Monday, August 16, 2010

Fingerpainting and Brownies

Dear Mom,
Today marks the first day of the last full week of summer vacation.  And the weather is beautiful.  Perfect for fingerpainting.

and brownies.

Double Chocolate Espresso Brownies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
14 oz. semisweet chocolate squares, finely chopped (I use Scharffenberger; expensive but oh! so! worth it!)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup brewed espresso (Starbucks, of course!)
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts)
6 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (Scharffenberger again)

Coat a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray.  Line pan with aluminum foil, allowing ends to hang over short sides of pan.  Tuck overlapping ends under rim on short sides.  Coat foil with cooking spray; set pan aside.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl.  Place chopped semisweet chocolate in a large bowl; set bowls aside.

Combine sugar and next 3 ingredients in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar and butter melt and mixture comes to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate in bowl; let stand 2 minutes without stirring.

Beat chocolate mixture at low speed with an electric mixer until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour mixture; beat at medium speed until well blended.  Stir in vanilla, hazelnuts and dark chocolate.  Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake at 325 degrees for 38 to 40 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Carefully invert brownies from pan, using overlapping foil as handles; remove foil.  Invert brownies again on a cutting board; cut into squares or circles.  Drizzle with mocha syrup (I used Starbucks again!)

Next week school starts.  I have really, really loved my kids extra much this summer.  We did a LOT of swimming, baking, playing and dancing.  I will miss hangin' out with them.  So we will spend our last 10 days of summer vacation playing harder.  More.  Washing the car.  Listening to music.  Laughing and loving.
Enjoy your days . . . .

Back to School

Dear Mom,
The kiddos are back in school and we are trying to re-adjust to the routine. I have to say it is easier to fall into the semi-nocturnal summertime routine than it is to adjust to the 6am alarm clock. For all of us. That first morning the dogs didn't even come downstairs until it became clear that we were up for real- or at least until they heard milk being poured into bowls of Cheerios.

Bumper is an old veteran of the school days, but I think Patsy forgot all about it. She watches mournfully as they walk to the bus stop.

The longing is so bad, that coupled with Patsy's speed and expertise at jumping over the gates (and earning her the nickname FloJo), I have had to close the back door and keep her inside to prevent her from joining the queue at the bus stop. (Having your MOM chase down the dog while wearing her pajamas in front of everyone on the bus is mortifying for anyone after the age of 11.) (The MOM doesn't like it either, but that would never occur to the wounded.)

At the parent meeting for the tennis team, another mom and I volunteered to make locker decorations for the team. I have finished my half, will pick up the other half at the meet tonight and tomorrow afternoon I will hopefully not get lost in the high school as I go searching for the lockers to put them on. I am confident that I will only go missing until supper is late and my family is hungry, when they are sure to send out the search party. When I volunteered to make the decorations, I didn't realize how sadly under-represented the sport of tennis is in the craft/party/scrapbooking department. It just would have made things so easy if I could have purchased a bunch of paper dessert plates that look like tennis balls - they have baseball plates, basketball plates and even football shaped plates. NO TENNIS. However, I think that what we came up with is even better. We used the stiff felt you can find in the craft store, cut it into 5 inch circles, used a white paint pen to draw the tennis ball lines, added a Shamrock sticker (the school is the Westfield Shamrocks), added the names with a green paint pen, stuck some magnets to the back and TAH DAH locker decorations.

Also, today is my day to provide the pre-meet snack for the team. To say "snack" is deceptive. These are highschoolboyafterschoolbeforeamatch kind of snacks. Which really means that I just packed 26 sack lunches and took them up to school- turkey sandwiches, apples, pretzels, cookies and water bottles.

On a more fun and creative note, CarolWhoseHouseGotStruckbyLightning asked me last week if I had an---get this-- extra bucket hat  that she could borrow for an upcoming fishing trip. Well. yeah. But I didn't want her to have to borrow an extra hat and seized upon the opportunity to make another bucket hat. This time I had a theme. Behold, Carol's fishing hat:

side a
side b

If you look closely, you can see that I used the freezer paper/copier trick on this side to designate it as "Carol's Fishing Hat- made by Kim- August 2010".

And, needless to say, there is knitting. I am nearing the end of this cardigan, which is going well, but it feels like I have been at it long enough and I am ready to be done. Silly, to be finishing a cotton sweater at the end of summer, but this summer was too hot to wear it anyway, and maybe I'll have a few days in September when it will be just right. Time to start thinking about what's next for the needles. Definitely something wool.  I much prefer the kindness of knitting with wool.