I've explained before that the way I eat breakfast changes from season to season. Well, really the way I eat everything changes from season to season, but breakfast seems to somehow to show the starkest contrast between summer and winter. This involves not only in going from having something cool that requires minimal preparation in the summer, to something hot that might require some oven or stove use in the winter, but also in the flavors, textures and feel of the meal itself. If granola and yogurt is my ultimate look-forward-to-warm-weather breakfast, this is my ultimate look-forward-to-cool-weather breakfast. It's hot, comforting, sweet, and densely packed with macronutrients. In plain speak that means loaded with calories. That's okay. This isn't my every day winter/fall breakfast. It's a special one, for really cold days, days where I need something indulgent, or, as was the case here, days when I need some energy. On this particular day it got me up a mountain.
Okay, it was a small mountain, but there was some climbing (scrambling) over rocks involved. This beautiful waterfall (the first of two) near the top was my reward. If you live anywhere near Jim Thorpe in Pennsylvania and are up for some hiking and pretty views, I highly recommend you check out Lehigh Valley Gorge State Park. Eat a bowl of this oatmeal first.
Back to breakfast! Bananas are great because they fit into my diet all year round. In the cooler months I might season them up with some cinnamon, as I did here. Oh, and fat. Have you ever ordered tempura fried bananas for dessert at an Asian restaurant? If not, you need to go out and do that right now. If you have, then you know what an amazing flavor and texture they take on when fried. Though not tempura fried in this dish, you will get a sense of that tempura fried sweet-savoriness when you eat it. I actually first had bananas prepared this way years ago in a bowl of Cream of Wheat, which is on my personal list of the world's most bland and flavorless foods. A friend prepared a bowl for me with some fried bananas and I was astounded by the impact. The fried banana flavor infused and transformed the entire bowl! Even bites without any actual banana in them became delicious. Chinese restaurant dessert in my Cream of Wheat? YES. I could never bring myself to prepare a bowl of cream of wheat on my own though, which is why I chose oatmeal to put my fried bananas in. Of course, it was even better. And also of course, adding cinnamon walnuts and maple syrup made it even more better. This breakfast is good. Try it and you will want to climb mountains all winter long, just as an excuse to eat it again and again.
Make sure your bananas are ripe. You want very little, if any, green or brown spots. Just ripe bananas will give you a nice melt-in your mouth texture with the perfect level of sweetness. Use under ripe ones and they likely won't soften up enough and will lack flavor. Overripe bananas will turn to mush during cooking.
Fried Banana Oatmeal
Makes one generous serving
1 ripe (but not overripe) banana, sliced
1/2 tbsp. margarine, give or take a little
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. cinnamon
splash vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
maple syrup to taste
1/4 cup milk of choice (I like almond for this), or more, if you like
Melt margarine over medium-low heat in skillet. Arrange banana slices in a single layer. Cook until they begin to soften up and brown on bottom sides. This might take a few minutes. Be patient - cooking them too fast will give a nice outer texture, but they won't soften up sufficiently. Gently flip slices and cook on opposite side until golden brown. This side shouldn't take as long.
Cook oatmeal with water according to directions. I usually just put mine in a bowl and zap for a few minutes. Stir in cinnamon, vanilla, walnuts and milk. Gently fold in banana slices.