A+ Brown-Sugar Brownies and a Cute Goldfinch

IMG_3615A favorite cookbook of mine is called “The Picnic Gourmet,” published in 1975. One of the authors is Joan Hemingway, granddaughter of Earnest Hemingway. It’s nostalgic for me, from a time when all things seemed possible for me and for my generation. The cover is intriguing: The diners have apparently dragged a dining room table up the mountainside, along with a Persian carpet, a full set of china and an incredible feast, including a platter of roasted chicken, a carafe of coffee, three bottles of wine, and homemade bread under a starched napkin. Nowadays I feel lucky if we stop at the 7-11 and grab a submarine sandwich and some pop for a picnic. So it was a different world.

I got my copy second hand, and the previous owner has commented on many of the recipes: “Delicious!” “Vince & Susan picnic 4/01,” etc. This recipe for Brown-Sugar Brownies was rated A+, and I had to try it. My first surprise was that these brownies didn’t contain any chocolate. The definition of “brownie” used to be much looser than it is now–almost any chewy bar cookie was called a brownie.

A+ Brown-Sugar Brownies

IMG_36161/4 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9-inch square pan and line with parchment paper. Grease lightly again. Cream the softened butter and sugar until light. Beat in the egg and the vanilla and beat well. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold into the sugar mixture. Stir in nuts.

The batter will be thick. Spread in pan and bake for about 18 minutes. The original recipe called for 25 minutes, but my brownies got golden brown at about 18.

Baking notes: Be sure to use real butter. This is a simple recipe, and every ingredient counts. The impulse to add chocolate chips to this recipe is almost irresistible, but the buttery praline flavor is perfect as it is!

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Seven Sisters climbing rose

I almost titled this post “A+ Brown-Sugar Brownies and a Punk Rock Goldfinch,” but I was afraid you’d be expecting a goldfinch playing a guitar. It’s his his feathery “do” that seems punk rocker-ish to me–he was leaning over into a bird bath drinking water before I took these pix.

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