I always like to have a few bananas on hand. They are such a great little package to feed a sweet tooth moment or satisfy the hunger until dinner is cooked. The recent heatwave of summer has seen the fruit quickly turn brown and not quite attractive to eat on its own. I know there are multitudes of recipes for old bananas from banana bread, muffins or smoothies and yes they can be frozen for another day.
In a moment of reminiscing with my mum (which happens quite a bit these days) my memory was taken back to cold winter evenings growing up, to Sunday nights where tomato soup and bananas fritters were a standard fare of our household.
In winter our routines and meals were the same most weekends. Living out of town meant that we headed off to Saturday sports for the whole day. My brothers to football or soccer while I played and umpired netball and my mum manned the netball ‘tent’ or helped in the canteen. We left home by 9 and arrived back as the sun was revealing its final wintry glow in the late afternoon. As we raced to complete the farm jobs before dark a pot of stew always seem to miraculously appear on the stove – that was our Saturdays.
Sundays, like many Australian families was a bake (roast) meal in the middle of the day, with something lighter for the evening as mum ironed the pile of clothes and we all prepared for the week ahead. In our house soup and fritters was a common menu. Banana fritters.
I used to think we consumed our food like everyone else. It wasn’t until I left home that I realised some family traditions seemed a little weird to others.
Probably one of the first to be revealed was salt on my cut apples. Doesn’t everyone do this? I was reminded that this might not be the norm just recently in our tea room at work. I absent mindedly quartered an apple, grab the salt pot and sprinkled over my plate. One of my co-workers stopped the conversation mid-sentence and ask…”Did you just put salt on that?!?!” “Um, yes?” to which there a small pause and a dumbfounded silence.
Growing up we always had a tin or two of tomato soup in the cupboard. Just one of those staples in an out-of-town pantry at a time when supermarkets were not open 7 days a week. While my father loved his bowl of Bonox I could never quite come at the bitter yet salty brown beef extract and we tended to cook up a pot of tomato soup for the rest of us.
And then you always added a dash milk to your soup before you ate it, no matter the flavour of soup…Don’t you?
Apparently not. That is another one of those weird family traditions that I thought was standard fare. The reason? I think to cool it down? Or maybe as my mother’s family struggled to make ends meet after her father died adding fresh free milk from the farm cow added nutrition to satisfy the hunger of a growing family?
As our family settled in front of the fire, all bathed and hair washed to watch Sunday Night Football we shared banana fritters. They are like a pikelet with mashed banana stirred in, though I recently found out the original recipe from my mother’s family was with chopped apple. Dad didn’t like apple so the next generation of tradition knows them only as banana fritters.
Banana fritters topped with a sprinkle of sugar and lemon juice.
What? I hear you ask. This is another family fare that I assumed everyone enjoyed, only to learn many years later that this is a family secret.
Over dinner a few nights ago as I was probing my mum for the recipe I asked where did the sugar and lemon idea come from?
The sprinkle of sugar is my mother’s family tradition – that is how they used to enjoy the apple fritters as children.
The lemon juice was an addition from my father. His family used to have lemon everything. My grandmother’s garden could produce two things – geraniums and lemon trees. Even now the nutty, dusty scent of a geranium will take me back to running barefoot on the small bit of lawn of Bellevue with a multitude of cousins, the sound of laughter and family percolating through the air.
There was always lemons overflowing the fruit bowl on the kitchen table and scattered under the trees that lined the driveway – small, withered and tart enough to make any modern sour lolly taste sweet.
So now I impart a family recipe to you.
If you are wondering what to cook on a cold Sunday evening how about you throw a pot of tomato soup on the stove and whip up a batch of banana fritters? I will forgive you if cannot do the dash of milk in the soup, but the sugar and lemon juice on the fritter is a must try.
Combine a cup of self-raising flour, a tablespoon of sugar, 1 egg and about 2/3 cup of milk in a bowl. Whisk together. You may need to add a little bit more milk to make it ‘sloppy’
Add 2-3 sliced bananas and stir through
Pour small amounts mixture into a heated pan. Cook until bubbles appear, then flip.
Serve warm with a sprinkle of sugar and lemon juice.
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