The Mad Plants of Madeira

I recently spent some time with my parents on Madeira. It is seriously a plant-lover’s paradise! Here are some of the crazy-looking plants I saw…

This wonderful creature Mickey-Mouse bushis called the Mickey-Mouse bush. The yellow flowers fall off to reveal these cute red sepals, and eventually produce black fruits which give the plant its common name. Isn’t it lovely?

And this kapok treeis the kapok tree. Earlier in the year it has striking red five-lobed flowers which are apparently very attractive to bats, but its main importance is the fruit: a light fibre which is used as an alternative to down as stuffing for soft toys and upholstery. I’m told that the fibres kapok fibresloosen and float off, to the great annoyance to residents…but to me they are just cool!

 

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Ginger Banana Bread

I love ginger. I use it anywhere ginger can be used (and a few places it probably oughtn’t…), so when I needed to use up a whole bunch of over-ripe bananas, guess where my mind went? I found this – thank you, Pinterest! – but it was not nearly ginger-y enough. Here’s my version:

 

Ginger Banana Bread

Ginger Banana Bread

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 ripe bananas or 3 frozen bananas, defrosted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 cup raisins pre-soaked overnight in 1/2 cup ginger tea (or you could use your favourite alcohol…)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups sprouted spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallised ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger

Spray a standard loaf tin with coconut oil and dust lightly with flour. Preheat oven to 350F.

Beat together the eggs and sugar until thick and lightened in color (about 5 minutes). Add the banana, vanilla, sour cream, raisins (and any remaining tea) and oil, and stir until combined.

In another bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together. Gently fold into the egg mixture.

Pout into the prepared loaf tin and bake until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (about an hour).

Delicious slathered with butter while still warm, though the flavour will improve if kept. Also good toasted. Don’t expect it to last long…!