Saturday, October 15, 2016

Green Blessings - Zucchini Style

This time of year we always have plenty of zucchini, at the market, in the garden, at the office, just about anywhere you look, you can find some.    Today I found a lot, which is good.  Some Saturdays I wake up and know what I'll be making for my delivery on Sunday and already have a grocery list and a delivery plan.  Today was not that day.  I woke up at 3:00 AM and have felt my brain moving in six different directions and none of them got me to a recipe I wanted to try this evening.  I do try to make the snacks seasonal, to a degree, but honestly at one point this afternoon I had about given up and thought I'd just make scones.  I thought about it and turned it down.  Then I remembered when we were little, before we began summering in Maine, mom would often make zucchini bread in the summer.  Now, let me say, she didn't garden much.  I think she got the zucs from a neighbor or a friend we knew as "Cinderella".  It was the 70's and women baking often used mixes because that was "cool".  But this recipe was something made from scratch, and it was delicious, it makes 2 loaf pans.  (Don't ask me how many times I multiplied it for tomorrow!  LOL)  I hope you enjoy!

My (Mom's) Zucchini Bread

2 1/2 cups sugar

3 cups flour

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3 eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 cup oil

2 cups zucchini, grated, drain if it's dripping otherwise you're good to go.

1 cup chopped walnuts  


Preheat oven to 350 F then butter two loaf pans.

In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder with a whisk. Make a  well and add eggs, vanilla and oil using a fork to break up the eggs and combine the liquids first and then pull in the dry ingredients (I switch to a wooden spoon at this point) when it is about half combined, add the zucchini and walnuts and stir until all well blended.  Divide this batter between the two pans and bake for 1 hour.  Let cool until you can handle the pans and the breads have pulled away from the sides.  With a little encouragement from a spatula the breads should be removed onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before cutting if pretty slices is a goal.  Enjoy!

A love letter to Katie Blue, and a recipe for the most amazing brownies

Beloved Katie Blue,

I'm amazed at what stands for a brownie these days.  Of course, part of the problem is that the brownies made today almost always come from a box.  You know my feelings about boxes, they are fine but they are never made with the quality of ingredients I like to use and often not in the same amounts I would prefer.  They are aiming for middle ground.  Some people like fudgy brownies, some people like cake-like, etc.  I have been testing brownies for years and I know you prefer the mix you found and that's okay, but the truth is these brownies rock the crowds they've been fed to and some day you might grow up (and I hope I'm still here to hand it to you) but just in case you want it and God has called me home, you'll be able to find it here.

I love you, sweetie,

The story of amazing brownies started a long time ago.  I'd find one and think it was perfect and then grow tired of it and try another.  This recipe, though, has been with me for a while and I think it might be the one.  Of course, God has given me more time than any of us expected, so who knows if I will change my mind, but for now this is the one.

This recipe is adapted from Ina Gartens recipe "Outrageous Brownies" and you can check it out, but I like my version better, I find the brownies hold together better and withstand being plated one on top of another a little better which is necessary for my ministry work.  You can't plate 2 dozen brownies on several plastic plates and not have to stack them!
The "important" ingredients

Momma's Awesome Brownies

1 pound butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons instant espresso
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts, fresh toasted and cooled


Melted chocolate and butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.  (Half sheet pan)

Use a large pot and fill 1/3 way with water, place a large bowl over as a lid and bring the water to a strong simmer.  Place 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in the bowl, stir it occasionally.  While waiting for the chocolate to melt, unwrap four sticks of butter and cut them into slices.  This is not necessary but they will melt quicker than throwing in whole sticks.  Add them to the chocolate and stir until it is all melted.  Remove the bowl and place it on a cooling rack while you are busy doing the next steps.   

In another large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, espresso powder, vanilla, and sugar.  

Combine walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl, sprinkle with a good spoonful of the measured flour and mix to coat these treats. 

In another medium bowl, sift together  cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. 

Why didn't I take a picture of a cut brownie?
Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, add flour mixture and when almost totally combined add want mixture, stir only as long as necessary to combine it all.  Pour into the sheet pan and bake for about 35 minutes, checking with a toothpick at 30 minutes. You do not want to overtake these awesome brownies.  Allow them to cool completely before cutting.  Miss Ina cuts these huge lovelies into 20 brownies.  I get 40 brownies from this recipe.  

A hint about toasting walnuts:
Walnuts are easy to toast and taste MUCH better in almost every recipe I use them in.  Simply measure them out onto a sheet pan and toast on 300F until you can smell them, 10-15 minutes depending on whether they were fresh or frozen when you started.