Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Brownie Out

Our next-door neighboor Bill is retired, and in addition to maintaining an impeccably beautiful lawn and Alice-in-Wonderland-like garden outside my window, he also spends a good portion of his time crafting gorgeous wood furniture.  There was a neighborhood yard sale last summer, when we first got here, and I coveted a table and chairs set he had made, but at the time we didn't feel we could shell out the $150 he wanted for it (and deserved).

Anyway, Eric came in from working in the yard this weekend and said, "Hey!  Bill is going to give us that teeter-totter he made."  I couldn't believe it.  He made this teeter-totter, with hand-crafted horseheads for decoration, last year.  And now he was giving it to us?  I was touched beyond belief.  And the girls love it. "You'll have to make him cookies," Eric said.

Because, let's face it.  When it comes to crafts/baking/handiwork, a batch of chocolate chip cookies is just about the pinnacle of my achievements.  What's not to like?  They're easy to make, bake up in ten minutes, and you can say they're homemade.  But for that reason, they're not exactly impressive, either.  They're not exactly a handmade teeter-totter.

Still, I am what I am.  Baking is it for me, given my limited time and abilities.  So!  Addie and I waited until Nolie went to bed last night and then decided to bake up a homemade batch of brownies, complete with buttercream frosting.  Still not teeter-totter worthy, but a little closer.

Here is what I learned:

1)  Holy cow, they do not call it buttercream frosting for nothing!  I put two sticks of butter in there, along with milk, melted chocolate, cups of sugar and cocoa.  This was a huge eye-opener for me.  I have been known to eat a half-carton of Duncan Hines frosting in one sitting.  With a spoon.  Now that I've seen what goes into those things, never again.  I am still reeling from the sight of all that butter, whipping into a froth.  Yowza.

2)  I think it matters that they were homemade.  Yes, they were just brownies, but it took a good two hours to make them and clean up and then plate them all pretty this morning.  I'm glad I went through the from-scratch exercise, because next time someone brings us something homemade, I will have much more appreciation for the work that went in to making them.

3)  It also matters that they were for a friend.  Addie kept trying to cut deals while we were making them, like, "Mom?  Couldn't we just make Bill cookies and keep the brownies for ourselves?"  For a second, I was tempted.  These brownies were no joke yummy-wise, and Bill would never have known if we did the swap-out.  But it was good to make something delicious knowing somebody we love would enjoy them.  So over to his house they went this morning, and after complaining we were giving him a sugar attack, he ate one and fell in love with us forever.  Definitely worth it.

Leave it to me to read so much meaning into a batch of brownies.  But I can't help it.  This whole knowing more about food thing is useful, and interesting.  Spending those two hours on the brownies is what the extra hours of summer daylight are all about.


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