Dear Sun Spots: I am a high school science teacher looking for five or six old bowling balls for use in density experiments. I need balls that have different weights. I would like one or two that weigh 16 pounds and also lighter ones.

If a bowling alley or some individuals who no longer bowl could help me, I would appreciate it. Thank you. I can be reached at (207) 897-3593 or via e-mail at [email protected] – Karen Mitchell, Fayette.

Dear Sun Spots: My father will celebrate his 70th birthday in September. His favorite cake is butternut. I would like to be able to collect enough nuts for my mother to make him one. I have one butternut tree and have been able to get a few nuts off of it, but I need a few more. Because the meat of the nut is quite hard to get at, many people don’t bother with them. If you are one of them and would not mind giving them away, please contact me. In case you do not know what a butternut looks like, it is about the size of a plum and it is green and furry and sticky. I can be reached at (207) 225-2258 or via mail at 143 Main St., Turner, ME 04282, or via e-mail at [email protected] – Nate in Turner.

Answer: In addition to responses from readers, you might be interested in noting the butternut is also known as a white walnut, and is grown only in this country (and apparently mostly in a swath stretching from New England through Indiana to the upper Midwest). It has a rich, oily meat. It is generally used in baking and candy making. Because of its high oil content, it will go rancid fairly quickly, so store it in your freezer until ready for use. You can certainly substitute it for other nuts in your cooking projects.

Butternut spice cake. Ingredients: ½ cup finely chopped butternuts, 2 cups cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon salt, 2/3 cup butter, 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar, 2 eggs and 1 cup buttermilk. Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees centigrade). Grease a 9-inch tube pan. Sprinkle the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan evenly with finely chopped butternuts (pecans or walnuts). Sift together cake flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Cream the butter. Blend in lightly packed brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Stir dry ingredients into creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in the finely chopped butternuts or pecans or walnuts. Put gently into baking pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake springs back when you touch it lightly. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Put on cake rack to cool completely. Leave upside down and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar over cake before serving.

Broccoli butternut pesto. Ingredients: Broccoli flowers, 6 ounces; garlic, 1 clove; butternuts, 4 ounces; Parmesan cheese, 2 ounces; white pepper, ¼ teaspoon; olive oil, 7 fluid ounces.

Method: Use a high quality, extra virgin oil. You might want to try using a hand-cranked meat grinder instead of a traditional marble mortar and pestle. Simply put everything non-liquid through it, including solid cheese, then cream with a spoon. It gives a really nice texture to everything. Food processors can be used to chop the ingredients separately, but tend to do it unevenly if everything is done together.

Blenders work if the liquid ingredients are added as well and speed is kept low so that everything doesn’t just turn to mush. Leave the pesto in the fridge for the flavors to blend before checking seasoning. Pesto may be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen in serving-size chunks. (An ice-cube tray is handy for freezing.) Store pesto under a thin layer of oil to reduce browning. The high-oil recipes keep best; those low in oil should only be eaten fresh, tossed with hot pasta. Freezing makes pestos a bit mushy, but the taste is unchanged.

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