Tag Archives: oatmeal

Waiting for elections, and banana granola

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What to do when the bananas in your fridge seem to multiply by the day? This month I’ve made butterscotch banana bread, banana fritters, and banana-peanut butter smoothies, but still there were twelve black bananas today. I confess, I don’t even particularly like bananas, though my husband does, and they are always in season here. So seven bananas went in the freezer (peel and all, new experiment), two are set aside for fritters, and three went in this granola. I’d seen Banana Granola at Green Kitchen Stories, which looks delightful. This is a cross between that and my normal granola. The latter is based on my mother’s 1970s recipe, thus infallible, merely updated with the ingredients we can get here.

Speaking of here: there are ten days left until Ghana has elections on 7 December. Will the National Democratic Congress (NDC) stay in power, or will there will be a shift to the New Patriotic Party (NPP)? There are banners, debates, flags on trees, and radio debates. Campaign cars drive around with loudspeakers, exhorting respective party virtues and slogans through muffled megaphones and playing music. Posters asking for peaceful elections abound, and we can only hope that is the case. In the interim, time to make granola.

Banana granola

700 grammes old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cook)
a handful of rye flakes
60 grammes untoasted sesame seeds
1 pinch sea salt
40 grammes sunflower oil
1 tsp salt
3 very ripe small bananas, peeled and mashed (about 250 grammes)
100 grammes golden syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon

After baking, I added:
A generous handful of unshelled, salted toasted pumpkin seeds
A generous handful toasted  coconut chips

Heat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. In the tray, mix oats, sesame seeds and salt. Mash bananas, mix with oil and syrup, and pour over oats. Mix well, so everything is slightly coated Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes or so, checking at at 10-15-20 minutes that it is not burning, and stirring through oatmeal so it all gets evenly toasted. Cool (if in Accra, while keeping an eye out for marauding ants) then store in an air-tight container. I am happy to report that the banana flavour in the granola is not overpowering!

Notes: I normally make granola with golden syrup and sunflower oil, maybe some mashed apple, and assorted seeds, so this one with banana felt quite moist after 15 minutes. I did not want it to burn though, so checked every five minutes. The less you stir the lumpier it gets,  if you like that, just make sure it’s evenly toasted. We keep our granola in the fridge, as the ants get into all kinds of things here. Last week, they invaded the peanut butter. We actually bought a second fridge where we now keep oatmeal, cereal, sugar, golden syrup, the precious maple syrup from our Canadian neighbours, Italian cheeses and salumi, English cheddar, blueberry jam from my mother, spare flour, etcetera…  No need to encourage the wildlife. 

Speaking of ants and other bugs: below, another bag of oatmeal, just bought, very bug-infested when opened. I know insect protein is healthy, and something we will see more of in the future, and that food waste is a shame…. but this was a little too lively to be salvaged. Urrrrgh. Flour is easier, when I find bread flour I just freeze it and sift the weevils and such out later. 

bugs in oatmeal

Oatmeal bread with cracked wheat

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It is 15 September, and schools started today after the summer. Waiting for the bus, I was passed by parents with immaculately dressed children, pulling shiny new trolley backpacks. It is still warm, but summer clothes are on the wane, at least in our neighbourhood. Women are wearing more black, definitely less pastels, but with tiny chic sweaters, or little scarves draped against the morning chill (19C). There was also a small bus strike today, so things are back to normal. The next strike, announced for 1 October, will be more noticeable – unless the weather forecast is really bad, in which case the strike may be postponed. Always an adventure!

Anyway, back to bread. I had great intentions of reviving my sourdough starter this weekend, but Sunday arrived, with no progress. My sourdough starter has been abandoned in the fridge since mid-August. We got home late after trying a new pizzeria (Pizzeria Ostiense, with piazzaioli who used to work at Da Remo in Testaccio – excellent thin Roman pizza both places) and I simply forgot….. So I made Nigella’s Ricotta Hotcakes for Sunday breakfast, and baked this loaf instead, slightly impromptu.

September oatmeal bread with cracked wheat

First:
50 grammes oatmeal
50 grammes cracked wheat
50 grammes golden flax seeds
150 ml boiling water

300 grammes white wheat flour (I used 00)
140 grammes whole wheat flour
60 grammes rye flour
(Alternately, just use 200 grammes wholewheat flour)
2 tsp dry yeast (10 grammes or so)
400 grammes water
8 grammes salt

Pour boiling water over the cracked wheat, oatmeal and flax seeds. I use golden flax seeds, but regular brown ones would be great here too. Soak for an hour or so. Alternately soak this all the night before in cold water, if you are a bit more organized. I was not.

Now, add dried yeast and salt and water. Mix well, then add salt. Leave to rest ten minutes, then fold dough. Leave to rise for an hour or two, depending on your kitchen temperature. It is 27C here midday, so it was quick. Fold again, and shape dough. Move it to a banneton, covered (I used baking parchment in the banneton, with a plastic shower cap to cover it. Leave to rise for 1-2 hours, until it has risen nicely.
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Pre-heat oven to 230C. Slash the top of the dough, 4-5 cuts, and lift the dough over to a shallow baking tin. It is a sticky dough. Bake 45 min or so, uncovered, until the loaf looks golden brown and done. Remove from oven and cool before slicing.

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Notes: This was proofed a bit too long, as I had to wait for the washing machine to finish before turning the oven on. Oh, the joys of Roman electricity…. It is like rock, paper, scissors, but with washing machine, dishwasher, oven, iron ….. And the electric kettle trumps everything. Two of anything, and the fuse blows. We are used to running everything in sequence. Still, the bread was tasty, though not the prettiest loaf, and very good for sandwiches. I might try this again in small loaf tins. And I WILL feed my starter soon!

Oatmeal-coconut stuffed baked apples

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“Natale con i tuoi, pasqua come tu vuoi…..” I keep hearing this. Roughly translated: “Christmas you spend with family, Easter with those you wish.” Everyone seems to be counting down to Easter, though Easter Monday (Pasquetta) is the only day off for many Italians. The classic activity then is a picnic in the countryside, I am told. Yes, Good Friday is actually a working day here. Quite a contrast to a Norwegian Easter, which for many started last weekend as they headed to their mountain cabins for a week of skiing.

This is Rome, and it is spring, so we will be heading to Tuscany soon for three days of wine, cheese, and general Easter enjoyment. In anticipation of cheese shopping in Pienza, the fridge is being cleared out a bit. However, we had friends over for a weeknight dinner and needed a simple dessert with what was in the house. Aha! Baked apples it was.

Oatmeal-coconut stuffed baked apples

5 apples
40g coarse oatmeal
40g dessicated coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
40g butter, shaved in
40g golden syrup or honey

A little golden syrup or honey to drizzle over before baking
Serves five.

Core and peel the apples. You will be stuffing the apple centres later, so it is fine to have a slightly wide ex-core. I discovered this as I misjudged the apple core direction and needed to core some again……There is plenty of oatmeal stuffing though, you might need less if you are a better apple corer!

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In a bowl, mix oatmeal, coconut, and cinnamon. Shave in the butter (a paring knife will help) so you can roughly amalgamate the mixture with a fork, like making crumble topping. Stuff the apples generously with oatmeal mixture, stand upright in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle a little golden syrupor honey over each apple, maybe 2 tsp for all apples together. If there is any extra oatmeal mixture, spoon it in next to the apples. Cover dish until ready to make.

Dinner going well? Heat oven to 200C. Bake 30 min or so at 200C, until the apples are slightly softened but not so long the stuffing burns. I baked these ten minutes covered, only because I forgot to take the glass lid off….. Then twenty minutes more, the apples should still have a little resistance. Turn off oven. Put lid on or cover, so it does not dry out, and serve when needed.

Notes: It might be nice with vanilla custard on the side, but this was lovely as was. Easy weeknight dessert that could be prepared in advance and popped in the oven when guests start eating dinner. Ours were chatty, so something robust enough to be left a bit worked well. I thought the apples might discolour without a squeeze of lemon juice, but the smidgen of golden syrup may have resolved that.

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