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
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.