I have always loved recipes. The desription and photos are, to me, almost as enticing as the thought of making them. Not that I ever did, at least not until 3 years ago.
I remembered growing up reading a weekly children's magazine, which release every Thursday I look forward to with much anticipation and excitement. I remember waiting impatiently for my mother to come home from work every Thursday because I know she will bring with her a fresh, pristine copy. I remember the smooth, glossy cover, taking it in my two hands and lifting it up to my nose, inhaling deeply the scent of ink and paper fresh off the printers.
It was to this magazine that I wrote, one day when I was about 7 years old, putting in a request to feature more recipes, and to make the recipes a weekly feature in the magazine. It's funny that people always say that you change when you grow up; when I look back into my childhood, I realise that not much had changed at all. I loved reading and writing then, and I still do now. My parents caught me doing sketches of dresses one evening a long time ago, and guess what my major at university was. I loved playing with my kitchen set and recipe books, and I recoverd this lost love just three years ago. I remembered my parents buying a few interior decorating books and magazines when they were building the new house some 15 years ago, and I used to carry them around with me in the house, just so I can pore over the photos every chance I get. This is the only childhood interest which I have yet to revisit, but which I am hoping to pick up again very soon. I have been on a mission to revisit my apartement for sometime now. Somehow, my plans never took flight. I just don't know where to start.
Psrhaps I should explain. Most of my life has been lived overseas. Making a rented premise a home is an exercise in futility. Firstly, my student budget did not allow for excessive spending, and even now I feel that buying pretty home decorations is a waste of money.Although somehow, this frugality never crossed over to clothes shopping.
So, why am I telling you these things, again? I am thinking of redecorating, and somewhere along the line, I am hoping to redecorating my life too. This year is meant to be a fresh start for me, a fresh new book after 24 years in the occupation of a student. It did not start out very well, but I intend to finish it in a very, very positive way.
So, what are your ideas on how to start a redecoration?
These amazing brownies are from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert. They are, and I kid you not, the best brownies I have ever had. I consider Medrich a perfectionist whose meticulous and slightly obsessive recipe testing enabled her to understand how each ingredient plays a vital role in transforming a good thing into a great one. She described these brownies as a cross between 'a very moist cake and a rich chocolate mousse'. I could not agree more. Although the nutmeg may seem unneccesary, I do not recommend skipping it. It creates a new dimension to the brownies that adds depth of flavour. After all, 90% of taste comes from your sense of smell.
New Bittersweet Brownies
228g 70% chocolate, chopped
86g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1tspn vanilla paste
55g plain flour
Whole nutmeg, grated, to serve.
Preheat oven to 160 degree C. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with baking paper. Place chocolate and butter in a bain marie, stirring frequently until the mixture is melted and smooth. Set aside. In a stand mixer, whisk eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla on high speed until the mixture is thick and pale. Whisk in the warm melted chocolate/butter mixture. Fold in the flour. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, save for a few moist crumbs. This will take approximately 25-30 minutes. Cool in the pan, invert and dust with freshly grated nutmeg.
Note: I have been intently following the news these past few days. Some of you may have heard of the devastating bushfire tragedy that wiped out entire towns in many parts of Victoria. One of the locations that suffered the full extent of the tragedy was a suburb near J's parents' home called Kinglake. On Saturday, when J was out, I received a phone call from his mother. She told me that the wind had changed direction and the fire was going their way, and that they were going to evacuate once the fire went past the nearby hill. It stopped just a few miles away, right before it hit the hill, thanks in no small parts to the laudable efforts put in by the firefighters.
A number of bushfires are still raging across Victoria up to this moment. Some of them have been burning for 4 days straight. The thought that some of these fires were intentionally lit during the total fire ban day on Saturday makes my blood boil, and then some. While I feel relieved that J's family was not affected by the fires, my heart goes out to all the victims of what has been termed 'Australia's worst-ever disaster'.