet to avoid having to wash the pan. The fragrance was heavenly and the final puree was as amazing as I’d imagined.

this stuff is pure baking gold

pure baking gold

I immediately set aside a cup for my next project, which was…

bananarama cake!

bananarama cake!

Beki, of Beki Cook’s Cakes, is the instructor responsible for my personal best in making a cake look pretty. She responded to my facebook query with a link to her blog for what looked to be an amazing recipe. I followed this recipe mostly to the letter, though used the roasted rum bananas and sprinkled a touch of vanilla salt between frosted layers.

The cake was phenomenal, though Beki will most likely wonder if I left my fine decorating skills in her classroom. Alas, the finished cake was a bit more goofy than it was beautiful. (I could use my 7-year-old daughter as an excuse for the imperfect frosting, but she was really only responsible for one smudge in the lettering. I’ll take full responsibility here.)

one crazy--but tasty--cake

one crazy–but tasty–cake

But even without bakery-quality visuals, this cake was crazy good. I was finally able to stop myself after three slices (they were fairly small, but still!) and am even now remembering how moist and tender that cake was. How it had an earthy sweetness that keeps you coming back for more. I managed to part with half of the cake to share with our neighbors, which means the cake has already dwindled significantly. When it’s gone? I’ll make another as I have a good cup or so of the spirited puree in my freezer.

oh, this is good

oh, this is good

The one banana recipe I did not use (besides the one that read “open trash bag, throw away”–horrors!) was offered by the keeper of the Kirschner Cookbook Library, which I’ve written up here before. Megan posts great finds from this library at a favorite blog and she pulled from her archives to share Banana Sardine Boats. These scary salads are worth a click for the kitsch factor alone.

Left in my freezer, then, is about a cup of spirited banana puree and maybe 1/2 cup frozen banana chunks. I was thrilled to meet my banana challenge, though also had plenty of help from facebook readers. While the four bunches of spotty bananas are gone, I’m certain I will run across more sooner rather than later and I’d bet you will, too. So I ask you to keep the recipes and ideas coming. What is your go-to banana recipe when you find yourself with too many brown bananas? Please share as it’s more fun to go bananas with fellow food folk 🙂

special ed.: funny names in food and super sweet

Food for fun is veering off schedule a bit to send out a Special Edition as it has two separate pieces of news, neither or which seemed to fit into regularly scheduled programming.

Piece of News #1: Many moons ago (ok, last January), the folks over at The Blog of Funny Names asked me to write the occasional guest post. Honored by the request from such a distinguished and talented bunch, I signed on. Note that I am not being even the slightest bit tongue-in-cheek when I say “distinguished and talented.” The blog’s creators are are bright (and hilarious) young men on ambitious career paths that include (but are not limited to) writing, filmmaking, medicine, entrepreneurial start-up, and law.

My initial draw to their blog was that it made me laugh and was completely unrelated to food. Anyone who has spent time at food for fun knows that working with and writing about food is my profession as well as my obsession. So it’s nice to have the occasional outlet that steers clear of all things edible. (The irony of my BoFN posts being food-related is not lost on me.) My first BoFN appearance was referred to in an earlier food for fun post (cornbread!) and today I link you to my latest on BoFN, where I introduce folks to savvy food businesswoman, Gesine-Bullock Prado. Would love it if you’d click over for a read, then (please) come back for Special Ed. part 2 🙂

Piece of News #2: The Perky Poppy Seed has honored food for fun with a nomination for a Super Sweet Blogger award. Thrilled, I must admit I am also at a bit of a loss when it comes to award nominations. They’re much-appreciated pats on the back from other like-minded bloggers and I love that someone enjoys food for fun enough to give me such a (sweet) shout-out. But nominating others always stumps me–not because there aren’t other deserving blogs out there, but because there are so many deserving blogs and they’ve already received the awards. What’s a stumped blogger to do?

In the interest of paying it forward, I do want to link you to a Baker’s Dozen of 13 (make that 15) blogs I enjoy. If you’re linked and want to make the Super Sweet award official, you can circle back to Perky’s post to put your plan in action. But there’s no obligation here–it’s just me telling others that I love what I’ve found in your space. (That said, it’s not an all-inclusive list. Just like all of you, my list of blogs enjoyed is seemingly endless and always growing.) A huge shout-out and thank you much to Perky Poppy Seed. If you’ve yet to visit her blog, you must head over. She even has a Foodie Movie page! Others for clicking…Seal_LLC (2)

And that, food for fun friends, completes this inaugural Special Edition. Thanks for coming by 🙂 You can now join the regularly scheduled programming already in progress…