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How to Use Up Overripe Bananas

July 14, 1988|JOAN DRAKE | Times Staff Writer

Question: What can you do with overripe bananas besides make banana bread?

Answer: In "How to Repair Food" (Ten Speed Press: 1987) authors Marina and John Bear give the following suggestions:

"Too many (and they're all ripe at once): Well, you'll just have to make a banana cream pie. This can be absurdly simple if you use a store-bought pie shell, canned vanilla pudding, and spray-on whipped cream topping. See your favorite cookbook for alternatives.

"What, you still have more? All right, mash them up, combine with lemon juice (1 lemon for each 6 bananas; or you can use that citric acid stuff groceries sell for home fruit processing), and freeze in an airtight container or in freezer wrap."

"Now you have six months to find some interesting recipes for mashed bananas. Like banana bread, banana cake and banana pudding for starters. Thaw fully before unwrapping or opening, or the banana will turn brown. (Even if it does, the taste is unimpaired.)"

The following recipe is a take-off on the Banana Shortcake recipe that has been a favorite of Chasen's restaurant patrons for years:

BANANA SHORTCAKE

1 loaf sponge cake or poundcake

1/4 to 1/2 cup rum

2 cups whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Dash salt

3 bananas, sliced

Split cake horizontally into 3 layers. Sprinkle rum over each layer and allow to stand 2 hours.

Beat cream until slightly thickened. Add sugar, vanilla and salt and continue beating until stiff. Spread small amount whipped cream on 1 cake layer, add 1/3 banana slices and more whipped cream.

Repeat layers, using remaining cake, banana slices and whipped cream. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Q: I'm trying to eliminate caffeine from my diet. Besides coffee, what foods should I avoid?

A: Caffeine is a natural constituent of a number of plants including coffee, as you mentioned, but also tea, cola nuts and cocoa beans. It's found in products made from these plants, such as cocoa and chocolate, cola and pepper-type drinks. You should also be aware that some over-the-counter aspirin compound preparations contain caffeine, as do preparations that inhibit sleep.

By way of comparison, a cup of coffee contains about 90 milligrams of caffeine, while cola drinks containing caffeine may range from 20 to 36 milligrams per six ounces. Aspirin compounds contain 15 to 30 milligrams and sleep inhibiting compounds contain 110 milligrams per tablet.

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