You know how sometimes life gets ahead of you? Good intentions trip you up and instead of checking items off your “to do” list you are mired in the weight of the list itself and spinning your wheels. I love to try new things and to share my excitement at new discoveries, but I have been caught in a hamster wheel for a while with things I told myself were “more important”. I was making excuses instead of getting organized.
But now I’m back, and I’m so glad I have this safe space to come back to. I still haven’t completed that list, but I did bake brownies today. And I feel so much better for it. It’s about following through, I discovered.
It seems so silly now that I’m here writing – I try to live not feeling guilty for indulging in life and yet that’s what stopped me from taking time to write or try new recipes. I felt guilty because I didn’t have everything done I thought I should do. Foodie heal thyself, right?
Okay, so I’m human. Today I took Ella for a walk and we decided we should stop by the local fruit market for ice cream. It turned out to be a rather nice fall day, and they will be closing soon for winter, so it was a “carpe diem” kind of inspiration. You know,
Eat ice cream, breathe the fresh air, shuffle in the leaves; for soon it will all be cold and white.
Root beer float and Tiger Tiger, on a waffle cone of course. I only ever eat Tiger ice cream in a cone. I have to say, the combination with root beer may be a new classic I want to lay claim to. It was like a key to a time warp that made me feel ten years old again. Living in the moment. Ella seemed to approve too, although her tastes are not very discriminatory when it comes to ice cream cone bottoms.
I felt a wonderful sense of pride and accomplishment seizing that beautiful moment. After all, I had spent the morning inside doing housework. I deserved a break. (And even if I hadn’t done housework, why not say “Yay me!” for making a memory?”)
The brownies didn’t get made until after dinner, since other tasks were prioritized. But they only took about 10 minutes to whip up, and then just 35 minutes in the oven. They were lukewarm when I cut into them to serve.
Hubbie was very happy I made brownies, and even happier when they showed up in a bowl with ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce and crushed toasted pecans. I was happy when I tucked my spoon in for the first bite and realized how gorgeously gooey and rich (not sweet) they were. Thank you, Sarah!
The thought did cross my mind as my spoon headed to my lips: “this is the second time I’m eating ice cream in a single day – and I only bothered to stretch today, didn’t even really work out!” I swallowed that thought with the bite of brownies – it was delicious.
So, there you are. I’m human. Not at all perfect. Completely fallible. But I can bake a good brownie with a little direction. And now that I have my momentum back, I may even come up with a variation on something or a new idea. Just watch me! Like my Dad used to say when I was trying to improve my clutzy basketball skills, “It’s all in the wrist.” One just has to follow through.
April Fool’s Day is coming up this week, and so I thought I would use that as inspiration to be a bit goofy. It could be cabin fever – the delayed arrival of spring has made me a bit stir-crazy. I don’t know about you, but I just feel that a little bit of whimsy is the best way to weather the storm.
Hopefully you will forgive the lack of nutritional value in this week’s recipes and take pleasure in knowing this topic give you water cooler fodder for the week to come!
Did you know that a real seasonal spring food is Peeps? They are a traditional sweet made by a company called Just Born, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; they come most commonly in the form of baby chicks. If you have never seen or heard of Peeps, check the Easter section of the larger grocery stores. If you’d like to see how Peeps are made, you can check out this factory video:
Peeps have a very loyal following, with some people taking their appreciation to quite imaginative heights! There are even such Peep pastimes as Peep Jousts (arm your Peep with a toothpick under his wing for a lance, then put him in the microwave with another combatant and after placing your wagers on the winner, push the ON button. The winner is the one that expands enough to engulf his unwitting enemy.) I could have posted a video on this, but I prefer that you imagine the fun…
There is Peep art – patterns of the charming little fellows glued on canvas that sell for hundreds of dollars. (Peeps do come in an array of colours, allowing for numerous permutations in design, so it’s not as silly as you might think.)
Simple indulgence in Peeps is ample goofiness, and you needn’t feel guilty eating them. They are only 32 calories each, and there are 350 million of them made each year, so they are certainly not endangered.
I suppose if you prefer natural foods, you could just stick to regular marshmallows. Did you know they have been around for 200 years and that originally the root of the marshmallow plant was what made them sticky and gooey? This plant was also used to soothe sore throats. I don’t know if you could attest to a marshmallow doing that but it arguably does make you feel better when you eat one.
Whether you like them pre-stuck to Rice Krispies in a square or roasted over an open flame will not diminish the smile that seems to get stuck on your face after eating them.
I have a few final notes for you if you choose to let whimsy strike and indulge in the spongy confection…
- Beware anyone brandishing a roasted marshmallow – flaming and sticky is not a very safe combination in the air.
- If you do get melted (or manhandled) marshmallow stuck somewhere it shouldn’t be, remember to remove it as soon as possible or it will become like Super Glue.
- The best remedy for unsticking marshmallow bits seems to be licking them off, so try to aim for something or someone you like. (If you use peanut butter, be sure to ask about nut allergies first.)
If you like your marshmallow inside something else, here’s a recipe that includes the other seasonal sweet – chocolate.
3/4 cup Callebaut chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups white sugar
5 large eggs
Zest of 1 full orange, grated on a “microplane” (fine grater)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups small Callebaut chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips)
2 cups miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Heat chocolate and butter in a pan slowly while stirring, until melted. Stir in sugar until melted and well blended. Cool the mixture 10 to 15 minutes.
Add eggs, orange zest and vanilla and stir until blended. Add flour, salt, and mix again. Add chocolate chunks and marshmallows, and pour into your pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until brownies spring back when touched in the centre of the pan. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut and serve at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar if you want to dress them up.
Happy April Fools’ Day 🙂 And if you’re saving yourself, Happy Easter!
Valentine’s Day is one of those events that tends to elicit strong emotions in people, and not always positive ones. It has possibly become the worst example of a commercialized holiday, and it tends to favour couples relentlessly, leaving single people in a funk. I for one think this is a sentiment that is better expressed any day of the year, not as a scheduled event. Send your lover fl0wers when they are in season, not when an industry decides the flower to send (roses) is one of those at its peak in pricing. Go out for dinner when it suits you, not when the restaurants pack people in and those people look to organize a romantic event in a busy room with a planned menu that hopes to make up for serving too many people at once.
So, as a small gesture in protest, I say “stuff it!” Enjoy the person, or the things, or the situations you love on this day – and don’t worry about fitting into the marketing plan. If you want to eat chocolate, I just posted my recipe for Brownies. It’s a classic I’ve used since my teen years and it’s worked for everything from romantic nights to break-up binges. If you are more of a savoury person, how about thinking outside the box? My husband Martin submitted a Jerk Chicken recipe to a local radio that chooses winners weekly to inspire people to cook in their kitchens. We love Jerk Chicken because it reminds us of a fave holiday spot, Jamaica. Maybe you want to turn the heat up and eat in your bathing suit?
Life is about enjoying the moments – how does that saying go?
Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but rather by the moments that take our breath away.
Whether that is cooking for someone, or with someone, or eating with someone, or while thinking of someone… any variation will work. We have to eat, we might as well enjoy it. Our memories link an experience to a taste, so let’s make sure we can link as many smiles as possible.
Happy Valentine’s Day. May your heart be happy in whatever you do today.