September 16, 2011

Quick and Easy Banana Ginger Oatmeal

Last weekend, I made Ginger Spice Brownies.  Even though I started from an old Nestle' recipe, I spent a lot of time fine tuning and worrying about the flavors I was creating.  I was going out of my way to try and make something that could be appreciated, both by anyone who was reading this blog, and by Mouse, who had asked me to combine brownies and ginger in the first place. 

This is not that blog.  While I'm sure I will approach the next thing I bring you with the same level of detail as I paid my brownies, this is a story of throwing things together, and being pleasantly surprised with the results. 

It all started with this guy:

You know his type.  A banana, well past his prime.  If he'd brought his buddies you'd be making banana bread.  Sometimes you can throw this lone wolf into a smoothie, but when it's the last piece of fruit in the house all you've got is a sad looking piece of produce that the kids won't touch.  Sad to say, there have been many times I just passed this unattractive fellow by until he was too far gone, and into the trash he went.

But not this morning.  Wife ate the last of the eggs on her way to work, in a cheesy, crunchy English muffin sandwich that made me drool with jealousy.  The dry cereal was gone; so too the yogurt.  All that was left to satisfy Boy and I before he went off to school and I hit the gym was that healthful bastion of breakfast, oatmeal.

When I was a child I hated oatmeal.  Thought it was like eating paste, without the depth of flavor.  If you piled enough raisins, butter, and brown sugar on top of the sticky lump of goo I might eat it, but I was never a fan.  That's changed as I've grown, but one thing is still the same-oatmeal just doesn't taste right to me unless I have some sort of a fruit.  Peaches, preferably, or apples.  Strawberries are good too, and I might use a raisin or a blueberry if I'm desperate.  After that?  Probably going to pass oatmeal by.  Unless it's the only option.  But what to do about fruit?  To be fair, I did have a box of raisins in my baking cupboard, but at the same time, they've been there longer than I've had most of my pets.  I decided to give a banana a try.

I don't have any fancy "steel cut" oats, just the rolled oats in the cardboard cylinder, and I started them the way I always do when it's Boy and I, which is to say I followed the directions for three servings. I would reprint  them here, but they tend to vary from box to box, so just follow the instructions on your own brand of oatmeal.

If about now you are shaking your head, wondering why you wasted your time when all I was going to do is tell you about a time I made oatmeal and put some banana in it, I feel your pain.  It's not far from the truth.  But I did tweek it a little:

1 T. brown sugar
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. cinnamon

I pulled my oats off of the stove just a little early, making sure that they didn't get mushy, and tossed this combination of seasonings into the pan.  Brown sugar is in all my oatmeal, and I used cinammon any time an apple or a peach went in, but this was the first time I'd used ginger or vanilla.  Meanwhile, I placed two bowls out and broke up my banana into chunks, each about the size of my thumb above the knuckle, and since I was splitting my three servings of oatmeal 2-1 in favor of the adult, I did about the same with the banana, though I was a little bit closer to an equal split.  I spooned the oats across the fruit, and used the wooden spoon I'd cooked with to mash the banana into the oatmeal.  The banana itself had been slightly better off than the peel had implied, but I was actually happy to see that the breakfast would have some texture to it, as it only partially gave way.

When the banana was as integrated as I wanted it to be, I grabbed my last ingredient.

2 T. candied ginger, finely diced

This was really the kicker.  I still had some candied ginger I'd chopped up from the frosting that went on last weekend's brownies, and while it was the banana that provided the impetus for this meal, it was the decision to build my flavors around the ginger that made it something worth documenting.  Which isn't to say the fruit didn't pull its own weight.  Smashing it through the already cooked oats allowed each bite to have just a subtle undertone of banana.  If I had cooked it along with my oats, the end result would have just been mush, and if I'd merely sliced it on top the flavors would have never married the way they did.  Along with the spices, it created so much flavor that I used at least half as much sugar as I would have normally tossed in, and the creaminess of the banana completely replaced the need for butter.  It was the perfect base for the candied ginger, which I just sprinkled on the top.  It gave each bite a hint of heat, lacking in powdered ginger, and made it something special, a bowl of oatmeal I could feel okay blogging about.


1 comment:

  1. I love the ginger at the end... terrific idea!

    Thanks for sharing
    Dave at