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Time to think about fall baking

Banana bread

The autumnal equinox is Tuesday — the first day of fall. At the produce stands, the tomatoes and squash are giving out, and the pumpkins, greens, and apples are coming in. I don’t like to bake during the summer. Not only is the oven a big load on the cooling system, summer foods just don’t crave to be in the oven the way fall foods do. Olive oil and coconut oil are the oils of summer — good for saucing and sautéing. Fall baking likes nut oils and seed soils — even a bit of butter if you dare.

Fruit makes heavy, dark breads far more moist and eatable. Banana bread is a standby. But I plan to make some pumpkin bread as soon as the banana bread is gone. I think I also will experiment with some vegetable breads. Bread made with chopped mustard greens and seasoned with garlic and sage sounds appealing. Mustard and turnip greens are being sold everywhere right now for 99 cents a pound or less.

As always, I try to keep the protein up and the glycemic insult down. This banana bread is made of King Arthur whole wheat flour with plenty of ground flax seed and fresh ground almonds. There are two home-laid eggs. Once again, that’s the vegetarian rule — combine as many types of amino acids as possible to maximize the available protein. This bread contains seeds (flax and wheat), nuts (almonds), legumes (soy milk), and eggs. Don’t get the batter too thick — the flax and almonds soak up a lot of liquid.

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned very clearly that I almost never use recipes. Creativity and experimentation are half the fun. Experienced cooks just know what it takes to make something turn out according to what they have in mind. When I do want to check a basic recipe, I use my 1942 wartime edition of Erma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking. It’s a great reference that will tell you how to make all the standards from scratch, and from those basic recipes one improvises. Most of my improvisations are about adapting traditional dishes for a Mediterranean diet and applying what we’ve learned about food and health since 1942 (a great deal). And of course I always cook from scratch.

Ground almonds and ground flax seed, before the whole wheat flour was added

Walnut oil


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