What to do with Too Many Bananas


     The island of Dominica's main crop is bananas.  All through the interior there are great plantations of banana trees.  Every 9 months or so, each tree produces a huge stalk of bananas.  There are usually 10 to 20 bananas per tier, or "hand", and up to 20 tiers on the whole stalk.  That can sometimes make 100 pounds of bananas on one long stalk.  Now most of them are picked while still green, dipped in a fungicide and shipped off to supermarkets where they are exposed to a gas which induces ripening then sold just as they turn yellow.  Now I've always loved bananas ever since I was a kid, but I had never tasted a banana at its best until I could eat ones that had been allowed to ripen naturally on the tree and picked the same day I ate it.  Wow!  What delicious bananas they have down here!

    Emmett, too has developed a fondness for local bananas as we travel through these islands.  So one day at the market, I couldn't control myself and bought a whole hand of bananas.  Emmett and I quickly began devouring them, but even with our prodigious rate of consumption, we couldn't keep up.  All the bananas on a hand ripen at the same time.  So we ended up with a lot of over ripe brown bananas that would soon be attracting fruit flies.

    The  solution to this dilemma, as my mother taught me long ago, is banana bread.  Each loaf can use up 3 bananas, once baked it can be frozen, and lets not beat around the bush here...its delicious!  So I took the opportunity to teach my son how to make banana bread and as we were mixing up a double batch of batter, he looked up and said, "Dad, do you think we could make this our secret family recipe?  I've always wanted to have a family secret."

    Avoiding the invitation to let him in on any true family secrets, I replied, "Well, Emmett, banana bread is not really a secret recipe.  I think it is in every Lutheran Church Cookbook ever published."  But I just couldn't sit there and watch the disappointment build in his eyes, so I quickly concocted a plan to add cinnamon and nutmeg (which also grow down here) to add a certain Caribbean twist to basic banana bread.  And you know what, it was really good.  So I was feeling pretty proud of our secret family recipe.  But every time we serve it to anyone, Emmett is so proud that he just can't hold the secret inside and he has pretty much been telling everyone who eats it about the cinnamon and nutmeg.  So I don't feel too guilty anymore in giving you the secret family recipe:

Banana Bread

(makes one 9 x 5" loaf)

6 Tbsp butter

1 Cup sugar

3 ripe bananas

3 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup milk

2 Cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 C chopped or sliced almonds

   Cream butter & sugar until smooth.  Add bananas, eggs, vanilla, and milk, mix until smooth.  Combine dry ingredients and mix.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet while mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

   Pour into a greased loaf pan and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 55-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.  Serve in thick slices with more butter.