Bananas Over Bananas

I’ve never really liked bananas. It sounds crazy. After all, nature designed bananas to be a great snack–easily portable, they come with their own biodegradable wrapping, inexpensive, and a good source of potassium. I should be totally ape over bananas. Sorry, I couldn’t resist–feel free to leave now if necessary, I won’t blame you.

Oh? You’re still here. Cool.

I first learned to like bananas in Taiwan. At the time, I discovered my then-roommate is an amazing baker (for the record, I can’t bring to mind anything that she wasn’t excellent at, and she is a tremendously positive and kind-hearted person as well). I can cook fine, no problem. Meat, vegetable-like roots and fungus, and even sauces, I’m good to go. I’ve even started dabbling in soup. But I really do best with things that stay on the stove top and that I can keep an eye on. As much as I love eating sweets, baking has never been my forte. However, my roommate? She was amazing at it. She started a baking club at the school she was teaching at as a way for her advanced students to get more practice at conversational English and learn a bit more about American culture than what Hollywood shows the world. She made all sorts of things that I hadn’t really exposed myself to before, or if I had, it’d been when I was young and determined I didn’t like those things. What sort of dishes? Apple pie. Banana bread. Almond bars. I could go on.

I was absolutely bowled over by the banana bread she brought home and decided that maybe bananas weren’t so bad after all, at least in bread form.

Our apartment in Yilan didn’t have an oven, which wasn’t exactly uncommon. When I moved to Douliu a year later and lived on my own, I decided to buy a small oven (probably more akin to a toaster oven). It wasn’t a great piece of machinery, and honestly, I probably got what I paid for. A fair amount of heat escaped, nothing really cooked evenly, and it just wasn’t great. But it sufficed for most of my needs. I think my most frequent use for it was to make my own version of “French Onion soup”. The broth consisted of vegetarian oyster mushroom sauce, soy sauce, and Mirin. Probably the only part of it that resembled french onion soup was the onions, bread, and the cheese. My oven did succeed in melting cheese on top of my soup, so I was pleased enough. I do vaguely recall other attempts at using it–there was an apple pie who’s graham cracker (Digestives) crust fell to pieces and cookies that came out half burnt and half mostly raw. My coworkers were nice enough to help me eat the apple pie and cookies all the same, despite the fact that a lot of it didn’t look real tasty.

My attempt at making banana bread myself went pretty poorly. I had way too much batter for the oven or for the size dish I had an I didn’t realize it. So most of it didn’t cook, even left in for longer or put back in again a second time. I’m sure none of that was a brilliant idea. I did try some of the outside bits that did seem to cook and it was okay actually, though not as good as my former roommate’s. I should give her recipe a try again now that I’m back home and have a trustworthy oven–the heat only escapes when I get impatient and open it to check on whatever is in there.

Tonight though, I didn’t decide to make banana bread. Maybe I would have had more luck. I decided I’d try to be a bit healthier and make baked banana chips. I’ve mentioned before my weight loss yo-yoing–getting down about 20 pounds and gaining it all back. At the moment I’m trying to look for sustainable practices for keeping myself healthier and accountable. It’s a slow process, I’m working on it. Making banana chips instead of sugary banana bread was an attempt at it.

Back to the banana chips: I looked at half a dozen recipes that all said about the same thing–slice your banana thin, spread the pieces on parchment paper with a little lemon juice and put it in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour or two as necessary, you can’t go wrong. Well, I’m beginning to think I went wrong somewhere.

I peeled my banana and sliced the pieces maybe a quarter of an inch thick and spread them over my parchment paper and heated the oven to 200. I had a hard time deciding how I was going to season them. The truth is, I’m not a big fan of the flavor of bananas alone. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten more than a bite or two of one. So I separated my banana pieces into sections to experiment.

Group 1: banana and a little lemon juice

Group 2: banana, lemon juice, garlic

Group 3: banana, lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne

Group 4: banana, lemon juice, garlic, and just a tiny bit of olive oil to see what would happen

When my tray of banana pieces had been in the oven for about 40 minutes, I checked on them to turn them over. They were slimy. They were quite slimy. And I thought they smelled pretty gross. I flipped them all over and reset the kitchen timer to total 2 hours instead of one.

I checked them again at an hour and forty minutes. They were still kind of slimy and I still wasn’t digging the smell. It was a this point that I decided I might as well open up WordPress and blog about the experience. Maybe one of you has some advice for me, or maybe you’ll get a laugh out of imagining my face smelling the slimy grossness that was in my oven. It looks something like this.  Sorry, I did post the picture, but  then a net-dragon ate it. They’re known for eating horrendous pictures so that they will hopefully never bee seen again.

Annoyed and wishing I would have just made roasted chickpeas, I flipped them again and turned the heat up to 250 to let them finish their last 20 minutes for a cumulative 2 hours in the oven. As much as I love roasted chickpeas, I don’t like how they taste eaten cold the next morning, so they’re not a great snack for me to bring to work. I was hoping banana chips might be.

They’ve come out of the oven now and they’re rather tacky. I’m thinking I might have left the slices too thick. Maybe I should have gone with an 1/8 of an inch slices. I haven’t taste tested them yet.

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Okay, I’ve tasted them now. They dried a bit, but definitely are not remotely crisp or crunchy. I’m guessing I should have sliced them thinner. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to like the taste of hot, mushy banana. I tried a couple of the different flavor combinations and just found the banana too overwhelming.

I suppose I shall have to try another experiment another day. For now, I’ll post this and get back to working on my next chapter for Law and Marriage. I have to say, for a ship I haven’t really explored much before now, I’m really enjoying it. I did manage to update it mid-February, after being unable to update since the end of December. I’m hoping to get another update in this week or this weekend. Cooking features heavily in the next chapter.

I’ve fallen far, far behind in Thain in Vain‘s flash fiction prompts. I’m hoping to get everything back in balance again. In the meantime, I ran across this on Facebook and it’s awesome. It’s 20 two-sentence horror stories. It’s some of best micro-fiction I’ve come across–definitely got chills reading some of them. I’m trying not to think about them now, so close to going to sleep, so read those at your own risk.

Well, it’s time to write, so TTFN!

(Please be sure to read that last bit in Tigger’s voice, because that’s totally what I imagined when I wrote it.)

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Checking In

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Hey, everybody!

I’m sorry I’ve been a bit absent the past few weeks. The good news: I’ve been involved in a pretty epic building project. It definitely feels like one of the coolest things I’ve ever made. The downside is that for the past week and a half, there hasn’t been time to do anything else. I wake up, go to work, cook dinner, and then work on my awesome project until bed. So, for the past week and a half, I haven’t managed to get hardly any writing done: no blog posts, no editing on my NaNoWriMo novel, and no update on my fan fiction.

What’s that you say? What’s my excuse for the other two weeks since I last updated?

Well, I was sick. I had the worst sinus infection I ever had. It made me dizzy, and uncomfortable, and hardly willing to sit up, much less think enough to function at work, or write when I came home. However, I’ve come to a crossroads now on what I’ve been working on the past 10 days and a little bit of a break. I wish I could tell you what I’ve been working on, but not yet. You’ll get a full accounting as soon as I can give it to you. Suffice it to say, it’s something I’ve never done before, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.

I’ve written a little bit of fan fiction tonight, so hopefully an update on that won’t be too far away, although a part that I wrote before I got sick will probably have to be rewritten. If only things came out right the first time, right?

I did experiment with a few new dishes in the kitchen, including the Baked Potato Grilled Cheese sandwich this weekend. It was pretty good, but it was a lot of work for first thing in the morning. However, it was enough food to fuel my creative endeavors until dinner time.

I’ve also fallen behind on Thain in Vain‘s flash fiction challenge. Coming up with the time to write 500 words in the span of a week may not seem like a lot, but under the circumstances, I just didn’t have two brain cells or enough time to manage it. I plan to make up the stories, but I’ll get there.

I’m sorry this post is so random and rather uninformative. More is coming, I promise. I can’t wait to tell you about what I’ve been working on. In the meantime, I hope you’re having an awesome week.


That's all folks.