Acorn BrowniesYes, acorn brownies. The idea came from a book:
Oak: The Frame of Civilization
I learned that acorns were THE FOOD in a lot of ancient societies. Forget wheat - it was 'Give us this day our daily acorns'.
There were many good stories in the book, but the part about the acorns really made an impression. The author was impressed, too. He even managed to scrounge up some acorn flour from a Chinese grocery and made pancakes.
I decided I had to try this. It was fall and acorns were everywhere, just lying on the ground. It didn't take long to collect a bunch. A few whacks with a hammer was all it took to crack the outer shell. The nut meats went into the blender with some water and voila!I had ground up acorns in water...
The next step was a problem - rinsing out all the bitterness. Which is important since these acorns were UNBELIEVABLY bitter. Somehow squirrels don't seem to mind this. Fortunately, the internet has lots of techniques. I tried most of them, with the exception of hanging the ground-up acorns in a cloth bag in the toilet tank or in a river for a few weeks.
It seemed that the easiest method was to pour the whole mess into a big jar, add some baking soda, and stash the jar in the back of the refrigerator for a few days. The nut pieces would sink to the bottom and the water would sit on the top. After rinsing and repeating over and over, the water finally cleared and I could actually nibble on a nut without making a face.
That's when I realized that with the bitterness gone, acorns are totally bland. Like walnuts with NO flavor. But after all that work, there's no way I was giving up. So what could I do with a bunch of damp, tasteless acorns?
Here's what I did: I got out a big bowl. I cracked 2 eggs into about a cup of damp acorn meal. I stirred this up. Then I added a can o pumkin, half a cup of Hershey's' cocoa, half a cup of maple syrump, a tablespoon of vanilla, a pinch of pink salt and half a dark chocolate bar.
Everything went into a 13 x 11 inch pan, lined with parchment, and baked at 350 for 30 minutes.
When I took out the pan it was brown with some more browning on top. It cooled off a bit.
To my surprise, the brownies were actually pretty good.
According to Scientific American (May 2014) “Balanophagy—the practice of eating acorns, has played an important part in the diets of many cultures around the world.”
Unlike grain cultivation, balanophagy is much less labor intensive and requires no weeding, plowing or fertilizer. In addition, trees provide a variety of other benefits including filtering rainwater, providing shade, preventing erosion, mitigating diseases, and generally creating a “halo of improved health around them” (The Man Who Planted Trees by Jim Robbins).