Lifestyle

WHIDBEY RECIPES: Trick or tax treat?

No ghoulish masks, no rattling skeletons, no mysterious moans and groans, no tombstones, smashed pumpkins or witches on broomsticks. Nevertheless, I’m about as scared as I’ve been since I was about

5 years old and my older brother hid in my closet in a gorilla suit.

It’s only the first of October, but we’ve already been subjected to a Halloween trick, and it’s a whopper. No treats in sight, either, at least not for us, the general public, the great mass known as “the taxpayers.”

A few people did get treats, of course, nice little packages containing millions of dollars. They didn’t even have to don masks and knock on doors; they simply picked up the handouts and walked away, laughing all the way to the bank, before we even figured out how badly we’d been tricked.

Come to think of it, that expression, “laughing all the way to the bank” will have to go. Certainly anyone who trusted their money and/or investments to WaMu isn’t laughing now, and all over the country, banks have suddenly become citadels of suspicion, not trust. I wonder how many people are now hiding whatever they have left in a sock under the mattress, or burying it in coffee cans in the back yard.

Is there such a thing as a safe place to put your money these days? Frankly, I’m not sure, because I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this huge trick played on us behind our backs.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re either McCain or Obama; I don’t care which devil you prefer, but pick one and then think about the huge trick or treat conundrum if you are elected president come November. Would you consider it a treat to be handed a sack containing such goodies as war in two places, monumental deficits, economic chaos, financial crises that won’t go away for years, and an angry, rebellious, fed up public? I personally think our next president, whoever it is, has had the biggest trick in history played on him, along with we who have to figure out what to do next.

It’s too early for Halloween, but I feel as though a lot of people I thought were on our side just screamed “Trick or Treat” in our faces, grabbed all the treats, and then soaped our windows, overturned our trash cans and smashed all our pumpkins.

When I look at their masks now, yes, I’m scared, because I haven’t a clue as to what sort of nasty tricks they’ll play on us next.

RECIPES

After the column I wrote about zucchini, and my lack thereof, I received a couple of zucchini recipes from readers.

This one, from Amie Parker of Clinton, would not only make use of excess zucchini, but these brownies would be excellent Halloween treats, when the time comes. Amie says not to worry that the recipe calls for no eggs; the brownies are moist and delicious.

ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

½ cup vegetable oil

1 ½ cups sugar

2 t. vanilla extract

2 cups flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Amie says she prefers the dark)

1 ½ t. baking soda

1 t. salt

2 cups shredded zucchini

½ cup chopped walnuts

Grease and flour a 9x13 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla until well blended.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in another bowl, then stir into the sugar mixture. When well combined, fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 30 min., or until brownies spring back when gently touched.

And this one came from an aunt who e-mailed it to me after I’d been bending her ear about the strange zucchini year. Talk about getting your vegetables for breakfast; these are moist and rich, and if you put a little spreadable cream cheese on them while warm, they’re outstanding.

She says her grandchildren love these,

by the way.

ZUCCHINI CARROT MUFFINS

1½ cups whole wheat flour

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ cup instant nonfat dry milk

1 T. baking powder

1 t. ground cinnamon

½ t. ground allspice

½ t. freshly grated nutmeg

½ t. salt

3 eggs

½ cup honey or packed brown sugar (I prefer the honey)

½ cup milk

¼ cup vegetable oil, or 4 T. unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup orange or ginger marmalade, preferably the kind with large chunks of fruit

1 t. vanilla

1 cup grated peeled carrot

1 cup grated unpeeled zucchini

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift together both flours, powdered milk, baking powder, spices and salt into a large bowl.

Beat eggs, honey, milk, oil, marmalade and vanilla in a separate bowl. Stir in the carrot and zucchini.

Quickly stir the wet ingredients, along with the walnuts, into the dry ingredients, just until flour is moistened. (Batter will be thin and don’t over mix). Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake until muffins are lightly browned, about 20 min. Serve warm or allow to cool on a rack. Makes 12.

Note: Two or three weeks ago, I shared a recipe for deep, dark, intense chocolate cake. I had a couple of questions from readers wondering if I’d inadvertently left out flour. No, this is a flourless cake, one of the best I’ve eaten.

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