24 big banana boxes. That’s how much a Toyota Highlander with the seats up can hold.
Visibility is nil, there is a faint produce smell present and not an inch left to put anything else. Thankfully I put my handbag in the car before the boxes. And forget stopping at Starbucks for a latte.
I am in the throws of organizing my daughter’s elementary school Thanksgiving Basket project. I’ve done it now for 7 years and it’s one of the events I love most of the school year. 24 classrooms. Each gets a shopping list and a box. Together, as a school, we fill those boxes and this year we will be giving them to 12 families within our school who need some extra help.
It’s the ultimate lots-of-little-things-add-up project.
She brings in a can of beans. He brings in a bag of carrots. Stuffing. Gravy. Potatoes. Each child contributing one thing. But there are 500 children and most bring in their item, I’m happy to say. It adds up quickly.
Hence the banana boxes. I’ve found that those are the most durable boxes on the face of the planet. They even have hand-holes on the sides. Take note.
Today was one of those days when I was really and truly convinced that someone, something, somewhere was watching my activities and giving me the thumbs up. Here’s why:
-Didn’t feel like driving to Costco for those banana boxes all the way across town. It was raining and Costco is a zoo, but I knew today was the day I had to do it.
-Drove to Costco in the rain. Scored a parking spot two spots from the front door. When does that ever happen?
-Went into Costco and they had exactly the kind of boxes that I needed, they were all clean AND there were 24 of them.
-Left store. The rain has stopped. Boxes won’t get wet now. Loading them into the car won’t be a race and I won’t get drenched either. Yay!!
-The boxes fit PERFECTLY with not an inch to spare. Granted, I couldn’t see a thing out any of my windows and drove home exclusively looking into my rearview mirrors, but I figured that if I did get into an accident I’d have the best story to tell the cop and he’d no doubt let me off the hook.
–No traffic anywhere driving home and even hit almost all green lights. Errand took less time than I had thought it would.
-Arrived at the school to drop off the boxes. A mom is there and she sees me with all the boxes and opens the door for me. Her timing in being there could not have been more perfect.
–And FINALLY, just when I thought I would have to sweat wondering if we would be able to get 12 turkeys donated, one of the teacher’s husbands steps forward and his workplace cuts us a check to buy all the birds.
Smooth sailing. Some entity was and is letting me know that this is a good project to do. If you watch for the signs, they are there. Always there.
And with that…here’s a recipe for a Pumpkin Banana Tart. It’s delicious, a little different spin on something pumpkin for your table and you can transport it in a banana box if you need to.
Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart, courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa
For the crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 package (2 tsp.) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 Tb. sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter in bowl and mix well. Pour into an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom and press evenly into the sides and then the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes and then cool to room temp.
For the filling, heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin mixture into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture for another 4-5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. You don’t want the eggs to scramble. Remove from heat.
Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, banana and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool.
Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours overnight.
Pipe whipped cream onto top in a decorative fashion around the top of the tart for presentation if you wish. Do that just before serving. Serve chilled.
*This tart can be made 1-2 days ahead and kept refrigerated. Decorate with the whipped cream just before serving.