Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday's thing: Friends and brownies

Today was the first playdate away from the house.

Well, the first daddy playdate with mommy’s friends away from the house.

We ventured to the land of nearly-no sidewalks … the land where we need traffic impact fees for developers.

It’s about a 45 minute drive, not too bad of a car stint, except when you consider we’re only going about 18 miles. Though I did find that Google maps permits you to click and drag your route so you can go the way you at least have some familiarity with. It’s a great feature.

One of the customs of these play dates is the brining of something.

Being a guy, and this being a mommy function, I could have brought a bottle of club soda, and it would have been accepted as ‘a good start’.

We’ve all know each other since college, so I knew that I probably couldn’t have played the ‘guy’ card like that. So at 7:30 this morning, with my son’s help, we performed one of those secret recipes that are so easy that you need to share it because it’s:

1. Easy.
2. Easy.
3. Good.
4. Impressive

He’d been harassing me to make brownies. Now, a four year old isn’t too subtle when they want something. I think he brought out the box of brownies at least five times in as many days for me to make more.

So, rather than crack out the fixin’s for pancakes (and today would have been from scratch, sans the buttermilk, but it would have worked), I made him his egg (scrambled with 1 cheese stick melted into it), and while he watched I began the soon-to-be not so secret process.

First, get a box of brownie mix. This particular brand (Pillsbury, if you’re reading this, e-mail or comment, and I’ll happily give you my address for coupons) calls for 1/3 cup oil, 3 tablespoons of water and one egg. I beat these together in the bowl (with a wire whisk), and had my son help by adding 1/3 of the mix at a time.

Okay, I could have done the whole by scratch thing, but realize the bar for me was pretty low, I was exceeding expectations just by considering making something.

We got those all mixed together (using a wooden spoon; the wire whisk gets too gloopy). I then folded in 2/3 cup of semi-sweet Toll House chips.

I poured the mix into an 8x8 pan that was greased with olive oil.

And then it was into the oven at 325 for about 37 minutes (I set the timer for 33 and let it remind me twice it was done).

These sat for about an hour before we were ready to go. I then drizzled some chocolate on a plate, placed the now cut brownies on that and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Like I said, easy, easy, good and impressive.

The only complaint was that I cut them too small, so they were “pop-able” and that there was too few.

The first time new momma certainly enjoyed them, as did the “I’m done being pregnant with my second child” momma.

Kids had a great time, and all fell asleep on the way home.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ketchup. Smiley Face. Happy Face.

As I came into married life, we began a tradition of listening to NPR on Saturdays. Some great shows from 9 in the morning, clear through the evening jazz program. Only a little bit of guilt for having attended a different school that also broadcasts NPR programming.

A big part of the day starts at 3 p.m. It's when the frog-like baritoned voice of Garrison Kellior comes over the airwaves. It's comforting. Reflective, and pretty damn funny.

One of the 'sponsors' of the show is ketchup. With its natural mellowing agents, it's able to settle any stressful situations.

Growing up, I used to laugh at stories of my step-brother being obsessed with ketchup.

Cheerios. Eggs. macaroni and cheese.

Apparently, nothing was immune to the red, sweet goodness of Hunt's, Heinz, or brand X. He liked it so much that his little boy belly was called his 'tomato'.

My son, at 4 1/2 if just about no different. If there's an opportunity to eat ketchup will probably come into the picture.

He's taken his two-year-old sister under his wing, so they team up at each meal.

I tought that it would be a simple deal to serve it on the side on on the top of the food. You know, just drizzle it on top like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Oh how wrong I've been.

My little experts of youthful gastronomy like to eat things with faces (no vegetarians here, sorry). It's handy.

The other night I was readying my ketchup-pen, prepared to create a face on top of macaroni and cheese. Dot. Dot. Smile. Like this: :)

Simple smiley.


He stated in his sophisticated 4.5 year old voice, "Dada, Actually, I'd like a happy face."

I had to show my ignorance, "Happy face? That's what is there."

"No, that's a smiley face. A happy face has a nose."