I'll never forget with what dread Scott and I awaited the first ever Daylight Savings time as parents. From almost Day 1 of L.'s life, we just sensed that this was a kid who would need the safety and sanctity of a schedule. While we might have flown by the seat of our pants on some things as new parents, we really worked hard to protect L.'s routines--especially the sleep routine. This was probably in large part due to the fact that from Day 1 L. had trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. It was surreal, really, how little our newborn seemed to sleep; how he defied our rosily-tinted pre-birth images of newborns who slept anywhere, at any time, while the parents blissfully shopped, or dined out, or--heaven forbid-carried on normal conversations with each other. So when we did get L. into a routine of sorts, we protected that ferociously. Then Daylight Savings time approached, and we panicked.
What would this do to his schedule? How would we cope? What would happen?
Nothing much, as it turned out, did happen. But I still smile to think about how worried we were about it, and how we worked so hard to strategize a plan in anticipation of the upheaval we were certain would come our way.
Ironically, we have more trouble with Daylight Savings time now that L. is older. Saturday night, when I went up to L.'s room at 9:30 to remind him that it was time to turn off his overhead light he told me matter-of-factly that it was actually 8:30.
"It's not!" I said, doubting myself for a moment. Had we suddenly gained an hour, without my knowledge?
He pointed out that since we were turning the clocks back that night anyway, he had decided he would take matters into his own hands and turn them back early, so he could really reap the benefits. I looked around and realized that all the clocks in his room did, in fact, read 8:30. All efforts to explain to my literal-minded son that Daylight Savings didn't happen until 2:00 am that night failed. He just didn't see why he couldn't turn his clocks back that very evening and gain an additional hour of time in his room.
Which kind of, sort of, made sense to me, too.
Why not, indeed?
I made pumpkin brownies on Sunday. It was a beautiful crisp November day. T. and I dug around the yard for dinosaur bones, and L. helped Scott split wood and stack wood--it was all very pioneer-like. When we had tired of those pursuits (T. and I collected a small bag of possible dinosaur fossils and bones), we headed back inside and sparked up the oven for some baking. We have a busy week ahead, and I doubt very much I'll have time for much fun in the kitchen--so, still caught up in the pioneer spirit of the day, I made pumpkin brownies and pumpkin muffins to help get us through snacks and lunch-time this week.
As you know, I've been searching high and low for a recipe that would in some way replicate those elusive brownies we ate one cold late fall day when we were living our charmed graduate student lives in upstate, New York. In the end, I decided to adapt Smitten Kitchen's Pumpkin-Swirl Brownie recipe simply to make them vegan, simply for the selfish reasons that I wanted to try them, of course.
Absolutely delicious, I thought--and my family agreed; so did the neighbors across the street. No, I don't think they were the brownies I remember, but they came close enough. Maybe those elusive brownies, like those carefree, heady grad school days, belong solely to the past, to a different time, a different place, to a very different life.
Vegan Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1/2 bag (about 6 ounces give or take) vegan chocolate chips (I used the 365 brand from Whole Foods)
8 tablespoons Earth Balance spread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer, plus 12 tablespoons water
1/2 to 1 cup soymilk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 15 ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish with Earth Balance. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides.
2. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler (I used a ovenproof small pyrex pan over a pot of simmering water), stirring occasionally until smooth.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
Note: At this point my batter was all crumbly and didn't look at all like batter. I despaired for about half a minute, and then I added 1/2 to 1 cup of soymilk to the mixture and stirred, until it looked normal again--like a nice, thick batter.
4. Pour half of batter into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it.
5. In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to the prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top the chocolate batter with half of the pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer.
6. I used a rubber spatula to swirl the batters together. In the end my brownies didn't come out with a perfect swirled design, but I didn't mind too much. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes.
Eat warm, preferably, washed down with a glass of cold milk/soy milk.