21 November 2013

Kitchen Science

Since it is freakishly cold outside-- -35 F first thing this morning --Little Bear and I have not ventured out of the house at all since late Sunday morning. It's fortunate that he's still a little toddler, and an only toddler, or I'm sure we'd be even more stir-crazy than we are! After reading every storybook in the house this morning, some of them twice, I brought him into the kitchen and let him sit on the counter while I made bread.

He promptly set to discovering centrifugal force, spinning the spice rack quickly enough that the little jars started to come flying out of it. I thought they were at an angle precisely so that couldn't happen?

So I rescued the oregano from the bowl of batter, and contemplated which spices did belong with butternut squash to make it taste like pumpkin bread. Probably just a little more than usual of the ones I would put with pumpkin, right? I hope so. We haven't tried it yet, and my menfolk are starting to tire of the "surprise, it's squash!" routine. I have a bunch to use up, though, so...

Double the baking powder, because it's getting old... Check for spice jars before starting the mixer... How many times do you grate a nutmeg to get a teaspoon? In my kitchen, baking is kind of like doing chemistry, but with more uncertainty and fewer explosions.

We have been doing a lot of it recently (baking, not exploding things, although that might help too) in an effort to warm up the apartment. Our oven doesn't hold heat very well, which is frustrating in that everything takes longer to bake, but when it is this cold it certainly makes the kitchen the most welcoming room in the house! It's probably the most effective way I have to keep our kitchen pipes from freezing, too: our kitchen and living room are over an unheated, poorly insulated crawlspace, and if our floor is this cold, I can only imagine how cold the pipes down in the crawlspace are getting. Our landlords suggest leaving the cabinet doors under the sink open to let warm air circulate when it is this cold, but I don't want Little Bear getting into the trash can and cleaning supplies... Hopefully, heating up the oven regularly will be enough to keep the pipes warm.

The bread did turn out well, so if you're looking for a new way to use squash, give it a try!

Butternut Squash Bread

1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine, then add:

2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup butternut squash, mashed 

Mix well. Bake at 350 F for at least an hour; mine took an hour and twenty-five minutes before it tested done, but our oven doesn't hold heat well.

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