Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Country Living and Cocoa Brownies

I have this secret standard in blogging.  It is this: as long as the time between posts is less than a month, than I am still a regular blogger.  Tomorrow would mark one month, so here I am typing whatever comes into my head.

Right now my head is filled with thoughts of brownies:

 The first time I made these brownies, my sister Rebekah was visiting from Atlanta for the weekend.   We took our pug Henry and her new puppy Sherlock into the pasture to run around.  Sherlock is about half as tall as the grass, and could only get from place to place by hopping.  We would scoop him up and carry him, but he wanted nothing to do with that.  He would twist and turn until we'd put him back down in the dry, yellow grass.  Then he'd hop away from us, the only thing visible above the grass was the occasional glimpse of his silky black ears flopping up and down.

When we met up with my sister Sarah and her boyfriend Michael for brunch, somehow the conversation turned to brownies.  Both Sarah and I agreed we could really go for some.

"Actually..."  Rebekah rummaged around in her purse and proudly held up a Ziploc bag of two brownies.

This is just one more example of how Rebekah is awesome.  I mean, she has brownies in her purse!

We decided to continue our day out at the farm.  Rebekah told me she'd pick up frozen custard and a movie, if I would go ahead and make fresh brownies.  I found a cocoa powder brownie recipe from Smitten Kitchen and figured it had to be good.

It took only a little more time and no more effort than putting together a brownie mix.  Within 30 minutes, I was pulling them dark and steaming out of the oven.  Smitten Kitchen had said to let them completely cool, but Rebekah and Sarah poo-pooed that notion, and dug in with spoons.

We sat in the living room, looking out over the pasture where the now sleepy dogs had played and eating brownies from pools of melted custard.

This move has been difficult.  There were the nights of trying to cook with a flashlight.  The mornings I woke up covered in rashes and bumps (who knows what was going on there).  The night Matt and I spent three hours cleaning up a shattered fish tank from off the floor of an unfamiliar house.

But it has been wonderful too.  Doing it together.  Doing it with the help of our friends - friends who have surprised and humbled us with their unconditional love and sacrificial giving (hence, no more cooking with a flashlight).

Sitting in the sun-drenched living room with three of the people I love best, I realized that it was what I've wanted since I left Michigan seven years ago.  I'd missed the views and the peace of the country.  There is a nonchalance and wholesomeness to farm living that is slowly working its way into our days.

We are finding our new normal.  It is earlier bedtimes and earlier mornings.  It is views of our land and not an office park.  It is the sound of chickens and dogs instead of traffic and emergency vehicles.  It is just right.

And as I take my turn stealing a sliver of brownie so hot it burns my mouth, I look out over our tree-lined driveway and savor the feeling of being home.

Beware: these brownies are a cinch to make and even easier to eat.

Cocoa Brownies
Originally from Alice Medrich

10 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325.  Line a 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper (or foil).  In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, cook butter, sugar  cocoa powder and salt stirring occasionally until the butter is melted and the batter is hot.  Smitten Kitchen suggests a double boiler, but I have had no problems with a heavy saucepan - just don't let your sugar burn.  The mixture will be gritty.  Remove from heat and allow to cool until it is warm.  Stir in the vanilla.  Add the eggs one at a time and stir until the batter is smooth and shiny.  Stir in flour until blended.  Beat with 40 strokes.  Pour into prepared pan and bake on the bottom third of the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few brownie crumbs hanging on.  Let cool completely (or eat lustily out of the pan with your sisters).

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your country home - so happy for you and Matt. Sounds as if many memories are being made.
    Thanks for the brownie recipe too! I have a great weakness for them. Love the story about Rebekah and the magic brownie trick. I bet it made you wonder what else she had in her purse!


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