Brick and Mortar Brownies


Linda here. It’s  ranged from breezy to downright windy here in the Old Pueblo this spring, affecting the moods of humans and non humans alike.  Bees, for example,  do not “like” wind, and on windy days I do not check Apis hives.  Red eyed and sneezing humans and are affected by the dust and pollen. Like so much in life, winds have a  mixed effect on things, both negative and positive.

One of the positives of pollen on the wind is that it can reveal a lot about older ecosystems. I recently learned about this in an article I came across on the science of archeobotany – which is basically the archeology of Things Botanical.

On a windy spring day such as we have experienced here – but in the early 18th century in Colonial Williamsburg  – masons were at work laying brick.  A mason “slather(s) mortar as he buil(ds) row after row of the buildings foundation”. Unbeknownst to him, he is also building an archeological record of the trees and plants growing at that time.  As pollen rode the waves of the winds it came to rest on/in the the mortar and  became encapsulated in the building itself.

The mortar acts like a kind of time machine where the pollen of old is extracted and analyzed by archeologists, revealing what plants lived and thrived at the time, in that town: trees, for example, were abundant –  (pine oak maple and hornbeam) revealing a tree filled ecosystem in Williamsburg in the early 18th century. Contrasted to pollen from the same town in the later in the 18th century/early 19th where/when the mortar reveals that the trees had been cut down – and mostly ragweed and goosefoot pollen are found in that time-frames pollen-mortar revelations. Pretty interesting.

In a similar way  Zander (1941) describes honey comb from Apis mellifera (found in a tomb from the Nineteenth Dynasty in Egypt), that was dissolved in water and found to contain mostly pollen from Egyptian avocado and desert dates  “which indicate that the plants of Egypt have changes considerably since the time of the pharaohs.”



RECIPE INGREDIETNS: (inspired and amended from  the cook book NOURISHING)

-2 medium sized sweet potatoes

– 11-12 fresh dates (pitted)

– ¾ cup cup ground almonds

– 2/3 cup buckweat flour

– 3 tablespoons cacao nibs

– ¼ cup raw cacao powder

– at least 3 tablespoons honey

– zest of one orange – plus the juice

– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

– ¼ t salt

– 1 tablespoon oil of your choice (olive oil/coconut oil)

– 1 tablespoon almond milk/ or coconut milk if you feel it needs moisture

– Optional 1-2 teaspoons ground chiltepin – seeds and all


Steam peeled sweet potatoes until soft (approximately 18 minutes) and blend in food processor with the dates and honey.



Mix the dry ingredients together and fold in the sweet potato/date/honey mixture.




Add the juice of the orange whose peel you just “zested”. If the batter is still a little dry you might add a little milk and/or oil.


Add this super power batter to a parchment paper lined baking pan – and cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let cool. Sprinkle with cacao powder, or honey, or chiltepin. Refrigerate – the cold brownie has a wonderful taste (whereas the warm are not so flavorful. )







2 thoughts on “Brick and Mortar Brownies

  1. I’m amazed by (and a little jealous of) your seemingly ever-bubbling curiosity and creativity. What thrilling, nutritious and inspiring ‘pollen’ you disperse into the blogosphere!


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