Several weeks ago I was in the grocery store, wandering through the produce section, when I found myself face to face with a banana box, full of ripe bananas, marked down to $5.
Now perhaps a normal person would have merely glanced at it and thought, "Now that's a lot of bananas," and continued about their business. I, however, stopped, stared, and began to visualize the smoothies, loaves of banana bread, ice cream and who knows what else that I could make with several kilograms of bananas. For five dollars. Which worked out to something like five cents a banana. I wouldn't have to buy another banana all summer!
So, without further ado, I hoisted the giant box of bananas and waddled, huffing and puffing, over to the cash register, plunked it down, and then repeated the huffing waddle process again on my way to the car. Despite the weight and the heat, and the overall awkwardness of stuffing a giant box of bananas into one's car, I was full of glee.
You see, I grew up in a house with my father, who is a special person, for reasons I do not have the space or time to share with you in one post. But one quirk of my dad's that has left its print on me - at least when it comes to groceries - is his stinginess.
Growing up, the sight of my dad, sitting at the living room coffee table with every grocery store flyer before him, diligently going through each one, marking sale items and compiling a shopping list on the back of some random used envelope in his slanted scrawl, was a weekly one. Sales on items such as lamb, pork tenderloin, butter, toilet paper, and salad dressing were cause for celebration. My dad budgeted like nobody's business. No name products dominated in our household because they were cheaper, and almost everything was purchased in bulk to save money. And lets not get started on my dad's love affair with coupons.
So when I left home and started grocery shopping on my own, I found myself pouring over grocery flyers and often stalling in the grocery aisle, staring at all the jars of peanut butter, calculating the differences in price and size to figure out which was the better buy. BOGO weeks were always my favourite weeks to shop - two bags of apples for the price of one? HELLO - and I was not above using the odd coupon to save 75 cents. I also always take my change at Tim Horton's. (Yes I would like my one cent in change, please, I'm obsessively cheap - no, the summer camp children cannot have my money, I need coffee more than they need a camping trip.) Thanks to my father, I am a marked person.
It was no surprise, then, or it shouldn't have been, when my parents returned home from Europe to find the freezers stocked with bags of frozen bananas (which I spent nearly an hour, peeling, breaking into pieces, and storing in ziplock bags). "Why are there so many bananas?" my mother asked, confused. "They were on sale," I said, "for five dollars. Dad should be proud of me!" My father, however, proceeded to bemoan the seemingly endless mountain of bananas he encountered every time he opened the freezer. "But Dad," I kept telling him, "you won't have to buy bananas! You'll have them forever!" "Exactly," was his morose response. It was perhaps at that point that he realized he had created a monster.
Very Berry Ice Cream Cake
This is "ice cream" cake is the perfect finish to a summer evening, and while it requires a little planning ahead, it's a cinch to put together. This recipe, like most of my recipes, is more of a guideline though, so feel free to swap the raspberries with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or whatever fruit you have on hand.
The crust can be assembled ahead of time or the day you make the filling.
2 cups Almonds
1/2 cup Coconut
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 cup Medjool Dates (or soaked dates)
1. Place almonds, coconut, and lemon zest in a food processor and process until the almonds are pea sized.
2. Add the dates, a few at a time, and pulse to combine. If the mixture holds together when pinched, it's ready. If not, keep adding dates until the mixture is sticky enough to hold together.
3. Line a 9-inch removal bottom cake pan with waxed or parchment paper. Pour crust mixture into the pan and, using your fingers, press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
"Ice Cream" Filling
1/3 cup Raw Cashews, soaked at least 5 hours
1/3 cup Lemon Juice (or juice of 2 lemons)
Zest of 1 - 2 Lemons
3 - 4 Frozen Bananas
2 cups Raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 - 3 tbsp Honey or Agave (optional)
1. Cover cashews with water and let soak for at least 5 hours or overnight. After soaking, drain the cashews and place them in a blender with lemon juice and lemon zest. Blend on high until creamy and smooth, stopping the blender to stir and scrape down as needed.
2. In a food processor, place bananas and process until they achieve a soft-serve consistency. Add raspberries, cashew cream and process until smooth. If you like your cake a little sweeter, add honey or agave to taste, processing to combine.
3. Pour mixture onto your prepared crust, and smooth out evenly with a spatula. Place in the freezer to let set for at least 1 hour before serving.
4. Before serving, run a sharp knife under hot water and then run it around the edge of the cake pan to loosen and prevent sticking. Release the pan and transfer the cake to a serving plate or cake stand. Slice and serve immediately.
5. Store any leftovers (if any) in the freezer. Cake should keep for up to at least 2 weeks.