On my front porch sits my Jack O’Lantern. Three weeks ago, when I bought my pumpkin from the local pumpkin patch on our island, it was firm and healthy, orange with a few streaks of green on the back. Two weeks ago, when I carved into it, my pumpkin was still young and fresh, emitting that sweet, earthy pumpkin smell and full of moist, slimy seeds. On Halloween, my Jack O’Lantern stood proudly on the stoop, smiling its toothy grin and glowing with candlelight. Last weekend, I noticed that my pumpkin looked a little saggy. Its skin was starting to droop and wrinkle, and when I peered inside that toothy grin I spotted a very colorful field of mold growing inside. Disgusted, I hurried away. So there it sat. A few days ago my pumpkin fell off its perch and onto the porch, where it lies in a mildewy puddle of water, a crumbled mess of wrinkly orange skin and moldy speckled flesh. And there it lies today.
Why haven’t I taken a garbage bag and scooped up my rotting pumpkin remains? Why haven’t I taken a shovel and hauled it off into the woods to decompose away from the welcome mat of my home? Good questions. An even better question would be, why didn’t I pick my pumpkin up off the steps on November first, back when it was still firm and mold-free, and dispose of it like a normal human being? I have no idea. For some reason, the more times I walk up the porch steps and spot my sad, sorry mess of a Jack O’Lantern rotting on the ground, the less likely I feel I am to get rid of it. It’s kind of a little game I’m playing, waiting to see how long it will take before either I or an unlucky member of my family finally breaks down and gets rid of that soggy mess. Considering the fact that we still have our Christmas lights up (from last year), it could be a while. I’m half hoping that my pumpkin will just decompose into the wood on the porch or slip down the cracks to the ground below…or something. I think I’m giving the word “laziness” a new definition.
The good news is, I don’t like to make the same mistake twice. We had two large bananas sitting in the fruit bowl for quite a while. As new bunches of ripe yellow bananas got purchased by unknowing family members and placed next to the two brown-spotted bananas, the two old ones kept getting passed up for the new. It was a sad process to watch; the old bananas kept getting browner and browner, shoved aside for the fresh ones. Determined not to see this poor pair of fruits suffer the same fate as my Halloween pumpkin, I set myself on a mission…because the best thing to do with brown bananas is bake with them! Enter these Banana Maple Muffins. The combination of sweet bananas, rich maple syrup, and a touch of cinnamon and allspice results in a wonderfully moist, sweet muffin. I also decided to use half whole wheat flour which a) makes them healthier and b) gives the muffins a great hearty texture. These are a huge step above your everyday common muffins that are virtually unfrosted cupcakes.
I still feel sorry for my squished little pumpkin, but at least these bananas ended up in the form of delicious muffins! If you have brown bananas, definitely make these. It will make you feel like you’ve done a good deed! Or maybe I just need to suck it up and take two minutes to throw away my pumpkin so that I can stop feeling the need to redeem myself by saving two brown bananas…regardless, all these decisions led me to these amazing muffins. And for that I am glad.
Banana Maple Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup mashed bananas (from about 2 large bananas)
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (dark amber is best)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-tin muffin pan with paper liners or spray with baking spray. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, vegetable oil, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.
Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of muffins bounce back when lightly touched and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
(Recipe adapted from Baking Bites)