Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Brownies, Milk, and Lots of Good News

First off, our new dishwasher arrived and, after some trials and tribulations (the electrical socket you see by the sink is dead, apparently, so we had to buy an appliance extension cord), it's working! We had the same model in Chicago, but I'd forgotten how big it was because our D.C. dishwasher was teeny tiny. How luxurious to be able to load things like mixing bowls or pans! We submitted our tea pot to a renewal of its baptismal vows, and it came out cleaner than it's been in three years. All that grunge that accumulates in the spout? Yeah, all gone.

I feel like a liberated woman. Better go burn some bras in People's Park or something.

The second good news is that Orientation has been going really well. Thanks for everyone who wrote in with encouragement! Perhaps because my field attracts applicants with a few years' of post-collegiate work experience, my new classmates are a lot more friendly, mature, and socially graceful than I was expecting. (Ask Do about his classmates sometime. Shudder). The coursework sounds extremely exciting, and (halleluja!) we have amazing medical/vision/dental coverage (working in the health field last year really taught me to appreciate that). My first class starts in four hours. Exciting!

And finally, I got a job offer from the Prof of my dreams. She's the director of this (very sexy) institute that tries to bridge the gap between academia and communities in need, facilitating research projects that will bring tangible benefits to lower-income neighborhoods. I have been lusting after this institute ever since I first looked into Berkeley two years ago, so this is very, very exciting. Daunting, because I'll have plenty of opportunities to impress or disappoint this Prof (I'm also enrolled in two of her courses this semester), but exhilarating.

Just to bring this full circle back to food, I have a new "All Time Favorite" recipe to share with you. We spontaneously had our Chinatown friend over for dinner a couple days ago, and ended a raucous conversation on the State of Science Research Funding with straight-from-the-oven brownies and milk. It was a new recipe, clipped from an Nytimes article years ago but forgotten in a file somewhere. What a success! The brownies were really, really decadent. Not at all cakey, or even frudgy, these are "almost as dark and dense as a chocolate truffle," as the author of the original Nytimes article put it (the photo to the left is from the original article).

These brownies use less butter, chocolate, and eggs than my stand-by brownie recipe (ironically, clipped from the same Nytimes article but tested years ago), but they also bake for half as long and are plunged into an ice bath post-oven to prevent over-cooking.

Just what the doctor ordered. Now, off to my first day of classes!

Nytimes' New Classic Brownies
Adapted from “Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies” (Warner Books, 1999)

Time: 40 minutes

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts or pecans (optional).

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square metal baking pan with foil. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir often, and remove from heat when a few lumps remain. Stir until smooth.

2. Stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir in eggs one at a time, followed by flour. Stir until very smooth, about 1 minute, until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl. Add nuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, prepare a water bath: Pour ice water into a large roasting pan or kitchen sink to a depth of about 1 inch. Remove pan from oven and place in water bath, being careful not to splash water on brownies. Let cool completely, then lift out and cut into 1-inch squares or wrap in foil.

Yield: 16 brownies.


Krysta said...

neen, how exciting for you! a dishwasher and a new job.

your new job sounds like it will be a very (what's the word?) life changing, soul satisfing, you know what i mean. (see this is why i will never be able to go back to school)

kat said...

Such a wonderful amount of good news! & hello my little brownies, i must make you now...

Michael said...

Your mom will thrash me if I make those brownies, and I am trying very hard to resist. . . .xx MM

noble pig said...

What a perfect treat for school work! Good luck today, and congrats on the job!

SaintTigerlily said...

I am thrilled for you! And thrilled to make brownies!

I'm happy for you with your luck in job and colleagues. Like Do, my post-grad experience was less than stellar.

Melanie said...

I've been looking for a new go-to brownie recipe. I'm trying this one for sure. Thanks for sharing!

Psychgrad said...

Good news all around. The job sounds cool. A good connection to have, for sure.

My theory - there is a positive correlation between the number of hours spents in labs and level of insanity.

That Girl said...

I'm always looking for a good brownie recipe!

melissa said...

Oooo, a great dishwasher. Yay!

Congratulations on the job offer. That sounds like a very special place to work and do something you find meaningful, and that's a wonderful thing to have.

Good luck with new classes too Neen!

Adam said...

Wow, I'm glad you're so amped for school. Things sound like they are taking off rocket ship style :)

Congrats on the job opportunity. It sounds like something you would really excel in and enjoy, which is awesome.

And beautiful brownies to boot! I think professors fancy brownies... write that down :)

kittie said...

Fantastic news on all counts neen!


Jen said...

Those brownies look sooo good- I've actually never found a brownie recipe I've liked as well as box mix (wait- did I just admit that out loud) but this one looks like it might do the trick.

Joelen said...

Congrats on the new job! And this brownie recipe is now on my must try list! :)

Johanna said...

those brownies look really good and your job sounds really interesting - with a dishwasher in the house as well, no wonder you feel like a liberated woman!!!

Garret said...

These brownies look wonderful! I love surfing through cooking blogs! They are soooo much better than cookbooks!

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