There is nothing that inspires more terror and hope in the kitchen than an overripe banana. On the one hand, those things are nasty, and getting nastier by the second. They’re speckled and brown and clammy to the touch which, now that I’ve typed that, sounds like the profile of some rare dermatological disease. But friends, beneath that shriveled skin and sickly-sweet smell is a banana-shaped package of pure potential. There’s a smoothie in there, or a crumb-topped bread or, when the cold sneaks in through the window frames and insists on staying for breakfast, there’s rice cereal supreme.
I have no idea when I started calling this meal “rice cereal supreme,” or what, exactly, even makes it “supreme,” but I do know that it sounds a lot better than “baby food for grownups” which, as Eli likes to remind me, is basically what it is. To me, mashing together a banana, hot rice cereal, and a few dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg feels undeniably “supreme” and, dictionary definitions of the word be damned, I call it like I see it.
Unlike oatmeal, which is overwhelmingly delicious when made on the stovetop and underwhelmingly blah when made in the microwave, hot rice cereal can go either way without much noticeable difference. I opt for the microwave, and while the cereal spins, I peel and mash my banana, top it with spices, and squish it all together with a fork. When the timer beeps, I simply scrape the banana concoction into the bowl, stir, top with walnuts, and devour. I fear that all of this mashing and squishing might offend your delicate sensibilities, dear readers, but I promise you that the end result immediately cancels out the ick factor. Rice cereal supreme is like banana bread in a bowl, only creamier, and spooned instead of sliced. If this is baby food, then kindly pass me a bib.
Before I hand over the recipe, a word about overripe bananas: It can be difficult to synchronize your cereal (or smoothie or quick bread) consumption with your ripening bananas. The period between the edible mush phase of an overripe banana and the black and genuinely rotten phase is alarmingly short, and since bananas by the bunch tend to freckle and brown at more or less the same pace, it’s all too easy to let a few bananas slip over to the point of no return. The solution is to peel all overripe bananas that do not make it into your blender or oven or cereal bowl, and freeze them in a Ziploc bag. It’s an excellent technique, save for one tiny detail: [Readers with sensitive gag reflexes, I advise you to stop reading right here.] The only thing scarier than an overripe banana is a frozen overripe banana thawing in a bowl on the counter. The first time that Eli saw one, he assumed that it had gone bad (“That banana was not okay. It looked dis-GUS-ting!”), and threw it away. He was horrified (“Ewwww!”) when I told him that a thawing overripe banana is actually supposed to look like a slimy, decomposing alien worm, and that he had been sipping smoothies made from these vile-looking creatures all summer long.
So. Feel free to stash some overripe bananas in your freezer, and to pull one out for this cereal. Just brace yourself, and do your best to wipe the frightful thing from your memory once it’s safely mashed and stirred into the bowl. Your taste buds will surely help you out with that last part.
Rice Cereal Supreme
I use a cereal called Organic Brown Rice Cream by Erewhon. I’ve been told that it’s a little hippy-dippy, but I love it. Feel free to substitute your own favorite brand.
¼ c. rice cereal
1 c. water
A pinch of sea salt
1 overripe banana (or a banana ripe enough to be easily mashed)
2 dashes of cinnamon
1 dash of nutmeg
1 T. ground flaxseed (optional)
5-6 walnuts (which you can toast, if you’d like)
In a microwave-safe cereal bowl, mix together the cereal and the water. Break up any big clumps with a spoon. Add a pinch of sea salt, give it one more stir, and microwave for approximately 2 minutes. While the cereal is cooking, peel the banana, lay it on a small plate, and mash it with a fork until creamy. Sprinkle the cinnamon, nutmeg, and flaxseed (if using) on top of the mashed banana, and mix. When the cereal is ready, scrape the plate of mashed, spiced banana into the bowl, and stir. You can add a splash of milk if you would prefer a slightly wetter cereal. Top with walnuts, and serve.