Wednesday, October 14, 2009
If you follow this blog, or you know me, or have ever heard of me, you know that I have deep profound love of all things peanut butter and peanut butter related. Add chocolate to the peanut butter and I am your's forever.
I have been spending the past several weeks on a recumbent bike, pedaling like a mad woman in an effort to rid myself of too many Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundaes. The mainstay of my super healthy, all-you-can-eat pregnancies. BaskinRobbins is the work of the devil. I'm just saying!
Anyway, we were having some good friends over yesterday. The perfect excuse for making a dessert and an opportunity for me not to inhale the whole thing.
As I was trolling through the recipe archives (believe me, you have NO idea how huge this archive actually is!) I came upon a really fussy Martha Stewart Peanut Butter Swirl Brownie recipe. Now, there was a time when I would have gone to the store, purchased the requisite amounts of prissy "high quality semi-sweet" and "high quality unsweetened" chocolate. Those days are over. I have two kids that get up anywhere between 3 am and 4:30 am. A trip to the store for Martha's required fussiness is simply out of the question!
Oh please, come on in and join me, the peanut butter is FINE!!!
Go get yourself some brownie mix. I don't give a damn what kind, but I have found that the cheaper the mix, the better the brownies. Get the store brand if you like. You can even, if you are lucky, pick some up for 99 cents. There isn't much you can get for 99 cents these days!
Peanut Butter Swirl
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (although, I suppose you could use chunky if you are feeling sassy)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
Prepare the brownie mix as directed on the box. Spread the batter in a parchment lined 8 x 8 x 2 pan. Place dollops of the peanut butter mixture on top and swirl with a knife. Lick off the knife (you know you want to!).
Bake as directed on the brownie box. You might have to bake a little bit longer due to the addition of all the peanut buttery goodness, but the wait is worth it.
Once you have tasted the deliciousness, send me a thank you email! I love to get email...oooh and comments too!
P.S. Do you love edge brownies as much as I do? If you do, go check out this all edge brownie pan! Too cool!
Hello, King Arthur People, send me one. If you do I will say more really really nice things about you!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Over the past 2 + years, Mr. Smith and I have been waging a war. Unfortunately, we have been waging this war alone. There was no one to help. No one that could help, for that matter.
Even the attorneys that we have hired throughout this nightmare have failed us at every turn, interested in feathering their own corrupt little nests, while leaving us financially ruined and twisting in the wind. Don't get me started on what horrific medieval things should be done to all lawyers everywhere. Sorry you stinking dirtbags, but you know as well as I do that you deserve it.
Our war began with no warning. It came to us in the form of a subpoena, as the worst, most pointless wars often do. We were being sued and we had to be in court the next morning. The most shocking part: we were being sued by The Other Mrs. Smith, Mr. Smith's mother.
A brutal development. A harsh blow for even the most detached son, which Mr. Smith is not. This does not happen to people like us. We are nice, we are kind, we had not done anything to warrant such a severe action. Yet, to court we went to be informed that, without any evidence, we were already deemed guilty and would be forced at great expense and heartache to prove our innocence in this matter.
The reason for the lawsuit is complicated, and as it turns out, doesn't matter much. Suffice it to say that The Other Mrs. Smith's chief problem is believing that other people's property belongs to her. Simple as that.
Lucky for her, she is resourceful and was able to become a pro bono client of an extremely powerful, litigious law firm in our area. Always lands on her feet...amazing really.
You see, The Other Mrs. Smith is indigent. She decided to retire at an early age from a job she did not have. She opted to be taken care of by her son without his consent.
When her son fell in love, got married and started a family, her complete dependence on him became a very serious issue for her. He, like any normal man, was interested in having his own life. He was no longer interested in babysitting an adult. His new wife (me), his children, his career were all stealing attention and time from what was truly important to her...herself.
As you can imagine, this caused some problems, but nothing we couldn't handle. Boundaries were set, these were ignored or crossed over and over again. Outrageous demands in the form of time, attention and huge sums of money were made. Some were met, most were denied or ignored in an effort at self-preservation on our part.
Unfortunately, the bulk of this story is not mine to tell. I am simply (like my children, my parents) collateral damage to The Other Mrs. Smith's crushing narcissism and unrestrained greed.
In the end, we have been stripped of everything. We are left homeless (except for the good grace of my phenomenal family that I will never be able to thank sufficiently), penniless (bankruptcy and judgments are a couple of funny things that I will tell you about some day) and exhausted from a draining battle with no winners, only losers. We have each other, we have two children to raise without the benefit of money, and a business with loads of potential.
It has been incredibly hard to hold it together and keep a brave face. Most days I have failed, some days I was able to soldier on and pretend this wasn't happening to Mr. Smith, to us, to our little family.
Finally, this week, there is a pinprick of light, tiny, but hopeful. Yes, it may be a locomotive in the tunnel, I don't know that yet. Each time I have been hopeful, I have been leveled by the next blow. Each time I have been forced, for my family, for our children, to pick myself up.
I am exhausted, I am battered and bruised, but I will not surrender. I will never let The Other Mrs. Smith and her cancerous, hateful ways harm my family. We are better than that, stronger than that. What we have is true and real and cannot be destroyed by something, by someone as petty as she has shown herself to be time and time again.
So, where to go from here?
To the kitchen. My refuge, my sanctuary, my happy place. It is where I am in charge, where I dictate the rules and do only what I want to do.
When Fall is in the air, Mrs. Smith's (This Mrs. Smith) fancy turns to ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and all things baked.
Yesterday, H and I collaborated on a project from the King Arthur Flour people. If love comes in the form of baked goods, these folks are Don Juan. Holy Moses, go to their website and I dare you not to order one of everything. I have yet to find something that isn't wonderful, delicious and quickly devoured by my audience.
I have had the donut mix (but you can make it without the benefit of the mix, if you have a mind to) and the pan floating around the pantry for months. Each time I thought about making it, I chickened out. Yesterday, I just needed the therapy that baking, even with H "helping" can provide. So, I dove in.
We made Mini Donuts and frosted them with the following Chocolate Glaze from The Joy of Cooking.
Note: if you make these, be very careful not to overfill the forms with batter, if you do, as my little helper did, you don't get a hole in the middle of the donut!
Chocolate Donut Glaze
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup water
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
Melt in a heavy saucepan or double boiler. When melted, removed from heat and whisk in
1 1/3 cups confectioner's sugar
Frost the donuts and let set as long as you can stand it (which, I assure you, will not be long, especially if your sous chef is 3 1/2 years old!).
Today, I added some cocoa and made the mix into chocolate donuts and used the same Chocolate Glaze. Heaven. Yes, there is nutmeg and cinnamon in there, Mr. Smith. No it is not, in fact, poison, or nuts. They are spices and taste wonderful with the chocolate. OPEN YOUR MIND DAMMIT!!
Also, if you are lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe's, go and get some of their Gingerbread Coffee. I am here to tell you, it is the most comforting thing I have discovered recently. It gives me such joy to smell the spices while the coffee is brewing. It just make me feel warm, happy and safe. I know, I know, what the hell, it is just coffee for Pete's sake!
In other, completely unrelated news: Here is a recipe for Soft Ginger Drops that will absolutely curl your toes!
Soft Ginger Drops
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup molasses
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves
1 cup boiling water
Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.
Frost while warm with frosting made from milk, vanilla and confectioner's sugar (until frosting is desired consistency).
So go make some of these cookies and wallow (as I did) in the warm, spicy, Fall smells in your house!
P.S. Five years ago, on October 12, I interviewed a very cute, but nervous Mr. Smith for a job. That was our previous life. He was already Mr. Smith. I had no way of knowing that in less than a year, I would be Mrs. Smith. What can I say, he gives good interview!