Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Childhood Interests, and How People Never Really Change.

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

3 eggs

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'.


Christy said...

Meeta, thank you for your comment on this post. Sorry but I had to delete the previous one that I posted, and therefore your comment with it, due to a technical fault that I couldn't fix unless I create a new post for the story. So sorry!!

VelezDelights said...

I'm so glad that both you and J's family are safe!!

These brownies look really fresh and yummy, by the way =)

Ash said...

Those brownies look amazing!
I use to do that when I was little, my parents had this huge cookbook and I would always peer at the pictures inside. I just loved it!
I'm still that way, maybe even worse. Lets just say I probably have more cookbooks then I need!

Y said...

Very glad to hear his parents are alright! It's crazy, what's been happening in Victoria at the moment.

I seem to have had very similar obsessions as a child, and yes, it is funny how people never really change! Wish you all the best of luck in this new chapter of your life :)

Mallory Elise said...

you had technical problems and head to delete the entire post? are you stalking me now? hehe.

your writing here is excellent christy. great little adjectives everywhere.

when i was little, all i read was Highlights magazine, which had black and white hide and seek drawings. yeah. interior decorating huh. don't worry, everything will work itself into something eventually.

i will pray for a big rain cloud to visit australia.

either way, your photos are amazingly stunning. and i want wannnnnnnnnnnnnnt that mini grater. :)

natalia said...

Ciao ! In these days I'm following the news too It's so bad to think that someone started those terrible fires !!
Your brownies might be super but your pictures are wonderful !!

Steph said...

WOW! I'm not a brownie fan, but those look gorgeous! I might have to get an Alice Medrich book.. I need explanations for everything!!!

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

Christy, another beautiful post! I only came abck to cooking/baking aswell about 4 years ago so I can echo your sentiments wholeheartedly.

Also a friend just moved back to Oz and she is living in an area near the fires aswell but thankfully out of harms way! My thoughts are with J's parents adn the other people affected by teeh fire!

Ash said...

thanks for comment!
No, I sell the cookies on a regular basis. Mostly just around the holidays though.
My next endeavor will be easter cookies!

Aran said...

wow... we are hearing all about the fires here and i'm sorry it hit so close to home. i hope everyone is safe! and the photos, brilliant!

Dee said...

When I left, I heard the death toll had hit 40. I'm glad that both your families are safe.

I'm a firm believer in redecoration. Both in life and home. It's odd but I'm now spending more money on my home than my wardrobe. It's nice to have a haven to come home to :)

Christy, your photos never cease to amaze!

Katie said...

Redecoration is such fun! And these brownies look fantastic.

Mallory Elise said...

hey brownie girl, where's the new banner? hmmmm???

ps. thinking about cheese photo for click? i got nothin so far.

Vera said...

Christy, I couldn't agree with you more - people really never change :)
Good luck with all your new plans!
The brownies are fantastic!