It's mid-morning Friday and I'm just now getting the chance to write my column, which technically should be done by Wednesday. Very busy week, but nothing really to write about, so I think I'll just clear up some odds and ends from my mixing bowl ...
Ron Kujawski, the gardening columnist for The Berkshire Eagle, has asked me for recipes using dried beans. As I told him, I've never been a bean aficionado because of their (to me) weird texture, so Old Mother Button's bean recipe cupboard is bare. Do any of my readers have recipes to help him use his plethora of dried Black Turtle, Great Northern, red kidney, Ying Yang (also known as Orca or Calypso) and Tiger Eye beans? Feel free to write or email me or drop the recipes at The Berkshire Eagle or Transcript offices.
Ron's column last week discussed scavenging for shag bark hickory nuts in the great outdoors. I'm now intrigued with trying hickory nuts (which I've never tasted) in lieu of walnuts and pecans, but alas, being the couch potato I am, I have no clue where to find a hickory tree in Northern Berkshire. He claims they like to be near oak and white ash trees. The only oak tree I know of is in the back parking lot at The Eagle -- and I only know that's there because of the acorns dropping on my car. Anyone want to share the "secret" location of one with me?
I love getting recipes from readers. This one comes from Janet (no last name given), who emailed me to say, "Now that we're in the autumn season, I thought you may like this recipe for pumpkin cake that is very appropriate for this time of year. Anytime I've had to make it for a group I had to give out the recipe. Always been a very popular dessert. It's baked on a cookie sheet with a rim." I can't wait to try it!
1 cup oil
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 can of One Pie pumpkin mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of chopped walnuts
Mix together oil, sugar and eggs. Add the pumpkin mix and mix well. Add rest of the ingredients except the chopped nuts. Mix well again, then stir in nuts. Bake on a cookie sheet with a rim, greased and floured, at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until done. Frost with cream cheese frosting, Can be cut into bars or squares.
The newest addition to the Transcript newsroom, Carol Hayes, sent me her recipe for chocolate zucchini cake. And it's just in time to use the last of the zucchini from the garden!
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs and oil, mix well. Fold in the nuts and zucchini until they are evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely before frosting with your favorite frosting.
Since Halloween is just around the corner, I'll share this recipe for homemade peanut butter cups. I use smooth peanut butter instead of super chunky or chunky -- again it's a texture thing. I love to use dark chocolate bits instead of the semi-sweet or milk chocolate. I plan to try white chocolate some day. I once made one giant peanut butter cup, pouring half of the melted chocolate into a pie plate and shaping the filling into a large disk to fit the pie plate and then covering it with the rest of the melted chocolate.
1/3 cup super chunk peanut butter
1/3 cup butter, soft
1 2/3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
12-ounce package semi-sweet or milk chocolate pieces, melted
Place small paper baking cups on a tray or in muffin cups. In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter and butter until blended. Gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Turn onto a board and knead until well mixed. Press with hands or roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 1-inch round cookie cutter.
Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon chocolate into the paper cups to generously cover bottom. At once, place 1 peanut butter round on top of chocolate in each cup; gently push down to coat sides. Spread additional chocolate over top, making sure sides are completely coated. Chill until firm. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 3 and a half dozen.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to email@example.com.