Friday, March 20, 2009

Hello Spring, Goodbye Pumpkins

Today we celebrated the Spring Equinox in our family by making chocolate pumpkin brownies out of the last of our cans of pumpkin. In planting a substantially larger garden this year, I'm attempting to stay in season with the fruits and veggies we eat. Pumpkins are definitely august and winter fruits so baking up the last pumpkin brownie muffins seemed an appropriate way to usher in the spring.

We are lucky in that our house was previously owned by someone who loved flowers. Bulbs of all different types began sprouting up this last month and are beginning to bloom. They are a wonderful splash of color to move around our yard by transplanting and separating the bulbs. The front and side of our house are now covered in Narcissus so that passers by can see our cheerful flowers. They are also beginning to grace the spots between larger trees and bushes in the backyard as they continue to multiply. I cannot help but try to save them because they are so beautiful. Flowers are something I never would have appreciated or spent money on had it not just occurred without our intention. The flowers have been great additions inside as the rains are starting to come more frequently now. Just another reminder to me to stop and start observing the things around me rather than rushing through the day from one chore to another.

With the coming months our backyard of fruits will begin to come into season meaning an end to the heavy dense desserts the winter months lend themselves so well to. Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies are a great closure to the chilly temperatures, but more importantly they are a wonderful way to enjoy a glass of milk and an hour or so with the Barracuda.

Spicy Barracuda loves to bake things together. He enjoys everything from cracking the eggs to adjusting the levers on the mixer. We get to talk about all sorts things and it is a good way for us to have conversation around a subject that isn't intimidating. Lately we have also been working on fractions since he has noticed all the numbers on the measuring cups and spoons. He never ceases to amaze me with the things he notices and is curious about. More than anything it is a way to slow down the hectic pace of our days and fit in some one-on-one time where we solely focus on creating something together. I get to laugh at the amount of batter he can get all over his face, in his hair, up his nose, covering his ears and Lord only knows where else when he licks off the mixer attachment. He gets a great sense of accomplishment in being able to help and watch the ingredients come together turning into a delicious snack. To me he is not only learning the valuable skills of cooking and seasons, but also how to enjoy conversation and time with someone without the television on. Perhaps I'm just old fashioned, but I like the idea that my child likes to just sit and talk with people for stimulus instead of plugging in to an electronic gadget.

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

1 stick of butter
2 cups of sugar
2/3 cup of apple sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can pumpkin (1 home quart or 1 large Libbys)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp all spice
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together eggs, sugar, applesauce, and butter. Blend in pumpkin and sour cream. In a separate bowl sift together cocoa, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, baking powder and soda. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing completely before adding more. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into greased muffin tins and bake for 15-25 minutes. This recipe makes two dozen, if you can keep them around that long.

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