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Mona Brown's Famous Zucchini Bread

Inga Neal finds inspiration in her heritage of good cooking, supplied by her prize-winning mother, Mona Brown. This clipping is from The Courier-Times.

By BLAISE DOUBMAN - For The Courier-Times

I have known Inga Neal, owner, mastermind, recipe developer, cook, baker and genius for a few years now, but have known her business, Temptations, even longer. She is a wise woman and has given me great advice over the years. Every time I talk with her, it is like talking with an old friend.

The people in New Castle and surrounding areas would have to agree about her fun and unique personality and would have to agree about it being a contributing factor as to why her restaurant and catering service are so successful. Temptations is at 2001 South Memorial Drive, New Castle,  and is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

They have anything and everything under the sun, including but not limited to, chicken and dumplings, chicken and noodles, cube steak, bbq pulled pork, chicken fajita wrap, BLT and turkey club. They also offer salads such as taco salad, crispy chicken salad and their chicken salad plate. Homemade sides include, broccoli and cauliflower salad, pea salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, grape salad, potato salad and many more delicious offerings.

And, we can not forget her famous Sweet Shelf which offers everything from brownies and banana cake to cherry almond bars and butterscotch fudge! So, reading all of that, are you hungry yet?

After getting acquainted with Inga, and sampling some of the most delicious potato soup and caramel corn that I have ever had, the conversation quickly turned to food and recipes. Inga told me that her mother, Mona Brown, had a recipe for zucchini bread. It was not just your typical zucchini bread recipe either; this one was “award-winning!”

Of course, I figured that the recipe would be top secret and I would never get my hands on it but to my surprise Inga shared it with me!

She explained that the recipe was featured in The Courier-Times and earned her the title of reserve champion for The Courier-Times’ 12th Annual Readers Recipe Review! Inga was kind enough to not only send along the recipe but a photo of the original article that ran in the paper so many years ago.

The article stated that the bread was a “spicy loaf with an unusual ingredient – a box of butterscotch pudding mix!” Inga has the original recipe hung up in her shop as a loving tribute and memory to her mom. I tried the recipe immediately and I instantly fell in love! This bread is unlike anything I have ever had before and highly recommend you try it for yourselves.

Inga said that her Mom, Mona, loved being known for this bread but also loved baking other delicious types of breads. Mona baked up until she was 90 years old! Now that is an inspirational woman! Inga also surprised me with her Mom’s grand champion recipe for her Jade Express Chicken with Rice which is also fabulous. But you will have to wait until my next installment for that recipe and the story behind it!

Mona Brown’s Famous Zucchini Bread

This bread can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to four days. If you would like to use walnuts and raisins in this bread, as the original article describes, add about ½ cup of walnuts and 1/3 cup of raisins. To bring out the walnuts' flavor, slightly toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Inga has since added her spin to this original recipe by using cinnamon spice instant oatmeal, instead of the original flavor, and by freezing the bread to give the flavors and textures a whole other flavor profile.

3 large eggs

2 cups white granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups shredded zucchini, slightly drained

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon baking powder

2 cups white all-purpose flour

½ cup instant oatmeal

Small package instant butterscotch pudding mix

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a large or two small loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl mix together the large eggs, white granulated sugar, vegetable oil, prepared zucchini and pure vanilla extract.

In another large bowl whisk together the baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, white all-purpose flour and instant oatmeal.

Combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until mixed well.

Stir in the instant butterscotch pudding mix and pour batter into prepared pan / pans.

Bake, in preheated oven, one hour for large loaf pan, 30-45 minutes for small loaf pans.

Remove, allow to cool slightly before removing and continue to cool or serve warm.

Ask and Answer: I have had a few questions about my recipe for Magical Chocolate Cake and if you can make the frosting using different types of chocolate chips. Yes! Use dark chocolate, milk chocolate or even white chocolate chips! My favorite would have to be the semi-sweet variety though because I really think the flavors pair best with the chocolate cake.

Blaise Doubman of Kennard is an Indiana University graduate. He invites readers to visit his website at: TRAIL BLAISE (trailblaise.com). He loves to hear from his readers and can be contacted via the contact page found directly on his website. He writes this column exclusively for The Courier-Times on the first and third Saturdays of each month.