Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Re-inventing the Humble Brownie: Astounding Pinks

A few years ago, I was watching my friend's antiques store one Mississippi winter day.  Now, let it be said that it was Winter in the way that only Mississippi does winter:  rain and bone-chilling cold.  A customer came in that day complaining of feeling the most uncomfortably cold that he had ever felt in his life, and he asked me how we could tolerate it.  The funny thing is that he had been in Chicago the previous day where there were a couple of feet of snow on the ground and the temperature was in the 'teens.  He said that Mississippi cold felt worse and he couldn't understand it because it was 50 degrees outside.  It's a conundrum but, land, it can get cold here even if you think it shouldn't be.

That's the kind of weather we had yesterday.  Today is only marginally better because the sun is out.  Even since my good neighbor repaired my central heating last autumn, the thermostat has been permanently set to 61 degrees.  It's just warm enough that the heat isn't coming on so my uninsulated cinderblock house feels like a deep-freeze.  I do not like it.  Daisy the cat doesn't like it either so I've got a small space heater turned toward her favorite napping nook to warm her elderly fur.  And I've got another space heater going next to my work table.  But the rest of the house is Not comfortable.

I've got a plan:  I'm gonna cook a big old-fashioned pot of baked beans that will stay in the oven all day.  That will help warm the house a bit.  While I was heating the oven, I got a bee in my bonnet:  I saw a recipe online yesterday for some fruit bars that sounded pretty good but the recipe was missing some ingredients and it couldn't have worked out.  And I remembered that someone had given me a bag of frozen blackberries.  Yeah, the "best by" date was 2015.  Oh well, what is a too-old berry gonna do, kill me?

I got out my aunt's stained much-used 1953 Betty Crocker cookbook and decided to re-invent a recipe I knew would work:  brownies.  Here you go, but I warn you that the batter for these things is astoundingly pink.  Yeah, good idea.  That's what we'll call them:  Astounding Pinks.

Astounding Pinks
Add 1 large egg to 1/2 cup of cooled melted butter.  Mix in 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.  Mix until creamy.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon raspberry flavoring (not necessary but I happened to have some).  Blend well.  Add 1 cup of flour in 1/4 cup increments, mixing well with each addition.  Add 12 ounces of blackberries (I defrosted a bag of frozen berries),  Mix in well.  Pour into a greased 8 X 11 pan.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in a preheated 350 oven. 

I could have written that better I suppose but I've been dashing back and for to the kitchen to work on the baked beans.....and discovered that I've prepared more beans than will fit in my bean pot.  Oh well, never say die:  the rest of them are about to become bean-burgers. 

And if my mother is looking down at me from heaven, she is undoubtedly scowling.  I lacked the proper beans for baking and had to use what I had on hand:  pintos.  Worse, I've added tomato paste for a change.  There was no molasses so I used Karo and brown sugar.  She's gonna have angels come shoot arrows at me, you can bet on it.  I have defiled the tradition of Baked Beans.  Oh my.

There's a ton of other work to be done in the kitchen today because my good neighbors have given me two bags of parade food.  (I'm too lazy to explain what parade food is.  Read more here:  Happy St. Patrick's )

So, now that I've had my breakfast (a Pink and a mug of tea at my desk), I'm off to go mash potatoes, cream cabbage, turn carrots into hot dogs, and whatever other trouble I can get myself into.

By the way, the Astounding Pink was really tasty and it was far less pink once baked.  Surely worth making again.

Life is good.

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