Saturday, February 20, 2010

The February Post

With the beginning of February I've been even more busy than normal. I'm now hosting an international teaching fellow in my room. I hope to make her experience the best it can be, yet because I've never hosted another teacher in my room, it's been a learning curve for me as well. Overall, I really like what I'm gaining from the experience--mostly in the way of keeping more organized, because I have to. I love organization, but I sometimes have to remind myself of its merits.

I'm also taking a Children's Lit and Technology class-- I'm still in the Master's program, and still not sure why-- :)--but this class is particularly fun, and not hard at all. It's also practical-- I'm making projects I can use in the classroom without any modification. I've also managed to get my computer fixed. This is the first entry in a long time from ye old laptop.

I'm also ready for Spring. We've now had at least one snow, one ice storm, and plenty of cold weather to do me in. I'm actually okay with the weather-- what I'm not okay with are the clothes. I'm ready for color--if not outside, then at least on me. Maybe this will lead to sewing? 'Cause I certainly haven't been.

I have been knitting though-- first, I finished a hat for my nephew, then I made myself a hat. Finally, I made one for my brother-in-law. And now I'm working on a raw-silk cabled scarf--in which I can't keep up with how many rows I'm supposed to make into a cable. I need to pull out my nifty row counter so that I'll stop making mistakes that make me rip back. I'm looking towards a sweater-- I've got some lovely rust-colored yarn to make up--but I'm not sure I'll get to it before my knitting fervor runs out--it does, invariably, in the first warm days of spring.

I've also been baking-- mostly brownies. I've made the same recipe so many times--a slightly modified version of Dorie Greenspan's Classic Brownies--that I've memorized the recipe. Today I also (finally) made something different from this cookbook-- a "Swedish Neighbor Cake"--and it was just about as amazing as the brownies. We've been eating Sunday dinner at home more recently, usually because Mama and I have cooked too much more than anything, so I've been trying to keep something sweet around on the weekend. This time, I made the batter while everything else was warming in the oven and put it in when we pulled everything else out. It was wonderful, warm, lemony and fragrant. (Thanks, Aunt Debbie, for this cookbook! I love it.)

What I haven't been doing is writing. It's been my goal to post at least once a week on here, and, well... that hasn't happened. I think it's the mid-winter slump--and hopefully it will end sooner than later.

Classic Brownies
slightly modified from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

5 T. butter, cut into five pieces
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli chips)
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. espresso powder
1/4-1/2 t. salt (I use a rounded 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 c. flour (The original recipe called for 1/3--but I made this "mistake"
the first time I made the brownies and I like the extra chewiness)

3/4 c. walnuts, chopped coarsely

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 8" square brownie pan.

Combine chocolates and butter into a saucepan and melt together, using the very lowest setting on stove. When chocolate is mostly melted but still contains lumps, take off heat and stir to melt the rest of the chocolate*. Using a wooden spoon or a whisk, mix in sugar (it will be grainy). Mix in eggs one at a time, then add in vanilla (it should be smoother now). Mix in salt and espresso powder.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in flour (you should still be able to see streaks--just like muffins). Fold in walnuts. Pour into pan; smooth out the top of the brownies so that batter is evenly distributed over bottom of pan. Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until top is dry and a knife inserted into middle comes (almost) clean. Let cool on a wire rack, and cut into squares.

*This always works with our gas cooktop-- it's just about how I always melt chocolate. If you don't feel comfortable with this, Dorie G. recommends the double boiler method.

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