Brownies, N’importe Quel Type…

August 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Craving chocolate something fierce. I came home from work, where I’m surrounded by all facets of chocolate. Work, where I eat crumbs of chocolate-flavored things from the beginning to the end of my shift. Where I am shameless; sometimes using a butter knife to scrape off the bits of brownie that stick to the pan—sweep those into a half-bite. And what I should have done all along: baked a pan myself.

I ended up improvising. Milk chocolate in lieu of dark. Pecans instead of walnuts. Coconut shavings because, well, why not.

Improvisation is stalking me these days, I swear. It’s hard to let go of those proclivities to nail down stability though. As a rule-follower, as an approbation-seeker, I’m struggling now to decide the big answer to the What’s Next Question. I’m getting there, I think, but how can you improvise your way through life when you know there are formulas out there—formulas that other people are using (formulas called “grad school”), and are thusly resting easier then us improv-kids—how can you wander into the crux of circumstance empty-handed and simply make it up as you go along? How does that work? I realize I’m being all vague and ambiguous and wordy.

Back to before though—lest I forget why I’m writing—all I knew was this: I want chocolate. And that was enough for a base. From there, I kind of tossed in what I had on hand. What’s here: coconut, pecans, a little cocoa powder, some Hershey’s chocolate that’s better suited for smores but oh well—etc. I mixed my miscellaneous ingredients and baked them. The smell of chocolate filled the house. Family congregated. Chocolate brownies were consumed with vast quantities of milk. It was glorious. Almost as glorious as this giant cow I saw on Highway 36 yesterday: …which has nothing to do with improv-brownies, but is just quirky and cool. (The driver of the truck and I had a conversation at the stoplight. Also quirky. I won’t say that was cool though. Kind of weirded me out, mostly.)

But back to the brownie cravings! The ramshackle, stump-the-cook-style baking. The shelf-scouring. Sometimes, I think it just feels like we have to go digging in the pantry. Throw something together. Do what Modest Mouse says and “build something out of nothing.” Or better yet—decide what you’re craving. Simply. One single ingredient. Chocolate. Or pickles. Or spearmint. Or whatever. There’s your base. Now add onto that and see what happens. That’s what this whole experiment is all about after all, isn’t it?

Last week, I encouraged a customer to bake his own pan of chocolate chip cookies.

“I don’t bake. Too many exact measurements. Too precise. No—I let my wife do the baking and I do the rest of the cooking.”

“I dunno—I think if you add enough butter everything turns out amazing,” I said. He laughed and walked out with a big smile across his face.

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