2.08.2010

Rice cereal supreme

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.

21 comments:

Sara said...

hippy-dippy... i love it ;) sounds great. I don't often eat warm cereals, but this reminded me that I like them and should throw them in the rotation ;)

megan said...

OMG, I can't stop laughing. I can imagine the decomposing worm and Eli's reaction to it /perfectly/. Either that, or my stress levels have peaked and my reaction is really hysteria. Maybe some warm babyfood for grownups is the cure...

xx
megan

Maggie said...

This made me laugh out loud several times. Just what I needed.

Rosiecat said...

There's something about February that just demands hot cereal, don't you think? I'm wishing I had brown rice cereal in my cupboard right now, but I think I'll have to settle for oatmeal tomorrow morning. Which is not a bad thing at all.

By the way, Jess, my friend Daphna swears by her method for microwaving oatmeal, so I thought I'd share her recipe with you via my little blog:
http://lifeloveandfood24.blogspot.com/2008/10/magic-of-oatmeal.html
(I hope you don't mind the link here. I'm always tickled when my readers share recipes with me!)

El said...

The opening of this post is hilarious. You're a great writer. The oatmeal looks pretty tasty too!

Lilly Higgins said...

This is so funny! I love your style of writing and that you managed to mention babies, oatmeal and alien worms all in one post whilst still giving us a great recipe and a handy freezing tip! Thanks! x

Kate said...

I had to school my spouse on freezing the over ripe bananas instead of either a) gagging his way through them since he hates pitching food in the trash or b) pretending it's moldy so he doesn't feel bad about pitching it in the trash. Duh. 'Just put it in the freezer.' basically saved our marriage. Now he gets awesome banana bread on a whim, and I've learned to hide the thawing 'naners in a bowl. Under a towel. Because, ewww. They do look like decomposing alien worms. You nailed that one.

Now about that oatmeal.....have you stirred a mashed banana into that hot and soothing breakfast? With pecans? Or coconut? Oh dear. You MUST.

Midtagessen said...

Have you submitted this to food52...it would be perfect for their contest this week!

janna said...

Yum! My problem with hot cereal is that I really don't want to eat it first thing in the morning - I need to be up at least an hour and a half before I eat anything more exciting than yogurt. And by then, I'm at work! But I do eat hot cereal on the weekend, so I'll freeze a banana for use on Sunday.

Jada said...

This looks delicious! I have my own "adult baby food" routine in the morning: goat milk yogurt + honey + smashed banana + walnuts. I'll have to switch this up with some rice cereal supreme!

Monika said...

I had to laugh when I read "adult baby food". As someone who looks after a baby for a living, there have been shamefaced moments where I actually want to eat some of that tasty mush I feed her! Now I can do so with pride, knowing I'm not alone!

my spatula said...

baby food for grown-ups sounds good to me!

molly said...

Three babies down, and not one of them had a chance to feast on this little number. Guess it's up to me, then!

(BTW, we peel and slice our over-the-top bananas before consigning them to the deep-freeze. Eliminates the slimy black awful bit. Though the world might be a lesser place, without the black alien worm image. Your pick :)

Mary M. said...

This is great, Jess. Clear, concise, funny, maximally considerate. And the food looks good, too!

love you.

vickys said...

Rice cereal supreme! It's such a cool name, almost like a superhero breakfast. Much better sounding than oreo pudding (smooshed oreos with chocolate milk). :)

Sarah said...

Well, hello there!

I come your way via Orangette and am so, so glad I found your lovely site. Cannot agree enough about the overripe (or, ripe even) bananas. If I am eating them straight up, I'd better see a bit of green in the peel! The day I learned I could chuck them in the freezer and save them for baked goods was a joyous day indeed. This dish sounds like the perfect shake-up to my normal morning oatmeal routine.

Lo said...

I feel the need to confess the fact that one of my favorite things is baby cereal. Something about its sweet blandness that makes me oh-so-happy... which is simply to say, I'm sure that your rice cereal really IS supreme. :)

Julie said...

Ooh - right up my alley. I'm a fan of nursery food (sounds a bit more appetizing than baby food?)

Murasaki Shikibu said...

Funny. :)

The only kind of overripe banana that scares me is the kind with a thriving colony of *Censored* in it. =P

AMUSE-BOUCHE FOR TWO said...

I love the photo. It's so sleepy and warm and comforting. Yes, it does look like banana bread in a bowl.

Jess said...

Hello, hello. I've been checking in here to pick up your sweet (and funny - you guys are funny!) notes. Thank you, friends!

Sara - I'd love to see what kind of warm cereal masterpiece you would come up with.

Megan - You silly girl. I'd say that I hope things are settling down, but I believe it's paper-writing time for you now. No rest for the weary. Hang in there, friend.

Maggie - So happy to hear it!

Rosiecat - Thank you for sharing that link. Your post is terrific, and I will definitely be trying Daphna's recipe before the hot cereal season is through.

El - Thank you. That means a lot coming from you.

Lilly - What a lovely, lovely note. Thank you!

Kate - I can absolutely relate to your husband's aversion to getting rid of food, when "getting rid" means anything other than "down the hatch." I've been known to throw some rather questionable looking produce into omelettes and juicers just to spare them from the trash. Freezing bananas was a revelation for me, too.

Midtagessen - There's some really great stuff going on over there at Food 52. Thanks for mentioning it. I haven't yet gotten my act together to submit any recipes, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for future calls for submissions.

Janna - I hear you. I often want nothing more than a bowl of cold cereal in the morning. You'll be happy to know that I've "tested" this recipe for both lunch and dinner, too, and it's equally delicious in the p.m. hours.

Jada - So happy to see that you're blogging again. Welcome back! Your "baby food" concoction sounds divine. I love goat milk yogurt.

Monika - There's nothing wrong with a little lesson in sharing at meal time, is there? If you decide to steal a taste, I promise not to tell a soul.

my spatula - I'm in good company, then!

molly - Yes, it's up to you! It's never too late for this kind of baby food. Thanks for the tips. Though I have to say, even peeled, my thawing bananas are decidedly worm-like. Blech.

Mary - Thank you, friend. xo.

vickys - A "superhero breakfast" - I love it! I'll have to fit the bowl with a cape the next time around. As for your oreo pudding, I'm speechless.

Sarah - Hello, and welcome. I'm very glad that you found us here. I'm with you on the slightly green bananas. Right out of the peel, that's the only way I'll eat them.

Lo - Yes! It really is comfort food of the highest order.

Julie - You're right - "nursery food" does sound better. Good call.

Murasaki Shikibu - Oh my. Well, dealing with the banana for this recipe should be a piece of cake for you, then.

Amuse Bouche for Two - Thank you. I think you're right in calling it a "sleepy" looking breakfast. It's the kind of thing that helps me stretch out the morning just a little bit.